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  1. Moving Images: Guild of Book Workers Promo Video

    January 23, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    Check out this delightful promotional video from the Guild of Book Workers. It was filmed during the 2014 Standards of Excellence Seminar in Las Vegas. The Guild of Book Workers has a unique appreciation for its younger members and really encourages the growth of all its member through dedicated support and access to information.

  2. Artist: Schuyler Beecroft

    January 21, 2015 by Erin Fletcher


    These portraits from Schuyler Beecroft are mesmerizing. I’m so drawn to the mix of vibrant colors and abstract shapes. Each shape exudes movement and intrigue by the pattern or texture of the paint. 

    TouchingBase3-SchuylerBeecroft TouchingBase4-SchuylerBeecroft TouchingBase2-SchuylerBeecroft

  3. Conservation Conversations // A Bit on Paper Mends

    January 18, 2015 by Marianna Brotherton

    Book conservation is a field much like any other; the more we know, the more we learn just how much we don’t know. Specialization is our attempt to foil this conundrum by focusing our view, and therefore narrowing the range of potential “know-ables.” In conservation this can come in the form of “parchment specialist” or “leader in the field of 14th century wooden board bindings.” This type of focus allows one to delve more deeply into the history of the specific topic, and to explore more thoroughly the different conservation problems and treatments that may arise. But with each magnification of topic, more possibilities come into focus, not less.  Ask a Palynologist, and he’ll tell you there’s an entire universe of intrigue in a single speck of dust.

    So how is it done? How does one ever stop themselves from spinning down the rabbit hole of questions and answers long enough to actually produce something? Or, gasp, feel like they KNOW something?

    Conservators take it one page, and one problem at a time.

    So, let’s take a look at just one problem: paper. The ripped, torn, stained, creased, wadded-up-in-a-ball-and-left-for-dead kind of paper. You denizens of Forgotten Attics and Soggy Basements take heart! Conservators CAN put you back together again.

    The first step in mending any sort of paper is to mechanically clean the surface with latex spongeIMG_2785s, rubber eraser crumbs, cosmetic sponges, brushes… The list of implements goes on, but the concept remains singular. REMOVE LOOSE SURFACE DIRT. As you can see, one swipe of the sponge quickly leads to a hefty pile of spent latex, and one impressive jar of hair, dirt, dust, and many other unmentionables. [note: photographs are examples of three distinct pieces, and are adjacent for effect only.]


    Once the paper is thoroughly cleaned of any loose debris, a mental Venn Diagram of all possible procedures must be conjured. If, after weighing the pros and cons of washing (Yes, paper may be washed in filtered and deionized water, pH preference of 7.5)  the conservator deems it best practice for the object, its provenance, and the desires of its owner to perform this treatment,

    he must carefully take note of any water-soluble marginalia, inscriptions, plates etc. I have heard lore of a conservator, who after much spot testing and deliberation, fatefully watched an ‘I’ float off a page to the surface of the water bath. It is always best to err on the side of caution, so be thorough in your spot tests.

    But if, as in the case of this inscribed fly-leaf, the paper really would do for a bath, a wonderful substance called cyclododecane can make an otherwise unfit washing candidate washable. The wax-like material is melted, and applied to areas one wishes to become temporarily hydrophobic. By painting over the letters written in ink as in the photo, we can choose exactly which parts of the paper we wish to remain dry, and any part of the paper not covered in cyclododecane will respond to our aquatic treatment. Within a IMG_2744period of roughly 24 hours, the cyclododecane will sublime off the paper, leaving behind only the unaffected, unwashed ink. Then after washing, one is able to flatten and dry the paper between felts and weight. This particular fly-leaf not only lost any wrinkles or creases it previously had, but it brightened in color, added a degree of softness, and regained a sense of drape as well.

    For papers we deem unfit to wash, but who could still benefit from a good ironing, a more localized approach can be taken.

    Take this mountain fold. If we paint a line of thin wheat starch paste across the top of the fold with a dainty brush, the paper fibers will expand and relax, and with the small addition IMG_2790of a blotter-reemay-weight sandwich, you will find the fold to have flattened out. I find wheat starch paste to be preferable to water because there is a bit of added control in the spread of moisture, and the paste adds just a dash of strength to the weakened area. [Note: tide-lines, and other horrible and unimaginable affects could be consequence to this treatment. ALWAYS spot test before introducing moisture into paper.]

