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  1. Upcoming Workshops // February to April

    February 11, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    FEBRUARY:
    Japanese Stab Binding
    February 16 (Saturday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    In this workshop, students will construct a Japanese Stab binding model, more traditionally referred to as 4-Hole binding or yotsume toji. We will build the model in a traditional manner, while incorporating Western tools and equipment. This workshop will provide a better understanding of the structure and the foundation for which to alter the number of holes and sewing pattern.

    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    February 25 – March 1 (Monday – Friday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    Students will learn the foundations of bookbinding by combining hands-on exercises and discussion. The class starts by exploring non-adhesive structures: soft cover pamphlet, Coptic, historical longstitch and link stitch. The class ends with a look at case bindings, with the creation of two hardcover flatback bindings. Students also learn different structural elements, sewing variations, covering and cutting techniques using various materials, tools and equipment. Throughout the course discussions will cover terminology, paper grain and folding, selecting proper materials and tools, and adhesives and their properties.


    MARCH:
    Fundamentals of Bookbinding II – This class is sold out
    March 4 – 8 (Monday – Friday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    This course will focus on hardcover structures. Students will continue with rounded back case bindings and end the course with a book with words. Throughout the course students will fine-tune their skills through repetition and develop a focus to details such as, endpapers structures and headband variations. Topics of discussion will include an overview of bindery equipment such as stamping on the Kwikprint and trimming with the plough.

    Due to the popularity of this class another workshop will be offered from May 6 – 10 (Monday – Friday). You can find registration for that class here.


    APRIL:
    Focus on Case Binding
    April 8 – 12 (Monday – Friday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    Explore case binding structures through repetition while experimenting with minor changes in technique with each book. The course covers structural elements, sewing variations, covering, and cutting techniques using various tools and equipment. Discussions cover terminology, paper grain and folding, selecting proper materials and tools, and adhesives and their properties. Students have ample time to repeat each technique in order to achieve precision and accuracy. This course is suitable for beginners or those who want to refresh their skills.

    Personal projects: Time will be dedicated to working on personal projects during the latter half of the workshop. Projects should be suitable for the case binding structure. While some materials can be supplied, students should bring the bulk of the materials required for their work.

    Bookbinding 101
    April 27 – 28 (Saturday – Sunday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    In this two day class, students get a quick introduction to various bookbinding techniques by exploring three different book structures. The class begins with a simple pamphlet and continues with constructing two multi-signature books known as a flatback case binding and link stitch binding. Finally, students construct a box to house all of their creations. This class is a great way to familiarize yourself with bookbinding and is perfect for those who are curious about the craft. Please bring a notebook and pencil to class.


  2. Bookbinder of the Month: Annette Friedrich // Post Three

    February 10, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    Orlando is the sixth book in the series and was bound by Annette Friedrich in 2016. The binding is covered in a bright red goatskin with grey hand sewn endbands and green paper edge-to-edge doublures and matching flyleaves. The tooling is made up of four shades of metallic foils which include silver, champagne, purple and green. The design has an additional seventeen shades of pigmented foils in white, grey, two shades of purple, two shades of blue, three shades of yellow, three shades of red and five shades of green. Transparent pearl and iridescent silver foils are added as accents throughout the design.

    The chemise is inlaid with light and dark green paper at the sides and red goatskin across the spine. The title is tooled in iridescent and silver pearl foil. The slipcase is covered in the same hand-dyed dark green paper used on both the slipcase and flyleaves and lined with a green Alcantara. The design was tooled by Claude Ribal.

