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  1. Swell Things No. 16

    September 30, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    1. After reading an article about the difficulty in conversing with strangers on the train, my husband referred me to The Stranger Project 2014. Over the course of one year, the gentleman running this project, will connect with one stranger per day. Sitting down to discuss their lives and get to know them. The profiles are completed by a portrait.
    2. Motion Silhouette is a beautifully bound and interactive children’s book that utilizes the shadow cast on opposite sides of a center pop-up to create the narration on either side of the page. On one page a silhouette pop-up of a tree casts a tree-like shadow for a flock of birds, while on the other side becomes a massive lightning bolt over a city. Click here to watch a video of the book in action.
    3. Any Arrested Development fan will remember the Living Classics Pageant scene when George and Buster recreate Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. Little did I know that this was referencing Pageant of the Masters, which occurs every year in Laguna Beach, California. You can read more about it in this New York Times article here.
    4. The Future Library is an expansive project just introduced this year by creator Katie Paterson, a young Scottish artist. A forest of 1,000 trees was planted outside of Oslo in Norway; these trees will become the paper to publish the works of 100 authors picked once a year over the course of 100 years. 2014 marks year one and Margaret Atwood is the first author to participate. The work she writes will not be published until 2114, the year The Future Library will be released. I’m intrigued by this project, yet disappointed to know I’ll never get the chance to read this work by Margaret Atwood. Read more about the project here.
    5. Samantha Bittman is the textile artist I would have wished to be, if I had become a textile artist. Her black and white woven pieces are a maze for the eye, stringing your vision from left to right then back again. Just stunning work!


    6. Miniature Calendar has been churning out stunning miniature scenes since 2011. Each image is listed daily and uses everyday objects mixed with miniature figurines to add a bit of color and whimsy to your life.
    7. The Houghton Library at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts houses a collection of 20 miniature books written and bound by Charlotte Brontë and her brother Branwell. The two siblings, 13 and 12 respectively, created fantasy worlds called Angria and Glass Town. The books measure less than 1 inches by 2 inches and include minute script of wild tales and adventures.
    8. Anna Valdez is a magnificent painter who incorporates so much life and color into her work. Enjoy!
    9. Ever wanted to unleash the power of a Bookbook. IKEA’s recent ad campaign for their new 2015 catalog is brilliant. A geeky looking spokesman sitting in front of a whitish wall talks about the book as if it were a handheld device. Which it kind of is!
    10. Enjoy this elaborate paper animation: The Collagist, from artist Amy Lockhart.


  2. New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers // Mini-Conference in Maine – Day One

    September 23, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    What began as a simple workshop idea between myself and papermaker Katie MacGregor, turned into a weekend long mini-conference event. Over the past year, part of the NEGBW team (myself, Todd Pattison and Lauren Telepak) along with Katie MacGregor, Nancy Leavitt and Alan Furth put together the plans for a mini-conference at the Cobscook Community Learning Center in the small northeastern town of Trescott, Maine.

    To our wonderment, we had an almost full attendance and participants traveled as far as Florida and California. The conference was held from September 12th – 14th. I’m going to write about this event in two separate posts; beginning with the events on day one.

    1:00 – 2:30
    Tour at University of Maine, Machias
    My day began in Boston, driving northbound toward Machias, Maine. The town of Machias is small and charming. The town had a wonderful shop called The French Cellar selling local cheeses, wines and other delicious items. I also made a stop at the local art supplies shop/framers/gallery. It was there that I picked up a beautiful piece of pottery crafted by a local artist. But the real reason to stop in Machias was for the first event of the conference.

    Also located in Machias, is the University of Maine, which enrolls about 1,000 students coming from all around New England for their undergraduate studies. An average of fifty students participate in the Book Arts Program per year. Bernie Vinzani, Director of the Book Arts Studio, lead a tour of their facility. The tour began with a trip to the gallery, displaying works by both students, local artists and historical documents.


    We then moved into the other various rooms of the Book Arts Studio, which included the bindery, print shop and a multi-purpose room. Bernie explained that the students are involved in a single project each year in which they must work together. Each student receives a particular job and they learn the process of creating a book, printing a book, assembling a book and then selling a book. The components of their most recent project was laid out for us, along with a wall display of past projects.


    As a treat, a solo exhibition of Katie MacGregor’s pulp paintings and other artworks were installed early. This part of the tour was quite thrilling for me. I’ve only known the papermaking side of Katie and was intrigued by her creative side.

