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  1. North Bennet Street School // Student & Alumni Exhibit 2018 – The Set Book

    May 8, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    It’s that time of year again, when the next group of future bookbinders and book conservators will leave their cosy benches at North Bennet Street School and enter the next stage of their journey. And I’m happy to be back with another round of interviews with the graduating class on their set books, which will be on display during the Student & Alumni Exhibit along with work from students and alum of the other seven programs at NBSS. This year the Student & Alumni Exhibit will be on display at two locations: from May 7 – 23 at Two International Place and from June 4 – 30 at North Bennet Street School (both located in Boston). Check out the website here for more details and opening hours.

    This first post will focus on the Set Book bound be each of the seven graduating students. My next post will highlight some of my favorite alumni pieces from the show. Each student was given a copy of the same book (referred to as the set book) and asked to create a full leather design binding. The set book for this year is Randall Davies and his Books of Nonsense published by Incline Press in 2014. This edition compiles both Davies’ original Lyttel Book of Nonsense published in 1912 and Cayme Press’ production of A Little More Nonsense into one volume. Each page contains a woodcut illustration along with a charmingly inaccurate limerick written by Davies.

    The text block is printed on Wookey Hole mould-made paper which has a beautiful pale grey hue. The introduction was machine set in Garamond and the limericks were hand set in Italic. The 15th – 16th century woodcut illustrations are reproduced from Davie’s books and printed from line blocks. According to the introduction by historian Dr. Paul W. Nash, the original woodblocks were collected by Davies from London-based printers and bookbinders. During the interviews, I spoke with each binder about the inspiration behind their designs and how their chose to execute their concept.

    I was blown away by the range of styles brought forth by the students and the level of craft. Many of the designs were quite tricky to execute and certainly caused some challenges along the way, but their efforts certainly paid off.

    Rachel Jackson

    The word nonsense is the most vital part of the title and had the most influence over many of the student’s designs. In Rachel Jackson’s design, she flips the idea of nonsense to find structure. In reducing the word down to its consonants, she could focus on the orderly process of printmaking. Each letter is composed of a different material to represent each step in the printing process. The woodblock used to carve the illustrations is represented by an inset piece of bleached oak veneer. Next in line is a paper onlay followed by a hand marbled letter s, which is marbled with suminigashi ink on the suede side to represent the ink of the printing press.

    The final n is a piece of indigo Cave Paper coated with graphite inset into the board to represent lead type. The printed result is depicted in the final s. Instead of an onlay, Rachel cut out a window in the shape of an s to expose a printed page below and to invite the viewer into the book. What you see is a piece of tissue printed on both sides showing a specimen of the typeface used in the text block. The entire design sits upon a base of navy blue goatskin.

    The French double-core endbands were hand sewn in alternating bands of navy, dark grey and light grey. The head edge is gauffered in the most unique way, Rachel used this portion of the binding to place the majority of the title using Edinburgh handle letters agains the bare pages.

    In simplifying her design, Rachel creates curiosity which is only heightened by the cut-out window. Chaos and structure commingle beautifully within the five thoughtfully placed letterforms. Each hinting to something specific, but when read to together complete both the title of the book and the technique of crafting the content within the book.

    Upon graduation, Rachel will be focusing on her building her own business. You can check out more of Rachel’s binding work in addition to her calligraphy here.

    Sarah Kim

    Sarah Kim used her love of typography to help grapple with the chaos and to bring a sort of order to this senseless content. Her binding is covered in a medium blue goatskin with onlays in light blue and fair goatskin. By layering the fair goat over the light blue, Sarah creates a dimensional effect to the text. Each layer also receives its own special treatment. The gold tooled fair goat onlays contain a blind tooled line running through the center of the letter. The light blue onlays are blind tooled and are textured with blind tooled lines running at an angle. These subtle additions really added more depth and balance to the design.

    Sarah created the “of” through gouges and line palettes and sandwiched the word between two ornate tools. To anchor the design of the front cover, Sarah incorporates a commonly used design motif: the ribbon banner. A light blue tooled onlay, the banner contains the name of the author and is also complimented by two ornate tools.

    The French double-core endbands are hand sewn with strands of light blue and grey. The endbands sit over a gilt and gauffered edge. I think it was really smart for Sarah to add little touches of decoration with hand tools. In addition to the gauffered edge, the spine is also minimally tooled to help balance the overall design of the binding. When Sarah opened her binding to show me the inside, I was pleasantly surprised by the boldly patterned chiyogami paper. At once you leave the stillness of the cover to only be put on alarm before entering the text of the book.

