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  1. Upcoming Workshops // April to June

    April 15, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    APRIL
    Secret Belgian Binding
    April 28 (Saturday)
    9:00am – 4:00pm
    Wishcamper Center, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME

    During this single-day workshop, students will assemble two variations of this non-adhesive structure, which is simple and can be quickly constructed. It opens flat and is perfect for thinner text blocks.


    MAY
    Introduction to Embroidery on Leather
    May 13 – 24
    Paper & Book Intensive at Ox-Bow in Saugatuk, Michigan

    Historical examples of embroidered bindings typically date back from the close of the 14th c. to the mid-17thc., and were primarily done on silk, satin, velvet or canvas. These highly decorative bindings grew out of a tradition of textile bindings popular in England during the 14th and 15th centuries. The embroidered designs found can be classified in three categories: heraldic, scriptural symbolism, and floral and arabesque designs. The makers of these bindings included both professional (predominately male artisans) and amateur needle workers (typically women in their homes).

    Contemporary bookbinders and book artists have been incorporating embroidery and other sewing techniques into their work. The range of materials and methods has certainly expanded beyond the historical examples. Using thread on traditional binding techniques allows the artist to express their vision in an unusual way and introduces a different tactile experience to the binding. Embroidered threads can be used to draw in the abstract or to add highlights and shadows to an illustrative design. The threads can be kept neat or left to tangle.

    In this workshop, students will learn a range of hand-embroidery stitches and the best techniques for sewing into leather. We will look at the stitches most commonly found on historical models and ways to use them on a modern binding. We will also discuss ways to transfer the design onto leather and how to prepare the finished embroidered leather for covering. No prior experience with embroidery or leather is necessary, but some hand skills are encouraged.


    JUNE
    Embroidered Leather Workshop
    June 16 – 17 (Saturday – Sunday)
    9:00am – 4:00pm
    Conservation Lab at Texas A&M
    College Station, TX

    This workshop is presented by the Lone Star Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers. Registration is currently open for members and will go live to everyone on May 1st. Stay connected by going to their Facebook page.

    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    June 25 – 29 (Monday – Friday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    This is a great workshop if you are interested in the full-time program at North Bennet or wanting to learn a new skill. During the workshop students will explore the basics of bookbinding through a variety of non-adhesive structures and finish the week by making a flatback case binding. We will discuss materials, adhesives, tool use and students will have access to traditional bindery equipment.


  2. Artist: Julia Bland

    April 13, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    Julia Bland‘s work does not fit perfectly into a single category, but spans beautifully across fiber art and painting. In her work, she deconstructs and manipulates fabric and threads before reconstructing them into the final pieces you see here. The vibrant, geometric designs are stunning. Some of the work is stitched into a solid piece, while others float on loosely woven backgrounds. Either way her work is unique and intriguing.


  3. Upcoming Workshops in Texas and Maine

    March 26, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    I’m excited to announce an upcoming workshop with the Lone Star Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers and Maine Media Workshops + College.


    Lone Star Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers
    Embroidered Leather Workshop
    June 16 – 17 (Saturday & Sunday)
    Conservation Lab at Texas A&M, College Station, TX

    Register here.


    Maine Media Workshops + College
    Millimeter Binding – Rubow Style
    September 23 – 29
    Rockport, Maine

    The millimeter binding came about during the first World War when leather became a scarce resource for binders. Still wanting to provide an elegant leather binding to their clients, binders would use a minimal amount of leather to cover the spine, putting a millimeter or two of leather onto the boards. In this workshop students, will be creating a Rubow-style millimeter binding, learning how to make paste papers and work with leather. Each student will finish the course with a book wrapped in their own paste paper and with a thin strip of leather running across the top and bottom of the binding. This class is open to all and a great introduction to book arts!

    Register here.

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  4. Upcoming Workshops // March to May

    March 15, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    MARCH
    No more workshops scheduled in March


    APRIL
    Secret Belgian Binding
    April 7 – 8 (Saturday & Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    This class is currently full. On day one, students assemble two variations of this non-adhesive structure, which is simple and can be quickly constructed. It opens flat and is perfect for thinner text blocks. On day two, students explore modified versions of the Secret Belgian binding by playing with the amount and size of sewing holes and incorporating Tyvek.

    Secret Belgian Binding
    April 28 (Saturday)
    9:00am – 4:00pm
    Wishcamper Center, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME

    During this single-day workshop, students will assemble two variations of this non-adhesive structure, which is simple and can be quickly constructed. It opens flat and is perfect for thinner text blocks.


