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  1. Upcoming Workshops // January to March

    January 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.

    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    January 30 – February 3 (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.


    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.


  2. 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.


  3. 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.


  4. 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


  5. Swell Things No. 38 // Paris & London Edition

    November 30, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

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    1. Nearly everyday, my husband and I would pass by the Opéra Garnier, a 1,979-seat opera house built from 1861 to 1875. We never saw the inside of the building until our visit to the Musee d’Orsay. At the end of the nave sits a massive and highly detailed model of the building and its interior. No detail was left unnoticed. Quite amazing.
    2. At the tail end of my London trip, I spent two days in the studio with Tracey Rowledge to learn her technique for gold tooling. I was in awe of this piece that hung on the wall in the back of the studio. What appears as ordinary scribbles on a background of red, it is actually painstakingly carbon-tooled shapes on leather to mimic a scribbled handwritten note. The heavy and light flow of the ink was represented with the right balance of carbon on the tool.
    3. I idolize Sheila Hicks and her work. Growing up in my home state of Nebraska, Shelia eventually made her way to Paris, fell in love and set up her studio. Her work was recently exhibited in three parts and we were in Paris for the second installment. At five seemingly random spots throughout Paris, we gazed upon her work through shop windows. The pieces ranged from hanging skeins to puffs of yarn acting as bookmarks to massive flat balls of wrapped yarn.
    4. We visited a surprising number of churches during our trip, but my favorite was definitely Sainte Chapelle. Construction began around 1238 and the chapel was consecrated in 1248. During our visit the interior was flooded with colored light as the sun beamed through 15 stained-glass windows reaching around 49 feet high. A total of 1,113 Biblical scenes are depicted amongst the stained glass. It holds the world’s most extensive collection of 13th century stained glass.
    5. During a stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries, nestled between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde, we came upon modern sculptures amongst the perfectly manicured gardens and classical statues. I particularly loved this piece of cubes built from rusty mattress springs.

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    6. Invader is the pseudonym behind the global art project: Space Invaders, which places pixelated creations on buildings and structures at a running total of 67 cities. My husband and I enjoyed the hunt as we walked around Paris, which has 1,258 pieces out of the grand total 3,397 pieces worldwide. My favorite find was Han Solo and Chewbacca.
    7. While in London, I stopped by the Leighton House Museum, which is the former home of Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton. The Arab Hall was stunning, with its recently restored gilded dome, detailed mosaics and beautiful Islamic tiles featuring arabic script.
    8. Before our trip to the Catacombs, my husband and I strolled through Montparnasse Cemetery. There were many stunning and unique grave markers, but I became overly fascinated with the weathered plastic floral pieces left behind; they had transformed into these gloomy, muted objects.
    9. At the beginning of my trip to London, I took a private workshop with Mark Cockram. Here he is, so proud of his piece Dicated, Untitled No. 1. Brilliant, Mark, just brilliant.
    10. I love the Victoria and Albert Museum and I make a point to visit anytime I’m in London. This time around I was delighted by an extraordinary exhibit on English embroideries from the 12th – 15th century. I was astonished at their condition, so many of the pieces were in near perfect condition. If you happen to be in London before February 5th, check out Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery.


  6. A visit to the Annual UK Bookbinding Competition Exhibit

    November 14, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

    During my visit to London, I was delighted to have my trip overlap with the 2016 Annual UK Bookbinding Competition Exhibit. A collection of bindings are on display at the St. Bride Foundation and during the opening reception on November 10th, many of the exhibitors received awards for their work. The exhibit is sponsored by Designer Bookbinders and The Folio Society, who provided the set book: La Vita Nuova by Dante Alighieri. Written between 1292 and 1294 as an innovative mix of prose and poetry, La Vita Nuova is considered Dante’s fist major work. The text is an expression on the torments and joys of young love before transcending into the ether.

    In addition to the set book, many of the binders chose to submit an additional binding. If you are in the London area, the exhibit will be on view until November 24th. Check out my some of my favorite pieces from the show. I absolutely loved Ann Tout and Glenn Malkin’s books, but the bright red leather on their bindings were difficult to photograph well (on that line, please excuse any awkward reflections and glare).

    Kaitlin Barber

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    Kaitlin Barber‘s interpretation of Vita Nuova extended beyond the book form with her 3-dimensional piece representing Dante’s dream of Beatrice in flames. The binding is covered with hand-dyed goatskin and decorated using the Sunago technique in gold leaf. Kaitlin’s binding won the St. Bride Foundation Prize for Finishing.