    During the design process, you describe creating around 50 versions per binding. I wondered if you could speak more specifically about this. Are you reinventing the design each time or pulling elements from previous iterations to make your final layout. I imagine you might flip the design in all directions or look at it in reverse.
    Yes, there are many versions of a design before it is ‘just so’. It’s a little bit of everything that you just mentioned. At first I start out though and cut white sheets of paper to the exact size of the boards and get my handtools and the inkpad out. I will have read the book at that point, but normally I do not go in with a preconceived idea for a design as such. However, this book is actually an exception, as I did know that I wanted to work with a distinct historic tool as a stand-alone player. But to begin with it is just plain old doodling and letting things flow. After a while something will have perked my interest, and I will start looking at this with a more inquisitive mind. I try to understand what exactly has caught my attention, how it worked and why, and then, how the hell to develop this into a full-blown design. During all of this I will continue to dip in and out of the book. Reading the authors voice, sensing the rhythm, feeds back into my design process. So at first the steps are big, then they get smaller and smaller. And yes, sometimes I look at a sheet from the reverse or flip it into a different angle, but unless I don’t actually use it for the next sheet, I would not count this as ‘a’ step. I have a light-box that helps me to carry forward the elements that I like, but there is no real telling what will stay in the game until the very end. Once I am happy with the design in black and white, I then go out in search to find the colors that build up the atmosphere.

    Woolf wrote Orlando more quickly then her previous novels. Were you aware of this as you were designing the binding? Did you try to quicken your pace as well?
    Yes I was aware of it, but it had no influence on my own process. It takes as long as it takes to get it right.

    The design for Orlando is very playful. I love how you used the historic tool in a more atypical manner, it really evokes the feeling of the novel as it floats and dances through the design.
    You make me very happy with the words you just chose. Floating and dancing: excellent! That was exactly what I was after, and it is fabulous that you mirror this back to me. Thank you!


    A beautiful documentation has now been published, that traces the development of this project, which, as it turns out, took seven years to complete. WOOLF I – IX ! 98pp, with an introductory essay and 1:1 reproductions of the bindings, background information, and text excerpts.

    Text: Annette Friedrich, Virginia Woolf
    Design: BUCHmacher, Germany
    Photo: Shannon Tofts, Scotland

    £30 + postage / reserve your copy at www.annette-friedrich.com


  3. Bookbinder of the Month: Annette Friedrich // Post Two

    February 3, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    The fifth book in Annette Friedrich’s Woolf I–IX series is To the Lighthouse, which was bound in 2015. The binding is covered in a tan goatskin with green hand sewn endbands and edge-to-edge doublures. The flyleaves are a light yellow hand-dyed paper. The design is executed by tooling through silver folio and fifteen shades of pigmented foils including white, mauve, two shades of grey, two shades of blue, three shades of yellow and four shades of red. Transparent pearl foil was also used within the design.

    The chemise is inlaid with blue grey paper and tooled with three shades of silver foil. The slipcase is covered in the same lilac paper used on the chemise and lined with mauve Alcantara. The design is tooled by Claude Ribal of Paris.

    In your description of To the Lighthouse, you mention that Woolf’s style of writing changes with this novel. In comparison, the design on To the Lighthouse incorporates more color than any of your prior bindings. Do you use color in your design as a means of representing something in the text or is it an aesthetic choice or perhaps a bit of both?
    Yes, next to her ongoing interest to tell a ‘story’ from the inside of her characters minds and link them together in one big flow (the stream of consciousness) she now adds another layer by weaving in a sense for the surrounding atmosphere and the general passing of time. In a weird way this is almost detached from the main plot… Anyhow! All I want to say is that it reverberates with pure poetry throughout and this did lead me to start working with color from a more painterly perspective: to create light, elusive moments, buzz and the occasional ‘clunk’.

    With this binding you introduce the “special guest” foils. Is your inventory of foils growing at this point? What characteristics are you looking for in your foils and what do you try to avoid?
    My collection of pigment foils has grown steadily over the years. I think I have approximately 60 different colors to work with at the moment. And only ‘recently’ have I discovered my ‘special guest’ foils, which are iridescent, pearly translucent or whatnot. They are used on top (or under) other foils and thus give it a kick into a direction that is beyond ‘regular’. I love them, but of course one needs to be a tad careful not to go too far down that particular route.

