Antique French bookmaking: Part deux

This is the second technique I’ve tried to create facsimilies of antique French books. It’s the most realistic and certainly my current favorite.

It all starts out with a used paperback–the more yellow the pages the better. Tear off the covers, making sure to get as much of the spine off as possible. Then start tearing groups of 6-10 pages off at a time. This can take a little care, because you don’t want to tear the paper –you want a little of the spine left but not too much. So if some sections end up with lots of excess paper or glue–just trim that away. The roughness adds to the aged look. The thicker the book, the better.

Then fill a loaf pan or casserole dish (be sure the pages of your book fit easily into the pan/dish) with about an inch of hot coffee. You can use instant, but I used the dregs from expresso I’d just made. Having it hot helps the pages absorb the liquid better. By the way, some pages are better at absorption than others, but all will take on some kind of tint from the coffee. Then tint the entire front page of the first section and the entire back page of the last section. Try to make the tints of different intensity for each book. Sometimes the paper takes care of that for you.

Dip each of the sections of the torn-apart book into the coffee–start with the long outer edge (not the spine) then the two sides. Try to get these at least 1/2 inch into the coffee–deeper is better. Shake off the excess and spread outside to dry. (That has taken a mere 20 minutes in the 101 degree heat we’ve been having here!) The dry pages will have a wonderful rumpled old look to them, especially when you stack them up. Reassemble the book by stacking the sections and tie it with rustic twine or coffee-tinted string.You can see these books stacked on top at the backĀ  in the photo. Simple, but still lots of character.

But if you want something a little more authentic–add a cover or a cover and a back piece. For the covers shown in the photo above, I went online and found antique book covers or frontispieces I liked, printed them on different hues and textures of brownish paper, and then distressed them with coffee. Depending how much coffee you use (it helps them look crumpled as well as stained)–you may want to crush them a little to make them look as rumpled as the pages do.

I love this look and am making more for myself! I’m even going to experiment with pastel blue tints–diluted blueberry juice and pomegranite juice–instead of coffee. But I’ll keep the cardboard colored covers. Here’s what I’m aiming for! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Source: Atelier de Campagne

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One thought on “Antique French bookmaking: Part deux

  1. Pingback: New “old” French books | Gustav and Gayle

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