    When working with paste, I have found it to be handy to keep a small glob near the first knuckle of the non-dominant pointer finger. The paste is not only near to application, but your body heat has warmed it slightly, which can be used to create a thicker, drier paste.

    I have also found it handy to work on a clean surface, not merely for the sake of avoiding contamination of the object you are working on, but because it makes quick work to paste up a piece of tissue directly on the table surface. It can also be helpful to paste up on a piece of remay affixed to gray board, as Bill Minter suggests, when one is really concerned with controlling moisture levels.

    Once the paper is flat, we may descend into the third level of mends: Tear Repair. I once thought that all rips, tears, and cuts were to be treated equally, and with the same large, band-aid of a tissue slapped over it. Lucky for me, this was just another beautiful point in my career when I was faced with the reminder that “I know nothing.” Paper mends should be light, delicate, invisible upon first glance, while somehow miraculously remaining strong and steadfast. The chivalrous “Mr. Knight” introduced me to a majority of these tactics, my favorite treatise being, ‘On How To Treat A Scarf Tear: Or, A Look Into The Impossibly Simple Procedure of Just Gluing It Back Together.’ Many tears occur in such a way that a “lip” is created between the two sides. With a little bit of paste painted daintily along the tear and some light pressure, the two edges of paper can happily sit one on top of the other. Tear Repaired.


    If your “lips” happen to be dirty a dark line may appear, looking much like a crack across your paper. It will be noticeable, no matter how strong your repair may be, and it will drive you crazy. I have found that it is possible (though highly aggressive) to lightly and with much care, sand the edges of the “lips”, thereby reducing dirt and repair visibility. A second, less invasive, reversible method is to tone the mend. A new favorite material of mine is Toasted Cellulose Powder. Baked in the toaster oven for a range of several minutes, IMG_2794 you’ll have yourself an array of creams, whites and browns. This powder, being of the same “stuff” as your paper, will blend nicely when affixed with a small amount of paste or methyl cellulose. Sometimes, simply rubbing the fine powder across the mend is enough to discourage the eye from seeing the tear immediately.

    A cleaner tear, or cut, does not have the advantage of overlap, and therefore has little or nothing to affix itself to. In this case, often all that is necessary are a few fuzzys pulled from the edge of your tissue. Laying these long, muscular fibers along the cut bridges the gap in a similar manner as the “lip” in a scarf tear. Another dainty swathe of thin paste across the mend followed by a blotter-reemay-weight sandwich, and you’re good to go.


    BAD FILL. But historical, so cool.

    And finally, I bring you Fills. A fill is a piece of tissue replacing the original, missing paper. The most common fill I have come upon is that of the Lost Dog Ear. The vulnerable position of the page corner, met with the human desire to bend things, creates a most obvious breaking point in a piece of paper. When filling in a loss, it is best to be foppish about it. When time allows, tone your tissue with water colors, a shade or so lighter than the paper you are working on. It will be wise to select a tissue, or combination of tissues, that are equal or slightly thinner in weight to the object. A heavier tissue will create strain on the original paper and will only do more harm than good. Remember, paper mends should be ethereal, and only the smallest possible amount of tissue should be used.

    IMG_1439 If working on a corner or an edge I like to make my fill slightly over-sized, and will cut to size later. Tear the tissue so that the fuzzys are present, and then against the backdrop of a light, snip off any extra or overzealous fibers with tiny scissors. You want enough of the fuzzys to remain so that they can be overlaid onto the edge of the mend, but not so many that they stick out in an obnoxious fashion. Here we can daintily paint on our wheat starch paste directly on the table surface. I prefer to paste out only the edge of the tissue that will be overlapping the mend, and then apply pressure quickly with a piece of reemay between the teflon folder and tissue. I have found that this mend will dry IMG_1457quickly, and only a little bit of weight is necessary. I like to turn the paper over, and add a second layer of the same tissue, overlapping the first mend every so slightly from the verso side. Here, it is good to paste up the entire piece, so that it sticks both to the paper being mended, and the first layer of tissue. A mixture of types of tissues and weights can and should be used to match the mend, the kind of paper being mended, taking into account the condition the original paper is in. Each repair is unique, and requires an arsenal of paste thicknesses (thin paste is more flexible than thick paste, but thick paste can be tackier) and different tissue types.

