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‘my hand’ Category

  1. Making Miniatures with James Reid-Cunningham

    March 30, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

    Last year, I took a workshop at North Bennet Street School on Miniatures Bindings with James Reid-Cunningham. Bookbinding itself has a certain lure, but miniature bookbinding can pull you in even further. There is always this challenge of how small can one actually go while still keeping some integrity to the craft. It certainly felt this way during the 3-day workshop as James had us construct smaller and smaller books for each project.

    We started off the class with a hardcover long stitch binding. In terms of size, this was the macro-mini measuring out to 46mm wide by 59mm tall. The text block was sewn through a paper spine piece which also acted as the endpaper paste down. The boards were covered in paper and then pasted to the paper wrapper. Before attaching the covers we used our bone folder to round off the board’s corners, offering a very subtle touch of softness to this miniature book.

    MiniWksp-ErinFletcher

    Our second project for the workshop was to construct a miniature quarter leather case binding. We employed the use of miniature presses to aid in the forwarding process. James brought his own contraption (two wooden slabs connected with bolts and wing nuts), while a fellow classmate brought one of Frank Wiesner’s miniature ploughs for the class to use.

    MiniWksp2-ErinFletcher

    After sewing up the text block over two tapes (cut down from ramieband) I chose to sew headbands in light and dark pink stripes. We continued with the forwarding process by lining the spine. Using a very thin piece of leather, we assembled the case with shaped endcaps. The rest of the case was covered in paper. For my miniature, I used a scrap piece of buffalo skin and handmade paper from Katie MacGregor. This binding measures 38mm wide by 46mm tall.

    MiniWksp8-ErinFletcher

    Our final project was considered a micro-mini measuring to just 13mm wide by 13mm tall. The text was supplied to use with content laid out and printed by James. The text block was printed on a variety of tissues ranging in different weights. For our last project I chose to try out two different weights and assemble one as a soft cover paper wrapper and the other as a full leather binding. The first task for both was to carefully fold the text block into a neatly squared accordion.

    MiniWksp3-ErinFletcher

    To construct the full leather binding, the components of the case were cut to size and glued down to a single piece of tissue. Once the case was assembled the fore edge was trimmed to fit the text block and the corners were rounded to accommodate the thickness of the leather.

    MiniWksp4-ErinFletcher

    The leather was pared to onlay thickness and the corners were pre-cut before covering. The covering was swift and simple. And once the leather was dry, I attached the outer panels of the accordion to inside of the case. The book can be read as a codex or the accordion can be expanded.

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    MiniWksp7-ErinFletcher

    The workshop was a delightful insight to bookbinding in miniature form. The main challenge was rethinking and reworking how to use my hands and tools in such a narrow space. I was a fan of miniature bookbinding before I took James’ workshop and I still am. However, I think I’ll stick to the macro-mini for any future work. Anything smaller is just too excessive for me.

    MiniWksp6-ErinFletcher


  2. My Hand // The Nightingale and the Rose

    February 16, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

    Nightingale1-ErinFletcher

    This binding was featured very briefly on the blog last year in my review of the North Bennet Street School’s 2015 Student and Alumni Show. After the show, I sent it off to England for the Society of Bookbinder’s International Competition. Just last week, I was finally reunited with this macabre little binding. Its presence on my bench reminded me that this binding needed a proper post documenting the steps involved in its creation.

    NightingaleAndTheRose1-ErinFletcher

    This edition of Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose was printed by Rebecca Press in 1985 and includes wood engravings by Alan James Robinson of Cheloniidae Press. My design for both the nightingale and the rose are drawn straight from Robinson’s engravings. The text block was sewn on two flattened cords and rounded and backed in a job backer. Which was a bit excessive for such a tiny binding, but offered me a bit a humor. In lieu of a backing hammer, I used the flat, rounded side of my bone folder to achieve the rounded shape of the spine.

