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  1. Upcoming Workshops // March to May

    March 17, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    April 24 – 28 (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.


    Secret Belgian Binding – 3 Ways
    May 6 – 7 (Saturday & Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston MA

    Just a few spots left in this workshop. 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.


    Make Your Own Punching Cradle
    May 20 (Saturday)
    9:00am – 1:00pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston MA

    A punching cradle is a very useful piece of equipment for bookbinders. During this class, students create a collapsible punching cradle with a variable length. The collapsible cradle is lightweight, saves space, and is perfect for traveling or working in small spaces.


  2. Artist: Sarah Strickland

    March 17, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Australian artist, Sarah Strickland is predominately a textile designer, but her work with paper is quite stunning. The following pieces were originally created as painted paper collages before being digitized and printed on fabric. Sarah crafts her multilayered pieces using bold colors and textures.


  3. Swell Things No. 40 // Jason Fletcher

    February 28, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Another year of Swell Things guest post are back and I’m excited to present this collection of bookmarks from my husband Jason Fletcher. As a Science Visualizer for the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science, Jason has been focusing on the growth of VR and 360º video. Check out his blog, The Fulldome Blog, to read more about interests surrounding the planetarium community. Enjoy!

    1. This is a short film called Waiting Far Away, I created as a backburner project at the planetarium. It’s about an explorer of the cosmos has traveled much too far… And can’t find his way home.
    2. And I just can’t ignore Missy Elliott. She’s so weird and I love her style.
    3. Wanderers is a vision of humanity’s expansion into the Solar System, based on scientific ideas and concepts of what our future in space might look like. The locations depicted in the film are digital recreations of actual places in the Solar System, built from real photos and map data where available.
    4. Black Snake in Sacred Waters is a VR documentary about the North Dakota Oil Pipeline protest. It’s powerful to watch as one of the crowd.
    5. Mathew Borrett create wonderful labyrinthine drawings of interconnected rooms within blank space.

    6. Constructive Interference is a sculpture designed to mystify the senses. It’s a static object that appears, impossibly, to be moving.
    7. While astronauts are onboard the ISS they often take photos of earths surface for scientists to study. But each day they have some free time to relax and sometimes they experiment with long exposure photography.
    8. Goro Fujita wanted to experiment with the infinite canvas of “Quill”, a VR painting app. This wonderful piece is appropriately named Worlds in Worlds.
    9. Jonty Hurwitz creates anamorphic sculptures which can only be understood when viewed through a cylindrical mirror. So it’s both an abstract and realistic sculpture at the same time.
    10. Stardust is a story about Voyager 1, which is the unmanned spacecraft launched in 1977 to explore the outer solar system. The probe is the furthest man-made object from the sun and witnesses unimaginable beauty and destruction.


  4. My Trip to Codex

    February 26, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    At the beginning of February, I flew to San Francisco to attend the Codex Book Fair for the first time. The Codex Foundation was formed in 2005 by fine press printer, Peter Rutledge Koch and paper conservator, Susan Filter. Since 2007, the Codex Book Fair and Symposium has run biennially, growing from 120 exhibitors in its first year to 220 in 2017. The venue has also been upgraded to the Craneway Pavilion (once known as the Ford Assembly Plant) to accommodate this ever growing event. The Symposium runs in conjunction with the fair and features keynote speakers within the field of artist books.

    The fair itself runs for four days, unfortunately I only had a chance to be there for the final two days. Needless to say, there was so much to see and so many people to chat with that I was unable to make it all the way through. If you are planning to attend in the future, give yourself four full days. You’re going to need it.

    This year, Codex hosted exhibitors from 26 different countries, who were there to showcase their artist books and fine press editions. In addition, various institutions that offer courses and programs in bookbinding and book arts were displaying work from current students and alumni. A handful of vendors could be spotted amongst the tables selling beautiful handmade papers and tools, plus leather and other binding materials.

    I had a really great time and would recommend making the trip if you are at all interested in bookbinding, book arts and printmaking. It will certainly open your eyes up to the vast levels of skill and creativity amongst our field. Below are some of the highlights from my visit to Codex.

    One of the first things to catch my eye were three bindings by Jonathan Tremblay. His work is so flawless and it was great to get the chance to handle these bindings and chat with Jonathan about his work. The best part of the raised inlay shown on the binding above, is that Jonathan hand-painted the exposed suede edges in a grain-like pattern so that it would blend in seamlessly. A truly amazing detail. Jonathan’s work was on display at A. Piroir Studio-Gallery, a fine press based out of Montréal.

