bookbinding heaven

covering a full leather fine binding for the first time in over two years in the comfort and quiet of my own home.


from the bindery: production, just like old times

today at work i mended, chopped, and glued up 10 adhesive bound books. i have 7 more waiting to go tomorrow. i was on my feet nearly the full 8 hours. i worked hard. i stayed focused. i had fun! in about one week or less, i will have these 17 books bound (and gagged). just like old times.

how is this possible, you ask?

finals and the semester break leave book repair all ghost town-y.

finals and the semester break leave me working hard and steady on my own, just like the good ol' days at north bennet. those were the days where i would stand all day, every day and then hobble back home across boston to brighton with swollen ankles, calloused fingers, and bleary eyes.

this is the best feeling--to feel tired from a good day's work for the brain and the body.


a brief pause for reflection

as i've suspected all along, it seems being a reluctant bookbinder will never be enough.


from the bindery: The Book of Irish Curses

just in time for st. patrick's day, a book about irish curses made its way into book repair. here are a few of the gems hidden inside it's acidic, brittle mid-20th-century pages. part of the humor in these curses comes because these are translations from the original gaelic, and therefore less poetic:

an exchange that might occur as part of a cursing contest:

Farmer Willis: May your hens take the disorder (the fowl-pest), your cows the crippen (phosphorosis), and your calves the white scour! May yourself go stoneblind so that you will not know your wife from a hay-stack!

To this sally [farmer] Murphy retorted in the following manner and defeated his opponent:

May the seven terriers of hell sit on the spool of your breast and bark in at your soul-case!

another exchange in another contest:

"The roasting of the salmon to the very end on you!"
"Six horse-loads of graveyard clay on top of you!"

an example of a ritual curse to curse a house

"If one wished to curse a house, one entered it backwards while cleaning a boot! In this case, presumably, the inhabitants of the house would need to be absent when the bearer of malediction was providing such an inviting target to anyone wishing to kick his rear as he entered."

informal cursing

"May the Lamb of God stick his hoof through the floor of heaven and kick you up in the arse below in hell!
Of a more rabelaisian kind is the following remark by a taxi-driver who was describing a journey at speed over a stony road: 'The stones were hopping off the car like the curses of Jesus Christ on the windows of a whore-house!"


"There is the old saying addressed to hens who trespassed on the kitchen of a farmer's house: 'Glass legs to ye!', a neat way of expressing the wish that they might break their legs!"


"A child be within you, for ever unborn!
Or if be born, may he not be like a Christian!
A pig's snout on him and the mouth of a sheep,
A beak of a duck that could dredge in the sludge!
Lest he be a hangman that would hang the people!


"Whoever put me into impotent grief
And took my white tom-cat in secret from me,
May the mice come in waves as his company,
And the rats from the kiln give him the pursuit."


General curses

"Destruction to that mule!"
"May the cats eat the women!" (This misogyny was uttered by a beggar who was disappointed in his reception at a house where he sought food. He desires that the cats (household animals) may eat the women. He had been offered food which he considered fitter for a cat than a human being." !!!

"A fox on your fishing-hook!" (Instead of fox, hare or rabbit might also be substituted. This was a Galway curse on a fisherman. . . . Foxes, hares and rabbits were regarded with superstitious dread by the fishermen of the Claddagh.)

"May you be afflicted with the itch and have no nails to scratch with!"

"Confusion on the money!" (curse on a wealthy person)

"The anguished bankruptcy of the year to you!"

May he never have a day's luck!"

"No butter be on your milk, nor on your ducks a web; may your child not walk and your cow be flayed! And may the flame be bigger and wider, which will go through your soul, than the Connemara mountains if they were on fire!" (This extraordinary curse was pronounced by a blind man on a housewife when she had been less than generous with him!)


curses which concern illness or death (best for last)

"May you not see the cuckoo nor the corncrake!" (In other words, may you never see another spring!"
"My curse on you and ruin to you, you lying, thieving rascal! Let it not be long till you die, despite the son of God!" 

"The fate of Ned's cock to you!" (This is a reference to a cock who was so vain that he stood admiring himself in the water of a well and fell in and got drowned. This is a curse on a vain person!

"May God weaken you!"

"Choking to you!"

"May a stitch or convulsion strike you!"

"May you be mangled!"

" A poisonous pain in you!"

"Death and smothering on you!"

"Dysentery on you!"

"A death without a priest to him in a town without a clergyman!"

"The death of the kittens to you!" (This, of course, means simply 'drowning', the fate of so many unwanted kittens in Ireland.)


from the bindery: odds and ends (emphasis on the odds)

For six months i've been photographing some of the odd things i come across at work. for six months i've been meaning to post these photos. now that it's nearly march, how about i just get it over with.

here goes.


this german beauty surfaced back in the early fall (biblio info soon to come)

noteworthy for it's interesting ribbon-thru-metal-loops style of binding

here's a closer look

and along the top, where the linen tie is broken.

what i like to call the Green Cow book: a Danish-Norwegian dictionary (i think)

another view without the contrast of the flash. moo.


a sneak peek at some binders' tricks. notice where the leather is torn, you can see the actual laced in thong, as opposed to the sorry-excuses-for-false-raised bands lining the spine


after 15 years, this book has earned its way back to book repair. 

amazingly, this is an adhesive binding repaired in 1995. even more amazing is that the actually adhesive binding is still totally in tact. it's just the case that's seen better days. here you can see the interior joint is still holding together.

and see how the pages are still holding strong? even without any sort of spine lining beside crash? somebody did their double-fan adhesive binding right. 


solomon's temple? an "exact replication"? love it.

this little beauty of an engraving comes from this book. i've enlarged it so you can get a nice look at this spectacularly victorian title page. this is a fantastic example of a printer's use of multiple type faces on a title page. this became less common as the 19th century went on because it wasn't conducive to production printing.

stay tuned...more to come