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  1. My Hand // Leather Embroidery Samplers – Part Two

    April 30, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    ChainStitches-ErinFletcher

    All six of my leather embroidered samplers are now complete and I’m so thrilled to share them with you. If you missed part one, you can check it out here

    The sampler above is on buffalo skin and showcases a variety of chain stitches. This sampler is by far the most successful of the bunch and is already coming in handy as I am in the early stages of designing a fine binding. Below is the couching sampler on goatskin. I wasn’t quite sure if the couching stitches would translate well through leather, but some of the variations are quite interesting and remind me a lot of classical tooling patterns.

    During the covering process I nip the sampler in a press using foam sandwiched between two press boards to make sure the leather is fully adhered to the board. This part of the process really flattened the couching stitches. 

    Couching-ErinFletcher

    The running stitch sampler is on goat and was my first and least successful attempt. (At least in my eyes, I can see a lot of errors.) Since this was my first sampler of the bunch, I began with piercing the holes with my needle as I was sewing. Working like this in the air made it really difficult to keep straight, even stitches. To resolve this issue, I began pre-piercing the holes with my pin vise with the leather flat on my work surface. 

    RunningStitches-ErinFletcher

    The scarlet goatskin sampler is adorned with a mixture of stitches, including a line of sequins at the bottom. I have mixed feelings about the stitches on this sampler because the majority of the stitches were difficult to execute through leather. Such as the coral stitch (line 3) and rope stitch (line 4).

    MixedStitches-ErinFletcher

    The following sampler is showcasing another mixture of stitches such as the herringbone stitch (with variations) and the back stitch (with variations). This sampler is also on buffalo and is probably my second favorite of the bunch with a lot of successful and useful stitches to be used on future fine bindings. 

    MixedStitches2-ErinFletcher

    Finally, I played around with woven stitches to create a larger plane of embroidery on the leather. I’m really pleased with a few of these stitches. My main hurdle is figuring out a way to hide the threads on the back, which became very visible through the blue goatskin. 

    WovenStitches-ErinFletcher


  2. My Hand // Leather Embroidery Samplers – Part One

    April 15, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    EmbroiderySampler-ErinFletcher

    Since my last embroidered leather binding, I’ve had the urge to experiment with various traditional stitches in leather. Through my experiments I aimed to find which stitches would translate the same way on leather as they do on fabric. In addition, I wanted to know if I could easily keep a stitched line straight during the covering process.

    I began with a rough sketch of each sampler, a total of six. The stitches I chose were divided into categories (such as chain stitches, variations on the back stitch, couching, etc.) and then laid out onto each sampler sketch. I choose to experiment on both goatskin and buffalo which were pared down to the thickness I use when covering a full leather fine binding (~.5 for the buffalo and .7 for the goat). 

    EmbroiderySampler5-ErinFletcher

    Then, I cut down a piece of Japanese tissue to the size of the plaquette board and adhered it to the center of the leather. Once the pieces were dry, I proceeded to draw out a 1 x 1 mm square grid onto each sampler. This grid made it incredibly easy to lay out the stitches and to make sure I kept them even and straight. Before I began a stitch, I figured out the hole placement and spacing. Then with my pin vise I made pin-pricks through the leather. Laying out the holes beforehand made the act of stitching easier and faster. 

    EmbroiderySampler2-ErinFletcher

    After completing all of the stitches on a sampler, I prepped the leather for covering. Excess strings were trimmed and pasted down in line with stitches on the backside. This way any strays would not be visible on the front side of the leather. Once I readied my bench with the proper tools, the leather pieces were pasted up with wheat starch paste and attached to the board. After folding over the turn-ins and working down the corners, I stuck the plaquette under a press between foam and press boards. The foam pushes down the leather around the stitches much easier and quicker than I could. 

    When working with embroidered leather, I don’t wet out the piece before pasting up as I normally would. I do however add some moisture to the turn-ins to aid in the covering process. 

    EmbroiderySampler4-ErinFletcher


  3. Best of 2014

    December 31, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    As the year 2014 comes to a close, I want to send out another thank you to the nine bookbinders and book artists who took time away from their busy schedules to participate in my interviews. Another thank you goes to those who read and subscribe to my blog and I especially appreciate the kind comments I’ve received either in person or via email.

