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  1. Catching Up With Lori Sauer // No. 5

    August 27, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    For the final post, I wanted to highlight one of Lori Sauer’s more recent bindings. Done in 2017, Lori created a binding for Russell Maret’s Linear A to Z. Using an unusual binding style, Lori combine’s vellum and Japanese paper to create a binding that works beautifully with the text’s imagery.

    Russell Maret’s Linear A to Z is a beautifully printed book. And your play on the geometry perfectly harmonizes with the prints in this abecedarian text. Can you talk about the binding structure you used for this binding (particularly the board attachment and how it functions)? Is the vellum limp or over boards?
    I don’t know the name of this structure and sadly I can’t remember who showed it to me years ago. I’ll do my best to describe it. The text is sewn on vellum supports that are shaped like a bar with an arrow on each end. They have to be very precisely cut and measured as the bar is the width of the sewn spine plus the thickness of the covering material.

    The three covering pieces, in this case vellum, are cut to size. The spine piece is folded along the joint and the sidepieces are turned-in along the spine edge only. Slits are then cut in to the fold of the spine and folds of the board pieces that correspond to the sewing stations/supports. The ends of the arrows are very carefully fed through the slits. The points of the arrow shape lock the pieces together and on to the text block.

    I then tipped in a thin board to the gutter of the board vellum and drummed the vellum on resulting in a semi rigid cover. The black lines are waxed Japanese paper laid in to embossed lines. The horizontal line is cut in to the board vellum and inlaid with a laminate of vellum and paper.

    The doublures and flyleaves have black and white lines that echo the design on the outside.

    This structure can also be done in a single piece. A gusset is then formed between the inner board and text block. I hope I’ve explained this well enough. It’s very hard to describe without drawing some pictures!


  2. Catching Up With Lori Sauer // No. 4

    August 20, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    In 2016, Lori Sauer was one of six Designer Bookbinder Fellows selected to bind one the six titles shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Lori bound Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing, which was presented to the author on the night of the award ceremony.

    Your designs are so delicate, but have the power to capture deep emotion. Each element feels meticulously planned and placed in perfect harmony. Can you go through the stages of planning for Do Not Say We Have Nothing, specifically touching on the placement of the small red pieces?
    This is a binding done for the Man Booker Prize shortlist, work that always has a very tight deadline. I loved the novel, an epic tale spanning three generations of two separate families, who lived through a turbulent time of Chinese history in the mid twentieth century (the Cultural Revolution through to Tiananmen Square). There is a book within the book, called The Book of Records that ties the families and generations together. Classical music also plays a big part, in particular The Goldberg Variations, a piece based on repeated patterns and mathematics.

    I usually tend to work in light and pale colours, my penchant for minimalism. This is the first dark binding I’ve done for a long time but I felt it was needed to capture the psychological temper of the period. All of Chinese society at the time wore uniforms – drab, dark colours with only the Red Guard having something bright.

    With all of these elements stewing around in my mind I begin to sketch and when some of them start to work for me I make paper mock-ups – cutting out the right colours and shapes and moving them about – and take photos of the best compositions. I also work on my iPad with a drawing app. (I like Art Rage). I eventually settle on something that makes my fingers want to start work. Sometimes I settle on a design that’s a very long way from my starting point but I’m not unduly bothered that I move off in a sideways direction, as a good design will stand up on its own.

    The final design is my visual solution to a novel about music, the passage of time, families and Chinese writing.

    You’ve asked specifically about the small red dots. The ones on the outside (leather, shown above) were placed for compositional balance and add a necessary shot of colour. The dots on the doublures (paper, shown below) were very randomly applied. I worked instinctively and fairly quickly here and photographed a pattern I liked so I could use it for reference when gluing them down later.


  3. Upcoming Workshops // August to October

    August 15, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    AUGUST:
    No workshops scheduled for the month of August. Enjoy your summer!


    SEPTEMBER:
    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    September 18 – 22 (Monday – Friday)
    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.

    Edge Decoration
    September 30 – October 1 (Saturday & Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    Explore a variety of ways to decorate the edges of a text block. Decorating an edge is more than just applying pigment, students learn how to properly trim and sand edges in addition to preparing pigments such as acrylic, gouache and powdered graphite. We will also explore striped edges, simple gilding and gauffering (tooled impressions).