    What do I look for in my foils? Well, pigment foils are mainly created for the industry, but one has to understand that the foil is merely the clever carrier for the pigment, before heat releases it from the foil onto whatever it is meant to be on. There are two main challenges that the industry is interested in and which they have solved in a satisfactory, yet mutually exclusive, way. One is to block big and coarse areas in one go. To do this, the pigment releases easily from the foil and is not too choosy about the exact level of temperature or pressure. The downside of this is, that the edge definition tends to be blotchy and that any inner negative shapes should not be covered… well, they are very likely to get filled in regardless. So they are brilliant for the big work, but not at all good for lettering. However, no need to be depressed, for the industry has developed another type of foil that is geared up for detailed and precise work and excels in high edge definition. The problem with this one is that it is super sensitive and tricky to use for hand tooling, as the temperature window needed to pull it off is extremely narrow and the surface needs to be well prepped and super flat. So those are the characteristics one can find in foils and usually each supplier will offer the same color in the varying types. So read the description and choose the ones that fit best your needs.

    The finishing work on this binding is executed by Claude Ribal. Up until this point, you had been completing the tooling yourself, why did you decide to outsource this stage of the process moving forward?
    Yup. This is a very sad story and a big learning curve for myself as a maker. I have been working with tooled designs for years and years and am pretty good at it, even if I say so myself. However, as it turns out: not good enough! When I transfer a design onto the book, I do this in various stages, which are basically the same as for gold leaf tooling. The sole exception being that the foil is slid over the blinded in impression at the very last moment. It thus obscures the sighting and makes it extremely difficult to get the tool bang-on into the shape without fumbling around too much (lethal). Working with dots, lines and gauges is easy, but tackling complex shapes… basically blind-folded… eh!

    As we discussed earlier, this is one of the first books where I launched myself into working with color pigment foils in a massive way. Pigment foils are more temperamental to work with than metallic ones… You can guess where this is heading to? I did it once and was not quite happy. I retraced my steps, removed the leather from the book and covered it afresh. Second attempt. Again… not good enough. It only takes three or four shapes of the many to be ever so slightly off and the whole thing looks ghastly and heavy handed. I got fairly depressed, but told myself that ‘what has to be done, has to be done’. So the next time I actually bought a completely new text block and started from scratch (just in case that this particular book was doomed). When the time came for tooling, I held my breath and launched into the third round. Do you care for fun facts and figures? To execute this design in full takes 14 hours. So no small feat, particularly if it goes again pear shaped, which it DID! What was I to do? Try and try again? I felt pretty confident that if I practiced hard over the course of a year that I would be able to raise my game from my current 88% to 95%. But did I really, really want to do this? No. What I really wanted was to push on with my design work. And so I decided to get help (I still do the titling though!). A colleague recommended Claude Ribal who is a fantastic finisher in Paris, and that’s where I went. It is a little bit complicated to get everything ready for him though, for not only does he get all of my tools, foils, and my design master sheet, but also an exact guide to inform him which shape has which color. I said earlier that I have 60 shades by now and everything needs to be super clear. Nothing is left to chance, everything is specified. Claude is not only a very kind man, but he is also really good at what he does. His expertise brings the touch of lightness within the execution to the design that is absolutely needed to pull it off and that makes me very happy and grateful.


    A beautiful documentation has now been published, that traces the development of this project, which, as it turns out, took seven years to complete. WOOLF I – IX ! 98pp, with an introductory essay and 1:1 reproductions of the bindings, background information, and text excerpts.

    Text: Annette Friedrich, Virginia Woolf
    Design: BUCHmacher, Germany
    Photo: Shannon Tofts, Scotland

    £30 + postage / reserve your copy at www.annette-friedrich.com


  4. Bookbinder of the Month: Annette Friedrich // Post One

    February 1, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    Back in 2013, I interviewed Annette Friedrich and we only narrowly touched on the subject of her ambitious project to bind all nine of Virginia Woolf’s novels. Since that interview, Annette has completed this goal, exhibited all nine bindings at the Saatchi Gallery in London and published a gorgeous catalog! For this interview update, Annette and I will focus on the final six bindings of the series.

    I struggle with Annette’s aesthetic and that is one reason why I am so captivated by her work. The designs on her bindings really take a hold of me. I am stricken by their abstract, chaotic whimsy. Her style of binding forges so many questions for me, both as an artist and a binder, so I really wanted to take full advantage of this opportunity to interview Annette again.

