Volume 35 - Spring 2013


Aracnicated Susan

You really must take care when selecting your thread for sewing - a cautionary tale - by Tom Conroy

The sapient will perceive that the spider was English; a French spider would have spun to 33%.

Susannah had a most uncommon evil eye for swell.
She thought she knew what thread to use but never chose it well:
For thick mid-Vic three-deckers she would use the thickest thread,
Bound three-in-one they'd puff out fat just like an author's head.
For slender verse she used thin silk, and had the spine cave in
Like a consumptive poet's chest from years of guzzling gin.

One day Susannah chanced to bind a great big spider book.
A big book-spider sidled out, intent to take a look.
"My dear, you're sadly clumsy in your way of handling thread.
The thickness counts. I'll demonstrate," the big book-spider said.
And straightaway Arachne threw a thread around the girl,
Tied on and wound, cocooned her neatly, topped off with a swirl
(Which, praise to say, increased her girth by just fifteen per cent)
And left her to consider what the word "precision" meant.

Arachne left Susannah there to marinate a year.
The nightmare that came next would leave you paralysed with fear.
But I, a gentle storyteller, know you're not yet grown,
And sweetly leave you to imagine horrors of your own.

MORAL: Resew the book if the swell is wrong.

Tom Conroy is a book restorer, binding historian, toolmaker, teacher, and fine binder in Berkeley, California. After fifteen years as a self-taught amateur binder he began benchwork training with Theodore and Anne Kahle at Capricornus in 1981. He holds an MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science) from the University of California at Berkeley.


Skin Deep - Volume 35 - Spring 2013

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