    NightingaleAndTheRose2-ErinFletcher

    Once the forwarding on the book was complete, I could focus on the design. I photocopied the image of the nightingale and rose from the text; enlarging them to the desired size. These photocopies became my guide for drawing out each shape of the bird and flower. Beginning with the bird, the first onlays attached to the base leather were a silhouette of the body, the beak and feet. In order to get some depth and texture to the bird’s feet, before cutting out the two shapes I laid feathered onlays of maroon goatskin over thinned out terracotta goatskin.

    NightingaleAndTheRose3-ErinFletcher

    Although I would normally use PVA to place my onlays onto the leather, I chose to use paste because I was worried about staining the tiny pieces of leather when applying the PVA. After the the onlays went down, I pressed the skin between acrylic boards. Then I back-pared the leather. In the image below you can see the shape of the onlays on the reverse side of the leather (the change in color appears because more flesh is being pared from the areas with onlays, this creates a smooth transition from onlay to base leather on the surface.)

    NightingaleAndTheRose6-ErinFletcher

    After paring the leather, I was free to begin with the embroidery. When I embarked on this task, I had very loose plans and approached it in a very free form way. I would build up the image with embroidery and then switch to adding feathered onlays, then more embroidery until I felt satisfied with the look of the bird. You can see this progression below (please forgive the poor photography and variation in color).

    NightingaleAndTheRose7-ErinFletcherNightingaleAndTheRose8-ErinFletcher

    With the design of the bird fully assembled and embroidered, I prepped for covering. After pasting out the leather, I laid down any stray tails from the embroidery beside a stitch to hide its appearance from the front. Then I progressed with the covering, formed the endcaps, wrapped the turn-ins around the cover boards and pleated the corners. After setting the boards, I put the book to rest between a small scrap of felt in my small wooden press.

    NightingaleAndTheRose9-ErinFletcher NightingaleAndTheRose10-ErinFletcher

    Once the book had dried, I carefully opened each cover and began the steps to prep the inside for the leather doublures. The back doublure was embellished with a multi-onlay and embroidered rose. The steps involved in creating the rose mimic those used to create the bird. The tricky part here happened while back-paring. It was impossible to pare to the desire thickness for doublures without slicing through the rose onlay. So the rose is not a true back-pared onlay, it actually sits on the surface of the leather. I was worried this extra thickness might impact the neighboring flyleaf or the way the book closed, but neither became an issue.

    Nightingale2-ErinFletcher

    The Nightingale and the Rose is a tale about a nightingale who chooses to give her life so that a young man may find love. By piercing her breast into the thorn of a rose, her blood stains a white rose red. This part of the story is illustrated with a tiny wood veneer inlaid “thorn”. The red goatskin Ascona onlay runs from the top of the thorn across the spine (at the “I” in Wilde) and to the rose on the back doublure.

    NightingaleAndTheRose12-ErinFletcher

    The book is housed in a miniature quarter leather clamshell box. I used the same tan goatskin on the spine of the box which was used on the doublures. The rest of the case is covered in a paper I made using cotton and leek skins, also used for the flyleaves in the binding. The author name is stamped in matte grey foil on the spine and the title is stamped on a Mohawk label that sits in a recessed well. The trays are covered in granite colored Cave Paper.

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    The trays are lined with a light grey Silsuede fabric. I prefer using a faux suede to line boxes for embroidered books and veneer bindings, I think it offers a bit more cushion and less chance of wear on the binding.

    I’m really proud of this little binding. My embroidered work is definitely evolving and I like the direction it took with The Nightingale and the Rose. I have a few fine bindings lined up to complete this year and I look forward to sharing their designs and techniques with you.


  3. Client Work // Ye Sette of Odd Volumes

    October 15, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    SetteOddVolumes-ErinFletcher

    It’s been a while since I’ve posted on my own work due to having a crazy summer, but I recently completed this binding of the 1904 Inaugural Address of his Oddship, Brother Silvanus P. Thompson, Magnetizer for Ye Sette of Odd Volumes. I’m sharing this particular project because it has a really great back story and is the slimmest book I’ve ever bound in leather.