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    Kaitlin’s second submission was In Smoke: Ten Variations on Eugenio Montale by Gary Michael Dault. Kaitlin created another beautiful binding using a hand-dyed leather that creates so much movement.

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    The front and back boards have been debossed with leaves, with the front accented in gold leaf. The consistent themes of nature and repeated imagery of foliage and gardens within the text inspired Kaitlin’s design. The second place Clothworkers’ Prize of the Open Choice Book was awarded to Kaitlin’s second entry. I am so happy for Kaitlin, as a fellow North Bennet Street grad, it’s so great to see her skill and creativity grow. Congrats Kaitlin!

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    Bec Britain

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    Bec Britain created this gorgeous binding for Vita Nuova. As the exhibit pamphlet reads “the design reflects Dante’s evolving sense of the limitations of courtly love and its transition into sacred love.” The central design is created with crimson leather onlays, tooling and ink. Bec was awarded the Harmatan Ltd Leather Prize, which she completely deserves. Her combination of techniques created such a sleek and captivating design.

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    Jeanette Koch

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    Jeanette Koch’s binding for Vita Nuova is covered in terra-cotta and burgundy goatskin. The leather is cut-out to reveal laminated decorative paper and transparent vellum. I love the way Jeanette transformed the decorative paper in her design.

    The edges are decorated with watercolor, palladium and gold leaf. Jeanette was honored with the Lisa von Clemm Prize for this binding.

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    Jeanette also submitted a binding of the late 14th-century Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, an Arthurian story on chivalric romance.

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    This is one of my favorite bindings from the exhibit. The judges seems to agree, as Jeanette received The Judges’ Award and the Arthur Johnson Prize for this binding. Covered in green and burgundy French goatskin; Jeanette chose a beautiful green skin with stunning grain detail at the spine.

    Like Vita Nuova, this binding also has cut-outs revealing laminated decorative Japanese paper and vellum.

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    Kaori Maki

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    I was so in awe of Kaori Maki‘s binding for Vita Nuova, which was bound in alum-tawed goatskin. Kaori decorated her binding with an intricate and bold floral design using back-pared, cushioned onlays dyed red. Kaori’s binding received second place for The Folio Society Prize for the Set Book, which was so well deserved, her decorative work was so unique and captivating.

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    Yuko Matsuno

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    The most celebrated binding of the evening was crafted by Yuko Matsuno. Her binding of Through the Woods by H.E. Bates is bound in grey goatskin with decorative underlays. Ink-dotted calfskin and Zerkall paper peeks through a forest silhouette with animal onlays of colored Gampi and cushioned calfskin.

    The edges and endpapers are decorated using soft pastel to mimic the imagery from the cover. Yuko received first place for The Clothworkers’ Prize for the Open Choice Book and the ultimate prize: The Mansfield Medal for the Best Book in the Competition.

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  7. Swell Things No. 37

    October 31, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

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    1. A group of astronomers and physicists at the University of Texas have banded together to attempt to place Sappho at the time that she wrote her poem Midnight Poem. Existing on fragments of papyrus, the verse references the position of the moon and the visibility of Pleiades, giving clues to what time of year she may have wrote this piece of work.
    2. Considered to be the first modern artist’s book, Depero Futurista (known as “The Bolted Book”) was published in 1927 by the Italian Futurist Fortunato Depero. Less than a thousand were produced at the time and copies of it are extremely difficult to find today. The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto (home to the Depero archives) and the Center for Italian Modern Art have a launched a Kickstarter campaign with Designers & Books to republish this groundbreaking piece of art.
    3. The original stuffed animals that inspired A.A. Milne to write Winnie-the-Pooh became part of the collection at the New York Public Library in 1987. Over the past year, the animals underwent a transformation in the conservation department. They have been beautifully restored and are now back on displayed.
    4. I’m really digging the work of Rachel Beach, in particular the hand-painted hands.
    5. I’m loving these portraits by Chambers Austelle.

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    6. Cosmic Animal Gloves by Bunnie Reiss. A painter who transforms something old into something so stunning!
    7. Marra is a dying language; an estimated 90 percent of indigenous languages in Australia are now endangered. In as little as 10 minutes, you can learn part of a dying culture through My Grandmother’s Lingo, an interactive animation. Narrated by Angelina Joshua, rediscover her grandmother’s language through voice-activated interactions.
    8. Centaur turns one hundred: In 1915, Bruce Rogers designed Centaur after a 15th century typeface designed by Nicolas Jenson. We stock Centaur in our studio for its pure elegance and grace, so happy to celebrate its subtle contribution to the world.
    9. Chie Hitotsuyama is a Japanese paper artist, who creates these magnificent realistic sculptures of animals out of rolled up strips of wet newspaper. It’s quite stunning.
    10. Want to stand alone in a mirrored room filled with thousands of tiny lights for a full minute? Well, now you can (or at least until October 2017). On view at The Broad is Yayoi Kusama’s piece Infinity Mirrored Room. Oh, how I would love to make a trip to Los Angeles to experience this!