    MAY
    Introduction to Embroidery on Leather
    May 13 – 24
    Paper & Book Intensive at Ox-Bow in Saugatuk, Michigan

    Historical examples of embroidered bindings typically date back from the close of the 14th c. to the mid-17thc., and were primarily done on silk, satin, velvet or canvas. These highly decorative bindings grew out of a tradition of textile bindings popular in England during the 14th and 15th centuries. The embroidered designs found can be classified in three categories: heraldic, scriptural symbolism, and floral and arabesque designs. The makers of these bindings included both professional (predominately male artisans) and amateur needle workers (typically women in their homes).

    Contemporary bookbinders and book artists have been incorporating embroidery and other sewing techniques into their work. The range of materials and methods has certainly expanded beyond the historical examples. Using thread on traditional binding techniques allows the artist to express their vision in an unusual way and introduces a different tactile experience to the binding. Embroidered threads can be used to draw in the abstract or to add highlights and shadows to an illustrative design. The threads can be kept neat or left to tangle.

    In this workshop, students will learn a range of hand-embroidery stitches and the best techniques for sewing into leather. We will look at the stitches most commonly found on historical models and ways to use them on a modern binding. We will also discuss ways to transfer the design onto leather and how to prepare the finished embroidered leather for covering. No prior experience with embroidery or leather is necessary, but some hand skills are encouraged.


  5. My Hand // Invisible Cities

    March 13, 2018 by Erin Fletcher


    I was introduced to the work of Italo Calvino through his 1972 novel Invisible Cities. I became infatuated with his writing style and imagination. The tales within Invisible Cities project so much imagery and color and emotion. And so I set forth to create a binding worthy of Calvino’s descriptive tales of fantastical cityscapes; the binding was completed in 2017.

    Bound as a traditional French-style fine binding, the book is covered in two separate pieces of buffalo skin which meet along the center horizon. The top half is busy and heavy; the collaged materials depict abstract images of buildings with gilt “scaffolding”. The abstract building structures were achieved through various onlays of suede, goatskin, stone veneer and palladium lacunose. The stone veneer and palladium lacunose were too textured and too stiff to back-pare, so to achieve the look I wanted I attached stand-in onlays in the full shape of the collaged structures before paring.

    Once pared down, the top half was attached to the book and the stand-in onlays were removed to make way for the final onlay pieces. In order to cut each onlay to the correct size, I used additional pieces of tissue drawn with the same shapes used for the back-paring. The final onlay pieces were cut out through the tissue to ensure their exactness.

    The palladium lacunose is a technique I learned during a workshop with Mark Cockram. An assemblage of goatskin and suede scraps was surface gilt with palladium. Additional texture was created through stamping, tooling, sanding and paring.

    With all of the onlays placed in the top portion, I was ready to work on the bottom half. My first step was to trim both halves at a bevel to create a seamless connection at the center of the book. The design was marked in the leather and sewn with a cotton floss in a matching light grey color. Some shapes span across both halves of leather, so it was vital to have the embroidery line up with the onlay pieces.

    The final aspect of the design to put in place was the “scaffolding”. After making my own thin line brass tools, the top half was tooled in palladium, while the bottom half was left blind.

    Despite finding the entire book inspirational, one particular city drew me in deeper than the rest. Within chapter seven under the group “the dead” Eusapia speaks of an underground city where the dead attempt to mimic the living or vice versa. These opposing forces of truth and falsehood are represented by the two opposing panels. The lower portion of the design is meant to poorly mimic the top portion. This was achieved by removing the color, texture and glisten of the upper panel.

    This theme of polarity and symmetry continues onto the edge of the book and the leather doublures. The entire edge was initially covered in graphite, then palladium was applied to just the head edge and half of the fore edge. The palladium was left looking distressed to compliment the broken palladium on the lacunose onlays.

    As you open to the interior side of the covers, more imagery is unearthed leading you back into the richness of the text. Pulling from Calvino’s references to building structures and the solar system, the front doublure depicts the orbits in our solar system with inlays representing the planets. The bottom half shows the constellation for Cancer. The stars are embroidered in a matching cotton floss with connecting lines tooled in blind.

    The back is similarly styled with a palladium tooled dome and the constellation for Pisces. The fly leaf is a metallic cork paper. The book is housed in a quarter leather clamshell box. The spine of the box hints at the design of the binding with three small inlays collaged together. The rest of the box case is covered in stone veneer. The trays are covered in handmade Katie MacGregor paper and lined in the same faux suede used on the binding.

