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‘feature book of the week’ Category

  1. Bookbinder of the Month: Eduardo Giménez Burgos // Post Five

    January 27, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    This Solid Globe includes selected quotations from Shakespeare and wood engravings by Jane Lydbury printed by Camberwell Press in 1984. The binding, bound by Eduardo Giménez, is covered in black calfskin with dyed maple veneer onlays. The wood veneer letters are inset into the shape an “O” around the central veneer planks. A blue suede is used for the doublures and flyleaves.

    In 2013, your entry to the Designer Bookbinders International Competition was awarded second prize and acquired by the Getty Collection at Wormsley. The binding is another beautiful example showcasing wood veneer. In this binding, you’ve dyed the maple veneer onlays. What method are you using to dye the veneer?
    The binding process was very interesting. The idea of the design was already in a first rough sketch, but actually, when I start a work I hardly ever know very well how it will end up. And that gives me a certain margin for improvisation. And in these decisions that I’m taking along the way, the senses play a natural role, especially the visual aspect, which pursues maximum beauty for the eyes, a nice touch for the hands, or, even, the smell that comes from the materials such as the leather, the marbled and hand painted papers, or the wood.

    And so the colours and reliefs of the Shakespeare covers started to emerge gradually as I was working in the binding. In fact, the central element of the decoration was wood, a light maple wood. I applied some first aniline dye layers to give it a soft background color. Later I went on adding very thin layers of acrylics of different colors in different areas, in a somewhat random manner. After each coat I let it dry for some hours and used a very fine sandpaper, also on some areas. This process lasted several days but with no appealing results. But then, one day, approximately after about twenty layers, I sanded all the surface again, and a very rich palette of colours appeared, without losing the texture of wood. My Shakespeare was there! I only had to add a bit of wax and burnish it in order to obtain a surface slightly gloss finished like the black calfskin of the cover.

    The lettering for the title and author are cut with such precision. Do you hand cut your veneer?
    All the pieces of wood that I have used in my bindings were cut by hand, except the letters of Water which are cut with laser. And in all cases there is also a further process of very thorough dyeing, as the one I have described.


  2. Bookbinder of the Month: Eduardo Giménez Burgos // Post Four

    January 20, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    Eduardo Giménez entered his binding of L’oeuvre de Pierre Lecuire: La Nuit into the Society of Bookbinders 2015 International Competition. It is bound in the Dorfner-style in black calfskin with pale blue suede onlays and orange paper inlays. Black and orange Nepalese paper are used for the doublures and flyleaves. Eduardo’s binding won the Harmatan Leather Award for Forwarding in the Case Binding Category.

    You studied in Belguim with Edgard Claes and in this binding you employ the Dorfner structure. The description in the Society of Bookbinders catalog refers to this as a Dorfner-style case binding. I’ve had the opportunity to learn this structure as well and would love to know how you modified the structure into a case rather than attaching the boards to the sewing supports?
    Indeed, in this binding I used the Dorfner style, a leather version of the model developed by Edgard Claes for his polycarbonate bindings. In this binding, as it is usual, the black-stained parchment ribbons are glued to the recto of the covers, although they are barely visible as they are hidden by the suede onlays at the level of the spine. I think the confusion is in the definition of the term ‘case binding’. For us, case binding has a broader meaning and defines the bindings whose covers are just covered independently to join the body of the book afterwards.


  3. Bookbinder of the Month: Eduardo Giménez Burgos // Post Three

    January 13, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    This binding by Eduardo Giménez is of Paper Constructions: Two- And Three-Dimensional Forms for Artists, Architects, and Designers by Franz Zeier. Eduardo described the style of binding as Origami Bradel binding using grey and brown paper. The diamond tessellation is constructed from one piece of paper for each cover. The endbands and endleaves are also in grey paper.

    The cover of Paper Constructions is impeccable. The paper is folded to create a sturdy, three-dimensional shell around the covers. I have seen another example of this style of paper folding on Spanish binder Elena Sánchez Miguel’s binding for the American Academy of Bookbinding’s Open/Set exhibit Inside the Book. Where does this technique come from?
    The first time I had the idea of passing an origami or paper folding piece into the book covers as a decorative element, was in 2013, on the occasion of an invitation from the ARA Association (Les Amis de la Reliure D’Art) to participate in a collective exhibition at the Bibliothèque Carnegie of Reims, France. The intention there was to exhibit hand bookbindings with only paper and cardboard. For that purpose I decided to work jointly with my partner Elena Sánchez, who has an extensive experience in origami.