  8. Guild of Book Workers – Standards of Excellence Seminar // Charleston 2016

    October 24, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

    After an adventuresome time in Durham, North Carolina, where I consumed delicious local brews, lost at shuffle board, ate so many southern dishes, visited Duke’s conservation lab, toured a lemur center and discovered that I’m still allergic to mosquito bites, Henry and I embarked on our drive to Charleston, South Carolina.

    Upon our arrival we were greeted by Tropical Storm Julia, but luckily the next few days proved to be quite lovely with very little rain. After checking in, I began to rummage through my conference packet and found my name tag, which was beautifully done by local calligrapher Elizabeth Porcher Jones.

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    Day One:
    The conference began with a tour to the Charleston Library Society, an absolutely charming space that also served as the venue for the opening reception later that evening. Our tour began with Anna Smith, Special Collections Librarian, who gave us an overview the Society’s establishment and shared a few treasures from their collection. We were then led to the first floor by Kerri Harding, Director of Bindery and Conservation Studio, where she showed off their delightfully quaint bindery space. Having just relocated to Charleston, Kerri shared with us the range of her upcoming projects: a presentation leather binding, rehousing and holiday ornaments showcasing the Society’s newest titles.

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    Day Two:
    The first presentation of the conference was Drawn to the Writing given by calligrapher Cheryl Jacobsen. As a freelance artist living in Iowa City, Cheryl’s work ranges from design and lettering to illustrations and art. She began her presentation with her personal history on how her interest in art and lettering developed before going into a slideshow of her work. Cheryl is also an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Iowa, teaching courses at the Center for the Book. Over the course of the presentation, Cheryl created a certificate to commemorate the conference using a variety of letter forms. She spoke about line formation (this included pressure and hand position), nib use, ink/pigment preferences and tricks of the trade.

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    At the end of presentation, the audience was rewarded with a copy of the certificate Cheryl produced during the presentation (she even offered to add your name to the certificate). We were also allowed to handle some of her artist books.

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    For the afternoon presentation, the topic switched to bookbinding in Exploration of history and techniques for Pennsylvania German Liturgical Bookbinding before 1850. The presentation was divided into two parts: Chela Metzger, Head of Library Conservation at UCLA, demonstrated the construction of the binding and Erin Hammeke, Senior Conservator at Duke University, demonstrated the techniques used to create the bosses and clasps traditionally seen on this style of binding.

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    Chela quickly went through the construction of the binding. The book used in the demonstration was sewn in an abbreviated pattern (usually 2-on) using thicker supports (usually two supports as one), the shoulders are quite narrow and the edges were (historically) ploughed. The wooden boards (oak or beech; usually quarter-sawn) are heavily shaped along the spine and fore edge on both sides of the board. The fore edge is also notched in preparation for the clasps. The spine is lined with linen strips that extend beyond the shoulder. Unlike most wooden board structures, the boards are not laced-in. The sewing supports are frayed and adhered to the first and last leaf, then the linen is adhered to sandwich the frayed cords. The text block edge is colored after the boards are attached, then the hand-sewn or hand-woven endbands are stuck-on.

    One of my favorite parts of the presentation was the brief demo given by Chela on the technique behind the woven endbanding material. Using a make-shift back-strap loom (popsicle crafts!), she wove a traditional white and blue endband strip. A variety of endbands have been spotted on these bindings. The image below (on the right) shows just two varieties with the hand woven style on the bottom.

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    Chela’s portion of the presentation continued with the covering of the book and tying up the spine (this step ensures that the leather adheres to either side of the supports). The last step presented by Chela is one of the defining characteristics of this binding: the leather spine straps. Appearing on the spine at the head and tail (and sometimes the middle) many examples are seen adorned with brass studs or domes.

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    Using a 24-gauge brass sheet, Erin demonstrated the process for creating the corner pieces for the binding. Beginning with a flat piece of brass, Erin roughly traced out the design with a sharpie. Then she cut down the brass close to her design with metal snips; shaping it even further with needle files and emory paper. Supporting the brass with a lead block, Erin began to decorate the brass corner piece by striking the back with steel punches. This did not create a hole, rather pushed the brass into a shape that would be raised on the front side. In the image above (on the right), Erin uses a drill to create holes where the nails will be inserted when attaching the furniture to the book. After attaching this corner piece to the book, Erin began to bend the extended brass around the edge of the board with her fingers and finished its shape by striking the brass with a planishing hammer.

