Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Diary of an Antiquary, Part 4

Let's bring this piece to a close with this last epic posting. The enclosure more or less finished, I measured out the interior space to come up with the dimensions of the book (this ass-end-up retrofitting is just my style!).

I settled on this gorgeous leather cover from 1852 as my raw material for the final covers.

It was exciting to see the empty space occupied at last, if even for a moment.

Beginning the long process of cutting out the book pages in heavy gauge brass.

The raw elements stacked up, giving me a general feel for the proportions.

Each 'page' would consist of two plates of brass, riveted together, with elements trapped in the sandwich. Above, my three pages and covers.

Because of the substantial weight of these plates, I knew they would have to be pierced quite a lot to eliminate all that metal. The designs are loosely based on medieval iron grillework.

The six sheets taped together, forming 1/2 inch of solid brass. The holes for my sewing stations would have to be drilled through all at once.

The first page takes rough shape - the early part of twelve hours of very difficult sawing.

With throbbing hands, I examine the cut sheets of brass.

Couldn't resist making an ice-cream sandwich of it to see what it looked like, as I knew it wouldn't be so transparent once the elements came together.

A cacophony of grilles.

Now each sheet was shaped.

Page one, getting close. The three pages took three days to complete the metalworking.

Now for the really fun part of creating the visuals behind the metal. Sheets of mica would keep the pieces in check under the grilles. Here, Mrs. Col. Wm. Douglas lends her face to the cause.

An 18th-century engraving takes center on the other side.

The elements taking their places.

The smallest rivets I've ever made. Chalk up another first.

Carving space into the front cover for a pearl.

The window would allow Mrs. Douglas to peer through when the book was closed.

Page three metalwork.

Mica measured and cut to size.

On to the binding. For this stage I have Keith Smith to thank, for his excellent book 'Smith's Sewing Single Sheets', which was my manual for this part. I built this frame to hold the raised cords of the binding upright for easier sewing. The frame is about half the size Smith laid out - plenty of size for a miniature book, however!

Ready to sew the bottom page on.

Second page gets added...

The book block ready for some covers.

This part was seriously daunting. The cords are 7 strands each of heavy antique linen, as I wanted a chunky profile for the spine.

The cord unwound and poking through the cover - now each strand needed to be frayed to lay flat against the inside cover for gluing... so.

The back cover with frayed threads ready to be glued in place and covered with end paper.

The front cover was even more difficult due to the window. Note the recessions cut in to allow the thread to lay flush on the board.

Exsquisite end paper from the 1860's to paper over the thread.

The book needed a closure, so I fiddled about until I came up with the solution. I would use this old fork, dug up in England as my material.

Brittle and fracturing even after annealing, but it held strong - I even liked the cracks, so away we went.

Part of the business end would be used as well.

Before soldering together.

Terrifying task #4,360: putting a large hole into a finished book, to create a strong metal tube that would allow the mechanism to move without damaging the fragile book board.

As the book, now completed, got attached permanently to the enclosure via a long chain, I needed to scoop out recesses in the box to accomodate the protruding clasp.

Last step was creating a visual interior for when the book was removed from the housing. The gem for this job was the left-hand side of this awe-inspiring page of illuminated manuscript from the 1500's. It was given to me along with some others by a generous student (is that Ukrainian, I seem to remember? Anyone?). It seemed a fitting treasure see when the box was open.

Thanks for walking with me through this important piece in my output as a maker. This post is a week later than I thought, as it took an entire week to photograph the finished piece.

Which you can see here.

Hope you've enjoyed the ride - I know I have.