    SetteOddVolumes2-ErinFletcher

    My client who presented me with this project is a member of the Club of Odd Volumes, a private social club founded in 1887 and is a society of bibliophiles with the following mission statement:

    The objects shall be to promote an interest in, and a love for whatever will tend to make literature attractive as given in the form of printed and illustrated volumes, to mutally assist in making researches and collections of first and rare editions, and to promote elegance in the production of Odd Volumes.

    The club’s headquarters is located at the former home of Sarah Wyman Whitman in the neighborhood of Beacon Hill in Boston, Massachusetts. The Club of Odd Volumes is a direct influence of Ye Sette of Odd Volumes, an English bibliophile dining-club formed in 1878.

    As I mentioned above, this particular pamphlet is the inaugural address of Brother Silvanus P. Thompson. During the planning phase for the binding, I did some investigative work on dear old Silvanus. At the age of 27, Thompson was appointed to professor of Physics at the City and Guilds Technical College in Finsbury, England. He had a talent for communicating complicated scientific concepts in a clear and interesting manner. He is best known for this work as an electrical engineer and his most enduring publication, Calculus Made Easy, a 1910 book that teaches the fundamentals of infinitesimal calculus.

    What really spurred my curiosity was the descriptor of Magnetizer added to the end of Thompson’s name in the pamphlet’s title. In 1910, Thompson was involved in early attempts to stimulate the brain using a magnetic field. After this death this technique would eventually be recognized as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. This story really inspired me to use a sheet of the hand marbled paper that I made while I was a student at the North Bennet Street School.

    The stone pattern of the marbling has a very organic, almost cellular feel to it. The movement of the yellow veins reminded me of electric currents flowing through the brain. What a perfect fit!

    The structure of the binding is inspired by Ingela Dierick’s article Single Section Bradel Binding in The New Bookbinder (Volume 32, 2012). I’ve created a binding from this tutorial before and even posted about it on the blog. If you want to see/read more about the process, check out this prior post.

    SetteOddVolumes4-ErinFletcher

    The single signature pamphlet is sewn on a stub of equal thickness. This stub is then shaped to create a false round, which allows you to continue with a binding suitable for a leather covering. In the image above you can see the finished binding. Below you can see the book right after I’ve shaped the spine with the help of hemp cord that create false shoulders (in the image on the right, you can see that I also painted the cord to blend in with the grey colored paper used for the stub).

    SetteOddVolumes5-ErinFletcher

    Other details of the binding include leather wrapped headbands in mauve buffalo skin that add a small pop of color. The paste down and flyleaf are Cave Paper in granite. I also hand tooled in blind an abbreviated title onto the spine: S.O.V. INAUGURAL ADDRESS 1904.

    SetteOddVolumes3-ErinFletcher

    I find these single signature bindings to be just as challenging as a multiple signature book. But it offers a certain level of satisfaction to turn something so thin and simple into a substantial leather binding.


  4. Seventh Triennial Helen Warren DeGolyer Exhibition and Bookbinding Competition // 2015 – Winners Announced

    June 16, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    On June 5th, a conference was held at the Bridwell Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. During the conference, the winners of the Seventh Helen Warren DeGolyer Triennial Exhibition and Competition were announced. Established in 1997, the DeGolyer Competition is hosted every three years to inspire and encourage the craft of bookbinding in the United States.

    After a title has been selected from the Bridwell Library Special Collections, American bookbinders are invited to propose a design and submit an example of their work. Three winners are then selected and announced during the conference. The title chosen for the 2015 competition was Bernard C. Middleton’s The Restoration of Leather Bindings. The winner of this year’s competition received a $6,000 commission to bind Ms. DeGolyer’s copy of Middleton’s manual, which has been signed by the author. Middleton’s classic work is a comprehensive overview of traditional restoration techniques specifically on leather bindings.

    The winning proposal was submitted by Priscilla Spitler. Here’s part of her proposal statement: If one was to visit Bernard Middleton’s bindery in the 1970s, when this text was published, it would not have been unusual to find a cat or two curled up in a corner.

    DeGolyerProposal-PriscillaSpitler

    Priscilla plans to cover the book in brown Hewit goatskin with raised bands on the spine. Traditional gold tooling will accent the spine and frame the two cats on the front and back boards. The sleeping cats will be made up of several goatskin onlays recessed on large green leather panels.