    Day two ended with a social gathering at a local pub for a Mentor-Mentee Happy Hour, those new to their field were encouraged to speak with the more accomplished participants. Afterward, I broke off with some friends for a very quick bite to eat before going on a Ghost and Dungeons tour through Charleston.

    Day Three:
    One the third and final day of the conference, two more presentations were given. The morning presentation was given by Betsy Palmer Eldridge on Paper Conservation Treatment Revisited. In 1989, Betsy gave a presentation at the Standards conference in Portland, this year she presented a revised version of that lecture.

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    Betsy was introduced to book arts during her time at Wellesley College in 1957 and further advanced her training in Germany and France. In 1973, she moved to Toronto, where she established and maintained her private conservation studio. Betsy has been an active member of the Guild since 1960 and the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild since 1983. Betsy gave an overview of a variety of conservation techniques and tricks she has picked up along the way. Many of the presentation materials she referred to were used in her original presentation 27 years ago, it was quite interesting to see how the materials had changed or retained their vibrancy over the years.

    The final presentation was on Herrnhuter Paste Paper given by Deborah Evetts. At the start of her presentation the audience received a brief history lesson paired with images of these papers collected from several sources. During the last third of the 18th century, a group of Moravian sisters living in a religious community at Herrnhut in Saxony created what came to be a very recognizable style of paste paper. The sisters traditionally used olive, bright or grayish blue, mustard yellows and reds in their papers. Deborah has seen several examples and has recreated tools to mimic the patterns seen on these historical papers. Herrnhuter Papers were used as both cover papers and endpapers on many common types of books such as ledgers and almanacs, but examples have also been found on works of literature, non-fiction and other genres.

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    After the slideshow, Deborah moved onto discussing tools and paste preparation. She began with a quick demonstration on making your own tools such as combs, rolls and mylar templates. The first image below shows Deborah marking out a small piece of plastic and then cutting out the teeth using a sharp scalpel blade. Combs can be made from binder’s board, plastic container lids or vertical blinds. The second image below shows three different styles of paper that utilize the same decorative roll and the handmade rolls that Deborah has made. The designs were carved out of linoleum and attached to craft rollers.

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    Over the course of the presentation, Deborah created several styles of the historical patterns seen on Herrnhuter Papers. She demystified so many patterns. One in particular that I was excited to see was the two-finger swirl. The crowd gave Deborah a round of applause after each paper blossomed before our eyes. Deborah was so delightful and high-spirited in her presentation and it was a great way to end this year’s series of presentations.

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    At the end of the evening, we all gathered in the Colonial Ballroom at the Francis Marion Hotel for the banquet and live auction. Also during this time, two members of the Guild are rewarded with the Laura Young Award and the GBW Lifetime Achievement Award. Catherine Burkhard was awarded the former for her dedication and long-time service to the Guild. The latter was awarded to Peter Verheyen, celebrating his achievements in the fields of conservation, bookbinding, book arts and creating a thriving online community. As the night came to a close, I allowed my nose to be traced, said my goodbyes and wished everyone  safe travel back home. Looking forward to next year’s conference in Tacoma, Washington!


  9. My Hand // Into This World

    October 18, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

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    I recently completed a French-style fine binding around Natalie Goldberg’s Into This World. The letterpress printed text is paired with woodblock prints both carved and printed by Clare Dunne and hand-tinted by Sialia Rieke. The texture of the prints were my inspiration for the design for the binding. By combining the natural texture of the buffalo skin with embroidery and leather onlays, I hoped to capture the pops and cracks between the layers of color.

    With this plan in mind, I used a single print as my inspiration to lay out the design. For the embroidered elements of the design, I chose to play with the technique in two new ways: an embroidered title and embroidered paper doublures.

    The script used for the title mimics the author’s own handwriting taken from her signature on the title page. The title was drawn onto tracing paper and taped in place, overlapping the white buffalo back-pared onlay. I tend to pre-punch the holes for embroidery, especially when I am trying to achieve something exact. For the pre-punching, I put a thin embroidery needle in my pin vise and placed the leather onto a piece foam. Then I used the tracing paper to guide my pin vise.

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    The embroidery for the title happened in two steps: back-stitch to spell-out the letters with french knots for the i’s dots and then I wrapped the stitches to create a raised, more defined line.