    This lovely cloth book bound around brown thorns and embroidered with erotic images was constructed by Lois Morrison. Her work Leah, interprets an excerpt from the Old Testament. Lois’ illustrations are so expressive, her initial sketch in light blue pencil is still visible under the stitches (a detail that I just loved).

    Coleen Curry discussed a recent binding she completed for Nawakum Press. Her work is so textural and this piece was no exception. Combining a Pergamena grey goatskin with onlays of shark and sanded alligator skin. Really beautiful work.

    The book on the left is by Rhiannon Alpers and is such a creative and lovely way of utilizing the structure of the Secret Belgian binding. She was a delight to chat with and see her work in person. The work on the right is by the phenomenal printer and book artist Karen Kunc. Karen is from my home state of Nebraska, where she runs Constellation Studios. It was great to catch some insight on how this art form is being received in the midwest, particularly in an area that lacks exposure to book arts.

    Vellicate by Karen Hardy includes human hair and this amazing translucent clamshell box. She went through the book arts and printmaking MFA Program at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and is currently living in Asheville, North Carolina.

    A small selection from Vamp & Tramp Booksellers.

    This binding by Sol Rébora was one of many delightful finds at her table. It was so wonderful to meet Sol in person since interviewing her for the blog back in 2014. The delicate precision of her work is inspiring and Sol was kind enough to speak about the many details of her work.

    Towards the end of the final day, I made a quick stop at Tomorrow’s Past to say hello to Tracey Rowledge and Kathy Abbott. Above are two fine examples from their table. The two bindings on the right are stone veneer staple bindings bound by Sün Evrard.

    Well that’s just a small sample of the things I saw during my trip to Codex. As I mentioned before, it’s definitely worth making the trip. You’ll leave feeling inspired and emboldened to make work, plus you might walk away with an armful of goodies.


  5. Upcoming Workshops // February to April

    February 15, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Here’s a list of my upcoming workshops, which will be taught at the North Bennet Street School in Boston.

    Bookbinding 101
    February 28 – March 9 (Tuesday and Thursday evenings)
    6:00pm – 9:00pm

    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.

    Register here.


    Limp Vellum Binding
    March 4 – 5 (Saturday and Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm

    This two-day workshop will focus on the classic and elegant limp vellum binding. Students will learn how to sew over alum-tawed thongs using a sewing frame, create hand-sewn endbands and manipulate vellum.

    Register here.


    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    April 24 – 28 (Monday – Friday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm

    There are still a few seats available in this workshop. 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.

    Register here.


  6. Artist: Miranda Crooks

    February 14, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Using double-exposure, Miranda Crooks has created these dreamlike images of plants. The photographic effect and the rich, vibrant colors pull you away from reality. In her watercolor pieces, Miranda uses a softer palette to capture the essence of each plant.


  7. Swell Things No. 39 // Zürich Edition

    January 31, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    To ring in the new year, my husband and I went to Zürich with a few friends. This walkable city was filled with delightful street art and museums, breathtaking views over bridges, scrumptious cheese and delectable chocolate (and did I mention cheese). Here are a few of the things I enjoyed during our trip.

    1. It was so fun to wander through the large-scale installation work of Phyllida Barlow that was on display at Kunsthalle. We got to navigate through wooden beams splashed with paint, massive foam sculptures and other curious construction items.
    2. The cloister at the Fraumünster Church, a women’s abbey built in 853, is adorned with several floor to ceiling frescos by Paul Bodmer. The style of painting was more reminiscent of oil pastel, with the movement of the hand being quite visible. The frescos were captivating, but not the reason for our visit. Check out number eight for more about the Fraumünster.
    3. There are so many medieval-style paintings on building facades around the city. I was particularly pleased by this one of “Der Bücherskorpion”, such a pesky little creature.
    4. After strolling along the Viadukt, a unique collection of shops and restaurants built within the viaducts of the Industriequartier district railway, we passed by an alley adorned with floating umbrellas.
    5. During a trip to Kunsthaus, I discovered a new admiration for the work of Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler. On the second floor of the Kunsthaus, an entire room is dedicated to his large-scale Parallelism paintings and small-scale landscapes. His creative use of color to create shadows and highlights were inspiring to see up close.