    Sarah sought to convey her concept through the use of typography; to have the viewer read beyond the words and understand that it was communicating much more than the title of the book. When paired with the decorative paper on the inside, her concept really delivers. Her design was skillfully executed and beautifully laid out. You can follow Sarah on instagram and stay apprised of her work.

    Allie Rosenthal

    Many of the students reflected that Randall Davies’ limericks were loosely inspired by the woodcut illustrations they were meant to reflect. But every once in a while, Davies’ would incorporate a flaw from the illustration into the composition. For example, interpreting a crack as a bullet whizzing through the drawing. Allie Rosenthal found her inspiration in this and chose to incorporate the flaws and rough edges of the terra-cotta goatskin into her design. This abstract, landscape-esque design is formed by presenting the flaws in a leather skin. Putting a spotlight on the irregular coloration, tears, toggle marks from stretching the skins and flattening folds in the skin. The individual pieces were attached as back-pared onlays and laid down over hefty boards.

    The title is hand-tooled in moon gold and playfully wraps along the edge of an onlay. Allie chose the modern typeface Gill Sans for the title. Other elements of Allie’s binding include French double-core endbands hand sewn in stripes of maroon, grey and brown. The head edge is rough edge sprinkled with lemon and moon gold over a ground of Armenian boule. Prior to decorating the edge, Allie mixed up the signatures. So the final result was even more chaotic in appearance than a traditional sprinkled edge.

    The interior is covered in matching edge-to-edge doublures with gold tooling that perfectly mimics the erratic lines and tears created by the onlays on the cover. The style of tooling emulates the technique employed by Tracey Rowledge and Ivor Robinson where the impressions are laid with a stepped effect. The paste papers were created by fellow classmate, Liz McHugh. The texture of the paper compliments the terra-cotta beautifully.

    Following graduation, Allie will be starting her Von Clemm Fellowship at the Boston Athenaeum followed by the Driscoll Family Fellowship. Her fellowship will span over 15 months.

    Ned Schultz

    As mentioned in the introduction, Davies collected woodcuts dating back to the 15th and 16th century. To pay homage to this period in history, Ned Schultz created a spectacular reflection of a 16th century English-style binding. Working with a historical color palette, Ned chose a medium brown goatskin for his binding. The outer frame and knot work are achieved with several black gold tooled onlays. I imagine getting the size of the gouges just right, particularly in those small, tight turns was tricky, but Ned achieved the look flawlessly. The center is adorned with a red tooled onlay and features the title on the front cover. The spine is tooled to mark the placement of bands with black tooled onlays in the spaces between.

    Additional floral hand tools and a large fleur-di-lis were used as accents to the knot work. On the outer black frame, Ned used a decorative roll to nearly cover the entire space in gold. This perfectly symmetrical design glimmering in gold is so attractive to the eye and recreating work from this time period is quite impressive for someone so new to finishing.

    Opening to the interior of the book, the viewer can only be delighted by the patterned paper of gold diamonds against a bright red background. Ned coated the paper with vermillion before painstakingly applying each diamond (twice) through the application of heat. The endpapers work so beautifully with Ned’s cover design and harken to the Dutch Gilt papers of the 16th century.

    I am so impressed with Ned’s binding and can not express it enough. I look forward to seeing the next historical binding reproduction that comes out of his studio. Ned plans to pursue a career in conservation, but also hopes to further hone his skills in finishing.

    Jon Simeon

    Jon Simeon took the theme of chaos to heart with this binding; taking his inspiration from how Davies disregarded the illustration when writing each limerick. Jon took elements from the illustration on the title page and cropped and layered his concept into a surreal design. The base layer is dark green oasis with back-pared olive green goatskin onlays and tooled onlays in black and pink goatskin.

    Trying to decipher his actions, I asked Jon to break down his process step by step. After adhering all of the onlays, blind tooling came next. Using an ascona tool, Jon wanted to highlight the carved lines from the woodcut illustrations and did so first with the blind tooled lines and then with the gold tooled waves and swirls. The pink and black onlays are outlined and giving dimension with blind tooled lines. I love how Jon seemingly reversed a traditional image, burying the major elements behind the background.

    The title is tooled along the spine amidst a blank canvas. This break in the design was thoughtfully placed to relieve the eye. This same idea continues onto the inside of the binding. Black goatskin doublures are paired with a hand marbled paper in a moire pattern. I love how this paper evokes the movement from the front cover. Other elements of Jon’s binding include hand sewn French double-core endbands in alternating bands of green, pink and olive green. The head edge is gilt with moon gold over a graphite ground and sprinkled with palladium.

