I don’t live in the past—I only visit—and so can you!


I have spoken before of the Cuthbert or Stonyhurst gospel. It is the earliest bound book in Europe that has not been rebound, and it is bound in a modified Coptic manner. I use its binding as a model for the binding of all the books that I have bound.

The cover of the book is decorated with a peculiar kind of decoration that I refer to, with no real documentation, as embellishment. The exact way that the decoration beneath the leather was made is controversial, although recent CT scans indicate the design was done with clay. Cord, wooden carving and seeds have also been proposed, and I chose to believe that cord was used.

I did the design using thickish hemp cord. I positioned it using a foundation. I then covered the hemp with more glue. I allowed it to dry for about a day.

I used a thin leather to cover the cord. It was about 1–2 mm thick, and applying it to the design took a lot of time. Additional glue was placed over everything, and I fitted the leather to the design, pressing and squeezing it tight. The original process was not very tight, and when it had dried a little, I did it again, squeezing it tight around the cord. I discovered that the leather would dry and tighten up. When it had dried, I glued the rest of the cover.

It had a steep learning curve. My first attempts were rough as well as fairly simple. In the time since, It has become more sophisticated, and I have gradually used more complicated designs. I have done more and more, eventually coming up with books for sale using the designs. It has become easier and fun!

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