    Back in 2013 when I first interviewed you for the blog, you had just completed Mrs. Dalloway aka Woolf IV, putting you about half way through your journey of binding all nine of Virginia Woolf’s novels. What sparked such an ambitious project?
    Hey Erin, well, it all began a while ago, when I noticed a few shifts within my artistic practice. This may sound a little weird, but I see my books in a timeline, where one design builds up onto the next. Obviously not directly and not even that consciously so, but with hindsight I can often detect a link.

    Do you know the late Danish author Inger Christensen? When asked about her writing, she came back with something that I can directly relate to: ‘(…) it does not matter where one is. However, one has to make sure to steer directly into the impossible. Of course one has to keep the balance on the way, though only under the single condition that the balance is made less safe. Less and less safe.’

    So when I said earlier that I noticed a shift, it was exactly that. I had already stepped onto the tight rope and had done my first fumbling steps. I saw that the haughty geometric designs were on their way out, and that, somehow, ‘life’ was casually shuffling onto the scene. I was curious beyond anything to see where this would lead me to. But I have to admit that excitement and delight shook equal hands with apprehension. The fear of not being able to reach this, to stumble, fall and fail.

    I decided to bracket this journey within a set project and started to think about what it might look like. Two factors played a guiding role, one was that I needed a good run of books to pull it off (cross the rope) and the second was to find an author who offered me a helping hand along the way. Virginia Woolf it was!

    You recently published a book documenting the project. In the introduction you write about how Virginia Woolf’s writing style changed over her career. I wonder if you feel like you are ready to leave behind some part of your design process and explore something new.
    Yes, I certainly was ready for a change and Virginia Woolf egged me on! Her novels are amazing. Each is a stepping-stone to the next. She started out with a very ‘linear’ take on writing and then pushed out her boat and explored new and experimental ways, becoming more and more abstract. She was the ideal (unbeknownst) partner for me. I decided to bind all of her nine novels in chronological order and follow suit.

    Mrs. Dalloway was bound in 2012 in a dark aubergine goatskin. The hand sewn silk endbands and edge-to-edge doublures are green with silver flyleaves. The design is tooled with three shades of silver folio, gunmetal and five pigmented foils in white, grey, blue and two different greens. The book is housed in a chemise which is inlaid with green paper and tooled with three shades of silver foil plus a green pigmented foil. The slipcase is covered with silver paper and lined with green Alcantara (a suede-like material).

    What I enjoy about the design for Mrs. Dalloway is that at a glance the covers appear to mirror each other, but as my eyes wander back and forth the differences begin to emerge. Each cover takes on a life of it’s own. Did you design each panel to represent the two protagonists or are you finding inspiration elsewhere in the text?
    Now this is a very good question, although I immediately wanted to cry out with an alarmed ‘Nothing represents anything, ever!’. But that is not quite right either. I am interested in space, rhythm and atmosphere, and these are the points of connection with the/a novel. So in this instance, I was taken in by the fully developed stream-of-consciousness technique, that Virginia Woolf had started to explore in her previous novel, Jacob’s Room (my Woolf III). This ‘take’ of hers is very persuasive. So no, my aim was not to represent the two protagonists as such, but rather her ‘flow’. I was interested to create something that sweeps you up and in the air, from one element to the next, with no stop, no pause, connecting everything in one big move where the small mini-events get swallowed up in the overall take.

    The nine bindings in this series of work, feel cohesive and connected. There are several obvious visual tells that make this statement true. But one aspect is your treatment as a binder, you follow a formula for the binding and for the housing. I want to ask about the choices you made for styling the chemise in particular. At the beginning you include a simple linear tooled design on the chemise that contrast greatly with the design on the binding, then by the sixth book, Orlando, the tooled design on the chemise disappears and you begin playing with the layout of the paper. Any reason for this?
    I do like to work within the three-fold combo that is the book, chemise and slipcase. Every element brings something to the table and has to work/commune with the others. Obviously the book’s design calls the tune and the others join in. However, this is not done by way of repetition, but rather by adding different layers. Sometimes they enhance and sometimes they jar. It’s like music really, the main thing is that the overall soundscape makes sense.