    6. During a stroll through the old part of Zürich near our hotel, we stumbled upon an art installation with a variety of interactive pieces. Driven by artist Mark Ofner, this work, from what I can gather through translations, is about the creation of life and Zürich’s attainment of clean water and how that negatively impacted the landscape. You can check out images of the work here and watch a video of the largest interactive element.
    7. The best shop we visited during our trip, by far, was Fabrikat! The women running the shop were so delightful and knowledgable about the products. I think I looked at everything in the shop two or three times in the hopes of adding them to my basket. Fabrikat sells a collection of new and old tools, vintage emphera, drawing and writing utensils and other randomly beautiful objects. The image above shows four sheets of handprinted paper from Atelier Neuweg that I purchased. Can’t wait to use them.
    8. The main draw that brought us to the Fraumünster were the stained glass windows independently designed by Augusto Giacometti (1940) and Marc Chagall (1970). Both artists created a unique style of imagery for stained glass. The lines were thick, harsh and expressive with small amounts of color peering through.
    9. Walking up to the second floor of the Migros Museum, I was hit by an aroma of plaster. To my surprise, I was greeted by Karla Black’s piece Principles Of Admitting: a 115 x 34 feet spread of plaster powder mixed with powdered paint, which gave off an icy blue hue. Along one side, the plaster mixture had been built up into a wide cliff, that almost seemed to defy itself. It was such an extraordinary piece to see in person.
    10. These curious paintings were all over Zürich and this was one of my favorites.


  8. Artist: Johanna Goodman

    January 10, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    The Imaginary Beings series from Johanna Goodman are delightful and witty. Through her collages, she is able to create so much emotion (and attitude) by playing with character’s facial expressions and posture. Plus some ultra-fabulous couture garments.


  9. Studying in London with Mark and Tracey

    January 8, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    At the beginning of November, I spent two and a half weeks living under the gloomy, grey skies of London. But having lived in Boston for the past six years, I felt quite at home with the overcast days and long train rides. After getting settled in my flat just outside of Tufnell Park, I spent my first day wandering around the Victoria and Albert Museum. An exhibit on Medieval English embroidery occupied most of my time during the visit. The exhibit surveyed religious garments and coverings dating from the 13th – 15th centuries. The quality of the stitchwort was breathtakingly beautiful and in such immaculate condition for their age.

    right: Panel depicting the Tree of Jesse (1310-20)

    right: The Clare Chasuble (1272-94)

    After my jaunt at the V&A (plus a quick bite at the cafe), I wandered around Soho, popping into a few shops before ending up at Mother Mash for dinner (so delicious and highly recommended). But let me get to the real reason why you are reading this post.

    DAY ONE
    The next day I traveled from my flat in Tufnell Park to Barnes for the first of nine days with Mark Cockram. I arrived promptly at 10:00 in the morning, not a minute too early or too late (as were the rules). On the first day, we focused on paring with a Schärffix (which I did standing up, a bit unusual for me) and using a French paring knife. All of the pared leather was used to create “swiss rolls”, which is a term used by Mark to describe this technique but has also been described by Philip Smith as “maril”. Mark also shared reverse cellulose printing with me, which is the process of transferring a printed image onto leather.

    DAY TWO
    On the second day, I continued to play with my creations from the previous day. I took the shavings from the swiss rolls and created an assemblage. I took my printed leather and pared it down in preparation for board attachment using Mark’s method of edge paring. The day’s final demonstration centered on laying down leather corners using a nifty tool called a tensai. The tensai is shown in the image below on the right and is used to mark the leather before trimming. Its name translates from the Japanese word for genius. And I certainly felt quite like one with this technique for finishing off corners.

    DAY THREE
    Today was the beginning of leather dying, starting with the craquelle technique (see more in Day Four). While waiting for the thick layer of paste to dry before the dye could be applied, I began working on a technique that was unnamed at the beginning of the demonstration but was eventually dubbed “dicated surface” (this name was randomly chosen from the dictionary by Mark, but is in fact the second half of a hyphenated word). This technique is implemented by creating multiple layers of leather. These layers are then manipulated in a variety of ways to alter the aesthetic and texture of the surface. After feeling satisfied with its look, I distorted the plaquette further by cutting it down into square tiles.

    By Mark’s encouragement, I continued to play with the aesthetic of the tiles by using embroidery floss to enhance the texture more. I took three of the embroidered tiles and pasted them to a piece of fair goatskin. After back-paring by hand, I continued to tinker with the design by adding additional embroidery around the tiles. I continued to work on this piece throughout my time at Mark’s studio (below is the piece in progress, I have yet to finish it).

    DAY FOUR & FIVE & SIX
    Over the next few days, the focus was primarily on dye techniques with free time to collage multiple techniques onto one plaquette. I was able to finish my craquelle sample piece, which dried on Mark’s lovely tea towel patterned with steins.

    The next sample piece I created was unevenly dabbed with orange leather dye before being pressed with a leaf. The impression created by the leaf was then highlighted with gold leaf and palladium at the midrib (main vein). In the area around the leaf, Mark had me test out Sunago, the Japanese term used to describe sprinkling with leaf.