    Now to reflect on my year: Herringbone Bindery was busy yet again this year. I had the opportunity to work on some really great projects, amongst them were commissions from the Old State House in Boston, artist Laura Davidson and the Veatchs booksellers. An unusual amount of traveling this year took me to Rare Book School for the first time, up to Maine for a mini-conference and across the country to Vegas for the Guild of Book Workers conference.

    Things to expect in the New Year:
    – an updated website with all the projects I completed in 2014 (including some beautiful design bindings)
    – a Herringbone Bindery newsletter
    – more posts on my own projects (expect to see more on Dune as I will be covering right after the holidays)
    – another round of interviews

    As we ring in the new year, I just wanted to share my favorites posts from 2014.

    bestof2014a

    1. February // Bookbinder of the Month: Haein Song
    Haein Song was recommend to me by Hannah Brown and I was so thankful for her suggestion. Haein’s work is so clean and skillfully crafted. Her headcaps are so impeccable that I gape in awe.
    2. Artist: Marcela Cárdenas
    3. May // Bookbinder of the Month: Monique Lallier
    I greatly admire the work of Monique Lallier and was just ecstatic that she agreed to be interviewed for the blog. She has become such an influence in our field and openly shares her support and wisdom.

    bestof2014b

    4. My Hand: A Desert Inspired Edge for Dune
    5. August // Bookbinder of the Month: Mark Cockram
    The interview with Mark Cockram captures the boisterous and enthusiastic charms of both his personality and love of the craft. Each post examines the intensity of his designs and complexity of his techniques.
    6. Conservation Conversations Column
    Beginning this year, I invited six of my colleagues working in conservation to post about a field that encapsulates their professional lives. Topics range from using the appropriate adhesive and what to consider when building a conservation lab to various conservation considerations and philosophies.

    bestof2014c

    7. My Hand: Boxes for Laura Davidson
    My first project with Laura Davidson after interviewing her on my blog.
    8. Artist: Lydia Hardwick
    9. Photographer: Andrea Galvani
    10. January // Book Artist of the Month: Mary Uthuppuru
    I’m so charmed both Mary Uthuppuru and her work. She really engages the craft by exploring and experimenting with bookbinding and printmaking techniques. Mary is quite inspiring.

    bestof2014d

    11. November // Bookbinder of the Month: Sol Rébora
    It was a pleasure to interview Sol Rébora. Her insights to bookbinding in Argentina were refreshing, as are her imaginative and unique design bindings.
    12. February // Book Artist of the Month: Diane Jacobs
    Diane Jacobs employs important topics like feminism, body issues and societal issues against women in book arts and other art forms. I am very engaged and compelled by these issues and enjoyed dissecting her work in the interview.
    13. My Hand: Leather Embroidery Samplers
    14. Artist: Jennifer Davis

    Happy New Year!


  4. Teaching at Paper & Book Intensive 2018

    August 28, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    In May of this year, I had the honor of teaching at the Paper & Book Intensive which was held at Ox-Bow School of Art in Saugatuk, Michigan. If you aren’t familiar with PBI, it’s a two-week intensive camp where participants take three workshops on topics related to bookbinding, printmaking, paper-making, conservation and book arts. Everyone stayed in lodging on the grounds at Ox-Bow and ate together during mealtimes. During off-hours, people spent their time creating, mingling, making toast from the 24-hour toasting station or roasting marshmallows at the fire pit near the lagoon.

    I had been invited to teach my 2-day Introduction to Embroidery on Leather workshop during the first session. In the first session, participants take two different workshops, one in the morning and the second in the afternoon. This meant, as an instructor, I had two different groups to teach over the span of four days. I had 13 students in the morning and 12 students in the afternoon.

    My workshop took place on the second floor of the print building. The space was wonderful. It is a newly constructed building with high ceilings and tall windows on all four sides that looked out into the woods. After getting settled and going through materials, we embarked on our first task of poking lots of holes into leather through a paper template. The room was so quite and still, that a unique soundtrack began to play out. The ping from the pin vise and crunch of the paper template mixed with birdsongs and swaying trees.