    At the beginning of 2018, you were a part of Crafts Council’s Collect 18, an exhibition that spanned 40 galleries over 4 continents. Woolf I – IX was on exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Can you speak about how you got involved in this exhibit and how your work was received by the public. In the US, design binding work is rarely seen in a space akin to the Saatchi Gallery, is this also uncommon in England?
    Yes, it’s the same here. Bindings tend to get shown in book related environments only, such as libraries etcetera. Collect 18 was actually presented at the Saatchi Gallery, which is a great venue right at the heart of Chelsea. Amongst all of the invited craft galleries Designer Bookbinders was the only one to show books and fine bindings. There was a lot of terrific work on display and it was great to rub shoulders for once with all of the other crafts within an art gallery setting. I think the visitors were quite stunned to come across fine bindings in such a context, with many being not at all familiar with our rare, orchid-like craft. However, they were very interested and the invigilators rarely got a quiet moment.

    I witnessed this from across the aisle, as I myself had been invited by the Crafts Council to show my Woolf I – IX group on a separate solo stand. I had just finished them and was super delighted to be able to show them at such a prestigious and stimulating cross-disciplinary exhibition.

    Now that the project has come to an end, do you feel a sense of completion, that you achieved the mission set forth from the beginning of the project?
    Yes! is the short answer. I had set out in the hope of change, and ‘change’ has come. The first design is miles away from the last and I have been able to tentatively discover a completely new direction. I am still not completely sure how I got there, but over time one thing just led to the next. Everything got more difficult and complex, and I did stumble and had to pick myself up again along the way. I think though, that I have finally grown up and found my voice, so lets see where it will take me to next…


    A beautiful documentation has now been published, that traces the development of this project, which, as it turns out, took seven years to complete. WOOLF I – IX ! 98pp, with an introductory essay and 1:1 reproductions of the bindings, background information, and text excerpts.

    Text: Annette Friedrich, Virginia Woolf
    Design: BUCHmacher, Germany
    Photo: Shannon Tofts, Scotland

    £30 + postage / reserve your copy at www.annette-friedrich.com


  5. Swell Things No. 50 // Tokyo

    January 31, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    1. The paper wall at Itoya in Ginza was stunning. It had every imaginable color under the sun. You simply chose which color and textured paper you needed, grabbed a square and brought it with you when checking out. There were so many luscious papers I wanted, but only walked away with a small handful of papers.
    2. Manhole covers around Tokyo are elaborately designed and vary depending on the location.
    3. Just one of many impressive structures at the Sensō-ji Temple is the 5-story pagoda. This temple is the oldest in Tokyo and upon our visit, my husband and I each donated 100 yen to read our o-mikuji, which are random fortunes. Unfortunately, I drew a bad fortune, but as is tradition I tied it onto a metal wire stand in the temple in hopes that would prevent it from coming true.
    4. At the MORI Building Digital Art Museum is the teamLab Borderless exhibit, which is a fully immersive and interactive art piece spanning several rooms and floors. The walls were flooded with animated florals, waterfalls, whales and marching warriors. While exploring we stumbled upon a room with grid-like walls where powerful strobe lights were evenly spaced on all four walls and the ceiling. The floor was mirrored to reflect the lights. The lights would rotate, flash and dim in sync to the music.
    5. Our last dinner in Tokyo was well worth the anticipation. We ate at the renowned Sushi Bar Yasuda where we were served omakase (or when the dishes served are selected by the chef). In total we consumed 17 varieties of sushi and I tried uni, sardine and oyster for the first time. But I can’t forget the succulent flavors of the bonito, sweet shrimp and consuming the sweetest, most caramel-y tasting tamago of my life.

