Bound to her craft

Published 8:57 am Friday, August 20, 2004

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Edwardsburg Argus
CASSOPOLIS - Susan Toth loves her job - the smell of the leather, the feel of the materials and working with her tools, which include four hand presses. The Edwardsburg woman researched, took classes and has become a reputable book binder.
Many of the women in the audience at August's DAR meeting, already had given Toth a special book to be repaired or rebacked, including members Sherry Hilden of Cassopolis and Barbara Cook of Sumnerville.
Showing supplies of fine Japanese rice paper and gold foil, she told of the book binders guild, to which she belongs along with about 1,000 other members nationwide. They are a wonderful source for supplies and help, when needed, she said.
Repairing Bibles is the most frequent request she gets, but other times she had done sets, as was the case in the book she used to demonstrate putting on a new spine.
While still learning, one Bible she actually repaired twice. The original had gotten wet and she repaired every page but found the new size had grown from six and a half to nine and a half inches thick. She located thinner paper and redid every single page.
Though she usually doesn't have time to read or look at the books she repairs, she shared a few pictures from this set with the DAR members, of the correct method for taking your horse around an automobile.
Childhood schoolbooks, cookbooks and other favorites are also worth the price of repair to her customers. Prices range from $50 to $80 and above, depending on the extent of the damage or needed repair.
For books which are precious, but unrepairable, Toth can make a clamshell box which resembles a book into which the original is placed to prevent further damage.
She comes by her love of books and type from her mother, an English professor or her grandfather on her father's side, who owned a newspaper.
Formerly in nursing, she has come to enjoy this profession and has expanded with a large shop over the garage on U.S.-12. Her husband Jim comes in handy toting the heavy press she brings to the demonstrations.
The Toth's daughter Laura (Jon) Blough of Edwardsburg has joined in and worked with her.
Using a library book, Toth showed how she keeps a leather cover moist with a combination of beeswax and lanolin.
The next meeting of the Captain Samuel Felt Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) will be on Monday, Sept. 13 at 2 p.m., also at the Main Branch of the Cass District Library. In honor of Constitution Week, Cass County Circuit Court Judge Michael E. Dodge will be speaking.