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Re: leather marbling

Dear Steve
I have a small book called Calf Marbling by Ronald Peck which is a
students work from Camberwell School of Art and Crafts, London 1975.
In it is described a how to of tree calf pattern, cambridge and patterned
calf styles.The following "recipe" is for tree calf
Equipment and Materials
Glaire, preferably well matured (a good nose)
Hydrated potassium carbonate (salts of tartar)-a solution of 2 rounded
teaspoons in a one pound jar of water
Solution of ferrous sulphate (copperas)-3 rounded teaspoons in 3 pints of
Large brushes suitable for knocking fine sprinkles
Wooden roller approx.,14 inches long diameter 3-4inches.
bundle of leafless birch twigs approx 2.5 feet long for applying water.
Paste wash solution, sponges,cotton wool.

Use thinner boards than usual for tree marbling. The pattern is applied
to the cover before the boards are filled in. Cap up the book to protect
the edges being damaged.
Paste wash the leather and allow the leather to dry completely.
Sponge the leather including the spine and the turn-ins with Potassium
carbonate solution. The leather should brown slightly as the solution is
applied.Continue till the colour change is sufficient.
The softened boards are now curved. Place the book so that a board is
opened cover side up on the bench.The roller is placed on the board
parallel with the spine, holding the fore-edge with the thumbs the board
is curved on the roller.Both boards are curved outward from the book.
Coat the outside of the boards with glaire NOT the spine or the turn-ins.
Allow this to dry.
Set the book up at an angle so that the curve of the boards creates a
drain from the head to the tail. Cover the spine so that it is not
Using the bundle of twigs forcefully splash water onto the boards so that
rivulets are formed from the top of each board running to the bottom.You
can enhance the flow by helping it with your finger.Sprinkle as evenly as
As soon as a suitable pattern emerges the water is followed by the ferrous
sulphate solution.The solution is applied by knocking a large charged
brush against a stick.The object is to achieve a Fine sprinkle..be sure to
knock the excess from the brush before addressing the book.
The result of sprinkling with the copperas is the appearance of the brown
black spots which follow the water and form the tree like pattern.
Allow a minute or two for the pattern to set.
Sponge the boards thoroughly with water. Flatten the boards by hand and
stand the book with the boards spread to dry.

Good luck Hope this helps.
Robin Tait The Tait Bindery, Queanbeyan, Australia.

 On Sun, 29 Jan 1995,
Steven D. Hales wrote:

> Hi all. Has anyone had success in making tree calf or acid marbled
> leather? Care to share the secret of your success? I have tried a recipe
> from Diderot and d'Alembert (as conveyed by Denis Gouey), but with no
> luck. Denis said he didn't have any luck with it either. Here's what I've
> tried, for what it's worth. I poured 3 molar Sulphuric acid on a piece of
> tan colored vegetable calf, sprinkled copper sulfate on the top, let it
> sit for 5 minutes, and washed it off with water. Nothing. Should I let it
> sit longer? Are modern leathers tanned differently than 18th century
> leathers in a way that prevents marbling? Any tips?
> Steve
> *************************************************************
> Steven D. Hales
> Assistant Professor           email: hales@planetx.bloomu.edu
> Department of Philosophy      phone: (717) 389-4229
> Bloomsburg University         fax: (717) 389-2094
> Bloomsburg, PA 17815
> *************************************************************

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