Monday, May 22, 2017

Connecting Peninsulas Update

Today I received a check from Michigan State University (Libraries) for "Connecting Peninsulas." I did the project for love of Michigan, the Mighty Mac, and bookbinding. Now it's found a good home in MSU's Special Collections. I could not be happier about that!

ABOVE BELOW: Tales and Folklore of the Fabulous Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Hardcover – 1952 by Curt. G. Knoblock.

MIRACLE BRIDGE AT MACKINAC. 1957 by David B. Steinman and John T. Nevill. Jack is profiled in MSU’s Ink Trails II: Michigan's Famous and Forgotten Authors.

PENINSULA: Essays and Memoirs from Michigan / Edited by Michael Steinberg - 03/31/2000  Publisher: Michigan State University Press.

Photos, Letter, Brochure:
The cars are driving on the ice near our home. The photo was taken by my father, Woodrow Jarvis, a freelance photographer and writer whose work depicts life in the Upper Peninsula during the mid-twentieth century.
   My dad took the photo of my brother, Mark Jarvis, on or near Opening Day for the Mackinac Bridge. Dad took photos and did publicity for the bridge. The 1958 letter is from my grandmother, Alma Jarvis, referring to the “new” Mackinac Bridge.

I’m a Yooper* born and raised. I grew up on the St. Mary’s River, five miles from DeTour Village in the eastern Upper Peninsula. Two of the three books come from my parents’ bookshelves and friendships. Curt Knoblock, author of Above Below, was the first superintendent of the Drummond Dolomite mine on Drummond Island. The quarry provided employment for many (most?) of the men of my hometown, across the channel. Knoblock’s tall tales capture life in the Upper Peninsula in the mid-twentieth century.
    Dr. David Steinman’s Miracle Bridge at Mackinac conveys his thrill that the bridge he engineered overcame all obstacles and was built. The coauthor, Jack Nevill, was a family friend and neighbor in Spring Bay. Jack died in a fire at his home just before this book was published. His widow, Peggy, was like a grandma to me as I was growing up.
   Above Below and Miracle Bridge at Mackinac keep their original dustjackets, washed and repaired. The overlaid dust jacket for Above Below features “Starry Night” and “Snow” Cave Papers. For Miracle Bridge I trimmed and folded a 2007 Mackinac Bridge poster.
      Peninsula[s] uses birchbark covers with the title Coptic-stitched on the spine. Signatures were remade with Moriki guards and the original cover bound in.
     The multi-section slipcase is made from Cave Paper “Layered Indigo,” which reminds me of deep, mysterious water. The container places Miracle Bridge in the middle section that connects Above Below and Peninsula.
    Only as I was preparing this exhibit entry did I make the connection that Yoopers also live under a bridge. The International Bridge brochure was written and edited by my father, Woodrow Jarvis. So, I abandoned my first theme of Yoopers vs. Trolls because Yoopers are Trolls too.
   *(Yoopers=U.P.'ers=people who live in or are from Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Trolls=those folks who live "under the bridge".)


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Betty Crocker Cookbook

It's a good thing my tetanus shot is up to date. This rusted Betty Crocker Cookbook's ring binder from the 1940s had 5 rings, instead of today's standard 3 rings. So buying a replacement mechanism wasn't an option. The spine, also metal, was thoroughly rusted as well. The client didn't want me to remove all the filament tape from the covers because she preferred the book to look much as it was when her mother was using it.
Things got messy for a while.

Some of the filament tape had to go.

I think I achieved a lasting, appropriate repair that didn't change the character of the book.

After rust removal, black bookcloth tape protects the metal spine.

Metal mechanism after rust removal.

Spine before treatment.

Friday, February 24, 2017

An Ageless Lock of Hair

I accept and appreciate my gray hair, which proves useful when trying to stuff an overloaded carryon into a plane's luggage rack. (Thank you, helpful young guys!) Yet when hair is clipped, it doesn't change color, I have discovered from locks of hair in Bibles. Once I found a curl of blond hair in a folded tissue, labeled: "Billy Boy Hairs July 19, 1926." Here it was, still little-boy blond 90 years later. Usually, however, the clippings are pressed without any information, such as this mysterious one. I am guessing it belonged to a woman, but I'll never know. Who stored it, and why? A husband, a lover? A bereaved mother? It's in Revelation--is that significant? Mysteries lost to time and distance.

My first reaction when I saw this was, "Ewww." But it does lead to questions that might make a good story. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Just in Time for Christmas

Call me crazy but I really enjoy fixing study Bibles. This one had lost several front pages, including the title page. Other front pages were--well, as you can see. The paper had swelled over the years and burst the spine. Cover repair was not an option. The client was very happy.

I've ironed pages more often than any article of clothing.

The front pages of this Bible were available online as a PDF. I downloaded and printed them, joined the spine edges with repair tissue, and sewed them in.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Just in time for Thanksgiving

This morning I put the final touches on the 1912 Bird Guide repair and box. Sewing on tapes would have looked too bulky with the soft covers, and the book would not have opened flat. I used a Coptic stitch so the pages would lie flat, then cased in the text block as usual. The owners picked it up a little while ago. It had belonged to their grandmother, who had used it for many years. They are excited to show it to family gathered this Thanksgiving weekend. I told them it would be good for the next hundred years.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Bird Guide paper repair

I completed the rebinding of a Study Bible from my Heritage Day commissions. Now I'm starting the paper repair for the Bird Guide. Here are the page groups and strips of sekishu laid out on my work table.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Springback binding, Moby Dick, Jane Austen and a "broken" Bible


My T-shirt from Wonder Book says on the back, “If there were no books, there would be no Moby Dick.” Melville’s classic makes an appearance in my novel.

   Book artist Karen Hanmer shepherded 10 of us through a challenging two-day springback binding workshop in the Folger Shakespeare Library's conservation lab two weekends ago. This past Saturday, I attended an American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference in Virginia. Both of these events confirmed my commitment to meld bookbinding with novel-writing. (See 2014 post: “Bible Repair and Novel Writing Make a Mess.”)
    My novel-in-progress, The Broken Bible, is the first in a series featuring a bookbinder who solves mysteries. A “book-breaker” is a person who takes apart books (of prints, say) in order to sell individual pages. A book-breaker is considered a villain by bibliophiles. (“He breaks books! He’s scum!” is a direct quote from someone I know.) The conflicts unleashed in my novel by the discovery of a page from a “broken” 1526 Tyndale New Testament lead to broken hearts—and broken commandments.
    The restoration of an antique ledger—a Cemetery Book with a springback binding—is a plot point in The Broken Bible, so I was thrilled to take Karen’s class. She is a generous and skillful instructor and binder. The Folger lab is new and modern. What a privilege to work there for two days! We brought our own tools and used their heavy equipment (the board shear and book presses). I enjoyed the weekend fusion of my blue-collar book world (I’m a book wrangler at Wonder Book, a giant used-book store) with the rarefied environment of book conservators who handle Shakespeare First Folios.
    By the way, I recommend the current Folger exhibit, “Will and Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity” ( For those who have seen the 1996 A&E “Pride and Prejudice,” Colin Firth’s shirt is on prominent display. Another case contains works that satirize Shakespeare and Austen, including Seth Grahame-Smith’s “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.”
    The ACFW Conference imparted instruction, vision, and motivation for editing my novel and writing a first draft of the next in the series . I am grateful to author Jan Elder, who leads my writer’s group, for the ride, the encouragement, and the fellowship (along with Steve Baer, a member of the group). When I told one of the organizers that the conference gave me more than my money’s worth, she said that was their goal.