    Folded paper opened a great range of possibilities, but I still had to design a procedure which would allow me to integrate origami in the binding process in a harmonious and natural way – something never intended before, I believe. After numerous trials, we achieved to complete two books: Paper Constructions by Franz Zeier and The Book of Paper by Oliver Helfrich and Antje Peters – both present at the exhibition.

    The good reviews that both of them got in France encouraged me to continue with our experiment. For more than one year we prepared some twenty books which were exposed for the first time in the Histories Centre’s Museo del Origami in Zaragoza, Spain, in 2016. I called the exhibition “Libros en papel” (Paper Books) – a title that refers both to the material used to put them together and to the common theme of the chosen texts: books for children about origami, treatises about design and paper constructions, essays, exhibition catalogues, etc. Books written in Spanish and also in English, Italian, French, Russian and Japanese.

    We chose different folding paper techniques, like corrugations, mosaics, tessellations, modular origami, pop-up and some others, to achieve these paper bindings, object-books, artefacts or whatever these might be called. We have mostly looked for geometric figures, volume and abstraction. We used a wide range of papers from different sources, qualities and grades, always with a view of achieving the best structure and the greatest possible beauty.

    The books you mentioned were bound with a single piece of folded paper in each cover; but in some cases, even 120 pieces of paper have been inter-weaved together, or in a few others the paper has been die-cut. Elena participated later with two origami books of her own to the Open/Set and the Designer Bookbinders International competitions.


  4. Bonus // Bookbinder of the Month: Kathy Abbott

    December 31, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    WingedChariot-KathyAbbott

    I am ending my interview with Kathy Abbott with a bonus post. The binding above is Winged Chariot by Walter de la Mare. Kathy completed this binding in 2012 by covering the book in full burgundy goatskin. The tooled designs are done in Caplain leaf and the head edge is gilt in the same.

    When laying out a tooled design, especially one that is to be symmetrical across the book (like the design on Winged Chariot), what is your approach? Have you always employed the same method for transferring your design or has your technique changed over time?
    I have been fortunate to have been taught gold tooling in both the traditional manner, whilst I was at college and then latterly, in the contemporary manner by Tracey Rowledge. Both Tracey and my traditional gold finishing tutors have used the same method of marking out a diaper pattern (a diagonally marked grid), which can be a useful way of creating symmetry across both boards.

    This design of this book wasn’t done using a diaper pattern. It contains one long poem, about time and to express this, I had a very fine 5mm short pallet made to create the imagery, and wanted the tooled design to be fairly random. I made a paper template the same size as one of the boards, drew out the design with a fine ink-pen. I photocopied the drawing, cut out some of the areas of the design and re-positioned them until I was happy with it. I then traced the design and reversed it. I always pin my designs up on the wall and live with them for a while before I begin tooling.

    When I was ready, I photocopied the design onto thin handmade paper, attached it to the binding, tooled through the template, removed the template and blind-tooled again direct, applied the glaire and then tooled each impression with 3 layers of Caplain gold leaf (which was picked up on the tool itself).


  5. Bookbinder of the Month: Kathy Abbott

    December 27, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    LovesLaboursLost-KathyAbbott

    This 2006 binding from Kathy Abbott is Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost with illustrations by Berkeley Sutcliffe. The binding is covered in full pink goatskin and includes multi-colored goatskin onlays. The top edge is colored pink to match the leather.

    One of the reasons that I wanted to do this interview with you is that you create such striking and simplistic designs, which really push forward the beauty of the leather. What is your selection process for choosing the perfect leather?
    I adore the graininess of Nigerian goatskin: every skin tells a different story through its grain. Depending on which angle you cut your piece of covering leather, you can express a landscape, a sea, a wind, trees; all sorts. I don’t often use the spine of the skin on the spine of my books: I find it much more interesting to move my template window around the skin until I find something more arresting about the grain. I also love all the faults on skins: dyeing faults, holes, scars etc.

