Showing posts with label fish leather. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fish leather. Show all posts

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Parchment from Salmon - Lachs Pergament

By now, everyone show know that I have a certain infatuation for working with fish leather. Part of the reason may be that it is so different and uncommon. A bigger reason may well be the connection to Ernst Collin and my project around his writings... I first wrote about the uses of fish in binding back in early 2014 - Something Fishy - Fish Leather for Binding - with subsequent posts showing my uses of the skins. Recently while looking through all my issues of Der Buchbinderlehrling (1927-43) I found a short article about "Fips" and the eel skin" in the volume for 1937. I've worked with eel leather (Very thin, but strong. Great for millimeter bindings), but this was the first article that described making parchment from a fish skin. The earlier articles were scant on the tanning/drying details. In his third year as an apprentice, "Fips" wanted to do something special for the binding on the Buchbinderlehrling he was going to enter into the annual bookbinding competition. So, he went next door to the fish monger and asked for a really big and fat eel, but without the meat, guts, bones... After some discussion, he got what he needed, scrubbed it clean in the courtyard of the shop (to the disgust of all), and tacked it to a board to "let the sun do the rest." It was that simple.

Inzwischen sollten alle wissen, daß ich so eine verspinnerte Vorliebe für die Verwendung von Fischleder... an Einbänden habe. Ein Grund mag sein, daß es so anders ist und von fast niemanden mehr verwendet wird. Der größere Grund mag die Verbindung zu Ernst Collin sein der bekanntlich einige Aufsätze über Fischleder in der Buchbinderei geschrieben hat. Ich habe über diese zuerst 2014 in dem Aufsatz Something Fishy - Fish Leather for Binding geschrieben mit weiteren Aufsätzen wo ich meine Anwendungen beschrieben habe. Neulich fand ich beim Durchblättern meiner Buchbinderlehrling Jahrgängen (1927-43) einen kurzen Aufsatz über "Fips" und die Aalhaut. Ich habe schon einig Male Aalhaut verwendet (sehr dünn, aber stark), ideal für Edelpappbände, aber dieser war der erste Aufsatz in dem beschrieben wurde wie aus Fischhaut Pergament gemacht wurde. In den meisten Aufsätzen die ich bis jetzt gesehen habe ging es eher ums Gerben, aber in allen Fällen mit wenigen Details. Als Lehrling im dritten Jahr wollte "Fips" sich etwas besonderes für seinen Einband vom Buchbinderlehrling für den jährlichen Lehrlingswettbewerb ausdenken. Aus verschiedenen Gründen kam er zur Aalhaut. Also, ab zum benachbarten Fischhändler. Ein ganz dicker sollte es sein, aber ohne Fleisch, Gräten, und Innereien... Die hat er von dem verdutztem Fischweib sogar kostenlos bekommen. Also zurück in den Betrieb um die Haut zu reinigen (zum Eckel aller) und aufzuspannen. So einfach war das.

"Fips" setting out his eel skin to dry in the sun.
"Fips" beim Aufspannen seiner Aalhäuten.

Judging by the picture in the article (above), perhaps the eels fattened themselves after the Battle of Jutland.

Dem Bild oben nach wurde sein Aal vielleicht von der Skagerrakschlacht so fett.

Friend and colleague Monica Langwe in Sweden sent me these pictures of fish parchment she had, so I now had a sense of what I was aiming towards. Nice to see the unique textures I was used to from working with fish leather in the parchment, too.

Meine Freundin und Kollegin Monica Langwe in Schweden schickte mir diese Bilder von Ihrer Fischpergmenthaut. Jetzt hatte ich eine Ahnung wie das Ganze aussehen sollte. Schön auch zu sehen, daß die eigenartige Oberflächenstruktur wie beim Leder erhalten ist.

Fish parchment detail | Fischpergament Detailansicht
View of overall skin | Gesamt Ansicht des Pergaments
So..., the other day my wife was pulling into a parking lot with our local seafood trucked parked in it. Among the mussels, clams, and scallops was a modest Atlantic salmon fillet with skin on. She knew about my crazy projects and wanted to provoke me into action. So, after eating clams and mussels, I got to work skinning the fish.

Also, vor einigen Tagen wurde das Auto meiner Frau in einen Parkplatz mit dem Laster vom Seefruchthändler versteuert... Unter den Muscheln und Jakobsmuscheln war auch eine bescheidene Seite atlantischen Lachs mit der Haut dran. Sie wusste von meinen verspinnerten Projekten und wollte mich sticheln... Also Muscheln gegessen, und dann ran die Arbeit den Lachs zu enthäuten...

