I finished the 3 part tutorial on binding a full cloth springback notebook this week. I can’t remember seeing anything like this on the internet before. Springbacks are traditionally large books and I made some modifications to scale down the size. I have also only used book cloth so that leather skills (or availability) is not an obstacle to making one of these fun bindings. I’m very pleased with how this project worked out.
Over a year ago it was mentioned that Daniel Ibbott, the owner of Books & Boxes, had agreed to teach a springback course. I was already curious about springbacks at that point, but then came into contact with numerous examples while doing research at the Queensland State Archives. I’d also come across a video of the English trade binder, Peter Goodwin, making a springback. More recently I have found Richard Baker’s video for the GoBW. Along with 2 historical references and a few modern ones I determined to learn how to bind a springback myself.
I’ve completed 7 of these binding now in different combinations of leather and cloth, and sizes. I’m happy with most and a couple not so much. I know why the couple didn’t work out well and I do feel comfortable making a half leather binding up to A4 in size and 1 ¾ inches thick. I’m still experimenting with spring construction. Having easily made over 40 of these with different materials and glues, following every variation in instructions I can find, I still think I have room for improvement. I have yet to experiment with the traditional method of using hide glues.
A few weeks ago, we started the course with Daniel. Daniel learnt springback binding as part of his apprenticeship at Tech College about 20 years ago. He said other than a short run soon after finishing his apprenticeship he’d never made another. Luckily, he had taken great notes when he was an apprentice.
Traditional bookbinding is full of, you guessed it, tradition. This provides a uniformity of style and technique in the trade and craft. However, there is also a lot of variation often associated with places of training and individual binderies. Daniel’s approach to a springback includes a number of variations which I have not seen documented anywhere. My favourite was a different way of reinforcing the kettle stitch, which I will probably adopt and do a video on. His approach to the lever and boards is also very different. He does not use a split board, rather builds up an equivalent construction over the lever. I may in the future video a binding in Daniel’s style to document this approach.
My next steps in springbacks involve studying more of them at the Queensland State Archives, with the goal of reproducing the finishing that was often used. I want to use this finishing for another tutorial of a larger half leather binding of a visitors book. Longer term I want to try Russia bands (an extra band of leather wrapped around the book for strength and protection), and take on a much larger binding.