    When I have read my text, I set off to find the perfect skin to express as much of the story as possible. I have often looked through a hundred or more skins at the tannery until I find the ‘right’ one: the poor guys at Harmatan have been so patient with me over the years! Often, I have found it difficult to embellish the skin I have chosen, as the grain is saying everything I want to say about the text. I do all I can to celebrate the beauty in every skin I use.

    Sadly, we can no longer get Nigerian goatskins because of the political situation there. So obtaining anything grainy now is a challenge as the grain of Indian goatskins is quite flat in comparison. Luckily I have a large stock of Nigerian skins, so I will be ok for a while, but I won’t be able to be so choosy in the future.

    NewYorkRevisited-KathyAbbott

    This is a binding of Kenneth Auchincloss’s New York Revisited that includes wood engravings by Gaylord Shanilec. The book was published by The Grolier Club of New York in 2002. Kathy covered the binding in full black goatskin and detailed the covered with handmade paper onlays. Click on the image to get a full sense of the graininess of the leather.

     


  6. Bookbinder of the Month: Kathy Abbott

    December 20, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    BenitoCerano-KathyAbbott

    The 1926 Nonesuch Press edition of Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno with illustrations by E. McKnight Kauffer was bound by Kathy Abbott in 2013. The book was bound in full grey goatskin with recessed paper inlays. The head edge was gilt in Caplain leaf to appear distressed.

    I would love to talk about your aesthetic. Your designs are compelling because of their simplicity, where does your inspiration come from? Are you drawing from the book itself or outside influence?
    I am a passionate reader, so the inspiration comes from reading and re-reading the text until I get a ‘sense’ of the book. A colour usually is the first thing that comes to my mind and then I write down the key themes of the text, which stay with me after I have finished reading: that’s my starting point. I then search for the skin of leather that best expresses the essence of the text or that will emphasise my idea for the design.

    My ideas usually get distilled down to their absolute essence: I want to lure the reader in to my books, to entice them to discover what the book is about.

    For Benito Cereno I wanted to express the extreme savagery of the text. The story is set on a shipwrecked boat that has been mutinised by its slaves, who have slain most of the crew with cutlasses. I chose the skin because the grain looked windswept and stormy and I also wanted to continue the feeling of a windy storm within the endpapers and in the scratches to the Caplain-gilded head of the book.

    BenitoCerano3-KathyAbbott

    After practicing the slash marks many times, I found that the only way to make them look savage and frenetic, was to actually slash the book very fast with a scalpel, once the book was covered. This was hugely stressful, as I only had one chance to get it right: once the first one was done, I had to hold my breath and repeat it three more times!

    AStitchInTime2010

    In addition to Kathy’s binding of Benito Cereno, I also wanted her to speak about her design for A Stitch in Time or Pride Prevents a Fall. This binding was created in 2010 and is also a Nonesuch Press edition published in 1927.
    A Stitch in Time is quite a silly poem about a 1930’s girl about town, who finds herself a slightly dangerous situation when she is duped into having lunch alone with a man who has sexual intentions towards her. She gets herself out of a potential sexual assault because she can’t bear the thought of her assailant seeing a tear in her green petticoat, which she had hastily sewn up with pink thread before leaving her house.

    I tried to make the pink leather onlays on this binding look like they were sewn through the green leather.


  7. Bookbinder of the Month: Kathy Abbott

    December 13, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    In the interview at the beginning of the month, I asked Kathy Abbott about Tomorrow’s Past, an exhibit inspired by Sün Evrard’s article in The New Bookbinder, Volume 19. The idea is to rethink the approach of repair work in a contemporary and more visible way. In this post Kathy explains the treatments for two bindings and why she chose to do these repairs in an unconventional way.

    I’ve chosen a selection of bindings from your Tomorrow’s Past portfolio. I find the treatments to be delightful yet still respectful to the bindings historic value.
    Thank you. I could never undertake this sort of conservation treatment if I hadn’t worked for 9 years as a book consevator and bindery manager at the antiquarian booksellers: Bernard Quaritch Ltd. I learned so much there about antiquarian books and from working on such a wide variety of them, each with very individual needs. I continue to conserve antiquarian books as well as Islamic manuscripts, where I constantly have to stretch my skill base in order to do the right thing for the book in my care. This allows me to have a lot of tacit knowledge at my fingertips when I approach my Tomorrow’s Past work.

