Friday, November 18, 2016

Nag Hammadi Bookbinding

Leather books were found in the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945 with Coptic writing from the 4th Century, one containing the Gospel of St. Thomas; housed in the Coptic Museum in Cairo.
From The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding by J.A. Szirmai
In a Nag Hammadi Bookbinding workshop I learned how to make the book from Jana Pullman at the Focus on Book Arts in Oregon. We created a replica using tooling techniques on the leather cover. Jana referenced this book: The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding by J.A. Szirmai.

I cut the outline from a piece of leather, and wet it to emboss the design with a butterfly leather stamp from Tandy Leather

I used my Japanese Book Drill for the turquoise mat board to show through the design.

In the class we glued several papyrus sheets to make the cover boards. At home mat board worked - covered with bookcloth - adhered to the back of the leather.

The outer side glued first, then the top and bottom tabs. I was going to cover them with end sheet fabric - decided to leave it open. 

Next I used my new sewing cradle bought from Missy Bosch last week. I love it! 

Missy sells them on Etsy here:

Lastly, I hole punched and sewed the tie plus sewed the text block to the spine with tacket binding making the text block refillable. I am pleased with how it came out too! 
Making the Nag Hammadi did not take me as long as I thought it would. The most time-consuming part was embossing the wet leather. I made additional books with red leather and blue leather covers - for sale on my Etsy site:
Please let me know if you tried any type of historic bookbinding. Makes me feel connected to the 4th century!

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