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    Moon Travel – Katie MacGregor

    5:00 – 8:30
    Presentations and Evening Reception
    The conference participants reconvened at the Cobscook Community Learning Center for the evening festivities. The CCLC hosted most of the activities for the weekend and even had a lodge onsite where many of the participants slept. The lodge was newly built and our group are one of the first to occupy it. I chose a quad for economic reasons and was delighted by the four bunk beds I ended up having to myself. Each room has its own private bathroom complete with shower. 

    Starting off the evening, was a presentation from CCLC Executive Director, Alan Furth, who introduce us all to the Center by giving a brief overview of its history and mission. The Center formed in 1999 as a group of community members from the Passamquoddy Tribe, the Euro-American community, and a community of Canadians from New Brunswick wanted to improve life in this rural region. Paying particular attention to the education models of many Danish folk schools, they developed a center aimed at empowering high school students and to strengthen their community.

    The following presentation was giving by local printer and book artist, Walter Tisdale. Walter filled three tables with wonderful examples of his own work, the work of his friends and some collaborative projects. Walter began his training at the University of Wisconsin in Madison studying book arts with Walter Hamady. Although typography is his real passion, as is collaborating with writers and artists for enriching content; Walter also plays around with book forms. Walter’s aversion for glue forces him to develop innovative non-adhesive structures. Making dummies is his forte. And so he shared some of these models with us.

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    Last, but certainly not least was a presentation by the imitable bookbinder Gray Parrot (also a local to Maine). With an early interest in 18th century bindings, Gray began to build his collection until the habit became to expensive therefore pushing his interests onto pulp and science fiction novels. Gray was an Enlgish Literature major at Harvard before he embarked on studying bookbinding with Arno Werner in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1971. Gray studied with Arno for less than a year before going to Ascona to learn finishing techniques.

    MaineConferenceTour8-ErinFletcher MaineConferenceTour10-ErinFletcher

    In 1973, he opened his own bindery and worked on his first edition project just a year later. To date he’s worked with some very talented printers and respectable presses such as Leonard Baskin, Barry Moser, Pennyroyal Press and Gehanna Press. In addition to his presentation, Gray brought an abundant collection of his own bindings. All of which, he let us handle and gawk at. His hand skills are superb and his tooling immaculate. Gray pays attention to every little detail and leaves no space bare without purpose. I discovered a tooled line on the top lip of a leather covered tray on a clamshell box!


    After those three exciting presentations we were eager for dinner, which was served up by a local catering business run by two sisters. Once we took our last bites of decadent chocolate cake, chatter soon arose about the possibility of seeing the Northern lights. We took a short walk out to an open field and patiently waited until a blanket of stars. Sadly, we never saw any sign of the Northern lights and headed back to the lodge to rest after our first day of the conference. (Although some of us were lucky to see a few good shooting stars!)

  3. My Hand // Boxes for Laura Davidson

    September 19, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    Photo courtesy of Laura Davidson

    A while back, I had the chance to interview the artist Laura Davidson as a part of my Book Artist of the Month series. Since then, Laura and I have stayed in contact with each other, which has given me the opportunity to view some of her works in their various stages. Most recently Laura completed a set of prints illustrating various bridges across the country. These six bridges were chosen due to their close proximity to the many spaces Laura views as home. The act of crossing these bridges, Laura is filled with the anticipation of almost being home, therefore, the set of prints are aptly titled Almost Home.


    Photo courtesy of Laura Davidson


    Photo courtesy of Laura Davidson

    Laura presented me with the opportunity to build an edition of boxes to house the prints from her Almost Home series. I was quite elated. I’ve really enjoyed Laura’s work and was excited to be working with her. Laura knew she wanted a clamshell box, something sleek and clean. I’m came by her studio and we discussed material options and how the prints would fit in the box.

    After everything was settled and the materials were ordered, I began working on the small edition of 8 clamshell boxes. Clamshell boxes are pretty straight forward, but with Laura’s boxes I would be adding a few custom elements. First, the base of the interior tray would include some padding. The prints themselves had no discernible thickness, but Laura wanted the box to be at least ½” thick.  So the outward appearance of the box was the right height for Laura and the interior height of the tray was right for the prints.

