Creating in the time of Coronavirus: An adapted version of the Armenian endband
By Katerina Williams, Graduate Diploma Conservation Studies, specialising in Books and Library Materials
A tale of curiosity, determination (stubbornness) and working with what you’ve got.
It’s April 11 2020, and the world has all but come to a standstill. Buildings have been shut and those deemed non-essential, temporarily closed. So, as a conservation student, stuck in her dorm room, what is she to do? Obviously embark on a quest to decipher… understand… attempt to gain a slight understanding of the construction of the famed Armenian endband. With the help from carefully sourced texts and eager, experienced individuals on various social media platforms, I managed to gain a better understanding of the multiple core structure that comprised this aesthetically pleasing, compound endband.
Just one minor issue.
My previous endband experiments were created using archival card, and some millboard pasted on one end to act as a base for the primary core. The Armenian endband, as I was soon to realise, comprised four cores in total, with three as the secondaries.
I am pretty creative when it comes to using found materials, but in order to even start the first secondary endband it would have been impossible without the use of a textblock.
So, step 1. Sew the text block.
Thankfully, my sagacious self had a few sections made before the studios shut, allowing me to feasibly create a text block for the endband. The sewing of the text block incorporated double support cords to create a herringbone stitch which I found quite interesting as supported sewing structures were unusual in this region.
Whilst Greenfield’s and Hille’s Endbands from East to West provides some instructions and line diagrams on the endband’s construction, I found it easier to follow the more precise instructions and photographs of Hille’s and Merian’s article, The Armenian Endband: History and Technique. I am not going to describe exactly my process in this blog post, but merely the challenges that had to be overcome, as
1: The materials that I possessed were not sufficient in recreating a replica;
2: My experience regarding the creation of complex endblands is minimum, to say the least.
Board-less Woes and the Primary End Band
The Armenian endband is both structural and decorative and the book’s boards are integral to both the endband’s structure and support. The primary core is created by Helical sewing where the core is tied down to the boards via three drilled, staggered holes, and subsequently twice through each section of the text block. My supposed sagacious self completely overlooked the need for boards when packing things from the studio, so I had to do without.