Paper Leaf Bindery, our family, has participated in the Colonial Festival in Orem, Utah since 2017. Dressed in colonial appropriate clothing and using equipment that would have been used by book binders in early Colonial America we demonstrate the work that would be required to bind the books that were so treasured by the Founding Fathers and many others of that time.
Bookbinding during the colonial era
1. Folding & Pressing
Large sheets of papers were printed with text at the printers, the papers were folded into smaller sections called signatures. One bound signature was called a pamphlet, several bound signatures together was called a text-block. Once the signatures were folded, they were pressed overnight or longer, in a standing book press.
2. Punching & Sewing
In the fold or crease of each signature, a measured series of small holes would be punched or cut. This hole would later allow a needle and thread to pass through and bind the signatures together onto cords that are attached to a sewing frame. The sewing frame and cords allowed the binder to make consistent and tight bindings, like the books that were being made in Europe.
3. Rounding & Backing
Once a book was sewn, all the thread inside the folds of the signatures, on the spine side would make the book thicker and lop-sided. Rounding the book displaces all the threads and allows the book to lay flat and even. Once a book was rounded, it needed to be glued and lined. Gluing and lining the spine consolidates all the signatures and allows the book to be able to stay in that preferred shape. Scraps of paper were adhered to the spine for this purpose.
4. Lacing & Covering
The cover boards were attached to the text-block by using the ends of the cords. The cords were laced or glued onto the boards. The sewn book was now ready to be covered. Books were bound in calf, goat and sheep skin leathers. Books were fully or partially covered in leather, decorative paper was also used as an accent.
Interested in learning bookbinding?
Paper Leaf Bindery offers virtual classes that come with supply kits and tool recommendations for you to learn how to bind books. Join us on an adventure as we bind our way through history. We will explore many bookbinding styles from around the world and provide you with the historical context for the books as you learn to make them.
Wanna join the journey? Simply fill out this form.