    6. Tokyo is filled with animal cafes. Our trip to Harry Hedgehog Cafe resulted in petting giant rabbits, a petite black and white bunny and many sleeping hedgehogs. Of course we gently woke them with a sweet treat of dried maggots.
    7. We also made a visit to the Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe, where we got the chance to sit in hushed whispers with a couple dozen owls. Each guests got to hold up to two owls over the hour-long session. My first owl, named Bonito, was quite rascally and preferred to perch on my head rather than my arm. My second bird was much smaller and much calmer. Sweet Potato (pictured above) loved posing for the camera and even coughed up a pellet for me.
    8. During a stroll through Harajuku we visited ReIssue Cafe where we ordere lattes with foam art. I asked for Totoro holding an umbrella. It was particallarly fun to watch the image distort into a terrifying demon-like creature as I consumed the coffee.
    9. At the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, we saw a large exhibit of calligraphy. The work ranged from traditional strokes to those that were highly expressive. The scale of the work was also quite impressive.
    10. So many elements of Tokyo are well designed. Anywhere you look, you can find a beautiful design or pattern. Looking down while waiting for the train, I saw this lovely pattern.


  6. Bookbinder of the Month: Eduardo Giménez Burgos // Post Five

    January 27, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    This Solid Globe includes selected quotations from Shakespeare and wood engravings by Jane Lydbury printed by Camberwell Press in 1984. The binding, bound by Eduardo Giménez, is covered in black calfskin with dyed maple veneer onlays. The wood veneer letters are inset into the shape an “O” around the central veneer planks. A blue suede is used for the doublures and flyleaves.

    In 2013, your entry to the Designer Bookbinders International Competition was awarded second prize and acquired by the Getty Collection at Wormsley. The binding is another beautiful example showcasing wood veneer. In this binding, you’ve dyed the maple veneer onlays. What method are you using to dye the veneer?
    The binding process was very interesting. The idea of the design was already in a first rough sketch, but actually, when I start a work I hardly ever know very well how it will end up. And that gives me a certain margin for improvisation. And in these decisions that I’m taking along the way, the senses play a natural role, especially the visual aspect, which pursues maximum beauty for the eyes, a nice touch for the hands, or, even, the smell that comes from the materials such as the leather, the marbled and hand painted papers, or the wood.

    And so the colours and reliefs of the Shakespeare covers started to emerge gradually as I was working in the binding. In fact, the central element of the decoration was wood, a light maple wood. I applied some first aniline dye layers to give it a soft background color. Later I went on adding very thin layers of acrylics of different colors in different areas, in a somewhat random manner. After each coat I let it dry for some hours and used a very fine sandpaper, also on some areas. This process lasted several days but with no appealing results. But then, one day, approximately after about twenty layers, I sanded all the surface again, and a very rich palette of colours appeared, without losing the texture of wood. My Shakespeare was there! I only had to add a bit of wax and burnish it in order to obtain a surface slightly gloss finished like the black calfskin of the cover.

    The lettering for the title and author are cut with such precision. Do you hand cut your veneer?
    All the pieces of wood that I have used in my bindings were cut by hand, except the letters of Water which are cut with laser. And in all cases there is also a further process of very thorough dyeing, as the one I have described.


  7. Bookbinder of the Month: Eduardo Giménez Burgos // Post Four

    January 20, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    Eduardo Giménez entered his binding of L’oeuvre de Pierre Lecuire: La Nuit into the Society of Bookbinders 2015 International Competition. It is bound in the Dorfner-style in black calfskin with pale blue suede onlays and orange paper inlays. Black and orange Nepalese paper are used for the doublures and flyleaves. Eduardo’s binding won the Harmatan Leather Award for Forwarding in the Case Binding Category.

    You studied in Belguim with Edgard Claes and in this binding you employ the Dorfner structure. The description in the Society of Bookbinders catalog refers to this as a Dorfner-style case binding. I’ve had the opportunity to learn this structure as well and would love to know how you modified the structure into a case rather than attaching the boards to the sewing supports?
    Indeed, in this binding I used the Dorfner style, a leather version of the model developed by Edgard Claes for his polycarbonate bindings. In this binding, as it is usual, the black-stained parchment ribbons are glued to the recto of the covers, although they are barely visible as they are hidden by the suede onlays at the level of the spine. I think the confusion is in the definition of the term ‘case binding’. For us, case binding has a broader meaning and defines the bindings whose covers are just covered independently to join the body of the book afterwards.


