A big issue for a bookbinder like me is a consistent source for quality materials.
Leather is fairly ubiquitous on the web, but when you require a specific type of leather for artistic consistency, it can be pretty hit or miss. I like to use 5-7oz latigo hides, distressed, with range marks and blemishes. I find it has the feel I want, and gives a nice ‘medieval’ gestalt to my work.
Ordering online in the past, I’ve gotten leathers that were too light (garment leathers), too heavy (veg-tanned, tooling leather) and or completely tanned wrong (shiny, hot pink patent leather, even). So finding a place where I can inspect and handle the hides before buying is a pretty momentous occasion.
I lucked out today and found Quilceda Leathers, up in Marysville, just a short drive from where I live. The manager there, Lacey was helpful, knowledgeable, and all around good-people. If ever you need some leather for a project, or have a hide you need custom tanned, I highly recommend stopping by or giving them a call.
Now, paper. Paper remains a HUGE issue. Back when I first started binding in ’99, there were several great suppliers available on the web and they carried huge selections at really reasonable prices. Then 9/11, and suddenly importing heavy, low-profit paper became a losing scenario. I’ve been searching fairly diligently for a domestic source of the paper I like to use, but to no avail. (The closest approximate I’ve found is a fellow in Wisconsin that handmakes all his own paper, but wants an usurious $12 a sheet!!)
This being Seattle, there are of course many a fine art supply stores (especially my new favorite, Seattle Artist & Craftsman Supply. However, the local stores focus on mainly the hot-press, finished papers used by fine artists and illustrators, and that would have very limited application in my work. The few papers I have found that could be of use, are mostly watercolor pages, (weighing a whopping 300gsm), or are too small (19 ½” x 27 1/2”) to be of much use.
So, being the resourceful, self-reliant source (and humble! –grin) I decided I would investigate papermakers overseas (India and Turkey, mostly). I found this great international business site , www.alibaba.com. Searching through it, however, is like trying to nail jello to a tree. Unless you know EXACTLY what you’re searching for, it’s going to get away from you, and you’re going to end up a sticky, sobbing mess. (Well, ok, maybe not sticky.) I have located several great possible leads, but I think from my intial inquiries, even though we’re all speaking English, no one is speaking the same language. I am thankful I have paper enough to make several dozen more books before I really get desperate.
But, having made ‘The Book of Ganesh’, I thought I would search for ‘Ganesh’ on Alibaba. Wow! I suddenly have a new business idea!
U. Ganesh. A.! For all your Ganesh needs! Ganesh idols? Got ‘em! Ganesh incense? In stock! Ganesh balloons, shirts, posters, pillows and candy? It’s all here! Ganesh pens, lighters and bandaids! Ganesh coloring books! We’ve even got inflatable Ganesh ! So hurry on down to U. Ganesh. A.! (Located behind the Thriftymart in downtown Boogerville, Pennsylvania!)
You get the idea. =)