    Priscilla has been submitting to the DeGolyer Competition since it was established and won the grand prize for the first time in 2009 for her proposal of John Grave’s Goodbye to a River: A Narrative. You can read more about Priscilla’s background in bookbinding and see the fine binding she submitted along with her 2015 proposal here.

    The $2,000 award went to Jana Pullman for Excellence in Fine Binding, which recognizes quality in structure and technique. In addition to the proposal, binders are also asked to submit a complete binding showing techniques similar to those they are proposing. Jana submitted her binding of William Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis, illustrated and signed by Rockwell Kent.

    DeGolyerProposal-JanaPullman

    Bound in terracotta goatskin with black and green back-pared onlays and thin leather onlays creating the outlines. Jana celebrates the artistic brilliance of Rockwell Kent by using one of his illustrations found in the text as the decoration for the binding. Copper accents adorn the head edge and endpapers.

    The $1,000 Award for Design was given to Samuel Feinstein for his proposal. This honor is awarded to a proposal that demonstrates originality, effectiveness and appropriateness to the selected book. Here is a portion of Samuel’s proposal: My design seeks to show the beauty of historical binding elements within a modernized context, a use of traditional techniques in a manner which is not strictly traditional. 

    Samuel was a classmate of mine at North Bennet Street School and I’m so pleased to see his work receive such an award.

    DeGolyerProposal-SamuelFeinstein

    During the planning stages of a design fine binding, I expect a percentage of the design to evolve during the binding process. So submitting a proposal with the design fully realized and explained was a challenge that I wanted to explore, which is how I came to send in the following proposal.

    DeGolyerProposal-ErinFletcher

    My proposed binding would be covered in brown goatskin and decorated using traditional hand embroidery techniques in gilt thread to imitate a historical gilt panel design. Other elements of the design such as the line border and motifs on spine would be gold tooled. Every aspect of the binding was influenced by the books being conversed within Middleton’s manual.

    Here’s my proposal statement:
    To conserve an object is to show patience, intelligence and dedication, qualities which Middleton emphasizes in the foreword of his book. In a way restoring a volume also pays homage to the history of the binding, as well as respect for the techniques employed in creating the binding. I propose to bind The Restoration of Leather Bindings as a design binding incorporating techniques and designs typically seen on deluxe bindings of the late seventeenth to early eighteenth century in England. The inspiration for choosing this specific period came from a particular book (mounted on proposal board) photographed several times in The Restoration of Leather Bindings. My decision to artistically imitate this binding, using period-appropriate techniques mixed with unconventional design techniques stems from the same attitude put forth by Middleton. I wish to pay homage to the book and its author by preserving a historical binding style by combining old techniques with unlikely materials.

    This year’s competition inspired seventeen other American binders to submit a proposal. You can see them all here.


  5. North Bennet Street School // Student & Alumni Exhibit 2015 – Part Two

    May 28, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    In addition to the set books I wrote about in Part One of this post, the Student and Alumni Exhibit at North Bennet Street School includes a selection of bindings produced by current students and alumni of the full-time program. In this post, I’ll be highlighting some of my favorites.

    I’ll start with my own bindings. This year I submitted two miniature bindings, which I’ve completed within the last 8 months. The book on the left is Goose Eggs & Other Fowl Expressions bound in the Dorfner-style with wood veneer boards. I wrote about the process a few months ago, you can check that out here.

    The second binding is The Nightingale and the Rose by Oscar Wilde. The book is bound as a traditional French-style fine binding. The nightingale on the front board is created using various back-pared onlays, feathered onlays and embroidery. For those of you who know the story, there is also a small wood veneer inlay that represents the rose’s thorn. The binding includes tan goatskin doublures. The back doublure showcases the rose and was created in the same manner as the nightingale.

    ErinFletcher-NBSSExhibit

    Next up is Jacqueline Scott’s embroidered binding of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans. Jacqueline is apart of the 2015 graduating class and I featured her set book in the first post. Her work is so stellar and I had the delightful opportunity to see this book as it took a journey to became this very gorgeous binding.