Pulling the skin off.
Beim Enthäuten.

Almost done – I rewarded my helper with scraps of sashimi
Fast fertig –Meinen Helfer habe ich mit Sashimiresten gefüttert.

The skin being cleaned after removal.
Nach der Enthäutung fing die Reinigung an.

The skin was first washed and rinsed in very mild (useless) dish detergent
and water to remove oils and the scales that remained...
Die Haut wurde zuerst in sehr milder Geschirrspülseife und wasser gewaschen
zwecks entfettung und den Rest der Schuppen los zu bekommen.

Soaking for 2 days in kaolin clay to degrease further and aid in smell removal.
Die Haut wurde als nächstes für zwei Tage in einer Kaolin/Wasser Mischung gelegen
zwecks Entfettung und Geruchentfernung.

The skin stretched out to dry in the sun under tension, just like "Fips'" skin.
The Haut unter Spannung in die Sonne zwecks trocknung gelegt,
so wie "Fips" es auch gemacht hat.
In for the night, nice and taut. Will it pass the dog test, will Loki lick it?
Rein für die Nacht. Wird es das Schnüffeltest bestehen, wird Loki es lecken?

This morning I found several greasy spots that I cleaned, and then out in the sun it went again.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Binding Ideas | Einband Ideen

Starting work on some bindings, mostly playing around with designs and texture/color combinations, but also doing real prep so I can hit the ground running...

For the Boss Dog's Three Lectures in the Eberhardtiana series...

Reddish Roma endpaper that matches headings in text with black fish and red eel.
I think I'll go with the black fish, and make more pastepapers...

Below, some ideas for paring fish with goat, a bibliophilic "surf n' turf," for the Boss Dog's edition of my Ernst Collin The Bone Folder. Printing is underway and there are exhibition deadlines coming up in the next 6-months ~ year... Want to have more than one appropriately bound. Why fish? It was something Collin wrote about.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Something Fishy - Fish Leather for Binding

In 1919, after the end of World War I, there were severe shortages and civil unrest in Germany. This situation repeated itself after World War II. These shortages led to a high level of experimentation with ersatz (replacement/alternative) materials such as straw for paper and board, spun paper, ..., silk instead of linen for sewing thread, but also colored straw for inlays (Strohintarsien). Ernst Collin and others wrote articles on the subject in such periodicals as the Archiv für Buchgewerbe, the Buchbinderlehrling, and the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien. This post is about one of those "ersatz" materials, fish leather.

In the Archiv für Buchgewerbe ( Vol. 56, 1919) the bookbinder Franz Martini of Charlottenburg (Berlin) recounted a war experience in which he saw Cod skins that had been pulled off the fish in a field kitchen in Belgium and discarded. Drawing on his experiences at the bindery of Lüderitz and Bauer, he examined the skins to ensure there were now cuts/tears, then carefully removed the scales and made parchment from them, using them to bind various such as military journals. Based on these experiments he deemed the fish parchment superior to calf or sheep for durability and working properties such as the ability to mold over raised cords without wrinkling.

Martini had the leather tested at the national testing center on the recommendation of Paul Kersten (Director of the School for Artistic Bookbinding in Berlin) and the Director of Royal Library of Berlin. The results of this testing were impressive, especially in terms of fold and tear strength where the fish parchment easily reached 50,000 double folds without damage.

Material: Fish skin (untanned), sheep parchment, calf parchment
Mittlere Reißlänge in mm = average breaking length in mm
Mittlere Dehnung in % = average stretching in %
Resistance to folding.

After these tests Martini also developed a way to tan these fish skins to leather, also taking out a "utility model" (Nr. 674 741), a more limited form of patent, on this invention. Below some images of bindings he  created with these tanned skins from the Archiv für Buchgewerbe. Obviously, fish skins are most suited to half/quarter bindings due to their shape... Images from Archiv für Buchgewerbe ( Vol. 56, 1919).

Half-leather extra binding with leather onlay and original pastepaper

Half-leather extra binding with leather onlay and original pastepaper

In the 1934 Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien (Vol 49, Nr 19), Ernst Collin wrote an article titled Bucheinbände aus Fischhaut (Bookbindings in Fishleather) that described the process in more detail, illustrated with photographs by Ernst. Shown is the same Franz Martini as mentioned above demonstrating how to remove the skin from the fish and prepare it. Martini has been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of tanning fish on a variety of species including cod, halibut, shark, eel, and others. Ernst points out that one of the reasons fish leather is not common is that most consumers prefer to cook the fish with the skin on - he suggests wrapping in gauze for the same effect, the cooking method is not mentioned.

