Introduction: Leather Book Bindings
Here are some hand embossed leather book binding I did as a commissioned work. What follows are some photos of various steps in the process that mainly focus on the embossing and leather working elements. At a later date I will look to put up a more detailed instruction on the actual binding.
Step 1: Mount Leather and Apply Boarder
Started with a standard sheet of backer board cut to size and a sheet of 3-4 oz vegetable tanned leather glued to the surface. Step not show but I then stained it with a light tan dye.
Next applied a full sheet of snake skin stamped leather and cut out a center square leaving a 1.5 inch boarder. Repeated this step for a back cover as well.
Step 2: Image Transfer
Using a sheet of carbon paper overlaid with the image I want to transfer to the leather. Using fine tipped tools I go over the image transferring it to the leather.
Using adds a clean up step to remove carbon smudges on the leather but a simple eraser will remove it and I find it to be a clearer transfer to the leather rather than just pushing an impression into moist leather with an awl.
Not shown - I then go over the transferred image with a blade making a shallow cut careful only to cut the top layer of the leather. Common tool of choice is a swivel knife but when working with thin leather I find I have more control with a simple exacto knife.
Step 3: Embossing
Using various round and flat metal tools I push the leather down around the cut lines raising desired the image up. I do one occasion use leather stamps to add texture or to manipulate larger areas but for the fine detail work I fine small fine flat tools give me more control to bring out extremely detailed images.
Step 4: Dying
Last step is to dye the leather bringing more visibility to the lines and images. I use a wide range of dyes and paints to achieve the final looks I am going for but I often find a single stain works best letting the embossing do the heavy lifting in defining the image.
Step 5: Stitch It All Together
As I said at the start I am not going to go into detail of the binding process but I included a images of steps I took and the final product. This is a Japanese or Stab binding.