    The embroidery is so delicately handled and the feather embroidered on the spine of the box adds just the perfect amount of intrigue. The swan’s wings extend beyond the fore edge and are covered on the backside with matching green goatskin leather. I can’t wait to see how Jacqueline continues to explore embroidery in her work.

    JaquelineScott-NBSSExhibit

    The rest of the images were taken after the exhibit was fully installed, so please pardon any glares, shadows or my reflection. I would also like to note that I had intended to include the work of Rebecca Koch and Anne McLain, but it was rather difficult to capture an accurate photograph of their bindings due to reflection and glare issues. So sorry you two but I would like to say that loved your bindings!

    The following binding was recently bound by my charming bindery mate Colin Urbina, 2011. In his binding of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, he created an abstract underwater scene with several tooled leather onlays and inlays of pearl. Other portions of the design are texturized with an open circle tool and by pressing sandpaper into the wet leather. The title and author are blind tooled on the spine.

    The head edge is painted in a vibrant purple with brushstrokes that cross over one another. Colin put in matching edge-to-edge doublures and added a frame of ascending “bubbles” using the same open circle tool.

    ColinUrbina-NBSSExhibit

    GabrielleCooksey-NBSSExhibit

    Monsters and Beasts is the work of the incredibly talented Gabrielle Cooksey, 2014. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about this piece. But I believe that everything from the illustrations to the printing were all done by Gabrielle. It’s absolutely beautiful work!

    KaitlinBarber-NBSSExhibit

    Kaitlin Barber is the master of miniatures (and there always seems to be one in every class). In this adorable and wildly impressive collection of bindings, Kaitlin has miniaturized a selection of historical bindings she learned over the course of her time at North Bennet Street School. She’ll be apart of the 2015 graduating class and I wrote more about her work in the first post.

    Continuing on with the topic of historical structures, the students were treated to a week long workshop in the spring with Dr. Georgios Boudalis. Using his extensive understanding of Byzantine culture, he taught the students none other than a traditional 12th century Byzantine structure. Todd Davis, 2016, included his binding in the exhibit. The bindings are quite massive and required a lot of detailed work, such as board shaping, primary and secondary headbands, braided straps and clasps. After all that blood, sweat and tears, the class bound some really lovely models.

    ToddDavis-NBSSExhibit

    The next binding on my list of favorites was done by another studio mate of mine, Lauren Schott, 2013. Bound in the Dorfner-style (same as Goose Eggs) with wood veneer boards and a leather spine. Lauren’s design on this binding of Walt Whitman’s Song of the Broad-Axe is so elegant.

    Lauren and I are both a big fan of incorporating shapes and symmetry into our designs. The front and back board are gold tooled onto the wood veneer; the tooling sits in the veneer so that at certain angles becomes almost invisible.

    LaurenSchott-NBSSExhibit

    And to round out the favorites is this stunning binding from Johanna Smick Weizenecker, 2010. This binding of Chairmaker’s Notebook is a quarter leather goatskin binding with semi-hidden corners. The design on the front and back cover continues onto the spine as an onlay. The title and author are hand titled using black and copper foils.

    JohannaSmickWeizenecker-NBSSExhibit

    So that concludes this year’s Student and Alumni exhibit at the North Bennet Street School. I hope you enjoyed this overview and I want to thank all of you who were able came out to see the show in person!


  6. My Hand // Dune

    May 1, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    It’s been a while since I wrote about my binding of the science fiction classic Dune. After sharing my technique for the edge decoration, hand-sewn headbands and the process of covering, I’m finally ready to unveil the finished binding.

    Dune11a-ErinFletcher

    So now I’ll go over the steps that led to the finished look. After covering and letting the book rest, I began working on the remainder of the design for the front cover, which included a series of concentric circles. All seven circles would be tooled using gold leaf, but only the inner circle would also include a leather onlay. In the image below (on the left) is my initial sketch of the front cover design. It includes a list specifying the size gouge for each circle. The image on the right is the final outline drawn on tracing paper, which includes fewer circles due to spacing issues. This also became the template I would use to transfer the design to the book (hence the wrinkles and cut out squares).