    The participants were working with buffalo skin for the samplers. It’s a leather that I love to work with and is very forgiving with embroidery work. Although certain challenges presented themselves with the darker skins. After we finished punching, we went through each stitch one by one. Students were invited to bring their own threads to play around with, so there was a nice mix of materials being used on the samplers. Some worked and some didn’t.

    At the end of the first session, everyone convened into the painting studio for a show and tell. I had been so distracted teaching by my workshop, that I didn’t get a chance to visit the other studios. So it was really great to finally see what everyone else had been working on.

    Above are samples from Letterlocking with Jana Dambrogio (left) and Vasaré Rastonis’ Conservation Binding Model for a 13th Century European Manuscript workshop (right).

    Above are some pieces from Velma Bolyard’s Paper Threads: North Country Shift (left) and Rebecca Chamlee’s The Printmaker as Naturalist (right) workshops .

    Many of my students had little to no experience with embroidery work, but everyone was determined to master each stitch. Threads were sewn and then torn out to make second and third attempts. I was really impressed with everyone’s ability to navigate through diagrams and hard-to-see demonstrations. In the center of their samplers, I asked each participant to design a letter in whatever stitch or stitches they preferred. Some students also began embroidering into bookcloth and paper. The participants in my workshop definitely felt the intensiveness of PBI!

    After session one was complete, everyone had a day off to recoup and relax. I went into town with some PBI pals to shop the local antique mall and each some local grub. Afterward, we walked to Oval Beach at Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful beach and view of the lake. We even made a couple of duck friends along the way.

    As an instructor, I was able to take a workshop during the second session and I chose John DeMerritt’s The Prototype: An Exploration of Edition Binding. I had met John a few years back during my second year at North Bennet Street School and have admired his work and ingenuity, so I was really excited to pick is brain.

    The structure of John’s class was informal, which freed everyone up to work on their own projects. We had materials to play with in order to develop prototypes. As someone who rarely gets a chance to spend time on personal work, it was very welcoming to have these 4 days to work out the details of an artist book that has been lingering in the back of my brain.

    On our final day of John’s class, we were commissioned by Mary Hark (papermaking instructor) to build a box for a paper quilt.

    We devised a design for the box and chose materials as a team. Mary let us choose from a selection of her papers for the box and we choose a beautiful crinkled indigo paper for the tray that proved to be rather difficult and pulled many of us together to trouble shoot. And without proper weights, we had to use body weight after attaching the tray to the base.

    photo credit (right): Cristiana Salomao

    photo credit (right): John DeMerritt

    I was tasked with creating an embroidered paper label for the box. We chose to use the coordinates of Ox-Bow and the dates of the second session as the title, as it represents the time and place of both creations. In the end, the box and quilt were put into the auction and was finally sold to the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

    At the end of session two, we assembled once again in the paint studio for another show and tell.

    Above are examples from Béatrice Coron’s workshop From Book Shelves to Cat Walk: Wearable Papercuts and Artist Books (left) plus Chela Metzger’s workshop Early Modern Record-Keeping Book Structures: Model Making and Investigation (right).

    Just a few pieces from Bridget Elmer’s workshop The Typographic Print (left) and Mary Hark’s workshop Papermaking Informed by a Sensibility for Textiles (right).

    Post show and tell, people began to wind down and get ready for the festivities ahead. That evening included a silent auction followed by a studio tour to see the various work created by the artists in residency. Along the tour, I savored some local Ox-Bow brews and chatted with a very talented artist about her brightly colored macramé sculptures. Check out the work of Noël Morical.

    On the following day, everyone gathered at the meadow under the theme of Renaissance in Space. We ate hors d’oeuvres and cheered on the jousters. Afterward we filed into the painting studio for one final dinner, which included lofting balloons from table to table until they popped. A mighty group effort.

    The evening quickly turned into night and people began to say their farewells. PBI was a truly incredible experience and one that I will never forget. Despite the pressures of teaching, my time at Ox-Bow was relaxing and inspiring. Being surrounded by creative and talented people who are both encouraging and supportive for two weeks can be life changing. It’s an experience that I would recommend for anyone that is apart of or wants to be involved in this community.


  • 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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