Cuban dictionary rebind



I love to travel! My flat and studio is filled with all sorts of nonsense that's been squeezed into rucksacks from far away places over the years.

This wee guy was one of the cutest finds though, and he's been moved around from flat to flat over the years.
A few years ago in Havana, I found myself in a small square at sunset after a busy day of exploring and mojito tasting. The square was surrounded on all sides by stalls selling books - tables strained under the weight of them, books spilled onto the street and were stacked in wobbly piles all around. This wee guy caught my eye - he was so tiny, with a spine nearly as thick is it was high, and of course it smelled great!

There was something quite intriguing in it's patina of age and knocks it had picked up - a bit like Havana itself, with it's repaired old cars and crumbling buildings, that have a rough beauty all of their own.

At that time I didn't know how to repair books, and it's been so nice to be able to come back to this with new knowledge years later. I was always a little nervous using it, but now it's sturdier and more durable, and I have no excuse for not practising my Spanish!

I started by taking the book apart carefully. The structure of the book itself was in pretty good nick, but the cover had definitely seen better days.
Taking a book apart is such an interesting process - you get to see how it was made decades ago, and what materials were used. I like to measure the joints and squares and compare with how I make my books, to see if there are other ways of making that I can learn - is that a bit sad? A bit like bilbio-archaeology.
In this case you can see that the bookbinder who made this used some newspaper to cover the spine of their book - something that's quite common to find on old books being rebound.

After adding new striped headbands, I made a new case. I chose red, white and blue - colours of the Cuban flag. I really like the bold title on the original cover, and tried to replicate it as much as possible with white foil blocking. I used a rare bit of red calfskin that I rescued a while ago, destined for the bin of a Glasgow bindery. It was the perfect size for this rebind.

This is another book that feels great in the hand - friendly and approachable! It's been really nice to breathe fresh life into something that's looked tired for so long.

Bonus - now we all know that bookbinding in Spanish is 'encuadernación'.

Gillian Stewart