    This binding was apart of the Student and Alumni Show at North Bennet Street School before going on display for the Society of Bookbinders International Competition 2017 in Keele, England. You can read more about my concept and see even more images here.


  6. Artist: Aakash Nihalani

    February 15, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    With a few simple tools, artist Aakash Nihalani transforms ordinary spaces into wildly imaginative and playful ones. By creating  visually dimensional shapes out of tape, cardboard and paint, seemingly sterile spaces become interactive. Making the impossible seem possible.


  7. Upcoming Workshops // February to April

    February 15, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    FEBRUARY
    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    February 26 – March 2
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    This is a great workshop if you are interested in the full-time program at North Bennet or wanting to learn a new skill. During the workshop students will explore the basics of bookbinding through a variety of non-adhesive structures and finish the week by making a flatback case binding. We will discuss materials, adhesives, tool use and students will have access to traditional bindery equipment.


    MARCH
    Rebind a Book
    March 17 – 18 (Saturday & Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    This class is currently full. Rebind your favorite book and create a custom cover. Learn how to disassemble a commercially bound book and prep it for a custom hardcover case. Choose between our assortment of cloths and decorative papers or bring your own to perfectly capture the spirit of your book. Students will also get the chance to title their books using a Kwikprint stamping machine.


    APRIL
    Secret Belgian Binding
    April 7 – 8 (Saturday & Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    This class is currently full. On day one, students assemble two variations of this non-adhesive structure, which is simple and can be quickly constructed. It opens flat and is perfect for thinner text blocks. On day two, students explore modified versions of the Secret Belgian binding by playing with the amount and size of sewing holes and incorporating Tyvek.

    Secret Belgian Binding
    April 28 (Saturday)
    9:00am – 4:00pm
    Wishcamper Center, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME

    During this single-day workshop, students will assemble two variations of this non-adhesive structure, which is simple and can be quickly constructed. It opens flat and is perfect for thinner text blocks.

     


  8. Catching up with Coleen Curry // No. 5

    January 28, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    In my final post with Coleen Curry, I want to feature her binding of Trading Eights, The Faces of Jazz. Celebrating the culture of Jazz, this Nawakum Press publication includes wood engraved portraits of eight iconic jazz figures. These engravings by James G. Todd Jr. are paired with an essay by Jazz historian Ted Gioia and a poem by Dana Gioia.

    In 2017, Coleen crafted this book as a traditional French laced-in binding covered in black goatskin. The design includes inlays of black straight grain goat, embossed and top-pared navy blue calf and perforated dark blue sheepskin plus onlays of white box calf and the same silver-grey translucent paper used for the interleaving in the book.

    The interior side of the board is covered in edge-to-edge doublures in the same black goatskin used on the covers. The endpapers were designed by Lisa Van Pelt and originally used on the publishers’ binding edition. Coleen’s binding was included in the 2017 Designer Bookbinders International Exhibition traveling throughout the UK and landing in Boston.

    Recently you’ve been binding for the Santa Rosa-based Nawakum Press, who recently suffered a great loss of their inventory and facility during the 2017 October fires in Sonoma County. How did your relationship begin with Nawakum Press and how things have changed since the devastating fires?
    In 2014, I had the good fortune to attend the Manhattan Fine Press Book Fair in New York.  Whilst browsing the tables laden with beautiful books, I spotted Richard Wagener of Mixolydian Editions presenting LOOM at Nawakum’s table and was blown away by his prints.  I introduced myself to Richard, and he in turn, introduced me to David Pascoe of Nawakum Press.  David mentioned his admiration of my binding on Toni Morrison’s A Mercy that he had seen in an exhibition and we got to talking about making books in the North Bay (area north of SF).  As we were all North Bay residents, I invited both Richard and David to visit my bindery when we returned home.  They visited in August and shortly afterward, David asked if I would be interested in collaborating on a new project he was working on for CODEX 2015.  I crafted a design binding on Nawakum’s featured release Encheiresin Naturae – an incredibly large text with abstract prints by Barry Moser and an ‘heroic crown of sonnets’ by Paul Muldoon.  This was the beginning of our collaboration.