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    In the image below you can see the tooling template attach to the underside of the front board. At this point, I’ve flipped it off the book to check the placement of the first circle.

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    Happy with the first circle, I continued working my way through the remaining 6 circles. Each circle was initially placed onto the leather with a plastic circle template and thin bone folder. I then used the appropriately sized gouge to make the first impression, with the tool being cold. Below is an image of all the different gouges used on the binding.

    Dune12-ErinFletcherDune9-ErinFletcher

    In the midst of winter and in an incredibly dry studio, I began to add the gold to the circles. After a few failed attempts and some adjustments I made to the atmosphere, the gold started to stick. In between the tooling process on the front cover, I moved to the spine where I tooled in the title and author’s last name.

    Inspired by the lettering seen on French fine bindings from the 1920s and 30s, I used a combination of gouges and line palettes to design my own alphabet. In the image below, I’ve finished the initial blind layer and am about to begin the gold tooling.

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    The title and author’s name are divided by a blind tooled onlay of buffalo skin in a lovely light pink, which also appears on the back cover. This design is again a play on the French fine bindings from the 1920s and 30s.

    With the outside complete, I moved to the inside of the book. The fly leaves are a soft suede in dark brown which matches the onlay on the front cover. The matching DUNEblures (a silly nicknamed coined by my witty studio mate Colin Urbina) are tooled in a design that mirrors itself on the back cover. The angle of the lines match that of the triangle on the front cover. The spacing between the lines is consistent with the spacing between the concentric circles.

    Dune14-ErinFletcher

    The book is housed in a quarter leather clamshell box using the same terracotta goatskin as for the triangle back-pared onlay. The leather has been embroidered in the same fashion and tooled with the title. The rest of the case is covered in brown Canapetta cloth. The trays are covered with handmade paper I bought from Katie MacGregor and lined with the same suede as the fly leaves.

    Dune16-ErinFletcher Dune15-ErinFletcher

    In mid-April, I received the exciting news that my binding of Dune will join the Guild of Book Workers Traveling Exhibit: Vessel! This will be the second time I’ve participated in a GBW show and what’s more exciting is that this exhibit will be hosted by the North Bennet Street School. So halfway through the tour, I’ll get the chance to revisit my binding.

    The exhibit will open later this year in California and I’ll be writing a post to remind those nearby.


  7. My Hand // Goose Eggs & Other Fowl Expressions

    March 16, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    GooseEggs4-ErinFletcher

    At the Guild of Book Workers’ Standards Conference in DC, I picked up a couple miniature text blocks from Gabrielle Fox. One of the them being Goose Eggs & Other Fowl Expressions printed by Rebecca Press in 1991. The letterpress printing was done in a vibrant purple with hints of mint blue and bright yellow. The image below is a spread from the book.

    GooseEggs-ErinFletcher

    For the binding, I decided to test the limitations of the Dorfner binding in a miniature format. Last year I had the chance to learn this very special binding structure. Unfortunately not from Edgard Claes himself, but from Colin Urbina who had the opportunity to take a workshop from the celebrated Belgian binder. The Dorfner-style binding was originally developed by German binder Otto Dorfner.

    I sadly did not take any images during the process of creating this binding as it was the first miniature I’ve ever bound and was delighted by how quickly I was able to move through each step. So needless to say, I forgot to stop and take images, but I will explain the binding process a bit in this post.

    GooseEggs6-ErinFletcher

    The book is sewn on two silver snakeskin tapes (initially lined with silk) before being rounded and backed. The edges were properly prepped for a layer of mint blue gouache paint. Leather wrapped headbands decorate the head and tail in a skin that perfectly matches the purple ink from the text block.

    The spine piece is wrapped in mauve buffalo skin, which was shaped and the headcaps were formed off the book. After cutting away to expose the tapes, the spine piece is attached to the text block and then the light grey suede flyleaves are put in place.