    This binding experience has really driven Jon to further focus on finishing after graduation. I can’t wait to see what Jon creates next. You can follow Jon on instagram so you don’t miss any of the amazing work he is bound to make in the future (pun intended).

    Rebecca Fisher Staley

    Rebecca Fisher Staley found the connection between the limericks and woodcut illustrations to be awkward and chaotic. To find some sense in this book of nonsense, Rebecca created an elaborately structured design for her binding. Taking inspiration from the anapestic meter, which dictates the syllabic makeup and stress pattern of a limerick, Rebecca constructed two unique grids. Each designed to represent the two opposing centuries found within the book: woodcut illustrations from the 15th-16th century and limericks from the 20th century.

    Rebecca chose a fair goatskin for the base of her design, which developed a slight pink hue over the course of the binding process. This change in the skin blends so beautifully with the rest of her chosen color palette. The grid on the front cover is sleek and modern and holds a series of small square tooled onlays in pepper red, crimson and teal. The strategic placement of color depicts the stress pattern of a limerick in addition to containing each letter of the title.

    The grid on the back board is more representative of an old English 15th century pattern. To set up this grid, Rebecca was guided by the syllable count of a limerick. The tooled crimson onlay in the center is sprinkled with moon gold to represent the chaos Rebecca found in the book and by being placed in the center of the board, the onlay physically pushes the lines of the grid closer together to create spaces of varying size. The small red dots placed just outside the inner frame are hand painted in tooled impressions. Both grids are connected across the spine in an asymmetric layout harkening back to the loose connection between woodcuts and limericks.

    The interior is covered in matching edge-to-edge doublures with a sunken panel of cherry veneer which is framed by crimson leather onlays. The hand sewn endbands are traditional French double-core wrapped with stripes of white, off-white and red.  The head edge is sprinkled directly on the gray paper in moon gold. The sheer amount of planning and reworking that was put into this design is astounding. Rebecca’s design is so striking, her color choices are spot on and I can’t wait to see what she makes next.

    Rebecca will be working to complete two commissioned artist book editions over the summer before moving back to the Los Angeles area where she plans to open a design studio with two colleagues.

    Frances Wentworth

    With Frances Wentworth’s design, she playfully arranges the title in such a way that cuts the word nonsense into two words. When the book is closed the title reads as Books of Sense. The viewer is only revealed of the true title after peering to the backside. This whimsical layout takes direct cues from the layout of the book, where the woodcut illustration sits above the italicized limerick. To create the look of a woodcut block, Frances first crafted the letterforms in 20pt. museum board pieces on a 10pt. museum board base then covered it in a medium brown goatskin. The letterforms on the front cover are rigid and angular while the typography on the back cover is more wild and playful. These are direct responses to the sharpness of the illustrations and whimsy of the limericks.

    The “blocks” are inset into the boards and framed with separate pieces of 10pt. museum board covered in the same medium brown goatskin. I love that Frances chose to emulate the woodcut block instead of the illustration. Viewing part of the text in reverse just adds to the humor and quirkiness of the design.

    The remaining portion of the title is done in back-pared onlays in various colors of goatskin. All of the design is backed by a medium grey goatskin. Frances added a French double-core endband in stripes of blue and red silk against a graphite edge on the head. Frances chose a 19th/20th century reproduction printed endpaper with blue grey Bugra endpapers.

    Although design binding isn’t what Frances sought out to do at NBSS, her concept really worked with the book. It is compelling, thoughtfully executed and sparks a bit of humor. Frances plans to pursue a career in conservation after graduation.

    That brings us to the end of the interview. I have to say again how impressed I am with the finished bindings. Everyone’s personalities and interests really shine through in their designs. Best of luck to everyone in the Class of 2018!

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  2. Swell Things No. 47

    April 30, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    1. What can you do with ceramic shards? Artist Zemer Peled creates these magnificent sculptural pieces from fragments that mimic flowers, sea anemones and other flora.
    2. I love the embroidery work of Stephanie K. Clark. I’ve recently become enchanted with how she mixes pastels with rough and uneven strands of floss.
    3. Need some help learning how to type more efficiently? Get some help from film auteur David Lynch in this easy to follow game David Lynch Teaches Typing.
    4. Gloomy Sunday is a film by Memo Akten which presents how a computer can re-interpret a live performance of mundane objects into natural landscapes, a fiery hellscape and blooming florals.
    5. Many animals see color differently from us humans; on either end of the spectrum. Birds, in particular, can see levels of ultraviolet light beyond what humans are capable of. This ability allows birds to see each other’s glowing beaks and feathers, which in turn communicates a variety of information. I’m so compelled by this secret language and what must be a beautiful and luminous existence.