  8. Bookbinder of the Month: Eduardo Giménez Burgos // Post Three

    January 13, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    This binding by Eduardo Giménez is of Paper Constructions: Two- And Three-Dimensional Forms for Artists, Architects, and Designers by Franz Zeier. Eduardo described the style of binding as Origami Bradel binding using grey and brown paper. The diamond tessellation is constructed from one piece of paper for each cover. The endbands and endleaves are also in grey paper.

    The cover of Paper Constructions is impeccable. The paper is folded to create a sturdy, three-dimensional shell around the covers. I have seen another example of this style of paper folding on Spanish binder Elena Sánchez Miguel’s binding for the American Academy of Bookbinding’s Open/Set exhibit Inside the Book. Where does this technique come from?
    The first time I had the idea of passing an origami or paper folding piece into the book covers as a decorative element, was in 2013, on the occasion of an invitation from the ARA Association (Les Amis de la Reliure D’Art) to participate in a collective exhibition at the Bibliothèque Carnegie of Reims, France. The intention there was to exhibit hand bookbindings with only paper and cardboard. For that purpose I decided to work jointly with my partner Elena Sánchez, who has an extensive experience in origami.

    Folded paper opened a great range of possibilities, but I still had to design a procedure which would allow me to integrate origami in the binding process in a harmonious and natural way – something never intended before, I believe. After numerous trials, we achieved to complete two books: Paper Constructions by Franz Zeier and The Book of Paper by Oliver Helfrich and Antje Peters – both present at the exhibition.

    The good reviews that both of them got in France encouraged me to continue with our experiment. For more than one year we prepared some twenty books which were exposed for the first time in the Histories Centre’s Museo del Origami in Zaragoza, Spain, in 2016. I called the exhibition “Libros en papel” (Paper Books) – a title that refers both to the material used to put them together and to the common theme of the chosen texts: books for children about origami, treatises about design and paper constructions, essays, exhibition catalogues, etc. Books written in Spanish and also in English, Italian, French, Russian and Japanese.

    We chose different folding paper techniques, like corrugations, mosaics, tessellations, modular origami, pop-up and some others, to achieve these paper bindings, object-books, artefacts or whatever these might be called. We have mostly looked for geometric figures, volume and abstraction. We used a wide range of papers from different sources, qualities and grades, always with a view of achieving the best structure and the greatest possible beauty.

    The books you mentioned were bound with a single piece of folded paper in each cover; but in some cases, even 120 pieces of paper have been inter-weaved together, or in a few others the paper has been die-cut. Elena participated later with two origami books of her own to the Open/Set and the Designer Bookbinders International competitions.


  9. Upcoming Workshops // January to March

    January 10, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    FEBRUARY:
    Bookbinding 101 – This class is sold out
    February 9 & 10 (Saturday & Sunday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    In this two day class, students get a quick introduction to various bookbinding techniques by exploring three different book structures. The class begins with a simple pamphlet and continues with constructing two multi-signature books known as a flatback case binding and link stitch binding. Finally, students construct a box to house all of their creations. This class is a great way to familiarize yourself with bookbinding and is perfect for those who are curious about the craft. Please bring a notebook and pencil to class.

    Japanese Stab Binding
    February 16 (Saturday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    In this workshop, students will construct a Japanese Stab binding model, more traditionally referred to as 4-Hole binding or yotsume toji. We will build the model in a traditional manner, while incorporating Western tools and equipment. This workshop will provide a better understanding of the structure and the foundation for which to alter the number of holes and sewing pattern.

    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    February 25 – March 1 (Monday – Friday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    Students will learn the foundations of bookbinding by combining hands-on exercises and discussion. The class starts by exploring non-adhesive structures: soft cover pamphlet, Coptic, historical longstitch and link stitch. The class ends with a look at case bindings, with the creation of two hardcover flatback bindings. Students also learn different structural elements, sewing variations, covering and cutting techniques using various materials, tools and equipment. Throughout the course discussions will cover terminology, paper grain and folding, selecting proper materials and tools, and adhesives and their properties.