    To find any hidden tears, run the edges of the paper lightly through your pointer and middle fingers, using only the slightest pressure to reveal any tears you may have missed.

    Document your work in written and photographed documentation. I’ve been taught to photograph in both normal and raking light for flat work (raking light really shows off creases and folds). A light table can be useful for highlighting rips and tears (I’ve read on other conservation blogs that there are apps for phones and tablets that work as cheap, portable light tables).

    And last but not least, don’t forget to make your GIF!

  4. Best of 2014

    December 31, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    As the year 2014 comes to a close, I want to send out another thank you to the nine bookbinders and book artists who took time away from their busy schedules to participate in my interviews. Another thank you goes to those who read and subscribe to my blog and I especially appreciate the kind comments I’ve received either in person or via email.

    Now to reflect on my year: Herringbone Bindery was busy yet again this year. I had the opportunity to work on some really great projects, amongst them were commissions from the Old State House in Boston, artist Laura Davidson and the Veatchs booksellers. An unusual amount of traveling this year took me to Rare Book School for the first time, up to Maine for a mini-conference and across the country to Vegas for the Guild of Book Workers conference.

    Things to expect in the New Year:
    – an updated website with all the projects I completed in 2014 (including some beautiful design bindings)
    – a Herringbone Bindery newsletter
    – more posts on my own projects (expect to see more on Dune as I will be covering right after the holidays)
    – another round of interviews

    As we ring in the new year, I just wanted to share my favorites posts from 2014.


    1. February // Bookbinder of the Month: Haein Song
    Haein Song was recommend to me by Hannah Brown and I was so thankful for her suggestion. Haein’s work is so clean and skillfully crafted. Her headcaps are so impeccable that I gape in awe.
    2. Artist: Marcela Cárdenas
    3. May // Bookbinder of the Month: Monique Lallier
    I greatly admire the work of Monique Lallier and was just ecstatic that she agreed to be interviewed for the blog. She has become such an influence in our field and openly shares her support and wisdom.


    4. My Hand: A Desert Inspired Edge for Dune
    5. August // Bookbinder of the Month: Mark Cockram
    The interview with Mark Cockram captures the boisterous and enthusiastic charms of both his personality and love of the craft. Each post examines the intensity of his designs and complexity of his techniques.
    6. Conservation Conversations Column
    Beginning this year, I invited six of my colleagues working in conservation to post about a field that encapsulates their professional lives. Topics range from using the appropriate adhesive and what to consider when building a conservation lab to various conservation considerations and philosophies.


    7. My Hand: Boxes for Laura Davidson
    My first project with Laura Davidson after interviewing her on my blog.
    8. Artist: Lydia Hardwick
    9. Photographer: Andrea Galvani
    10. January // Book Artist of the Month: Mary Uthuppuru
    I’m so charmed both Mary Uthuppuru and her work. She really engages the craft by exploring and experimenting with bookbinding and printmaking techniques. Mary is quite inspiring.


    11. November // Bookbinder of the Month: Sol Rébora
    It was a pleasure to interview Sol Rébora. Her insights to bookbinding in Argentina were refreshing, as are her imaginative and unique design bindings.
    12. February // Book Artist of the Month: Diane Jacobs
    Diane Jacobs employs important topics like feminism, body issues and societal issues against women in book arts and other art forms. I am very engaged and compelled by these issues and enjoyed dissecting her work in the interview.
    13. My Hand: Leather Embroidery Samplers
    14. Artist: Jennifer Davis

    Happy New Year!

  5. Conservation Conversations // About Equipmemt

    December 30, 2014 by Jeanne Goodman

    Book conservation labs are an interesting hybrid of a paper conservation lab and a bindery. Much of the equipment in a bindery you could find in a book lab, but not necessarily the other way around. Book labs can also be divided by activities, when space allows. Some processes are dirtier then others (such as sanding, red-rotted book repair, mold vacuuming) and need to be kept separate from clean spaces (washing sink, paper repair areas).