Click to enlarge.

The article recaps an earlier article by Paul Kersten from the  1917 (Nr 7) Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien which was similar to the 1919 article mentioned above. Ernst's article also states that Martini's attempt to patent the process failed as it was not unique enough and had been described in earlier publications.

Ernst concludes by praising this material and encouraging the German fisheries to take advantage of the need for durable yet affordable native materials to help contribute to sustainability and German economic independence.

The 1938 volume of the Buchbinderlehrling, a periodical for apprentices, describes the manufacture of fish leather in the context of the 4-year plan to make Germany independent of imports, and increased rationing in advance of the looming war...

The fish were carefully skinned and then tanned in rotating drums using a vegetable tannage -  summach, dividivi, or willow. Unfortunately the tannins in most domestic plants were not effective enough. To dye the skins, aniline dyes and pigments (for darker colors) were used. Finally, the leather is pressed and glazed. Overall, these processes are identical to tanning other animal skins with an equivalent quality possible. Fish leather retains its flexibility and softness. It is also very resistant to tearing.

The article concludes by reminding the upcoming bookbinders that this is a material that they will need to become comfortable with, just as all other binding materials.

A final article on the subject from the 1946 (Nr 12) issue of the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien leads with "Fish Leather Developed by Bookbinder," recaps the articles mentioned above, and concludes by saying fish leather has established itself as a binding (and other leather trades) material, but no one remembers that a bookbinder first developed it.

Images of fish leathers below from my leather "stores." Of these the eel is the thinnest and smoothest by far, and only really useable on millimeter bindings, on small/light books, or for onlays. Almost no paring is required for use.

The other fish leathers, trout, salmon, cod, and carp are available glazed and suede. Paring is possible, but what I've found most effective is pasting out the back for dimensional stability and letting it dry on Mylar. Peel off and sand (a "micro" belt sander is great) with a little edge-paring. These leathers can easily be used as a structural element of the binding, just as any other leather - they're not just for onlays...

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The dogfish/shark and stingray skins are very difficult to pare, the former being very rubbery - kills Scharfix blades, fast.  The stingray is very hard and best used as an in/onlay. Cutting with a knife also very difficult. Probably the reason I haven't used it yet. Abigail Bainbridge wrote a great description of working with shagreen for the West Dean College Current Projects blog.

Click to enlarge

Below examples of bindings using fish leather that I have made. Click image to enlarge.

On Søren Kierkegaard by Edward F. Mooney

Bound in salmon leather on spine with stained birch veneer covered boards; endpapers of handmade Roma paper; graphite top edge; leather endbands; title stamped in gold on front cover with goat leather onlays. Enclosed is cloth-covered slipcase. Bound 2013.

The Book of Origins – Le Livre des Origines, André Ricard, 2004

Modified Bradel binding (Gebrochener Rücken); textblock sewn on three slips of Cave Paper brown walnut dyed paper; endpapers of Cave Paper brown walnut dyed paper; gilt top edge; sewn silk endbands; Bradel case with 1/4 veined calf vellum spine and undyed goatskin sides; slips laced through at joint; decor of codfish leather onlay and blind tooling.
22.5 x 14.5 x 2.5 cm. Bound 2005. Collection of Karen Hanmer.

Gaylord Schanilec and Clarke Garry, Mayflies of the Driftless Region, Midnight Paper Sales Press, 2005

“Open joint” binding; sewn on 3 brown salmon leather slips; flyleaves and doublures of Cave Paper “layered indigo day” paper; graphite top edge; rolled endbands brown salmon leather; spine covered in gray salmon leather; boards covered in full vellum with printed illustrations from text below; salmon leather slips attached to boards and framed with decorative weathered wood veneer; tied mayfly attached to front board. 26.5 x 19 x 2 cm. Bound 2013.

Ladislav Hanka, Remembering Jan Sobota, 2013

Modified Bradel binding (Gebrochener Rücken); layered Indigo Night Cave Paper endpapers; sewn link stitch on 5 reinforced slips of same paper as ends; endbands of endpaper paper around core; spine covered in brown Kangaroo with cutouts to reveal slips and sewing; boards covered in brown tie-dyed Pergamena deer parchment; onlays of suede Salmon leather with fishing fly mounted into lacuna in parchment; title stamped in gold on front board. 33 x 25.4 x 1 cm.Bound 2013.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mayflies of the Driftless Region - Done

Heading into the home stretch thanks to a week off at home. Plenty of procrastination, a speciality, but also good work on Mayflies and another binding...