    Once the binders board was cut and the trays were assembled, it was time to cover them. Laura chose silver Canapetta cloth for its durability and textural qualities. The color also complimented the prints and the industrial feel of bridges. To streamline the process I used a small paint roller and paint tray filled with PVA.


    The second custom element came as the material used on the lining of the trays. Laura provided me with 8 sheets of hand-drawn decorative paper. Using a combination of ink and markers, Laura’s custom lining paper pulled imagery from the prints and grabbed colors from the boxes and brown wrapper. Below is an image of one of the finished boxes showcasing the lining.


    Finally, it was time to make the cases, which were also covered in silver Canapetta cloth. Before covering, however, I had to create a label well on the front cover board and the spine piece. Each of these wells would be filled with a printed label that Laura had provided me. I also used a paint roller to streamline the process of making the cases.


    The hand-printed label on the front cover is an ‘A’ both acting as the support beams of the bridge and the first letter to the title of the series. The label on the spine came from extra prints from the series. Laura artistically cut down the print to isolate some compelling and inciting imagery.

    It was quite a joy to create these boxes and to work for an artist as talented as Laura!


    Photo courtesy of Laura Davidson


    Photo courtesy of Laura Davidson


  4. Free Shipping at Herringbone Bindery Etsy – Celebrate National Read a Book Day

    September 5, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    Just in time for the school year, grab yourself a new journal or notepad. Celebrate the book this weekend for National Read a Book Day at my Herringbone Bindery Etsy shop and receive free shipping on all orders of $10 or more. Just enter code: READABOOK10 at checkout. Have a wonderful and book-worthy weekend.

  5. Swell Things No. 15

    August 31, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    1. This is just a wonderful animation from Lucrece Andreae. It puts a bit of humor into flash dating.
    2. #5DaysOfPreservation is a project by Kevin Driedger, who invited any institution or individual to post images over a 5 day period depicting preservation. Thus creating a catalog of images for a deeper understanding of the variety of processes and skills involved.
    3. Rachel Niffeneger is an extremely talented artist and one that I’m proud to have met during our undergraduate studies at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Some of her most recent work can be seen here. Although her figures are gruesomely painted, Rachel’s use of pastel and bright colors creates a wonderful juxtaposition.
    4. Massive yet delicate paper sculptures by Peter Gentenaar.
    5. Amalgamated is a collection of vases designed and constructed by Studio Markunpoika. Each vase is comprised of several pencils glued together at each facet and then shaped using a lathe revealing the inner structure of each pencil and different points creating unique patterns.


    6. Book artist Jen Bervin found inspiration in the imitable Anni Albers. In Draft Notation, Jen recreates weaving patterns through the use of a typewriter, which is commonly done by weavers and documented in Anni Albers’ On Weaving.
    7. Breakbot’s music video for Baby I’m Yours featuring Irfane, is a watercolor animation. Each frame is hand-painted one by one. I’m continuously amazed at the lengths people will go to create a unique music video.
    8. So I’ve mentioned this video before, but it’s just too cool. Metal band Throne created an animated music video for their song Tharsis Sleeps. Each frame was machine-embroidered and are up for sale through their website. This video was made possible through a successful Kickstarter campaign.
    9. The MTA Zine Residency organized a group of participants to ride the F train for hours, creating content for a zine that would be printed and published and later put up for sale. The organizers of the residency are a librarian and an archivist working at Barnard College library, which holds the largest collection of zines in an academic library.
    10. Until a few months ago, Lilli Carré, existed in my mind as a talented graphic novelist. I’ve recently discovered that her talents expand into a variety of other mediums such as ceramics, film and illustration (outside the book format). You can check out her work here.


  6. Conservation Conversations // An Additional Form of Documentation

    August 26, 2014 by Lauren Schott

    No one likes to think about all the little things (or, heaven forbid!, big things) that can go wrong as we work on our conservation projects. We are trained professionals. Our hands are steady. Our minds are sharp. And yet, as we work, any number of things could go wrong. A hand may slip as we lift adhered materials; a fragment may fall to the floor and crumble into a thousand irretrievable pieces. It’s sometimes intimidating to think about, but we all know in the back of our minds the myriad things that could go wrong.

    This, of course, is why we take the preliminary photos so often considered as “simply routine.” With them, we preserve a record of what the book once was. Imperfect though they may be, photographic evidence is better than no evidence at all. But what if a photograph doesn’t show just what we were hoping?

