OldTools Archive

Recent Bios FAQ

277112 Thomas Conroy 2023‑03‑18 Re: Quality scrollwork. (was: making scrollwork... how to smooth?)
The Yorkshireman Galoot (in a sunny Northumbria, where snow is hiding away in
shady places) wrote:
"Isn’t that true for so many of us? After some sweaty hours attempting to make
or repair summit (some thing, Paddy) when you next encounter that same detail,
you make it in such a way that it fits your tools.

"My own conversion was when I discovered that architectural carvings are fitted
to the sweep of the gouges you have on hand, and the crisp results are not the
product of years of apprenticing to handle a gouge and sweep a clean, cut curve
with one blow, but the result of having the design workable with the tools on
hand. - so THAT’s why carvers have so many tools. But only the ones they
actually need."

This is how I was taught to approach designing for gold-tooled bookbindings. Of
course you will someday have the full set of four or five dozen French gouges
(pronounced goodges, not gowdges: brass tools in wooden handles, to make
specific curved gold lines). To go with the different set of dozens more English
gouges, which are different. Plus the extra-thin and extra-thick and random and
irregular curves. Of course you will. In the meantime you use the three curves,
the dot, and the single leaf you have, eked out by a circle that is actually the
"O" from a set of letters. That's your palette. Katharine Adams had less than
that: just one dot, which she arranged in lines.

Though I should say that I got this attitude from my teacher herself, not from
any traditional wisdom. Most bookbinders figure "the more the better." Well, I
do too, I suppose. I just, like Quigley, don't feel obliged to use 'em when I
don't need to.

Tom Conroy
Snow? What's that? Its fifteen years since I saw a flake, and that was on a trip
to Boston, where they brought out the last snowstorm of the spring to interfere
with the workshop I was teaching. Of course, there has been hail on the
sidewalks in San Francisco twice in that time, and once on the roof of my house
in Berkeley.

Recent Bios FAQ