    SacredDramas-KathyAbbott

    In the treatment of Sacred Dramas (1818) you’ve included this brightly hand-colored tissue that is quite a stark contrast from the original covering material. What was the prior condition of the book and why did you choose, what could be perceived as an unconventional route of conservation?
    I made this work for a Tomorrow’s Past exhibition at the Aram Gallery, London, in 2013.

    SacredDramas2-KathyAbbott

    I found the book with both boards detached and no spine, and I spent a lot of time looking and handling the book before I decided on the course of action. The book’s sewing was intact and each edge was marbled, so I didn’t want to disturb it by re-sewing. The book didn’t open well, so I reattached the boards with linen and they now open right back and touch each other at the spine. I didn’t want a heavy spine that would impede the book’s opening even more, so decided on a sort of hollow, made from handmade paper but the head and tail of the spine has a little flap which tucks down inside the hollow, so that it doesn’t have a vulnerable cut edge. The decoration on the spine is hand drawn with acrylic inks, to relate to the decorative gold tooling on the boards. The boards themselves were quite damaged and needed to be repaired, so I decided to highlight both the board attachment and every repair, with the same bright blue colour that appears within the marbled edges on the book-block. The re-binding of this book came the year after conserving Q. Horatii Flacci Carmina Expurgata, where I first explored the concept of highlighting the repairs and it felt absolutely like the right thing to do. It has caused a lot of controversy though: people either love it or hate it.

    SacredDramas3-KathyAbbottSacredDramas4-KathyAbbott

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    QHoratiiFlacci-KathyAbbott

    The repair on the binding of Q. Haratii Flacci Carmina Expurgata (1784) is subtle yet stunning. Can you walk us through the steps: was the book resewn and how was the hand-gilded paper used to repair the binding?
    This poor book was in such bad shape when I found it but I absolutely loved its original binding and thought it was essential to keep every last crumb of it. My good friend is a Kintsugi restorer: this is where broken Japanese ceramics are repaired with lacquer and the repairs are highlighted in real gold or silver powder, rendering the piece even more beautiful. I thought that this particular book would really benefit from this sort of treatment.

    QHoratiiFlacci2-KathyAbbott

    The sewing was broken in many places and the alum-tawed thongs were very brittle and had snapped in several places, making them unusable. I didn’t want to use new, white thongs, as they would look very bright and at odds with the rest of the book, so decided to dye some alum-tawed skin dark brown to match the titling, using conservation leather dyes.

    I pulled the book and then repaired the tears in the cover with Japanese tissue, the text-block did not need to be guarded nor repaired. I then re-sewed the book following the original sewing positions. I gilded a piece of hand-made paper with 23.5 carat gold leaf and the piece was then inserted under the turn-ins of the cover and was adhered to the original turn-ins only, using methylcellulose.

    QHoratiiFlacci3-KathyAbbottQHoratiiFlacci4-KathyAbbott

    The sewing of the front section to close the binding was very complex: the fold of the pastedown was hooked around the first and last sections. To close the binding, (join the cover to the sewn text-block) I had to sew through the front section and the hooked fold of the pastedowns at the same time. The sewing had to go around the thongs, (which needed to be laced through the cover before the sewing could be done), without piercing through the pastedowns nor the cover. I had to make a series of needles, curved to different angles in order to achieve it. It was one of the most technically difficult things I have ever had to do but the result looks very simple. On the finished binding, the gold is only visible where there is a piece of the spine missing and a tiny bit through the lacing positions.


  8. Bookbinder of the Month: Kathy Abbott

    December 6, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    AsYouLikeIt-KathyAbbott

    Jumping back to 2008 with this binding of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Kathy Abbott bound this 1903 Roycroft Shop edition in full scarlet goatskin. The cascading hearts are black goatskin onlays. The head edge is gilt using moon gold.