    GooseEggs5-ErinFletcher

    Now comes the fun part. The MDF boards are carefully shaped, first with a power sander and then by hand to offer an elegant cushioned edge. Afterward, the boards are laminated on both sides with a wood veneer. For this binding, I used an unknown wood that I found in a sample pack of domestic and exotic woods (so if anyone can identify this wood, please let me know). A channel is cut out of the veneer and the tapes are glued down to attach the board. To hide the tapes a second veneer is cut and glued down. For this binding, I cut four tabs out of Karelian birch in the shape of a goose egg.

    GooseEggs3-ErinFletcher

    The book is housed in a tiny clamshell box. The spine is covered in the same mauve buffalo skin and silver canapetta cloth that mimics the veneer on the cover boards. The trays are covered in a yellow handmade paper from Katie MacGregor, which was also used as the book’s endpapers. The book is protected with a light grey suede lining.

    GooseEggs1-ErinFletcher

    Goose Eggs is the second Dorfner binding that I’ve made to date. I really love this structure, it has a unique elegance and it can be assembled rather quickly. So I’m looking forward to working with this structure again and hope to incorporate some common elements of my work like gold tooling and embroidery. I also hope to learn more about marquetry in order to create intricate designs in the veneer.


  8. My Hand // Covering Dune

    February 10, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    CoveringDune1-ErinFletcher

    As I have mentioned on a prior post, my inspiration for the binding of Dune came from several sources: my husband (super fan) plus Lynch and Jodorowsky’s cinematic interpretations. Once I put pencil to paper, I drew from the geometric shapes and simple forms of the French Art Deco design bindings of the 1920s/30s.

    After creating a plaquette of the final design, I outlined the steps of execution for the covering and design work. The isosceles triangle onlay was to be embroidered, which meant it needed to be attached before any paring. The triangle onlay was pared to be incredibly thin from a terracotta Harmatan goatskin then glued down to the base tan Harmatan goatskin using PVA. It’s crucial to use PVA, since the steps for covering requires moisture which could lift the onlay if paste were used.

    In the image above, I’ve laid down a paper template (this paper template is the exact dimensions of the book, it includes the turn-ins and width of the joint). It also has the markings showing me where to glue the terra-cotta triangle onlay. Once the triangle was in place, I sandwich the leather between two acrylic boards and put it in the press to dry.

    CoveringDune2-ErinFletcher

    At this point, the leather is ready to be pared. The paring went through several stages. I began by paring the whole piece of leather using a Schärf-fix, this process turned the triangle onlay into a back-pared onlay. Next I pared the edges down in preparation to use a spokeshave to cushion pare the rest.

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    Once the skin was perfectly pared, I got straight to the embroidery of the triangle onlay. I used three different shades of pink in varying thread thickness to sew lines in a random manner (being more densely applied near the point of the triangle).

    CoveringDune6-ErinFletcher

    With the embroidery complete and the leather pared, I continued with the final steps of the plan: covering the book. I’m going to keep you in suspense to see the full design once the binding is complete! Stay tuned!

     

     


  9. My Hand // Hand Sewn Headbands on Dune

    November 11, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    DuneHeadband-ErinFletcher

    After reacquainting myself (with the help of Jane Greenfield and Jenny Hille’s Headbands: How to Work Them) on the techniques for sewing a French double core headband, I embarked on creating the headbands for Dune. The headbands are made up of four different colored threads wrapped around two leather cords of different sizes. A third row of thread is created around a core of thread referred to as the bead. You can see this in the image above, the colored thread is wrapped around the white thread that is dangling in front of the headband. The beading step also locks the tension, keeping everything nice and orderly as you move further along the cord.

    Three of the colored threads will be used as embroidered elements on the design of the binding. The dark brown thread was incorporated to extend the dark brown pigment from the edge decoration onto the headband itself. (Click on the image to enlarge).

    DuneHeadband2-ErinFletcher

    With the headbands completed, I will be moving forward with the spine linings and board shaping. I foresee a bit of sanding in my future.

