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[BKARTS] Mulling it over



Dear Gavin,
>Forgive my being somewhat abrupt, but this is almost willful
>misunderstanding of my message
No, it is your seemingly willful misuse of commonly accepted terminology. I
applaud the breaking of conventions but not the grumpiness that often comes
with the resulting miscommunication.

As I can best make out you are using your Singer to saddle sew the individual
sections. Perhaps I missed it, in which case my apology, but you are not
clear as to how (assuming that they are multi-section bookblocks) you are
connecting the sewing between sections at the first and last sewing positions, what
you refer to as <the loose cut ends at the end of the row>.
Your <inherent tangle of stitchery and knots> makes you <sound like one who
has never looked at the back of a book which has been sewn in sections> at
least by any commonly accepted meaning of the word "tangle". To the contrary, the
spine of a sewn bookblock displays an ordered pattern. Certainly your sewing
(though I doubt it) could be so flawed as to justify the word tangle but it is
hardly applicable to the vast majority of sewn bookblocks.
What is a <debacked book>? I assume you mean a bookblock the spine of which
has been cleaned of covering and linings sufficient to reveal the external
sewing structure. In Library binding the term debacked is, sadly, used to mean a
bookblock where the spine folds of the leaves have been cut away, the binder
then either side sewing or overcasting groups of leaves into new sections or
simply moving on to perfect binding.
And what does <chain sewn in a staggered pattern> mean? I know that some
people incorrectly refer to Coptic sewing and its variants as chain sewing but I
think the word "chain" is best applied to a particular stitch, as the chain or
kettle or catch up stitch. All sewing using at least three entrance/exit
sewing positions will show a staggered pattern.
There is nothing <ancient> (what dates are meant by that term?) about the use
of mull or super on the spines of bookblocks. In European binding one sees a
progression from bookblocks in which the backs of sections are neither adhered
to one another nor to the covering material (and sometimes there was no
covering material), thence to spines adhered directly to the covering material,
until in 17th and 18th century bindings (and earlier in some cases <15th century>
especially on the continent) one encounters spine linings of vellum, finally
encountering towards the end of the 18th century spine linings of paper and
more rarely canvas. See Middleton and Szirmai. I don't think that you will find
anything remotely resembling crash or mull much before the mid 1800's by which
point case binding had become the industrial standard.
I don't think that you mean <flat back> but perhaps smooth back, though
smooth back most often refers to a spine showing no evidence of the underlying
sewing structure as with sawn in cords. Flat back refers to a bookblock the spine
of which is intentionally left square or almost so, not rounded, whether the
rounding is convex or concave, and has no reference to any attempt to smoothen
irregularities on the spine.
Perhaps <stitchery> is more applicable to purely decorative sewing (and this
gets dicey with much contemporary work) as on the covers of embroidered
bindings? Just a suggestion.

But to answer your initial question, I think that you will find that any
filler added to your PVA will tend to weaken the flexibility and/or adhesive
properties of your PVA. These days, in machine bound books at least, a layer of hot
melt adhesive is used, thick enough to subsume any sewing exposed on the
spine. Perhaps you have already considered this solution? All best, James


James Tapley
Hand Bookbinder
2077 Thirteenth Street
Sarasota, FL 34237
USofA
Tel 941 366 8248

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