Do you think I've repaired one book since then? The answer would be a big, fat no. But a friend who wanted one of her favorite books fixed was the catalyst that finally got me going again. Knowing I would completely screw it up if I went it alone, I asked my good friend and uber-talented book binder and artist Charlene Matthews if she would supervise. Luckily, she said yes.
The book was in pretty bad, but not irreparable shape. I'm pretty sure A.A. Milne's "When We Were Very Young" was on most kids' reading list, but not everyone is as fortunate as my friend to still have the copy they read when they were very young.
The spine, as you can see above, had been partially eaten away, and the text block had become completely detached from the covers. Isn't that spine disgusting? Beautiful endpapers, though. The four thick signatures were also coming apart and needed to be bolstered with Japanese hinging paper and re-sewn.
I glued up the spine with a mixture of PVA and wheat paste, then added the mull (above), cut a bit shorter than the spine height. The wheat paste delayed the drying time which was helpful, since it was a billion degrees that day. No, I didn't leave those big globs of glue there. A piece of paper that perfectly fit the spine--grain long, of course-was glued over the mull.
Next on the agenda was creating a new spine. I used Buckram--it was a shade darker than the rest of the book, but still in the same color family. The material also has kind of a vintage look and feel to it, so it's perfect for older books.
Before the spine is attached to the covers, the bookcloth and endpapers have to be separated from the board using a knife or thin spatula. Those spaces get glued up, and the mull and Buckram are eased in. Here's Charlene working on the front cover:
Here's how the new spine looked when it was completely attached:
The original spine was pretty much a mess. Wheat paste smeared on the back side helped to remove some of the paper, but since the bookcloth was so fragile it ripped in a couple of places. I salvaged what I could, cleaned it up and glued it onto the new spine.
Here's the finished book, in all its glory. Not great, but not too bad. I was so grateful to have Charlene guiding me. Without her help, I'm sure the "after" would have looked far worse than the "before."