     


  10. My Hand // A Desert Inspired Edge for Dune

    November 6, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    I am currently working on a first edition copy of Dune by Frank Herbert for two reasons: 1) I plan to submit it to a bookbinding competition with the hopes that it will travel around the country and 2) there is a towering stack of books from the Dune series on my husband’s bookcase and he deserves a finely bound copy of his favorite (he exhaustively quotes from) book.

    At the beginning of the design phase, I consulted with my husband for inspiration and to make sure I was capturing the spirit of this iconic science fiction novel with precision (I may have subconsciously derived some inspiration from both Lynch’s visual masterpiece and Jodorowsky’s sadly unfinished film). After finalizing my design, I began working on the binding. First step was to remove it from its trade binding and mend the signatures. After the book was re-sewn, then rounded and backed, I ploughed the edges in preparation for the edge decoration.

    DuneEdgeDecoration-ErinFletcher

    At this point in the process, I’ve already completed the decoration on the fore edge and will go through the steps to decorate the tail edge in this post. As always, I decorate the edges in the following order: fore edge, tail edge, head edge. The book is placed between two wooden finishing boards that are angled at the top in order to apply more pressure to the book’s edge.

    Before I can apply any decoration, I need to scrap and sand the edge until it has a smooth feeling and an almost sheen-like finish. I scrap the edge first with a curved scraper, then I sand the edge beginning with a course grit sandpaper and work the edge with a finer and finer grit to get that nice luster finish.

    DuneEdgeDecoration2-ErinFletcher

    The sanding phase can be an arduous task in the decoration process, but quite necessary to a successful edge. I usually sand the edge smooth, then apply my base layer of pigment, allow it to dry, then sand the edge smooth again. After the second phase of sanding, I’m ready to apply the final base layer of pigment. For the edge on Dune, I wanted to achieve the look of a cracked, dry desert ground by combining gouache and gold leaf.

    The mixture of gouache also included water and paste. I paint the mixture onto the edge, then use a sponge to thin down the color. I allow the first layer to dry a bit before applying more pigment with a sponge which offers a mottled and textured effect to the edge.

    As this layer is drying, I draw out the imagery to represent the cracks of the dry ground on some Frisket film. The cracks are going to be gilt onto the edge, the Frisket film is used to mask out the areas I don’t want to be gilt. Frisket is a great material to work with because it has a low tack and will not disturb the gouache layer underneath.

    DuneEdgeDecoration3-ErinFletcher

    In the image above you can see the mottled gouache layer through the clear Frisket film (which is also hanging over the edge of the spine). The exposed areas will be covered by gold leaf.

    in the next step, I apply a PVA wash as the size (adhesive) for the gold leaf. At first the PVA wash absorbs quickly into the edge, but eventually the PVA wash will sit on top the edge. At this point, the gold leaf can be laid down. The PVA wash acts almost like a vacuum as it sucks the gold leaf to the edge.

    Before the PVA wash is completely dry underneath, the leaf needs to be set; this can be done by carefully applying downward pressure with a piece of flannel wrapped around the squishy part of my thumb. A second layer of gold leaf is laid down using the same steps, this creates a more vibrant and fuller look to the gilding.

    DuneEdgeDecoration4-ErinFletcher

    Once the PVA wash is completely dry, I burnish the edge and remove the Frisket film. This initial burnishing of the edge is done through a protective layer of silicone release paper. After some time, when I know the edge is dry and the decoration is secure, I burnish the edge once more (this time the agate burnisher is in direct contact with the edge).

    For the final step of the decoration process, I add some accents of dark brown gouache (this mixture also included water and paste). The darker pigment is added simply with a brush in the desired areas. When I am satisfied with the decoration and the last bit of gouache is dry, I burnish the edge on last time.

    After removing the book from the press, I whack the edge against the edge of the table. This cracks open the text block, separating the pages. This step can be a bit nerve-racking, at this point any poorly attached layer can crack or flack off. Luckily my edges came out beautifully!

    DuneEdgeDecoration5-ErinFletcher

    Now on to the headbands, but not before I cap up (wrap up with a thin paper) the text block. After spending three days creating such a complex decorative edge, I want to make sure it stays safe from any scrapes or scuffs.


  • 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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