    The Santa Rosa fires were devastating for David and his family– they lost everything including Nawakum’s entire inventory and archive. They escaped in the middle of the night with minutes to spare.  David has since relocated to the Tacoma area for a year and is already working on 2 books, one of which is about the fires. We still collaborate and I am in constant awe of the artists he brings together to make incredible fine press limited editions.

    The mood of Trading Eights is so different from your other bindings. The black on black offers a subtle contrast with spontaneous blips of subdued blue and unusual texture. The framing of these inlays with a repeating title across a wave-like path really contains the design in a way that is different from your other work. So are we seeing a new style emerge from you or is it just that the subject matter of Trading Eights demanded a more sleek design.
    Trading Eights was a delight to work on and listening to the Autumn Jazz station on Pandora got me into the groove of Chet Baker, The Monk and Charlie Parker amongst others.  I wanted to create an intimate feeling in a smoky jazz club and chose a narrow color palette of blues, greys and then black and white.

    I don’t think that you are seeing a different style emerge, rather the subject matter and the book design steered the style for this binding.  The book is clean, with hues of grey and blue.  The black and white underscores the importance of the smoky jazz club.  Jazz performance is personal, intimate: “You can follow the changes in the riffs on their faces … Look into their faces. Peer into their eyes, their souls.” Jim Todd clearly feels the same way about the faces of the great live jazz performers.  The particularly lovely translucent interleaves, with beautifully evocative smoke images, introduces the reader to each large engraving as though peering through the smokey haze in a jazz club.

    I wanted a subtle lyrical feeling in an intimate atmosphere similar to what it would be like sitting in a club listening to musicians trade eights.  The title is repeated across the bottom with 8 notes (each word being a note) and then repeated (traded) across the top, which encloses the design on the boards to create the intimacy.  Jazz is organized yet allows the musician to riff into their own exploration and the design is my attempt to do that.  The shapes on the front and back boards are clean, woven and tight, yet I wanted to explore boundaries with depth and color and texture.


  9. Catching up with Coleen Curry // No. 4

    January 21, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    This limp suede staple binding by Coleen Curry was bound in 2017. Published by The Perishable Press, Pulsars is authored by Harry Lewis and includes a silkscreen print by Sam Gilliam. Coleen left the text in its original brown paper wrapper along with the prospectus, but added red and blue Moriki endpapers and embossed green goat suede flyleaves. The text is affixed to a red wood stub piece, which allows the print to open completely flat. The book is attached to the cover with 18 carat gold wire staples secured by handmade wood and parchment tackets.

    When I look at your work as a whole there is a clear appreciation for the materials used. Even when a material is manipulated or distressed it is done so with care. Your use of suede on Pulsars reminds me of leather’s hidden beauty. The suede remnants of a split skin can reveal an interesting array of splotches, veins and other blemishes where the dye did not penetrate. I wonder if you feel the same attraction to suede and if that irregularity influenced your reason for using suede on Pulsars?
    The Perishable Press prospectus calls this book a “tactile event” and I wanted my binding to be just that, a tactile event. Sam Gilliam’s vibrant multi-media silkscreen centerfold captures the energy of a pulsar with a vivid green machine stitching across it. I chose a gorgeous purple suede split with a myriad of colors as my covering material as the colors compliment that energy and reflects on some of Lewis’ references to astrophysics. I used a variety of techniques to manipulate the cover including bright paper collage, embossing, tooling and acrylic paint. I chose Italian silk thread in blue and red to machine stitch across the lower right corner of the cover.

    I am attracted to asymmetry and imperfection as a point of beauty. Irregularity – I love it – it creates curiosity, intrigue, and begs the question ‘What is that?’  or ‘How did you do that”. Many of the materials I choose have ‘imperfections’ and these, in my opinion, are what breathe life into my bindings, that intrigue.  When the leather is split, often many variations appear that ware previously hidden. Tick bites, scars, veins, dye variation, texture variation all appear and are always a secret surprise.  Additionally, when various coatings are applied, completely different colors may appear, darken, enrich or even change altogether. The goat suede split was really purple, however when I applied layers of paper and then a PVA wash, the purple darkened and an amazing orange appeared along with some purple dots.

  10. Artist: John Holcomb

    January 16, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    I’ve just stumbled across the work of painter John Holcomb and I’m completely infatuated. In John’s Floral series he uses inspiration from nature itself and the old Dutch masters. John uses these paintings as a form of therapy to ease his mind and work through the complexities of his other work. He brings an absolute brilliant and whimsical interpretation to the 17th century paintings.

     

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  • 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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