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  1. Artist: Leigh Suggs

    October 21, 2017 by Erin Fletcher


    During my stay at Penland School of Crafts, I made my way to the Penland Gallery and Visitors Center. There are several gallery spaces within the building, but they each house work related in some way to Penland. The main space features work by artist who have taught at Fenland and this is where I saw the work of Leigh Suggs. Her large cut-out pieces stand out from other work constructed in the same manner. There is wonderful movement to her work and when viewed up close, one can see the texture added through painting that offers a unique feel.


  2. My Time at Penland

    October 21, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    I had the chance to spend the last few weeks of summer at Penland School of Crafts on a work-study scholarship. This was my first time attending Penland and I hope it won’t be my last. It was a truly unique experience and one that forced me to slow down and relax. It also gave me the freedom to be expressive in a medium outside of bookbinding.

    I came to Penland to take Rebecca Ringquist‘s Maximalist Embroidery workshop. Her work has intrigued and inspired me for years. The level of detail and depth she can create through embroidery really drew me in and I wanted to learn more. She uses a combination of hand embroidery and “drawing” with the machine. My goal for the taking this workshop was to see if I could incorporate any of the techniques into my binding work particularly with leather.

    Mistletoe in Paradise by Rebecca Ringquist

    We jumped in right away, not on cloth, but on paper with drawing exercises. Rebecca is a collector of flash cards and we used the simple imagery as our guide for blind contour drawings. In bursts of 60 – 30 – 15 seconds, we soon had a slew of drawings to inform our embroidery. After selecting one our favorite pieces, we then free-handed the drawing onto a piece of cloth. We were limited to one hour and could use any stitch we wanted. I recreated a drawing of GIRL using bright pink thread on a peach cotton cloth. I used back stitch in various thread thicknesses.

    We continued to use our contour drawings with other techniques for transferring. After finishing GIRL, I transferred my image of DRESS onto Sulky Solvy (a starch-based product with a sticky backing that dissolves in water). This time I used the sewing machine to “draw” my image onto the fabric.

    Using these two techniques I began to build on my design. Adding machine-sewn flowers with reverse appliqué centers and hand stitched trees that were drawn by a fellow classmate. The yellow dots are just the start of a field of french knots and the dividers were created on the machine.

    As the week progressed so did my piece, I continued to layer with more drawings, found embroidered pieces, dense machine stitching, appliqué and trimmings. I also got into machine couching, which offers a faster alternative to hand couching and a different effect. The way I chose to execute this technique was with the use of the Sulky Solvy. I placed my design and used a royal blue thread to couch a royal blue scrap of yarn by stitching mainly through the center. Throughout the week, we held three small critiques to voice our compliments and suggestions. It was refreshing to be back in a setting where we could freely discuss our ambitions and struggles. And it was wonderful to see how my classmates incorporated this feedback and battled through their own fears with destruction, layering and creation.

    At the end of the week, I created a nearly finished piece. I’ve taken to Rebecca’s strategy and stowed it away for now to be reviewed later. Rebecca informed us that she will continue to work on a piece over several months or even years, keeping it in a drawer and out of sight from time to time. The following images showcase my final piece and some work from my classmates.

    left: Sophie Fields | right: Annabel Wrigley

    left: Laura Martin | from right to left: Kate Webb, Vicki Bradley, Paisley Holloway, Deb Menz

    As I mentioned before, I was able to attend with the aid of a work-study scholarship. This meant that I had to arrive and work a day before and after my week-long workshop. I ended up with washing duties in the kitchen during my week shifts. It was hard to pull myself away from the studio at times to go wash pots, but this community action is part of the foundation of the school and how it continues to thrive. Since I was able to stay a few days beyond my duties, I got to participate in the end of the season bonfire with some of my fellow work-study mates, the staff and fellows at Penland, plus the community that lives around campus. It was the perfect send off.

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  3. Upcoming Workshops & Events // October to December

    October 15, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    OCTOBER:
    No workshops schedule for October.


    NOVEMBER:
    Bookbinding 101
    November 5 & 12 (Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    This class is currently full. 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.


    DECEMBER:
    Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair
    December 2 – 3 (Saturday – Sunday)
    1:00pm – 5:00pm & 10:00am – 4:00pm
    Smith College Campus Center
    100 Elm Street (Route 9)
    Northampton, MA

    Stop by the third annual Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair. This will be my second year attending alongside my studio mate and colleague Colin Urbina. I will have some of my recent embroidered bindings on display along with information about upcoming workshops and ways to participate in the Guild of Book Workers.


  4. Swell Things No. 45 // Jeanne Goodman

    September 30, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Jeanne is a close friend and colleague. We overlapped at the North Bennet Street School before Jeanne made her way back to Texas to help renovate the conservation lab at Texas A&M. She has appeared on the blog before writing posts for Conservation Conversations. But this time around she’s sharing some of her favorite internet finds.

    1. This first caught my eye because it is hilarious and a fun irreverent use of this turn-of-the-centry style of painting, but Omar Rayyan’s work is wonderful because it reminds me of the book illustration and old school animation I grew up as a kid.
    2. Motherland Chronicles is an ongoing series of photographs by Jingna Zhang, a fashion, beauty, and fine arts photographer. I love this series because when you first look at them, you think you are looking at a renaissance painting. She is also completely badass; she joined a Japanese rock cover band in her early teens and represented Team Singapore in air rifle shooting.
    3. Klaim Niko Inko tattoos – follow on instgram
    4. Under the Baobab, Southbank Centre in London
    5. Chelsea Flower Show 

    6. This artist (William T. Carson) works with coal on wood. I saw his work for the first time few months ago in Dallas at Camiba Art Gallery and I immediately wanted one. Its just one of those artworks for me.
    7. 3D printing, laser and electroplating…dresses? I LOVE this. its just so weird. (Iris Van Herpen)
    8. Sitting on my window in the lab is a paper sculpture by Charles Young of Paperholm in Edinburgh. Although he has many great creations, I was drawn to this one because it looks like Baba Yaga’s house, the witch who could decide to have no visters by asking her house to stand up so they couldn’t reach the door. I always thought that was so smart.
    9. Jan Vermann is a German artist who travels around fixing crumbling walls and monuments with legos. (Note from Erin: There is a small patch of legos near by studio in South Boston!)
    10.  I find myself looking at images and artwork and thinking about how they would translate into leather and tooling and inlays for bindings. Michelle Blade’s work here makes me think of mother-of-pearl inlays, veneer inlays, deep black grainy goat skin leather, and palladium tooling.

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  5. 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!


  6. 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.


  7. 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.

     


  8. 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. 


  9. 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.


  10. 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.

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