Saturday, December 5, 2009

I made a book!

As a cook, much of what I create is gone within a matter of hours. Nothing physical remains of my creative efforts - except perhaps for a few extra pounds that my friends and loved ones carry around for the rest of their lives. I do enjoy making things though, and I love books, so over the past year or so I've been looking into book binding. This summer at Pennsic I picked up some simple equipment for book binding, and I finally decided to go ahead and try it out.

The style of binding is sometimes referred to as a laced-on, limp cover. It appears to have been used for less expensive books in the late medieval period.

Because this was going to be my first try, I didn't want to waste good materials. I figured that I wasn't sure enough of what I was doing, and I have a certain distrust of my manual dexterity (which is scary considering how much time I spend working with sharp knives). Essentially because of this I handicapped myself - I set myself up to fail in a way. I used plain copy paper for the pages (textblock) and some leather strips where I should probably have used heavy twine, and the cover is heavy paper instead of vellum. I also used a cheap gluestick instead of proper glue or paste.

Really, I wasn't expecting to make a great work of art here. I just wanted to see how it was all supposed to go together. Much to my surprise, it went together really well. The leather strips were too thick and stiff for the paper cover - which ripped out almost immediately, but the shape is right and I think it'll be really cool when I try it again with the good stuff.

So with a bit of luck and free time, I'll be starting soon on my next (and first real) binding project - a cookbook for my apprentice.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Kalendarium Hortense - December

The Kalendarium Hortense was published by John Evelyn in 1683. It contains instructions for what a gardener should do throughout the year. The excerpt below is the section titled "Fruits in Prime, or yet lasting" for the month of December.

Rousseting, Leather-coat, Winter Reed, Chestnut Apple, Great-belly, the Go-no-further, or Cats-head, with some of the precedent Month.

The Squib-pear, Spindle-pear, Doyonere, Virgin, Goscogne-Bergomot, Scarlet-pear, Stopple-pear, white, red, and French Wardens, (to bake or roast) &c. the Deadmans Pear, excellent, &c.