    6. Michelangelo, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, meets Michelangelo, the 15th century artist at a trip to the Metropolitan Museum.
    7. Artist Mary Frances Dondelinger has reimagined Roman history that puts women on equal footing to men. This series is documented through the excavation of Roman pottery that has been handcrafted to replace men with women in traditional scenes of strength and stamina.
    8. I am so delighted by the bubbly and quirky work of ceramist Beth Lo!
    9. Gucci’s Fall 2018 Ready-to-Wear Collection took some cues from Renaissance art. Visual effects company, Makinarium, was hired to create these lifelike props, which include a baby dragon and two human heads identical to the models carrying them.
    10. Alternative Moons is a photo book collection by photographer Robert Pufleb and web designer Nadine Schlieper. Traveling through images of the moon, the reader comes to a surprise as they reach the end of the book. This trip through space is actually perfectly staged images of pancakes!


  3. Upcoming Workshops // April to June

    April 15, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    APRIL
    Secret Belgian Binding
    April 28 (Saturday)
    9:00am – 4:00pm
    Wishcamper Center, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME

    During this single-day workshop, students will assemble two variations of this non-adhesive structure, which is simple and can be quickly constructed. It opens flat and is perfect for thinner text blocks.


    MAY
    Introduction to Embroidery on Leather
    May 13 – 24
    Paper & Book Intensive at Ox-Bow in Saugatuk, Michigan

    Historical examples of embroidered bindings typically date back from the close of the 14th c. to the mid-17thc., and were primarily done on silk, satin, velvet or canvas. These highly decorative bindings grew out of a tradition of textile bindings popular in England during the 14th and 15th centuries. The embroidered designs found can be classified in three categories: heraldic, scriptural symbolism, and floral and arabesque designs. The makers of these bindings included both professional (predominately male artisans) and amateur needle workers (typically women in their homes).

    Contemporary bookbinders and book artists have been incorporating embroidery and other sewing techniques into their work. The range of materials and methods has certainly expanded beyond the historical examples. Using thread on traditional binding techniques allows the artist to express their vision in an unusual way and introduces a different tactile experience to the binding. Embroidered threads can be used to draw in the abstract or to add highlights and shadows to an illustrative design. The threads can be kept neat or left to tangle.

    In this workshop, students will learn a range of hand-embroidery stitches and the best techniques for sewing into leather. We will look at the stitches most commonly found on historical models and ways to use them on a modern binding. We will also discuss ways to transfer the design onto leather and how to prepare the finished embroidered leather for covering. No prior experience with embroidery or leather is necessary, but some hand skills are encouraged.


    JUNE
    Embroidered Leather Workshop
    June 16 – 17 (Saturday – Sunday)
    9:00am – 4:00pm
    Conservation Lab at Texas A&M
    College Station, TX

    This workshop is presented by the Lone Star Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers.

    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    June 25 – 29 (Monday – Friday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    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.

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  4. Artist: Julia Bland

    April 13, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    Julia Bland‘s work does not fit perfectly into a single category, but spans beautifully across fiber art and painting. In her work, she deconstructs and manipulates fabric and threads before reconstructing them into the final pieces you see here. The vibrant, geometric designs are stunning. Some of the work is stitched into a solid piece, while others float on loosely woven backgrounds. Either way her work is unique and intriguing.


  5. Upcoming Workshops in Texas and Maine

    March 26, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    I’m excited to announce an upcoming workshop with the Lone Star Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers and Maine Media Workshops + College.


    Lone Star Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers
    Embroidered Leather Workshop
    June 16 – 17 (Saturday & Sunday)
    Conservation Lab at Texas A&M, College Station, TX

    Register here.


    Maine Media Workshops + College
    Millimeter Binding – Rubow Style
    September 23 – 29
    Rockport, Maine

    The millimeter binding came about during the first World War when leather became a scarce resource for binders. Still wanting to provide an elegant leather binding to their clients, binders would use a minimal amount of leather to cover the spine, putting a millimeter or two of leather onto the boards. In this workshop students, will be creating a Rubow-style millimeter binding, learning how to make paste papers and work with leather. Each student will finish the course with a book wrapped in their own paste paper and with a thin strip of leather running across the top and bottom of the binding. This class is open to all and a great introduction to book arts!

