Diego Caloca Jr. + ESV Thinline = Masterpiece (A Guest Post)

The following guest post comes from the keyboard of a friend of mine, Paul V., who sent his old standby Bible off to Southern California for a face lift and got back a beauty queen.


I would first love to say what an honor it is to be guest posting on this blog. I’ve known it’s author, Jeff, for less than a year, but we have bonded quickly over our mutual interest in high quality Bibles, good coffee and Christ’s work of building His Kingdom here on earth. I am grateful to him for helping us learn.

Now on to my actual review…

ESV Thinline (left) and Pitt Minion (right)
ESV Thinline (left) and Pitt Minion (right)

The missing piece of my higher quality Bible collection was a thinline that I could travel with, as the Pitt Minion’s print is getting a bit too small for my taste and I travel quite a bit for work. I mentioned to Jeff that I had an ESV thinline (this one, actually) that worked perfectly for the job, but it was falling apart. I also mentioned that I was loathe to get a different one, as this one is full of notes from years of use and I am quite attached to it.

That is when he mentioned the name Diego Caloca (check out this story on him) and told me that I should contact him to see about rebinding my Bible. I called the number right away, fully expecting to get a receptionist and schedule a time to talk with him later. Little did I know that I would speak to the master artist himself!

Rather than spend a lot of time reviewing the text block of this Bible (which is nice, but definitely has more sentimental value to me than high-quality-craftsmanship value), I’m going to focus on the process of working with Diego and the actual rebind.

Now…back to my conversation with Mr. Caloca. It did not take long at all to realize two key things about him: 1.) This man is incredibly passionate about Bibles, knowledgeable about all things rebind and an immensely skilled artisan. 2.) For a man so gifted, he is incredibly humble. Though he’s likely rebound hundreds of Bibles, he got excited right along with me when we were discussing the possibilities of what he could do to save my aging and tattered Bible.

I do not consider myself to be an expert in the process of binding Bibles. I may know more than the average person about some of the aspects of a higher quality Bible, but talking with Diego about the options was like drinking from a firehose! (I mean that in the best way possible!) He also has another full-time job besides the rebinding business. In fact, rebinding Bibles started more as a hobby, but he has gotten so good at it that it is turning into a business for him, which is exciting! We need more quality artisans like Diego.

I explained to Diego what I envisioned and he laid out several options for me. After we hung up, I quickly went to his Facebook page to check out some of his work. It does not take long to get lost in some of the pictures of the beautiful work that he has done. Seeing this level of craftsmanship and hearing his heart over the phone combined to make me excited about the prospect of what he might do with my Bible. I also realized that there was no way I was going to be able to visualize the possibilities as well as he could. So I called him back and got the ball rolling on the rebind, and during that conversation I told him that I wanted him to be able to express his creativity and expertise on my Bible without me offering too much guidance. I reasoned that he was far more capable than I was of creating something that I would be happy with the rest of my life. Looking back that was the best decision I could have made with this project. Mr. Caloca delivered a beautiful and well-crafted product that will be my travel companion for many years to come.

During the midst of the actual rebinding process, Diego was very gracious to send me pictures and updates of how the process was going.

IMG_0214 IMG_0215

Soon enough, the project was done and he shipped it off to me. As a really nice touch, he sent a nice batch of pictures of the final product prior to its arrival, which helped satiate this anxiously waiting customer! Throughout the entire process I was struck by the humility of this wonderful artist, who is using his skills and gifts for God’s kingdom. His servant heart shines through even in the midst of his immense skill and expertise.

Now on to the actual finished product. My only requests of Diego were this:

1.) Allan-style yapp;

2.) Raised bands on the spine;

3.) The phrase “Sola Scriptura” (latin for “by Scripture alone” – a nod to the supreme authority of the Bible for all things) somewhere on the Bible.

That’s it! I let him pick the color, type and quality of leather (within a given price range), along with any other customizations that he would like to make.

Here is what I ended up getting: P1050453 P1050452 P1050393

A few quick specifics for all of you Bible geeks like me out there. The leather is goatskin, the finish on it is called “Antiqued Rugged Rustic Texture.” It is a more rigid leather that feels great in your hand. All of the grains really stand out visually and when you touch it as well.

P1050401

The yapp is a full Allan style. It almost closes entirely around the text block when the Bible sits closed on a table, which is fantastic for protecting the pages of the Bible when throwing it in a bag for travel!  P1050365 P1050366 P1050367 He created five gorgeous raised bands on the spine. Nestled in between the top two is my requested phrase, Sola Scriptura, in gold. And in between bands three and four is an indication that this is an ESV Bible. Simple, yet stunning.P1050451

He also added a beautiful silver ribbon – the Bible didn’t even have one before!

The Bible lays flat from front to back, which it didn’t previously. But it is not overly floppy when held open in your hand. This makes it great for teaching or just casual reading. The leather you select will bring variation, but this one makes for a nice, smooth protective shell.

P1050391 P1050395

In summary, I could not be happier with the final product, and Diego Caloca is clearly becoming a master at his craft. I am excited to know that I will have a Caloca Rebind in my collection for years to come.

I’ll leave you with some more pictures and an admonition about the importance of Scripture from 20th century author, pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

Do not ask…“How shall I pass this on?” but “What does it say to me?” Then ponder the word long in your heart until it has gone right into you and taken possession of you

Life Together

click and cycle through for larger images:


And lest we get lost in leather-bound English-Bible luxury, please remember to pray for translations in the remaining 1,859 Bible-less languages in our world. Click here to see my heart on the matter and to even support the work of Bible translation.

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