    I recently had the opportunity to fulfill the role of the William Reese Fellow at Rare Book School in Charlottesville, VA. The fellowship provided a week of class for a week of service to RBS. In my case, specifically, I acted as an on-site conservator for some of their most in-need collections. The class I took was Jan Storm Van Leeuwen’s “Introduction to the History of Bookbinding,” which coincidentally was the same class attended by Erin Fletcher, the proprietor of this blog. The conservation projects were wide and varied, as RBS’s large collection is intended for teaching students of the book with countless focuses and interests.

    One of the books I was presented with was a first edition of Joel Barlow’s The Columbiad—A Poem. Of course, RBS valued this copy not only for its edition, but for its binding. The binding was original; in full calf, decorated in gold and blind tooling, it was an exquisite example of early American deluxe binding.

    The upper board was entirely detached, and the bottom was in imminent danger of becoming so. The tight back spine was cracked and suffered redrot, and it was evident that a leather reback was necessary to preserve the book’s utility to the school. The danger of this treatment, of course, is that, should anything go wrong with lifting the spine, its beautiful panel tooling might be lost.

    I photographed the book before commencing work, documenting individual tools as well as the overall patterns in which they were used, and then I began.

    First, of course, was consolidating with redrot cocktail, a combination of SC6000 and Klucel G. This in and of itself revealed a new element to the book. With the darkened leather characteristic of redrot cocktail, blind tooling was revealed on the spine where originally it had appeared as an empty intermediary panel. I re-photographed the spine to document this tool, but it was difficult to make out even with a naked eye, let alone through the lens of my camera.


    I then realized I could make use of one of the techniques taught to me in Van Leeuwen’s class. This is something Van Leeuwen made use of frequently in his time as Keeper of the Book at the Dutch Royal Library in the Hague, and which I now hope to employ more regularly in my documentation. In short, he took rubbings of the decorative covers of the library’s books.

    Van Leeuwen uses an artist’s soft graphite pencil and a light wove paper he commissioned specially for the practice. He lays the paper over the area to be documented, plants one hand firmly to keep the assembly in place, and begins his work. Holding the pencil at a nearly 45 degree angle, he rubs gently horizontally, vertically, and to every angle. He changes the angle of the pencil as he works to capture the specific aspects he wishes to be revealed in the tooling, sometimes circling the pencil, sometimes pressing harder or softer. Varied depths and lacework lines reveal themselves in great detail as he works, rendering a copy in shades of black and white of the book’s decoration. Van Leeuwen takes care to note the book being documented, to what portions of the book each image belongs, as well as the date and the taker of the rubbing to provide a good record for researchers.


    It was with great excitement that I was able to use this technique in a real-life situation so shortly after having learned it. I experimented with various tissues intended for repair. Their soft texture and flexibility offered a good medium for capturing the imagery of the tooling that the camera would not. It took several trials to find a suitable paper that would provide the suppleness to sink into the tooling, yet not tear with the use of the graphite pencil, but once the proper paper was found and the rubbing taken, the image of the tool was revealed in greater detail even than could be seen simply by the eye. A satisfying result indeed!


    Having taken the rubbing, I faced the spine with solvent set tissue, lifted it in one solid piece, performed the reback, readhered it, and once again removed the tissue. In all, the added precautions of taking the rubbing were not strictly necessary, but it was a reassuring way to expiate the danger of losing this piece of early American tooling in its entirety.


  7. My Hand // Recreating the Stepped Roofs of Bermuda on a Book

    August 25, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    A client of mine presented me with a copy of Residence in Bermuda, a promotional text published by Bermuda Trade Development Board in an edition of 2,000 copies. This particular book was copy 591 and bound as a quarter cloth binding with a simple stamped label. My client wanted the book to be rebound in a more artistic binding, extracting colors and inspiration from one of the many photographs printed in the text.

    In search of inspiration I began to page through the book when I came across one image of a watercolor painting of an iconic Bermuda home. The imagery became my direction for the exterior of the binding; the exterior walls of the house were painted a sherbet pink, which popped against the white stepped roof. The vibrancy and brushstrokes of the surrounding landscape became my inspiration for the label on the spine.


    Since the binding needed to be completed in a fairly short time period and I wanted to work the boards separately, I chose to use a variant of the Bradel structure. Peter Verheyen published an article and tutorial titled Der Gebrochene Rücken: a variation of the German case binding, which was my guide throughout its construction.