    Of the many considerations when deciding which equipment should be acquired and in what order, I would say the first is to identify and prioritize the needs of the collection you are conserving. If there is a large collection of over-sized maps, the documentations washing sink should be of a size to safely accommodate slightly bigger then the average size of those maps. Some equipment, such as a leafcaster, are highly specialized and you may not acquire one until much later when the right project or the funds become available. Other considerations to muck up the works are: square footage of the space available to you, budget, floor neighbors, budget, space infrastructural needs (water source, ventilation, outlets, noise suppression), availability of equipment…..and BUDGET.

    Just for fun, I am going to ignore all that annoying stuff and just give you the coveted lab equipment that made my list. This is by no means an exhaustive list and I stuck to things that you would find in a lab but not a bindery.

    Encapsulator. Used to create custom polyester sleeves for flat paper items. Not air tight as to create a micro-climate, the sleeve protects a fragile item by giving it support from both sides by a clear polyester film and leaves all physical attributes and information completely visible. Unique to the conservation world, this machine was invented by Bill Minter, another book conservator. How it works: an ultrasonic welder attached to a brace bar with a motor that it allows it to travel back and forth along the bar as the welder welds two sheets of polyester film together around the paper object. The item/polyester sandwich is held in place on the table by a blanket of magnets which also pushes out any air and keeps the item flat.

    Suction table. For controlled use of moisture and/or solvents to a localize area of flat paper during conservation treatment, especially useful with items that have friable or fugitive media. Invented by Marilyn Weidner in 1972, another clever and inventive conservator, this unique piece equipment will be found in most paper labs. How it works: The table work surface is a perforated aluminum top which draws air down providing a uniform suction over the entire work surface. Clean, dry blotter is placed between the item and work surface as treatments are performed.






    Vacuuming mold from books

    Fume hood. Used to protect workers from solvent fumes and exposure to mold spores. Conservators will place  mold contaminated items inside to vacuum and for treatment. Also a place to perform small treatments with solvents if you do not have a fume trunk. Not unique to conservation, fume hoods and trunks are found in chemical and bio labs that use solvents. How they work: fume hoods (or cabinets) are typically enclosed on five sides and have a sliding glass opening at about standing work height. They can be either ducted or recirculating, but both work the same by drawing in air from the open side of the cabinet and expelling the air outside the building or made safe through a system of filtration and recirculated into the building. (wiki answer)

    Documents Washing Sink. Just how it sounds, a giant sink for washing paper. The sink is typically custom sized to the space and standing working height with a special water filtration source. The large flat area is necessary for not only washing and humidifying large paper items, but can also be used to hold multiple trays to wash and humidify smaller items.






    Before treatment

    Photo documentation. The equipment used for photo documentation vary from extravagant use of space (separate room with multiple copy stands, backdrops, dedicated lights and tech) to more humble situations (plexi glass on stacked crates and roll of grey paper mounted to the wall), but all will have a dedicated camera, typically a high quality DSLR. Photos are taken before and after treatment and are included in the written treatment report that accompanies all conserved items. Documentation of items being conserved is an industry standard and a dedicated photo documentation area in the lab helps streamline the process to make it less time consuming.

  6. Book Artist of the Month: Sarah Bryant

    December 29, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    Sarah Bryant is apart of the five-person collaborative group Shift-Lab, which she discusses more in-depth below. The image above shows the full spread of their first collaborative project, Shift, which was created in 2014 in an edition of 20. Each of the five artists created a small letterpress printed book that reflects a shift in perspective as well as a matching print. Both the books and prints were displayed at the San Francisco Center for the Book in 2014.

    The books are housed together in a custom drop-spine box shown third from the left with a printed title label.


    detail of Katie Baldwin’s book


    left: detail of Tricia Treacy’s book | right: detail of Denise Bookwalter’s book


    detail of Macy Chadwick’s book

    Can you discuss the collaborative group Shift-Lab. Who are its members and what type of projects do you work on together?
    Shift-lab is made up of myself, Katie Baldwin, Denise Bookwalter, Macy Chadwick and Tricia Treacy. We started as a group in the summer of 2013 and since then we’ve produced a book project (Shift) for an exhibition at the San Francisco Center for Book Arts, staged a pair of printing events (I had to be a remote participant, unfortunately,) and met for a week in North Carolina to print a project together. We will be exhibiting together at the Codex Book Fair in February, and are working on plans to meet for a skill share/book project next summer. You can find us all at

    Shift is a set of five books all with the same theme. Each of us created an edition of 20 books of the same dimensions. These five books are housed together in an enclosure. The books vary in content, Katie’s is an exploration into the different diggings of the Erie Canal. Tricia was interested in the shift key on a keyboard. I was having trouble sleeping while I was working on this project, and so my book evolved into a body shifting and moving in bed.


