Medieval on the Go: The Girdle Book with Karen Hanmer – Day 3

Today was the third day of Karen’s workshop and we were busy!

We started out by drilling holes in our boards – these would be used later for lacing on our text blocks.

Drilled holes in wood cover boards

Next, we frayed out the ends of the cords on our text blocks to remove lumps.

Frayed text block cords

We used a 1/4″ chisel to carve channels in the front and back of our cover boards – the cords on our text blocks will rest in these after lacing in. I find something very relaxing about chiseling.

Drilled holes and carved channels in wood cover boards

We rubbed paste into the cords and twisted the tips into points to help us lace them into the boards.

Lacing text block into wood cover

After the lacing was completed, we cut little leather triangles and crammed them into the holes with the ends of our cords. This helped to lock the cords into place. The ends of the cords and leather were trimmed flush with the surface of the board. Paste was added to the sunken cords and smushed into the channels with a bone folder. Smushing is fun.

Text block laced into wood cover

We then moved on to covering the book with leather. This bummed me out a bit because I loved the way the stitching looked and hated to cover it up.

We started off by brushing a layer of PVA on the spine. This was followed by a layer of paste on the tail end of the book. A strip of leather (suede side out) was pasted out and adhered to the tail end of the book. We made some cuts in the leather at the spine to allow us to work it around the endbands.

Handmade book with wood covers and partial leather covering

The next step was to cover the remainder of the book. I was really nervous at this point – I was worried about getting paste all over the outside of the book. And screwing up in general.

One cover, the spine, and the leather were pasted out. The book was then placed centered on the leather. After the leather was smoothed out with our hands, the second cover was pasted out. The leather was pulled over and adhered to the second board. There was finagling of leather for a while, making sure that it was wrinkle-free and formed around the cords.

I don’t use paste in my work, so it took a while to get used to the adhesive. It was wiggly, but I eventually found it very easy to work with.

Handmade leather covered book with wood covers


Once the book was covered, we wrapped our books tightly with an ace bandage to help ensure good adhesion. After 20 minutes, we unwrapped our books, placed blotters both inside and outside of our covers, and pressed the book under weight overnight.

Handmade girdle book under a brick

Done for the day! The book is looking good and I’m very happy with my progress.

Here are some more great quotes from Karen:

Is everybody good but me?

Pare, discard, repeat. Pare, discard, repeat.

You don’t wear a tuxedo to go to the gas station.

One Response to “Medieval on the Go: The Girdle Book with Karen Hanmer – Day 3”

By Anonymous - 1 July 2015 Reply

i am loving this whole process…

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