    I continued to manipulate the plaquette by employing different types of black line work using carbon paper, acrylic paint, ink and foils. The tool also changed depending on the look I wanted; I used a variety of pens, small brushes, PVA, brass finishing tools and a heat spatula.

    DAY SEVEN
    Even more dye techniques were demonstrated to me on day seven, at this stage the dye was mostly painted on with cotton swabs, toothpicks and brushes. But the most interesting type of dye application was flottage (simply put: marbling). I played around with different colors and ways of dropping the dye into the bath.

    Below is my personal favorite. One the final days I tooled some of my dyed pieces with brass tools that I made using quick tooling making techniques. You can see the tool in progress in the image below on the left. Mark also had me make a capital letter G, which was quite difficult. If you don’t believe me, then try it yourself.

    DAY EIGHT & NINE:
    The last two days were focused on tooling the various plaquettes I had. I played around with different applications of size and the order of when I made the impressions.

    The final technique we reviewed was Sunago on paper. I continued to play with dyeing and the sunago technique on the piece of leather that I printed on the very first day. Here’s where that experimentation went:

    After a few days off, I got on a bus that took me across London to Tracey Rowledge‘s studio just west of Regent’s Park. I spent two days with Tracey, learning her technique for tooling. A unique style she learned from Ivor Robinson. I chose to learn how to employ this technique on paper rather than leather. Below are some of my favorite examples from the collection of pieces Tracey laid out for me to view.

    DAY ONE
    Working with a simple swirl design, Tracey walked me through her process. We discussed laying out a design, choosing the right tools to build up the design (which may require making custom tools) then transferring the design to the plaquette. We blind tooled the design through a lightweight handmade paper before painting the impressions with glaire. Tracey pushed me to focus on my posture, making sure I approached the plaquette with accurate precision to place the tool in the right impression.

    Below is an image of how the bench was set up to streamline the tooling process (at this point the plaquette has been blind tooled and painted with glaire and my leaf of gold has been cut into very small square pieces). I continued to work on this design the entire day, taking snack and water breaks from time to time.

    DAY TWO
    On my final day, I continued to perfect my posture and technique under Tracey’s guidance. In addition to the initial plaquette, I also brought a variety of handmade papers from home that I began to play around with by testing direct tooling (seeing how the glaire would alter the appearance of the paper) versus blinding first. We also got into carbon tooling (direct versus blinding first).

    Here are the selection of papers I brought from home (and one that Tracey gave me). From left to right in the top row: Wheatstraw (black) from Hook Pottery Paper and paper from Katie MacGregor. From left to right in the bottom row: Indigo Day Cave Paper, Zaansch Bord (redbrown) from De Schoolmeester and Bugra.

    My time in London was unforgettable, Mark and Tracey are incredible tutors. There was such a stark contrast to their styles of instruction, but each were able to push and challenge me in a way that enhanced my understanding of these techniques (some familiar and some new). I am so grateful to Mark’s pushback every time I asked a question, he has instilled within me the drive to experiment more and not to play it safe with my designs. But I am also grateful to Tracey’s controlled and thoughtful way of working, she taught me how to feel the motion of tooling within my entire body and to work in a meditative way. I left feeling beholden to Mark and Tracey, I hope for the opportunity to study with them again in the future.


  10. Best of 2016

    December 31, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

    At the end of the year, I like to reflect on Herringbone Bindery’s accomplishments and challenges. To name a few successes that I’m particularly proud of include getting my work into two prominent private collections, creating work for 21st Editions and traveling overseas to study with two talented binders. With all of the work coming into the studio this year, plus the time spent outside of the studio teaching and learning, the blog has been engaged with less than desired. But I am very excited about the new year: bringing new energy, interviews, posts on book and much more!

    Here are a list of my favorite posts from 2016:

    1. May // Book Artist of the Month: Amy Borezo
    I had the pleasure of visiting Amy at her studio in Orange, Massachusetts earlier in the year, which led to a rather interesting interview about her work in artist books. This opened up a discussion about painting, printing and working as an edition binder. Her work is perfectly crafted and full of inspiration.
    2. Swell Things No. 29 // Jason Fletcher
    Jason was the first of several guest bloggers to add their own twist to the Swell Things column, sharing links on mummified animals and stunning animated shorts.
    3. My Hand // Into This World

    4. My Hand // The Nightingale and the Rose
    5. North Bennet Street School // Student & Alumni Exhibit 2016 – The Set Book
    Every year I interview the graduating students in North Bennet Street School’s bookbinding department about their design binding that goes on display during the annual Student and Alumni Exhibit.
    6. Workshop // Manipulating Stone Veneer with Coleen Curry