Tips and Techniques for Design Bookbinders
Those who know Paul Delrue know of his generosity in supporting others who are developing their skills as design bookbinders. He has mentored and taught numerous students of the craft, and many of these are now successful professional binders in their own right.
Paul's success is rooted in a deep belief in the quality of every aspect of his work. Compromise is not to be tolerated, and although all binders of course bring their own design elements and interpretation to their work, there is no substitute for good honest quality, experience and workmanship.
If you already have some experience of binding are interested in taking a hands on approach to learing elements of design bookbinding, contact Paul directly to discuss his Art Bookbinding Courses or other support which may be available.
Here Paul freely shares some of his thoughts and techniques which have helped him produce some of the worlds most stunning design bindings.
Lacunose style leather
This is a technique developed by Paul some years ago and one he frequently uses to great effect in his bindings.
The effect is created by building up a collage of different coloured leathers, pared very thinly, and then sanding the leather so that the different colours start to appear through each other. The results can be surprising and unexpected and can create stunning effects. With practice, the same technique can be used to create specific effects and imagery by careful initial placing of the different leathers.
The lacunose leather approach can be used to create a panel which can be onlaid onto a binding, or it can be applied directly to the boards of a book.
Click here to download a .pdf file with Paul's commentary on how the technique was developed and more information on how to create your own lacunose panel.
Edge Colouring
Colouring the edges of the bookblock is a technique going back centuries. Many good quality books from the seventeenth century onwards had some kind of edge colouring. This could be just a sprinkling of coloured dye, a highly polished gilt finish or the highly collectible foredge paintings of the nineteenth century.
Paul believes that for many design bindings, edge colouring is an important part of the design, reflecting and enhancing the covers and adding to the enjoyment of the volume. Choice of colours and design of the edge painting is just as important as the choice of leather and other elements of artwork. Paul typically uses good quality acryllic paint applied to smoothly sanded edges. The result is then highly burnished using a little beeswax to create a glossy and attractive finish.
The boook illustrated was bound especially on commission to celebrate Liverpool's year as the European City of Culture 2008.
Tudor Style Decoration
This is another technique developed by Paul, but widely used in various forms by many design binders to create an effective three dimensional finish to a binding.
Here, Paul applies numerous thinly pared strips of leather, either directly to the boards of a book, or off the book to create an onlay panel. The strips overlap each other, often at slight angles, creating a ridged appearance. When done with care, the edges of each strip are not easily visible, but the whole panel creates new impact on what otherwise may have been an unexceptional design. The example opposite also shows a lacunose panel which has been applied on top of the tudor style binding.
Click here to download a .pdf file in which Paul explains more about this technique.