    Register here.

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  6. Upcoming Workshops // March to May

    March 15, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    MARCH
    No more workshops scheduled in March


    APRIL
    Secret Belgian Binding
    April 7 – 8 (Saturday & Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    This class is currently full. On day one, students assemble two variations of this non-adhesive structure, which is simple and can be quickly constructed. It opens flat and is perfect for thinner text blocks. On day two, students explore modified versions of the Secret Belgian binding by playing with the amount and size of sewing holes and incorporating Tyvek.

    Secret Belgian Binding
    April 28 (Saturday)
    9:00am – 4:00pm
    Wishcamper Center, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME

    During this single-day workshop, students will assemble two variations of this non-adhesive structure, which is simple and can be quickly constructed. It opens flat and is perfect for thinner text blocks.


    MAY
    Introduction to Embroidery on Leather
    May 13 – 24
    Paper & Book Intensive at Ox-Bow in Saugatuk, Michigan

    Historical examples of embroidered bindings typically date back from the close of the 14th c. to the mid-17thc., and were primarily done on silk, satin, velvet or canvas. These highly decorative bindings grew out of a tradition of textile bindings popular in England during the 14th and 15th centuries. The embroidered designs found can be classified in three categories: heraldic, scriptural symbolism, and floral and arabesque designs. The makers of these bindings included both professional (predominately male artisans) and amateur needle workers (typically women in their homes).

    Contemporary bookbinders and book artists have been incorporating embroidery and other sewing techniques into their work. The range of materials and methods has certainly expanded beyond the historical examples. Using thread on traditional binding techniques allows the artist to express their vision in an unusual way and introduces a different tactile experience to the binding. Embroidered threads can be used to draw in the abstract or to add highlights and shadows to an illustrative design. The threads can be kept neat or left to tangle.

    In this workshop, students will learn a range of hand-embroidery stitches and the best techniques for sewing into leather. We will look at the stitches most commonly found on historical models and ways to use them on a modern binding. We will also discuss ways to transfer the design onto leather and how to prepare the finished embroidered leather for covering. No prior experience with embroidery or leather is necessary, but some hand skills are encouraged.


  7. My Hand // Invisible Cities

    March 13, 2018 by Erin Fletcher


    I was introduced to the work of Italo Calvino through his 1972 novel Invisible Cities. I became infatuated with his writing style and imagination. The tales within Invisible Cities project so much imagery and color and emotion. And so I set forth to create a binding worthy of Calvino’s descriptive tales of fantastical cityscapes; the binding was completed in 2017.

    Bound as a traditional French-style fine binding, the book is covered in two separate pieces of buffalo skin which meet along the center horizon. The top half is busy and heavy; the collaged materials depict abstract images of buildings with gilt “scaffolding”. The abstract building structures were achieved through various onlays of suede, goatskin, stone veneer and palladium lacunose. The stone veneer and palladium lacunose were too textured and too stiff to back-pare, so to achieve the look I wanted I attached stand-in onlays in the full shape of the collaged structures before paring.

    Once pared down, the top half was attached to the book and the stand-in onlays were removed to make way for the final onlay pieces. In order to cut each onlay to the correct size, I used additional pieces of tissue drawn with the same shapes used for the back-paring. The final onlay pieces were cut out through the tissue to ensure their exactness.

    The palladium lacunose is a technique I learned during a workshop with Mark Cockram. An assemblage of goatskin and suede scraps was surface gilt with palladium. Additional texture was created through stamping, tooling, sanding and paring.

    With all of the onlays placed in the top portion, I was ready to work on the bottom half. My first step was to trim both halves at a bevel to create a seamless connection at the center of the book. The design was marked in the leather and sewn with a cotton floss in a matching light grey color. Some shapes span across both halves of leather, so it was vital to have the embroidery line up with the onlay pieces.

    The final aspect of the design to put in place was the “scaffolding”. After making my own thin line brass tools, the top half was tooled in palladium, while the bottom half was left blind.

    Despite finding the entire book inspirational, one particular city drew me in deeper than the rest. Within chapter seven under the group “the dead” Eusapia speaks of an underground city where the dead attempt to mimic the living or vice versa. These opposing forces of truth and falsehood are represented by the two opposing panels. The lower portion of the design is meant to poorly mimic the top portion. This was achieved by removing the color, texture and glisten of the upper panel.