    OCTOBER:


    Millimeter Binding Workshop
    October 12 – 15 (Thursday – Sunday)
    10:00am – 6:00pm
    O Velho Livreiro, São Paulo, Brazil

    At a time in Europe when leather was a scarce commodity, binders developed a new structure known as a millimeter binding. This simple, yet refined leather binding is traditionally covered with a small amount of leather at the spine and handmade paste paper. During this workshop each student will complete a model in the Rubow-style millimeter structure, where leather runs along the head and tail edges of the book instead of the spine. Students will learn the steps to create this structure by sewing on flattened cords, rounding and backing, edge decoration and simple leather paring techniques. We will also discuss the history of millimeter bindings and alternative versions of the structure.

    Limp Vellum/Paper Binding Workshop
    October 21 & 22 (Saturday & Sunday)
    10:00am – 6:00pm
    O Velho Livreiro, São Paulo, Brazil

    In this 2-day workshop students will focus on this straightforward and elegant structure that arose during the 15th century in response to the advent of the printed book. Although typically bound in vellum, students will use handmade paper to construct a Limp Paper Case Binding using traditional sewing methods for the text block and endbands. We will also go through the series of folds and interlocking corners that make up the construction of the case.

     


  4. Catching Up With Lori Sauer // No. 3

    August 13, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Lori Sauer bound The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins in 2015, just three years after it was published by Arion Press. This limited edition includes illustrations by Stan Washburn. As Lori mentions below, she split the text into two volumes, creating two fine bindings that compliment each other beautifully. Each binding is covered with calfskin and decorative handmade paper.

    Can you talk about your use of materials and how they connect to the text? Which elements are paper and why use paper over another type of material?
    Relating a material to a text is not something that I ever find myself mulling over. In rare cases one might pick wood for a book about wood, etc., but in the majority of cases leather is used, as convention. I’ve moved away from leather and now mainly bind in vellum because it’s so beautiful. Just to break out from my habit I bound this one in calfskin and paper. The calfskin because it has no grain and paper because I’ve always wanted to use it as major material for a design binding. I’ve always had the feeling (perhaps I’m wrong here) that paper is not considered appropriate for serious work. But it has a longer shelf life than leather, is open to a wide range of decorative treatments and I haven’t met a binder yet who isn’t besotted with it.

    The circular shapes are paper and the area around the circles is calfskin. The paper is a heavy weight Griffen Mill, specially made for a commission I did and these are some of the off-cuts. The pieces have been tinted with watercolour to achieve a range of neutral shades. The leather has been sanded over the top of a pimply surface to create texture.

    This is a very long novel with many characters and lots of narrative layers. There were a number of key scenes set on some shifting sands, a metaphor for the quasi-surreal nature of the plot. My colour choice came from this and also why I wanted to use a variety of textures/materials.

    This is a single volume production (Arion Press) but I decided to split it in to two bindings because I find very thick books rather clumsy. It worked out well to divide it because of how Collins had structured the story into two sections. I liked doing a pair of complimentary bindings, as I was able to use more than just one of the many compositions I had played around with.

    Shown below are the two interior views of each volume. 


  5. Catching Up With Lori Sauer // No. 2

    August 6, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Lori Sauer bound this Arion Press edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Silverado Squatters in 2014. The book is bound in vellum with decorative elements in Japanese paper.

    I really love your use of materials on this binding. It offers a peaceful and calming interpretation of the Napa Valley landscape portrayed in this classic travel memoir. Can you speak about how you covered the book in vellum? Is the division created by using two separate pieces of vellum or through a decorative application?
    R.L. Stevenson is in the top five of my favourite authors and I’ve bound quite a few of his works. This one from Arion Press has sepia toned photographs from central California as illustrations. Bindings for books with images present a particular set of challenges. I never attempt to reproduce an illustrator’s work in a design but will do my best to capture the tone or mood. With this piece I used both the serene quality of the photos along with Stevenson’s literary style to guide me. Stevenson’s prose reads with such ease and grace, something that is incredibly hard to do. I’m pleased that you’ve picked up on this!

    Each piece of vellum (two on each board) is lined with a slightly different shade of backing paper in order to give a very subtle shift in colouration. The pieces are turned in on their meeting edges so that the line between them is clean and soft.

    The vertical lines are Japanese paper, onlaid in to pressed grooves.

    What technique did you use for the decoration on the doublures?
    I did an iPad ‘painting’ to create the doublures and inkjet printed them on to hand-made paper. (I like this technique very much and need to remember to do it more often). I then applied small pieces of Japanese paper and these were back sanded before I stuck down the doublure. Very subtle marks are made by the onlays on the suede flyleaves.