    MARCH:
    Fundamentals of Bookbinding II – This class is sold out
    March 4 – 8 (Monday – Friday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    This course will focus on hardcover structures. Students will continue with rounded back case bindings and end the course with a book with words. Throughout the course students will fine-tune their skills through repetition and develop a focus to details such as, endpapers structures and headband variations. Topics of discussion will include an overview of bindery equipment such as stamping on the Kwikprint and trimming with the plough.

    Due to the popularity of this class another workshop will be offered from May 6 – 10 (Monday – Friday). You can find registration for that class here.


  10. Bookbinder of the Month: Eduardo Giménez Burgos // Post Two

    January 6, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    This is a binding of Los cachorros by Mario Vargas Llosa bound by Eduardo Giménez in the Oriental binding using dark brown shagreen leather. The design includes inlays of dyed wood veneers and brown calfskin, with red suede onlaid dots. Eduardo used grey Fabriano Roma paper for the endleaves.

    You often incorporate wood veneer into your designs. What draws you to use this material?
    I discovered very soon that wood and leather were working very well together. Wood veneers offer a big warmth to the covers. Each wood is different, has different grain and textures, and allows dyeing, polishing and the application of waxes or varnish, which adds a very pleasant visual and olfactory component as a whole with the skin. Nevertheless, wood is a living material and it is difficult to work with.

    You used the new Oriental binding structure for Los cachorros. This is not a structure that I am familiar with and have only seen a few other binders use. Can you talk about the structure and why it was a suitable choice for Los cachorros.
    The Oriental style binding is actually a Western version of the classical Chinese and Japanese binding. It uses hard covers and leather, contrary to its counterparts, but the form and its aesthetics are somehow preserved. I have always considered this form very beautiful. It is also a conservation binding, since the signatures are sewn on guards and they are not rounded with the hammer, neither are touched by the glue. In addition the book can be opened flat.

    side view of Don Quijote Samurai bound in the Oriental-style binding

    I think that I would not be able to give an explanation to your question of why it is a suitable choice for this book particularly. I always try that the binding is pleasant to look at. We might possibly think that an Oriental binding must only be good for an Oriental book. But, if we have adapted the structure and the materials in the Western world: why shouldn´t we also use it for a Western book?

    Eduardo bound this copy of Pablo Neruda’s Una casa en la arena with a striking design where black calfskin meets black Morocco goatskin at the center of the front cover. The central design is a collage of perfectly fitted pieces of dyed wood veneer onlaid between the two skins. This binding was awarded the Best Creative Binding for the International Bookbinding Competition of the National Library of Scotland in 2011.

    Upon first glance, the central design on Una casa en la arena acted as a distraction from the two distinct leathers. But I really love the use of both calf and goatskin on the covers. When working with wood veneer, are you treating them as inlays or onlays? I notice that on Una casa en la arena (left), the veneer sits proud of the cover, where as on Mozart (right), the veneer appears flush to the cover.
    The use of two skins of the same colour and of different texture to get a good effect was the result of experimentation. The design rests on both covers over a central axis divided by the two skins that are placed at the same level. The book by Neruda contains a few beautiful photos of his house in Isla Negra (Chile). In them it is possible to see his collection of ship wooden figureheads with their straight bearing and their rich adornments. My work with small irregular pieces of dyed wood veneer, placed in the shape of a puzzle, was trying to produce that effect.

    I work interchangeably with both options, inlays and onlays. In Mozart, I played with different levels in the mosaics, and I believe they gave a more dynamic aspect to the composition. In Una casa, I treated the wood veneer proud of the cover to form a more stylized, more linear figure. The pieces were there, on my table, I only had to give them an order. I often try to find an appropriate way of composing my materials placing instinct before reason.


  • Visit My Bindery
    My name is Erin Fletcher and I live in Boston working as a Bookbinder.  This blog is an extension of Herringbone Bindery where I can share my inspirations with you.
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