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Bookbinder of the Month: Sonya Sheats

June 23, 2013 by Erin Fletcher

pictorialwebster-sonyasheats

Photo by Brandon Constant.

In 2010, the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers exhibited a series of juried design bindings for Johnny Carrera’s Pictorial Webster’s: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities. As a project that began in 1996, Carrera patiently sifted through a collection of around 12,000 engravings from the Merriam-Webster Company that are now housed in Yale’s Arts of the Book Press room in hopes to create a visual dictionary inspired by the Illustrated Webster’s. Carrera’s Pictorial Webster became available to the public as a trade edition in 2010. Original letterpress copies were bound in several different styles from full leather to oak boards to full cloth. Additional copies were left unbound and made available to bookbinders.

Sonya Sheats was amongst the binders selected for the NEGBW exhibit deFINEd BINDINGS hosted at the Bromfield Gallery in Boston, MA. Bound as an open joint binding and sewn on water snakeskin and vellum tapes. The spine is white and black snakeskin and the covers are MDF and walnut veneer with dyed walnut onlays. The binding fits snuggly inside a shaped walnut slipcase. Sonya’s binding was awarded “Best Binding Structure” by North Bennet Street School

A comment from Sonya regarding the structure of the binding: 
Looking back, I do not think I would use an open joint structure on a book this thick. The covers essentially hang off of the book by the sewing tapes, which are hidden in a sort of de Gonet style with the dyed wooden onlays. Because of the hefty appearance of the walnut, I think it works here, but in general, I think of this structure as quite delicate and lanky. 

pictorialwebster2-sonyasheats

Photo by Brandon Constant.


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  • Visit My Bindery
    My name is Erin Fletcher and I live in Boston working as a Bookbinder.  This blog is an extension of Herringbone Bindery where I can share my inspirations with you.
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