    For your book Shift in Position, how did you monitor your sleeping behavior and then transfer the imagery into a print?
    I was spending a good portion of each night around this time rolling and repositioning myself in the hopes of getting to sleep. I didn’t monitor this activity, exactly, but took dozens of photographs of myself as I repeated the familiar movements I was doing each night. These photos were taken against a white background. I traced the shifting line of my body over and over again and layered these lines, creating the basic imagery for the book. The “book” is actually a series of panels that can be rearranged. Some of the imagery locks in together, some doesn’t. Text related to shift and change printed on the top and bottom of each panels always locks in to make some kind of sense. I wanted the process of rearranging the panels to be reminiscent of the kind of non-restful process dreaming that I was slipping in and out of at night.

    ShiftInPosition2-SarahBryant ShiftInPosition3-SarahBryant

  7. Conservation Conversations // Doing Nothing

    December 24, 2014 by Henry Hebert

    Action is often the focus of conservation literature and it is natural to discuss a treatment as a kind of narrative. Picture it: a cultural artifact, such as a book or painting, comes into a conservation lab in poor shape. The condition may be a result of poor materials, improper storage, or disaster, but the conservator, as protagonist and primary agent of change, intervenes to bring the object back to some ideal state. The story can be more routine, such as preparing objects for digitization, but it can also be kind of heroic, like salvage efforts following a disaster. Based on anecdotal evidence, it may appear that the conservator’s job is to quickly act in times of need.

    The images often presented as part of a treatment discussion corroborate this notion. Conservators take photographs of objects (like the ones below) before and after treatment as a component of documenting the work being carried out.

    The Huguenots and Henry of Navarre, Vol. II (1886)

    The Huguenots and Henry of Navarre, Vol. II (1886)

    In my own experiences of presenting examples of conservation work to members of the public, I often show treatments that resulted in the most dramatic changes in appearance for obvious effect.

    The initial urge to act when confronted with cultural objects in need can be both seductive and dangerous. Like one of those animal cruelty commercials with Sarah McLachlan singing in the background, a broken book makes me feel like I should do something. As a library conservator very early in my career, however, I often find myself questioning whether I should act at all.

    Inappropriate treatment decisions can lead to irreparable loss of evidence or information. A characteristic of an object that may not be obvious to me or a curator, might be very important to a scholar in the future. And while I make every effort to ensure that my work is reversible, I must recognize that sometimes there is no going back. Of course, there are many factors to consider and each situation may be different. I often find myself looking back over the core documents of the AIC, namely the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice, and at times come to the conclusion that the most appropriate thing to do is nothing at all.

    The conservation professional performs within a continuum of care and will rarely be the last entrusted with the conservation of a cultural property. The conservation professional should only recommend or undertake treatment that is judged suitable to the preservation of the aesthetic, conceptual, and physical characteristics of the cultural property. When nonintervention best serves to promote the preservation of the cultural property, it may be appropriate to recommend that no treatment be performed.

    I like to think about being part of the “conservation continuum” mentioned in the Guidelines for Practice – particularly in the context of previous repairs. At some point during a typical workday I’m often silently cursing some person from the past, who (with probably the best of intentions) executed the worst repair ever. In some cases, like these examples of stitching in medieval books, those repairs can be evidence of use and valuable to a researcher. More often in a research collection, however, the repair was done just a few decades ago by a library employee. For those that are damaging and particularly difficult to remove (like tape can be), I sometimes think that the object would have been better off if the shadowy perpetrator from the past had just left it alone completely!

