Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Handmade Leather Kindle Cover & Making of Pictures

About this time last year I got a half leather Kindle cover from Bomo Art. I loved it but it didn't hold up to daily use very well. My Kindle goes wherever I go and so does its case. It is pulled out of and stuffed back into my bag several times a day. A paper cover, even if reinforced with leather at spine and corners, is too flimsy for that so I decided a full leather cover would be better.

I measured my Kindle and cut some 2 mm cardboard for the covers and some slightly thinner one for the spine. For the front cover I made a debossed design similar to the red Carta Fiorentina journal from my last post.

In this picture the cardboard is ready to be covered with leather.
I chose thin calfskin in a very light natural tan tone but was looking for something a tad darker with an antique-ish finish. Back to dying with ink then! On my first attempt of doing that I merely painted the leather with a brush but I didn't like the durability, it really needed the Acrylic Resolene to stay put and not bleed, so I tried another method this time.
I used fountain pen ink again with good results, specifically Herbin Ambre de Birmanie.

Ink is rubbed into the leather with cotton balls (I'd advise wearing gloves)...

... let dry, then rubbed again with clear water. The dye is worked into the surface, excess dye is removed, making sure the fingers stay clean when handling the finished product.
Rinse and repeat until the results are satisfactory. As long as you don't soak the leather it will take this procedure quite well.

Leather is awesome for bookbinding but it comes with a catch: It's usually a little too thick and stiff, especially when covering the corners. To avoid bulky corners it helps to pare the leather down a bit, making it thinner and more pliable.

To do this you can use all sorts of knives and machinery. I like this little toy which is called a leather skiver:

A tool to peel leather like an apple. Works best with veg tanned leather.
Time for the results:

The inside is covered with bookcloth and marbled paper. The Kindle is attached using double-sided tape. I used bookcloth underneath it so the tape can be replaced without ripping anything.

Debossed design on the front cover

After the dying procedure the leather usually looks a little matte. With this one I didn't use any finisher products but it did regain some sheen with use from rubbing and hand oils.

I gave this one to my Mom meanwhile to replace her machine made cover. She especially likes the feel of the leather.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

3 Takes on a Carta Fiorentina Notebook

This post is going to be picture heavy but I just had to take a lot of photos!

"Carta Fiorentina" is a range of traditional Italian paper patterns. They all have this cheerful but nostalgic vibe and I especially adore the floral patterns.
Also in my opinion they go really well with almost every shade of brown. To enhance their air of nostalgia I chose leather for spine and corners. They are approximately 21 x 13 cm - this is because the paper had an unusual format to begin with. They have about 140 pages.

I used two different leathers, natural tan calfskin dyed with ink (Diamine Chocolate Brown) and sealed with Fiebing's Acrylic Resolene and reddish brown sheepskin. Also I made some "fake nerves" for the spine.

Those two have hand sewn book blocks made of 110 gsqm grey-brown laid paper. It has nice deckled edges so I chose not to trim the edges. (Also I still don't have a good paper cutter so I'm having trouble getting straight and smooth cuts).

It was my first attempt at dying leather and if not for the Acrylic Resolene the color would bleed and rub off a lot. Since then I've tried another way to dye leather which worked out much better.

There are so many colors in the Carta Fiorentina pattern it's easy to pick one for endbands and ribbons.
The paper is a little on the rough side but it tolerates fountain pen ink pretty well.

The third take on Carta Fiorentina is somewhat different. I made a debossed design based on the floral vines and lined it with red book cloth.

It took me quite a while to finish the intricate details of the vine.

For the book block I used some Neusiedler Japan Post paper I had dyed and distressed using strong espresso. The paper is usually high white and now has a brownish tinge and some stains here and there.
The book is A5 size and has matching Carta Fiorentina endpapers. It has about 200 pages.

The bookcloth is red but with a layer of green underneath. You usually just see the red but near edges or when looking at the book from different angles you get a flash of the green from time to time.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Omas Outing

Went to meet some fountain pen friends and one of them wanted to see some Omas pens, so I grabbed them and took a family photo.

Omas Extra Lucens, Ogiva Autumno, Paragon Arco old style, Ogiva Vintage saft green

Only after I had packed them I realized I'd forgotten the Bibliotheque Nationale. Bummer.

I think the Extra Lucens is the star of the bunch though its partial transparency looks only half as great when empty.

Backdrop: My new and gorgeous pen wrap! It's still a little blotchy from the leather oil but that should have resolved itself by next week, then I'll show it in all its glory.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Benefits of Bartering

A friend who is really proficient at sewing is making me a pen roll - and not just of any material but of this amazing leather!

This will be the outside of the roll, the inside will be made of somewhat thinner natural tan leather and hold 8 pens, 4 thick and 4 slim ones. There will also be a flap to protect the pen's caps from rubbing against each other. It should be ready some time this week and I'm really excited! I've always wanted to have a pen roll but the ones I saw never appealed to me.

What's best is I'm allowed to pay for this with a handmade journal. I think the pen roll should be ready some time this week and the notebook is already finished: dark brown leather with Italian peacock paper cover.

A 5 sized journal with leather back & corners

This paper is gorgeous. I have some stationery with this motif and had been looking to buy a matching journal a while back but couldn't find a convenient option. Of course I'll have to part with this one - it goes to a young woman who is a psychologist -, but I have more than enough of this paper left to make another one for myself.

Sprinkled edges. At the far left: curious tomcat's whiskers!

I pressed the book block firmly between two boards using winches, then sprinkled the edges with watercolor in various shades of blue to match the cover.

I'm not sure how these ridges on the spine are called in English. (If you know, leave a comment!) In any case they complete the nostalgic look.

Spine and corners are made of heavy grain lambskin. It's a little hard to work with as it's quite stiff but I really like the look of it on the finished book.

I love bartering like this, wish there were more opportunities for it.