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Ottoman Bookbinding



Greetings to all the list members new and old,

I've been a member of this list on and off now for almost a year, having
recently been a mere "lurker", I moved from Madison WI about 8-9 months
ago. My home is now in Weimar, Germany. I've just opened my bindery here
and hope to continue binding as I did in the states. The conditions for
binding here are a bit different, but I have yet to gain the full scope
of the art here.

I've just returned from Istanbul. I wanted to find out more about
Islamic binding. Which I did, and just thought I report it to the list
as it turned out to be quite an interesting time. I was able to spend a
week at Mimar Sinan University in the Traditional (Osmanli/Ottoman) Arts
department.

The department is devoted to the Arts of the Osmanli and Seljuk Periods
Among the things they teach there besides bookbinding, are Hatt
(caligraphy), Chine (Tile making and Painting), Carpet making and
restoration, Tasip, which is the design of traditional floral paterns,
know to us more commonly as arabeques, and finally Ebru, which is Paper
Marbling. Some of the members of this list might know Hikmet
Barutchugil, who is the professor of Marbling at Mimar Sinan and also a
world famous Marbler.

In anycase, I went to learn both binding and further my Marbling skills
with Hikmet.

What I found out about bookbinding was of great interest. As you can
imagine their techniques are much different than our Eurpean tradition.
In fact they call our tradition Modern bookbinding and look down on it
with some disdain. They don't seem to teach all the methods of Modern
bookbinding, just standard case binding. I did not see any real or fake
raised bands or any other European techniques. But lets move on to their
style.

First off, they begin taking two seperate boards and determing the size
of them  in comparision to the text block. O.k. we do that, but then
they leave no edge around the boards to protect the text. Instead the
boards are cut to the same size as the text block itself. Now they cut
two more board which are thiner and will be glued to the other
laminating them together. The second boards have windows cut in them
which are shaped to Arabesque, which they call "shamsas".

The Shamsas will be impressed into the Leather (while the leather is
semi-fresh from glueing) and the board at great pressure to leave the
arabesque in relief. This will later be painted in gold powder, which I
will discuse later.

The leather is paired to a paper thiness and brought on to the boards
before they are any where near the text block. Endsheets are prepared as
we normaly prepare them, when they are tipped in and not sewn. Now you
must imagine that you have two boards that are seperate from each other
and covered in leather. They have been laminated and have windows in
them. The leather is folded round on three sides and left to the
thickness of the spine plus some extra on the fourth side.

Now they begin to finish the boards before they are brought on to the
book. First they grind a book of Goldleaf to a very fine state. Which
will serve as a paint. Then the leather of the boards is coated in
Gelatine and left to dry. When it is dry the Turks use a combination of
brush and lining pen to paint the gold into various staight lines around
the book. They don't use brass tools as we do. The Shamsa's arabesques
are also painted with the gold. Once this is dry, they burnish it with
agate tools, which then brings up a luster which is similiar to tooling
in our tradition. Now if they want to impress a pattern into the line
instead of useing a role, they take a tool like a leather punch and
pound it in cold.

Now that the covers are decorated, don't forget that they are still not
on the book yet. Now, one endsheet is glued, just like we do, and the
board is brought on to the glued endsheet. Remember that they are the
same size as the text block. The same is done with the other board. Now
there are two flaps of leather which will be folded around the spine, to
finish the leather flaps are folded around the spine with glue and cut
to the length of the boards.

This is a little introduction and I know there are gapping holes in the
description, so any questions are welcome. I hope you found it
interesting and not to long winded.

best regards,
Christopher Brown.


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