    The conservation professional must strive to select methods and materials that, to the best of current knowledge, do not adversely affect cultural property or its future examination, scientific investigation, treatment, or function.
    – Item IV: Code of Ethics

    Angry thoughts about my library forebears inevitably turn toward a role reversal, in which some future conservator is silently cursing me as they are reversing my work. As materials and techniques advance, we can only assume that some of our activities will be looked upon as barbaric or ham-handed eventually; however, making appropriate decisions based on analysis, research, and testing will keep this to a minimum.

    The conservation professional shall practice within the limits of personal competence and education as well as within the limits of the available facilities.
    – Item IV: Code of Ethics

    In the end, if I’m not 1000% confident that I understand the materials in question and can complete the treatment myself with the tools at my disposal, I’m ethically bound to leave the item alone. I can look for someone else that is qualified to do the work correctly, or at least investigate other options, such as boxing or creating a facsimile, that are well within my grasp. Fortunately, many library materials can benefit from “benign neglect” in the proper storage environment and will not disappear without immediate action. While confronting the limits of one’s abilities can be hard, sometimes the best treatment option is to hold off until one of those future conservators comes along.

  8. Book Artist of the Month: Sarah Bryant

    December 22, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    I really enjoyed this week’s response by Sarah Bryant on her inspiration and creative process behind Simulations on a Two-dimensional Grid. You can read about it below, but first the specs. Simulations was created in 2013 in an edition of ten. Zerkall paper is used for the pages and have been manipulated with letterpress printing, hand-drawn imagery, wax and folding. The loose pages are bound up in a waxed paper wrapper also decorated with hand-drawn imagery.

    Simulations2-SarahBryant Simulations3-SarahBryant

    Two sources of inspiration are behind this artist book: Barb Tetenbaum’s Aritst Book Idealation Deck and David Allen’s 2011 dissertation. Can you talk about how these two pieces came together as a guide for the concept of this artist book?
    So in late 2012, Barb Tetenbaum invited me to participate in a show using a set of cards that she and Julie Chen had developed over several years called “The Artist Book Ideation Deck.” The deck has categories for structure, paper, layout, technique, text, image, color, and description. It also has “adjective” cards. Barb and Julie drew random hands from this deck for all of the artists who would be making a book for the show. My hand went as follows:

    Imagery: none
    Structure: unbound/boxed
    Text: collaborate with writer/poet/other
    Layout: across folds
    Color: favorite
    Technical: hand drawn, painted/collaged, etc.
    Paper: pre-treated, crumpled, painted, pasted, etc.
    Describe: narrative
    Adjectives: personal, scientific, ordinary, complicated, colorful

    Dave Allen and I had been talking at this point about collaborating on a book, (this was just before his visit to the UK and the beginning of our Figure Study project,) so I turned to him for some text. He sent me a few excerpts from his PhD thesis for the University of Michigan and I selected this one: Simulations on a two-dimensional grid reveal that if the conditions are met to destabilize the spatially homogenous equilibrium then individual patches cycle out of phase with their neighbors. At any particular time the grid has a checkerboard-like structure (Figure 2.1), and through time individual patches exhibit a two-cycle.

    We worked together to pair it down to the following: Simulations on a two-dimensional grid reveal that if conditions are met to destabilize the equilibrium, individuals cycle out of phase with their neighbors. This felt more like a universal text, open-ended enough to invite us in and call for different interpretations.

    Once the text was selected, it was time to work with it and knead it into a book using the external prompts that came from the Ideation Deck. I used a series of folds, expanding from sheet to sheet, to disturb a grid made up of holes and lines. I loved this project, it forced me to do some new things that I surely wouldn’t have attempted without a set of instructions. Waxing the pages, for example. Also the loose sheet format that I have adopted for two subsequent projects.

    Several people have pointed out that my book is not strictly following the guidelines set by the deck. It does have imagery, for example, even if that imagery is minimal. And of course this is true. But the deck is meant to generate ideas, and so I considered the cards as prompts rather than unbreakable rules. You can still get the decks, by the way. I use mine all the time in classes or just to get my mind moving.

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    Setting limitations for a project can bring unique challenges and even heighten creativity. I was so thrilled to learn about Tetenbaum and Chen’s Idealation Deck. I may need to get my own copy and begin exploring artist books again.

    If you’d like to read a more in-depth description of Simulations, check out Heather Doyle-Maier’s review on the Abecedarian Gallery Blog, where she describes the tactile qualities of the book.