  6. My Hand // Feed Sacks: The Colourful History of a Frugal Fabric

    August 4, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    I was recently invited, along with fourteen other talented binders, to bind a copy of Feed Sacks: The Colourful History of a Frugal Fabric by Linzee Kull McCray. This project all began when Todd Pattison, received a generous gift of unbound copies from the publisher and designer of Feed Sacks, Janine Vanpool at UPPERCASE Magazine.

    The book offers insight into how a plain utilitarian fabric evolved into a highly sought after commodity that was soon crafted into trendy garments, homewares and toys by housewives and seamstresses. The book also contains a plethora of images, which include scans from the impressive collections of two vintage feed sack collectors.

    For my binding, I wanted to incorporate an authentic feed sack fabric and I just so happen to find a pattern straight from the book.

    The book itself is bound as a 3-Part Bradel binding. The spine is covered in handmade paper from Katie MacGregor. The endpapers are a combination of paper from Katie MacGregor and Hook Pottery Paper. The boards are covered in the vintage fabric and wrapped with a hand embroidered Japanese tissue. The design of the wrapper pulls elements from the labels found on feed sacks, taking cues from the language and typography used. I used Okawara tissue for the wrapper and cotton embroidery floss. The center motif was back with a piece of muslin to strengthen the area prior to stitching. The vibrant red was added with colored pencil.

    Embroidering onto tissue was a very delicate process, but one that I had been interested in testing out for a while. In hindsight, I would have done things a bit differently. Working directly on the tissue caused warping and wrinkling, which was impossible to correct. In the future, I would attach the tissue to the covering material first, sewing through both layers.

    To see more images of my binding and the other binder’s interpretations of the text, check out the online gallery here.

    SaveSave


  7. Catching Up With Lori Sauer // No. 1

    August 1, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    I first interviewed Lori Sauer for the blog back in March 2013. I thought it might be time to check in and see what new bindings Lori has created over the past four years. Over the month of August, I’ll be featuring five of Lori’s more recent bindings. Let’s begin with a book Lori bound in 2013, a copy of A Line illustrated by Suyeon Kim.

    A Line was published by Incline Press in 2009 and is an illustrative narrative of linocut prints by Suyeon Kim depicting the companionship between a blind fisherman and his dog. Lori bound her copy in the dos rapporté structure with dyed vellum. Lori adds decorative elements with twine and ink.

    I love the playfulness of the cover compared with Suyeon Kim’s linocut prints. How did you manipulate the vellum to achieve a hazy water-like quality?
    I love this book, no text, just a narrative in images. The images veer off in to fantasy, a bit like a Chagall painting, and are full of warmth and charm.

    You asked about the vellum – I dyed it. I buy very clear and clean white skins for this and interesting markings appear with the dye (I use watered down FW acrylic inks). I start with dying the flesh side as it soaks up moisture better. If I need to I’ll wipe some of the ink on the hair side too. The first pieces I coloured for this weren’t exactly right so I did a second set. I ended up using the first set as doublures. I can go through a lot of vellum this way in order to get the right shade but the rejects always get used up eventually.

    Are the red and yellow lines actual threads running across the binding? If so, how are they adhered to the vellum covers?
    The red and yellow lines are also acrylic ink, applied with a nib. The white line is inlaid string.

    I’ll also say that the book is printed as a concertina and folds out to seventeen feet, I think. It was pretty badly folded so I had to fiddle quite a bit to get the edges to line up. I decided that it would be rare or never that someone would open it all the way so I attached guards on the reverse to keep it like a conventional book. I then used a stub for the spine so that the pages would fan open. The physical result ties in well with the playfulness and watery theme of the images.


  8. Swell Things No. 44 // Henry Hébert

    June 30, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Back for another guest post is my good friend and fellow classmate, Henry Hébert. His picks this year include some fellow bookbinders (and one of their cats), a secluded bookbinding haven and some old comforts.

    1. Zdzisław Beksiński, Untitled, oil on fibreboard: Beksiński’s dystopian surrealism is gorgeous and haunting. My favorite paintings are like this one, combining religious iconography with almost alien textures. You can see a virtual gallery of his work here.
    2. Lahey Hemostatic Foreceps: Adam Larsson, Conservator at Uppsala University Library, clued me in to using long surgical tools for quickly lacing sewing supports through paper case bindings.
    3. Darwin: I picked this print up at Horse + Hero in Asheville, NC. This line from some of Charles Darwin’s 1861 correspondence pretty much sums up how I feel most mornings.
    4. Dark Souls: I think this video game from 2011 is still one of the best games ever made. Fun to play, excellent design, and weird, weird story telling.
    5. Bradel the Cat: Noted bookbinder and artist Karen Hanmer is the caretaker of this wonderful Abyssinian cat.

