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[BKARTS] EDGEGILDING, and many thanks

     I want to thank the members of BOOK_ARTS who responded to my pleas
for help in learning the black art of edgegilding books.  I am now
producing nearly perfect specimens, even if my first complete success
was a 30 cent thrift shop copy of the sleazy romancer, ?Rainsinger? by
Ruth Wind. (I went over to the thrift store on 45th and Walnut in Philly
and bought a shopping bag full of practice paperbacks.)
     I use the (expensive) edge gilder sold by Harcourt Bindery.  For a
while, out of deep frustration, I wanted to pack it up and send it
back.  But now I think it?s a very nice instrument.  One respondent is
experimenting with an ordinary iron.  If he succeeds, it will save
BOOK_ARTS readers intending to learn edge gilding a bunch of money.
     I particularly want to thank Timothy Ely, whose basic procedure I
follow, and James Tapley, with whom I had a long anguished conversation
on the phone, Philly to Florida.
Anyone attempting to learn the procedure should also acquaint himself
with the material on edge gilding archived in BOOK_ARTS.
      Here is Timothy?s procedure.  I reproduce his letter to me:

?Hi Jet- might be able to help with the edge gilder. It is weird and yet
when it works, it works.
The book edge must be sized with poly vinyl alcohol. Very thin PVA with
some denatured alcohol will work sort of but the PVOH is best.
The edge must be talced first then put between white rag boards cut very
flush with the book. In the press it must be under a lot of pressure.
The edge is brushed with a shoe brush to remove the surface talc and the
size painted on and immediately wiped off. I let it dry overnight, then
burnish it with an
agate burnisher or second best, a bone folder [very clean]. the white
rag boards are there should you need to sand or scrape, you won't drag
any gray dust onto the white [assuming its white] surface.
Frank Lehmann uses a long length of foil with a clip on the end to
weight it down off the front edge. I tape the foil in place.
When the gilder is hot, I paradoxically, wipe the now dry sized edge
with a damp sponge, place the foil where it goes and fix its position
with tape. the
dampness seems to facilitate the release/ attraction ratio of the foil
adhesive to paper size.
I use a piece of thin [interleaving paper] over the foil to prevent tire
marks from the machine.
You roll forward slowly and rock it slightly from side to side. I use
foils of a low release temperature but still one must go slow,with very
firm pressure
and often it takes 2 or 3 layers of foil to get a good edge.
It took me a while to figure it out and years to figure out that foils
do have a shelf life. the old stuff doesn't release well.
good luck!?

     I modify this procedure a little, following several of James
Tapley?s suggestions.  I work the talc into the book edge with a stiff
sash brush.  After talcing, the book is clamped very tight and sanded
with 160 sandpaper, then with 320 sandpaper, then dusted.  I apply two
coats of polysize (Harcourt Bindery product), blowdrying after each,
followed by a light sanding with 360 s.p., then a dusting.  The final
edge should be as smooth as glass and absolutely level.   I do not leave
the book to set overnight--- not necessary, since the polysize has an
alcohol base which evaporates readily.  Various suggestions for the
sizing have been made:  polyvinyl alcohol, methyl cellulose, wheat
starch.  Find what works for you.
    For the interleaving paper, I use a Japanese rice paper, moderately

     As far as I can see, there are several essential components in the

1)  The water.  Don?t know why, but, as Timothy says, it works.
2)  The interleaving paper;  essential.  Without it, the gilder leaves
gross track marks.
3)  The book must be clamped TIGHT yet held in a way that permits level
sanding.  I use discarded pieces of Davy board to clasp the book,
because these can be sanded level with the book edge. The whole product
is held between boards not quite level with the book edge and clamped in
a shop vice. (Many of my failures were due to my inattention to this
4)  The foil.  This is the most salient issue. Each brand of foil has
its own gestalt.  Some foils are very forgiving.  The Harcourt foil is
not.  I think every foil has a maximum and minimum application
temperature.  Above the max, the gold product on the foil destabilizes,
and nothing is left either on the mylar backing nor on the book edge.
Below the minimum, the gold does not completely transfer.  The Harcourt
foil requires a temperature of about 365 degrees F, much hotter than a
hotstamp machine setting.  (I use a laser thermometer to check the edge
gilder temp.  The default temperature on the arriving machine worked not
at all.)  A cheap foil I got with my Kwikprint machine produces more
reliable results than the Harcourt foil, if not so pretty.   An Israeli
correspondent claims that the crappier the foil is, the better the
results are.  It took me a great deal of experimentation to discover the
correct max-min parameters for the Harcourt foil.
     I haven?t resorted to repeated applications of foil when one
application doesn?t transfer completely.  My experience has been, if it
doesn?t go on the first time, then nothing can save it.  I may need more
experimentation on this.  I am certainly still learning, which is what
makes it fun.
     Was it worth the frustration?  Yes.  What does the final product
look like?  It looks like molten gold had been poured onto the book edge
and solidified. Very pretty.


Jet Wimp
Philadelphia, PA  19139

 The Belgian surrealist painter Renee Magritte entered a cheese store in
Brussels to purchase a wheel of Swiss cheese.  The owner pulled a wheel
from the front window, but Magritte said he preferred the one on the
back counter.
 ?But they are identical,? the owner protested.
 ?No,? Magritte insisted.  ?This one?s been stared at.?


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