  9. Book Artist of the Month: Sarah Bryant

    December 15, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    For the traveling exhibit Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, Sarah Bryant crafted Al-Mutanabbi Street to memorialize those who lost there lives to a car bomb on March 5, 2007. Bound between two boards is an entangled ribbon of red paper letterpress printed with an incomplete list of names. This altered accordion lays open in a custom box; the colophon is print on the base of the box hidden under the book’s cover.

    AlMutanabbiStreet2-SarahBryant AlMutanabbiStreet3-SarahBryant

    The text of this artist book rests in a position of entanglement and chaos, but in fact the lines of paper can be separated rather easily. The names printed on the underside represent a portion of those who lost their lives. I’ve seen a variety of books from this show and really love the simplicity of your piece, which is also largely impactful. It presents itself like a memorial; can you talk about your concept for this artist book?

    I wasn’t sure how to approach this book. I had no personal connection to the bombing or to the affected community, or, frankly, to any tragedy of this scale. I was concerned that in an attempt to honor the dead and the community to which they belonged, I might make a bumbling and insensitive book. So I tried to keep it simple and avoid pretending an understanding that I could not have.

    I printed the names of the dead in Arabic and English, each name lining up with it’s counterpart on the two sides of the strips of paper, and housed them in a structure that I hoped conveyed a sense of violence and loss. I wanted the names to be legible, but fragile, and in a position of distress. The box is vaguely coffin-like. I am glad to hear your reaction to the book, thank you.


  10. Book Artist of the Month: Sarah Bryant

    December 8, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    In 2010, Sarah Bryant completed Biography, which explores of the alternative roles played by the chemical elements found in the human body. Each element is represented as a specific colored rectangle, which are used in various diagrams throughout the book. As you progress through the book the diagrams become less clear and are interrupted with blind stamped organic shapes. Biography won the 2011 Minnesota Center for Book Arts Prize in addition to receiving the Award for Artistic Excellence at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair in late 2010.

    Printed in an edition of 75 using letterpress techniques from polymer plates on Zerkall Book, Biography was bound as a hardcover drum leaf enclosed in a clamshell box. Numbers one through ten are bound as a deluxe edition (pictured above), which include additional prints from the book, as well as a ghost print creating during the printing process. The deluxe edition comes in a larger clamshell box designed to house both the book and set of prints.

    Biography4-SarahBryant Biography3-SarahBryant Biography5-SarahBryant

    In The Bonefolder article Evolution of an Artist’s Book, you mention that Biography took 2 years to complete. The inspiration led to extensive research and preparation before embarking on months of printing. Is this an average amount of time needed to complete a project?
    Most of my big books take about two years. Dave and I first conceived of Figure Study in January of 2013 and I have set a release date to coincide with the Codex Book Fair and Symposium in February of 2015. I started working on Fond when I was at Wells College in early 2011 and released it in the fall of 2012. Two years seems to be my average these days. But in the background there are other things emerging. While the larger projects are proceeding at their slow pace, I am working on quicker, smaller things. A book I printed with Shift-lab, a collaboration between myself, Katie Baldwin, Denise Bookwalter, and Tricia Treacy took me about six months in 2013. Simulations on a Two-Dimensional Grid, a book I created for the Ideation by Chance show at the Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley, California, took me a few months. Those books were done in smaller editions and in response to external collaborations and deadlines.

    Since I’m not a printmaker, the printing process behind You are part of something larger than yourself is puzzling to me. Can you walk me through the printing steps for this particular print?


    Aha! Yes I can. And, in fact, if you really want to know more about it, a lecture I gave at Wells college several years ago contains a detailed description of that process, with photos! Thanks to Peter Verheyen, you can find it on youtube here:

    My description begins at 29:09 and ends about three minutes later.

    That spread and one other in the book toward the end, (described in the above video,) are pressure printed against a polymer plate of the periodic table grid. I inked the press in two colors (for a color shift) and printed the first run, then cleaned the press and inked it again in the reverse and so on so that there are many layers and colors at play. The blob-shaped forms are generated by paper cutouts that I have attached to the impression cylinder of the press. So the printed imagery is coming from the combination of the traditional, inked relief surface (the grid in the bed of the press) and the uneven pressure created by the paper shapes on the cylinder.