It's time to update some of my "work in progress" posts, so here is something about the little girdle book again.
First of all, it turned out quite different from what I originally had in mind...
I decided against a cover made of silk for two reasons:
The friend that is going to use it is a craftsperson, not a rich member oft nobility. So a book bound in silk might be a little bit over the edge - and then I found this picture of a very cute girdle book with a striped leather cover that we both liked very much.
Decision made :-)
The girdle book bound in silk is not totally off my agenda though - I just somehow moved it from the to-do-list onto the wishlist ;-) Now I have to find the perfect text for it. Maybe it's going to be the catechism the Dance of Death is from...
Back to the little girdle book:
The leather I was going to use for the cover is a very smooth, cream coloured sheeps leather tanned with oxalic acid. Unfortunately, dirty fingerprints stay on easily...
Normally books are blindtooled after attaching the leather to the boards - but here I had to do the blindtooling first. The parallel lines were drawn with a heated blunt knive (really blunt, not only "not really sharp"!) along a wooden ruler. That worked quite nicely and I hope it won't wear off during use.
I glued the leather to the wooden boards with animal glue, which has a great advantage here: You don't have to soak the leather with glue as with wheatpaste, you just apply the glue to the boards.
This way its a lot easier to make sure the blindtooled lines stay parallel than with wobbly wet leather :-)
On the top and on the sides of the boards the leather was folded around the edges and glued to the inside of the board. Extant leather on the corner was cut away and the edges were additionaly secured by sewing (I don't have a picture at the moment). At the top of the back the leather was folded inside and glued in place so that you can see the silk wrapped headband.
Five little cast flowers were riveted to the boards as both decoration and protection for the leather surface. Now I have to attach the clasp (you can already see the holes for the nails in the picture above) and finish the loose part of the leather with a cord just like on the original or gather it in a turks head knot - depends on the future owners choice :-)
For my friends birthday last week I wanted to make something unique - so I did :-)
As I know of his fascination of the socalled Dance of Death (Totentanz in german) motif, I was looking for a faksimile of one of the early printed versions from the 15th century, but found none...
But thanks to a german library I got some scanned images in good quality of the Dance of Death from the "Heidelberger Bilderkatechismus" (illustrated catechism from Heidelberg), printed between 1455 and 1458. So all I had to do was print them on handmade paper and make a small book out of it...
Here is the result:
As there are only 28 pages in the book, it was too small to bind it as a codex (binding with more than one quire and wooden boards). So I used a sheet of sturdy parchment and made a kopert out of it. The 7 leafs of paper are gathered in one quire and sewn through the parchment cover with a waxed linnen thread. The flap closure of the kopert is simply closed with a fine leather thong, wound around the book. A simple, flexible but rather sturdy binding for such a small book: It's only 10cm high!
On the first page is an illustration from the Bilderkatechismus that is not really a part of the Totentanz, but I thought it made a good frontispiz... It is titled "von der unausprechliche freyde des ewigen lebens und auch der peyn der hellen" (of the unmentionable joy of eternal life and also the pain of the hells) and shows a really comic-like depiction of hell in the lower right corner: Some monsters mouth full of flames with two people and a devil inside, all grinning sheepishly.
Then there is one page with a short text about how inevitable death is for everybody, regardless of wealth or social status. And then the dance begins... On 25 pages Death in the form of a skeleton / decaying corpse is shown dancing with people, from emperor to little child and everyone in between. Here you see him with an abbot on the left and a jurist on the right. Death takes them by the hand and adresses them in a short speach, printed above the illustration. The answer of the person is always below. Here, as an example, is what Death says to the jurist: "Das ortil yst alzo gegeben, Das ir lenger nicht sullet leben. Her jurist das tut des tod sanft, Mogit ir zo beweisest ewr meisterschaft." And the jurist answers: "Keyn appelliren zu dezir zeit, Hilft des todis harten streyth. Her obirwint myt seynem geflecht, Das geistliche und das weltliche recht."