    I’ve noticed that you never title your bindings. What are your reasons for this choice? Are you ever criticized for this decision by collectors or other binders?
    I wouldn’t say criticized but it is often commented on! I like the reader to be curious about what’s inside the book, without actually ‘telling them’ what it’s about. For me, a book’s design must flow freely across the front board, the spine and the back board without interruption. I feel that a title would break the flow in my work. This is purely personal: I have seen many binders use titling beautifully as an essential element of their design but this is just not for me, at least for now that is! All of my bindings are housed in bespoke drop-back boxes and the title of the book is always on the box, so it’s not a problem.

    The free-flowing design for this book is a nod towards the love letters that Orlando leaves for Rosalind in the trees of the forest.


  9. Bonus // Bookbinder of the Month: Tini Miura

    October 25, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    YouCanJudge-TiniMiura

    In a recent competition put on by the Washington University Libraries Special Collections, the public was encouraged to judge books by their covers and cast their vote for favorite binding. Fittingly, the book being bound was Bernard C. Middleton’s You Can Judge a Book By Its Cover, which was published by Mel Kavin and designed by Ward Ritchie in miniature form back in 1995 (which is presumably around the time it was bound as well).

    The first book of this edition was designed and bound by Tini and Einen Miura and printed by Henry Morris. Later on, 32 more binders were invited to create their own unique binding and to celebrate the artistry of the miniature book.

    Tini bound the book in black morocco. She used the onlaid shapes and design to tell a story about the author. The ascending tooled area represents Bernard Middleton’s larger than life character. Running along side this path are circle onlays of various sizes and colors, which show the abundance of information he has shared with the world throughout his professional life.

    In the image above, the book is shown on the right with the slipcase pictured on the left. Tini also made a miniature chemise, which would be placed around the book before sliding it into the slipcase.

    YouCanJudge2-TiniMiura

    The edges are gilt and headbands handsewn in colored silk. The doublures, seen above, have multicolored circular onlays and tooling.

    The scale of many of the bindings in your book A Master’s Bibliophile Bindings: Tini Miura 1980 – 1990 are quite large. For the final post in your interview I would like to talk about two miniatures you did for Bernard Middleton’s You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover. What challenges did you come across when scaling down the binding and decorating processes?
    Usually my books are large, because they are limited edition livre d’artiste. They have signed original images by artists like Picasso, Leger, Roualt, etc. and are extremely expensive.

    I prefer large books that open well and can be enjoyed easily, while lying on a table. Small books have to be held on both sides to keep them open, there is no weight to the text. But I have enjoyed doing some immensely. No change in binding steps for miniatures.

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    Tini bound an additional copy of Middleton’s book in black morocco with several colored inlays (inspired by the shape printed at the top of the foreword) and foil tooling.

    YouCanJudge3-TiniMiuraYouCanJudge4-TiniMiura

    The edges have been gilt and gauffered with colored polka dots. The endpapers are marbled. The book lives in a small clamshell box.

    YouCanJudge6-TiniMiura


  10. Bookbinder of the Month: Tini Miura

    October 25, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    Alice-TiniMiura

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of those titles that has been bound so many different ways and by so many different binders. In 1983, Tini Miura, added her binding to this list with her brightly colored, kaleidoscopic design for an equally mind-bending story. This particular edition was published by the Pennyroyal Press in 1982.

    Bound in red morocco with several onlays that run the spectrum of color between white and black with tooling in gold and green foil. The doublures are a dark red sheepskin and the edges have been in gilt in the rough.

    I love your interpretation of this book, the design emotes feelings of chaos and helplessness. In many of your designs you incorporate floral elements. What does the flower mean within your designs, specifically for this binding and in general?
    It is a fairytale-like story and the things Alice encounters, like rabbit, teapot, etc. Therefore I chose fantasy flowers to make the whole interpretation happen in a “wonderland”.

    Flowers are a wonder of nature that bring joy – like  beautiful words. They do something to your soul, you feel alive and joyful (colors and music does that to me as well).

    When I do a book and see the design in my head, the design becomes this image which I physically execute. After reading the story, if it is not worldwide known literature, I often understand the design after I read the book. I know that is weird. But I feel it is a present and I don’t ever change or complain – just go with it.

    Another reoccurring design element are the built up areas of tiny tooled shapes, which usually flow across the binding. What can you say about the use of this in your work?
    The small dots or squares are my “Pixie” dust, magic or wonderment in the words or stories.


  • 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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