    6. Trump stress ball: News getting you down? Take your frustration out by squeezing a tiny version of our president’s dumb head.
    7. Rocks: I recently saw some of these decorated, parchment-wrapped rocks made by Shanna Leino. They were just such curious, fun little objects – I had to put them on this list.
    8.  Oxbow: I just attended my first Paper & Book Intensive, held at the Ox-bow School of Art in Saugutuck, MI. It was a pretty magical opportunity to disconnect from the outside world and focus on bookbinding.
    9. Jodorowsky’s DuneThis documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed attempt to make a film based on Frank Herbert’s Dune is wonderful. Some of my favorite artists were all set to collaborate on the project, and many award-winning projects were produced from the wreckage.
    10. Mini-dividers: Brien Beidler makes some really nice brass tools. I just happened to have a pair of tiny plastic hands on me when he showed me these mini brass dividers. I still laugh every time I look at this mini-hand-modeling photo.


  9. Upcoming Workshops in São Paulo, Brazil

    June 28, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    I am very excited to announce that I will be teaching two workshops this fall in São Paulo, Brazil. I will be hosted by O Velho Livreiro as apart of their Classic Binding Series. I will be teaching a 4-day class on the Rubow-style Millimeter Binding and a 2-day class on the Limp Vellum Structure (using handmade paper). You can find more information below or by clicking here. Scroll past the image to find all of the details in English. I hope to see you there!

    Millimeter Binding Workshop – 4 days
    October 12 – 15, 2017

    At a time in Europe when leather was a scarce commodity, binders developed a new structure known as a millimeter binding. This simple, yet refined leather binding is traditionally covered with a small amount of leather at the spine and handmade paste paper. During this workshop each student will complete a model in the Rubow-style millimeter structure, where leather runs along the head and tail edges of the book instead of the spine. Students will learn the steps to create this structure by sewing on flattened cords, rounding and backing, edge decoration and simple leather paring techniques. We will also discuss the history of millimeter bindings and alternative versions of the structure.
    To register, click here.

    Limp Vellum/Paper Binding Workshop – 2 days
    October 21 & 22, 2017
    In this 2-day workshop students will focus on this straightforward and elegant structure that arose during the 15th century in response to the advent of the printed book. Although typically bound in vellum, students will use handmade paper to construct a Limp Paper Case Binding using traditional sewing methods for the text block and endbands. We will also go through the series of folds and interlocking corners that make up the construction of the case.
    To register, click here.


  10. Upcoming Workshops // June to August

    June 15, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    JUNE:
    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    June 19 – 23 (Monday – Friday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    Just a few spots remaining. 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.

    Three-Part Bradel Binding
    June 26 – 30 (Monday – Friday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    Just a few spots remaining. The 3-Part Bradel binding offers a unique aesthetic over a traditional case binding. As the name suggests, the binding is assembled in three parts, which encourages the binder to use different materials to cover the spine and covers. For this workshop, students will use leather to cover the spine and a cloth or paper of their choice for the covers. Students will be guided as they pare their own leather.

    Students will also be using a variety of bindery equipment such as a sewing frame, job backer, plow and Kwikprint to complete their structure. We will also cover how to create a painted edge and stamp a custom label. Experience with leather is not necessary, but encouraged.


    JULY:
    Bookbinding 101
    July 8 – 9 (Saturday – Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    This shorter workshop focuses on technique as students will construct through the aid of kits. Students will make three different binding structures and create an enclosure to house everything. This workshop is perfect for anyone curious about bookbinding and what North Bennet has to offer. No prior experience necessary.

    Single Signature Binding
    July 14 – 16 (Friday – Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    Creating an elegant binding around a single signature can be a tricky task. Students will use a basic sewing technique, known as a pamphlet stitch, to create a quarter leather hardcover binding. The illusion of a standard rounded-back leather bound book is created through the use of a stub and unique style of endpapers. This workshop is suitable for students with some binding experience and those who are interested in understanding how to maniupulate familiar techniques to fit a slimmer text block. Students will also have the chance to work with leather (no previous experience is necessary) and spend time practicing paring.


    AUGUST:
    No workshops scheduled for the month of August. Enjoy your summer!