First the open joint (offener Falz) where the only board attachment to the textblock is via the tapes, in this case a laminate of vellum and fish leather. The gray elements are stained birch veneer.

Then, an overview with boards attached, exterior and interior.

Attaching the final design elements to the middle of the fore-edge.

Attaching the tied mayfly to front board


Mayfly detail

Final steps, detail, touch-up where needed, make box!

To the Dorfner/de Gonet style (bottom of first post in series), I like it and have another binding using it in the works. Even though this is a smallish to average sized book, the tapes/slips must be flexible when opening cover, yet rigid so textblock does not sag. Nice to be able to work covers and textblock separately and then join.. I'm sure I'll have other thoughts as I give it the look(s) over...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mayflies of the Driftless Region

Good progress on Mayflies of the Driftless Region, vellum down, title stamped, doublures in place. Below some images. Half circles are aged wood veneer that will flank the fish-leather slips of all slips. Just didn't have scrap pieces.

Front cover

Front cover and spine

Cave Paper doublure with "open" joint

Back cover
Next step, gluing down slips and adding wood veneer to each side of slip to make a half-circle...

Read part one here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mayflies of the Driftless Region

Working on Gaylord Shanilec's Mayflies of the Driftless Region for Designer Bookbinders' "Contemporary Bindings of Private Press Books" exhibition that will open in the UK and travel to venues in the US. Book is due in the UK early January, 2014.

Gaylord kindly included prospecti when he sent the textblock and I bound those in at the back along with tipping in an original print (for the standard edition cover) opposite the title page.

Textblock sewn on three vellum back salmon leather slips and backed towards 90 degrees at shoulder. Double-folio Johannot endpapers to go with textblock.

Graphite top edge (others left untrimmed), wrapped salmon leather endband to match slips. Spine stiffener covered with salmon leather turned in at head and tail with leather very thin and wide enough to go down shoulders and onto endpaper. Cave paper flyleaves glued on at base of shoulder and on leather and at foredge for greater flexibility.

Wrapped endbands, graphite top edge, and prospecti guarded in at rear of textblock...

Spine view

Illustration from text scanned and output via inkjet. Sealed with varnish to prevent bleeding. A different illustration will go on the back board. Slips will extend onto covers on top of vellum, amount TBD

Vellum laid on top of artwork. Will show through with more clarity when vellum is pasted to boards.

Next steps, attach artwork to boards, cover in vellum, stamp title on front board, attach boards to textblock via slips...

Structure is an open joint binding (in German, Franzband mit offenem Falz), a style that is attributed to Otto Dorfner, a contemporary of Ignatz Wiemeler who also taught at the Bauhaus and bound some of the Cranach Press works... It is also used heavily by Jean de Gonet in France [Site has some broken links, click on "reliures" for bindings]. De Gonet also had a fantastic retrospective at the BNF, amazing catalog available via Sonya Sheats a binder working in the Boston area uses it beautifully as well. Erin Fletcher did a very nice multi-part interview with her on her blog. Toon Van Camp a binder in Belgium describes the structure as he learned in a workshop with Brother Edgar Claes. Anne Puls, a German binder creates beautiful designs using this technique, something I would love see her write up.

Watch the design evolve as I post updates  while working on the binding.

Edit 11/10/13: Read part 2 here.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fancied-up Books 2

Another commission that involved rebinding a modern trade binding. I had rediscovered several sheets of beautiful birch veneer and used this binding as an excuse to try weathering the wood and seeing how it worked as a prelude to another binding. It's nice to be able to transfer skills and materials from my model railroad hobby, but the other binding had its problems - while the wood turned in fairly easily on these 40pt boards, it was a bit more challenging on the other book, cracking and separating from the paper backing... On the upside and while hard to see in the image, the wood took the gold stamping for the title well, too. Amy Borezo has used this with great effect, turning-in or trimming flush with board edges. Her binding on the Guild's 100th Anniversary Catalog is here. The salmon skin was much easier to work with. This one is not polished but suede-like.

On Søren Kierkegaard by Edward F. Mooney

Bound in salmon leather on spine with stained birch veneer covered boards; endpapers of handmade Roma paper; graphite top edge; leather endbands; title stamped in gold on front cover with goat leather onlays. Enclosed is cloth-covered slipcase. Bound 2013.

Concept:Simple and elegant with a weathered look.