    But before any binding could take place, the book had to be removed from its original case. The spine was cleaned by removing the lining and adhesive. The pages showed sign of age with some scuff marks here and there, which called for a bit of surface cleaning. The exterior folio was guarded with tissue to stabilize the paper in preparation for sewing. The original endpapers were quite beautiful and richly printed. However, they were not salvageable for the new binding, but I’ll come back to that later. So I created some new endpapers using three sheets of Canford paper in blush, plum and forest (all colors derived from my inspiration source).

    With the forwarding complete, I attached a piece of pared buffalo skin in the same sherbet pink of the house to the spine. The benefit of this particular binding allows the binder to use a specific material on the spine and another for the boards, so the cover is completed in three parts. This German-style of binding is very similar to the French simplified binding.

    While the book lay to rest, I started working on the boards (which in my opinion are what make this binding superb). In order to best represent the iconic stepped roofs of Bermuda architecture, I decided to create stepped boards. Once I had the final size of my boards, I went to work figuring out the proper dimensions of each layer. I made a single template of each layer which I used to draw out their placement on the boards. Each layer was attached with PVA and pressed. Finally, I glue out a piece of white Hahnemuhle Ingres (which was pre-dampened with a sponge), laid it over the board and put it in the press with some foam which helped sculpt the paper around each layer or step.

    Before attaching the boards, I placed the two labels on the spine which curved down around the shoulder and onto the flange which connects the boards to the binding. Using two separate leathers with matching metallic foil, I stamped the word RESIDENCE and BERMUDA in Gill Sans using a Kwikprint. The leather was then pared away to offer a rough silhouette of a brushstroke. The word IN was hand-tooled directly on the spine in palladium.


    A large book with white covers needs a box or it will never appear in such pristine condition again. The clamshell box was simply made with a cloth spine sided up with paper. The spine of the box includes a long paper label stamped in metallic pink with the title. The decorative paper label is a strip of the original endpaper. The trays are lined with a frame of Volara foam for the book to rest on, preventing it from teetering side to side.

    Bermuda-ErinFletcher Bermuda2-ErinFletcher

    My client was thrilled with the book’s transformation. He plans to present it as a wedding gift to the Governor of Bermuda’s daughter. I hope she is equally thrilled with my interpretation of her rich and colorful surroundings.

  8. Bookbinder of the Month: Mark Cockram

    August 24, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    Die Nibelungen arrived in Mark Cockram‘s studio bound together with staples. After removing the pesky binding material, Mark transformed this book into an intriguing sculptural object.

    What’s the inspiration behind this sculpted binding? The additional panel almost appears to swing between each cover, although I believe it is attached to the lower cover.
    This is a charming book with fantastic illustrations. One aspect of the illustrations are the backgrounds, often of buildings. The outlines of the buildings create a framework for the rest of the illustration. I wanted to explore this with the binding. You are correct to say that the panel is attached to the back board. The concept is simple, but like a lot of simple things it works well. The edge of the binding is extended beyond the normal square. When the book is partially open the panel gives us an angular perspective, again a reflection of the illustrative style.

    The leather is hand dyed with traditional gold tooling, I tend to make my own simple tools and adapt them as I work. I set out to produce a simple, controlled, rather elegant book with angles and forms. As with all my work, I had fun making Die Nibelungen.

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  9. Artist: Cody Hoyt

    August 20, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    Cody Hoyt is the maker behind these extraordinary stoneware vessels, which display exteriors inspired by both organic (tree rings, Earth’s layers, bacon) and artistic patterns. They are really just beautiful and that’s why I want to share them with you. TwistedBoxII-CodyHoyt TwistedJug-CodyHoyt LargeOctahedron-CodyHoyt StonwareVessel-CodyHoyt

  10. Artist: Andrea Wan

    August 20, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    When I was a kid, my dreams were to grow up and become a zoologist. I loved animals; I would go to the library weekly to gather books and more books about all variety of animals. I was also a member of the World Wildlife Fund. Anyway, one creature that really fascinated me was the Tasmanian Tiger, for the main reason that it had become extinct so recently and in a time when humans could have prevented it.

    Exploding Heads is a series by Andrea Wan, where she beautifully illustrates various extinct creatures exploding from the porcelain faces of young men and women. It’s rather odd, but lovely and allows my mind to travel back in time for a bit. Dodo-AndreaWan Moa-AndreaWan Quagga-AndreaWan Mammoth-AndreaWan