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    After the title was completed, several seed stitches were scattered around the binding with the majority of them appearing on the back cover. I used the same technique to pre-punch the holes for the seed stitches, this time using the full-scale template. The title and seed stitches were sewn with 2-ply cotton thread in an ochre yellow.

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    The second embroidered element in the binding are the edge-to-edge paper doublures. The prep for paper doublures is very similar to the set-up for leather doublures; for paper I allowed a wider turn-in as I trimmed out, this would ensure a smoother surface under the paper. Below you can see the turn-ins post covering and with the leather hinge in place.

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    After scoring a frame around the board and spine edge, I began to trim off the excess leather at a slight bevel. In order to create a successful doublure, several layers are added to the board (one at a time) and sanded to make the board as smooth as possible. The first layer (shown on the right in the image below) was a piece of 10pt. card, first sanded along all four edges and attached with a PVA/methylcellulose mix. After allowing that layer to dry under weight for an entire day, I sanded the edges smooth (which is the state visible in the image below).

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    In between these stages, I began working on the embroidered paper doublures. Referencing the same print used to inspired the covers, I traced an outline of the figure from the image. I felt that her pose embodied the sentiments of the text perfectly. Using the tracing paper once again as my guide for punching the holes, I placed the paper onto a piece of foam and poked through the tracing paper into the doublure paper.
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    Once the paper pieces were fully embroidered, I carefully sanded the backside of the paper to create a smoother feel along the edges once glued down to the board. Below you can see the board in it’s final stage. After sanding down the 10pt. card, I attached a medium weight smooth paper. This piece was slightly oversized on three edges and sanded down on the spine side. After allowing it to dry under weight, I sanded it down smooth. The embroidered paper doublures were attached with MIX and put under weight for a day in order to dry thoroughly and to prevent the board from cupping inward.

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    And here are the final results. I am so pleased with the outcome of the embroidered paper doublures, it will most certainly be a technique I use again on a future binding. To see more images of the binding and it’s embroidered quarter leather clamshell box, click here.

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  10. Swell Things No. 36

    September 30, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

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    1. Shapereader is an experimental way of storytelling purely through tactile-sensory graphics. Designed by Ilan Manouach, these graphics are mostly meant to be read by blind or visually impaired readers. Shapereader indexes the 210 different shapes and patterns; these are divided into different groups such as characters, props, settings, actions, and affections. The first actual graphic novel is titled Arctic Circle, a 57-page original relating the story of two climatologists digging in the North Pole searching for patterns of climatic change inscribed on ice columns.
    2. The Poetry Society of New York partnered up with the Parks Deparment to install The Typewriter Project: The Subconscious of the City, a wooden shack inviting anyone to contribute to a collaborative poem. The typewriter is outfitted with a 100-foot paper scroll and a equipped to transmit all submissions to a website, with the most recent post being: “mouthspine moonprow kitten bitten forwardness a kind of scent”.
    3. Yayoi Kusama illustrates Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.
    4. The highly realistic and detailed paintings of Casey Gray.
    5. An exhibit of Fritz Scholder’s work was recently on display at the Phoenix Art Museum. Scholder was one of the first Native Americans to be recognized for his significant contributions as a contemporary artist (beginning in the late 1960s). His colorful and abstract pop art paintings challenged the cultural stereotypes surrounding American Indians.

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    6. Using wire mesh and colorful rope, artist Raquel Rodrigo, is creating urban embroidered installations around the walls of Madrid.
    7. If you go to Sigalit Landau’s portfolio website, you’ll find an entire page dedicated to salt. Sigalit has a love affair for the Dead Sea. In her piece, Salt Bride, a 19th century dress was weighted and submerged in the waters of the Dead Sea. Overtime, the salt crystallizes on the fibers of the dress.
    8. A 36-foot long by 13-feet wide mosaic was recently discovered in Cyprus. This particular mosaic is the first of its kind found in Cyprus and depicts a 4-chariot race in great detail with the names of the racers and even some horses. There are even some bystanders, one holding a vessel of water and the other brandishing a whip.
    9. Annie Vought has an obsession with handwriting and letter writing, which has blossomed into large-scale paper installations of intricately hand-cut letters.
    10. Graviky Labs, an India-based research company, has developed a way to turn exhaust from cars into a line products for artists. The device known as Kaalink, is placed on a exhaust pipe to capture pollutants without comprising the vehicle’s performance. The soot is then stripped of its carcinogens yielding a purified, carbon-based pigment, which is then transformed into pens, spray paint and oil-based paints marketed as Air Ink.