    This theme of polarity and symmetry continues onto the edge of the book and the leather doublures. The entire edge was initially covered in graphite, then palladium was applied to just the head edge and half of the fore edge. The palladium was left looking distressed to compliment the broken palladium on the lacunose onlays.

    As you open to the interior side of the covers, more imagery is unearthed leading you back into the richness of the text. Pulling from Calvino’s references to building structures and the solar system, the front doublure depicts the orbits in our solar system with inlays representing the planets. The bottom half shows the constellation for Cancer. The stars are embroidered in a matching cotton floss with connecting lines tooled in blind.

    The back is similarly styled with a palladium tooled dome and the constellation for Pisces. The fly leaf is a metallic cork paper. The book is housed in a quarter leather clamshell box. The spine of the box hints at the design of the binding with three small inlays collaged together. The rest of the box case is covered in stone veneer. The trays are covered in handmade Katie MacGregor paper and lined in the same faux suede used on the binding.

    This binding was apart of the Student and Alumni Show at North Bennet Street School before going on display for the Society of Bookbinders International Competition 2017 in Keele, England. You can read more about my concept and see even more images here.


  8. Artist: Aakash Nihalani

    February 15, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    With a few simple tools, artist Aakash Nihalani transforms ordinary spaces into wildly imaginative and playful ones. By creating  visually dimensional shapes out of tape, cardboard and paint, seemingly sterile spaces become interactive. Making the impossible seem possible.


  9. Upcoming Workshops // February to April

    February 15, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    FEBRUARY
    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    February 26 – March 2
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    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.


    MARCH
    Rebind a Book
    March 17 – 18 (Saturday & Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    This class is currently full. Rebind your favorite book and create a custom cover. Learn how to disassemble a commercially bound book and prep it for a custom hardcover case. Choose between our assortment of cloths and decorative papers or bring your own to perfectly capture the spirit of your book. Students will also get the chance to title their books using a Kwikprint stamping machine.


    APRIL
    Secret Belgian Binding
    April 7 – 8 (Saturday & Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    This class is currently full. On day one, students assemble two variations of this non-adhesive structure, which is simple and can be quickly constructed. It opens flat and is perfect for thinner text blocks. On day two, students explore modified versions of the Secret Belgian binding by playing with the amount and size of sewing holes and incorporating Tyvek.

    Secret Belgian Binding
    April 28 (Saturday)
    9:00am – 4:00pm
    Wishcamper Center, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME

    During this single-day workshop, students will assemble two variations of this non-adhesive structure, which is simple and can be quickly constructed. It opens flat and is perfect for thinner text blocks.

     


  10. Catching up with Coleen Curry // No. 5

    January 28, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    In my final post with Coleen Curry, I want to feature her binding of Trading Eights, The Faces of Jazz. Celebrating the culture of Jazz, this Nawakum Press publication includes wood engraved portraits of eight iconic jazz figures. These engravings by James G. Todd Jr. are paired with an essay by Jazz historian Ted Gioia and a poem by Dana Gioia.

    In 2017, Coleen crafted this book as a traditional French laced-in binding covered in black goatskin. The design includes inlays of black straight grain goat, embossed and top-pared navy blue calf and perforated dark blue sheepskin plus onlays of white box calf and the same silver-grey translucent paper used for the interleaving in the book.

    The interior side of the board is covered in edge-to-edge doublures in the same black goatskin used on the covers. The endpapers were designed by Lisa Van Pelt and originally used on the publishers’ binding edition. Coleen’s binding was included in the 2017 Designer Bookbinders International Exhibition traveling throughout the UK and landing in Boston.

    Recently you’ve been binding for the Santa Rosa-based Nawakum Press, who recently suffered a great loss of their inventory and facility during the 2017 October fires in Sonoma County. How did your relationship begin with Nawakum Press and how things have changed since the devastating fires?
    In 2014, I had the good fortune to attend the Manhattan Fine Press Book Fair in New York.  Whilst browsing the tables laden with beautiful books, I spotted Richard Wagener of Mixolydian Editions presenting LOOM at Nawakum’s table and was blown away by his prints.  I introduced myself to Richard, and he in turn, introduced me to David Pascoe of Nawakum Press.  David mentioned his admiration of my binding on Toni Morrison’s A Mercy that he had seen in an exhibition and we got to talking about making books in the North Bay (area north of SF).  As we were all North Bay residents, I invited both Richard and David to visit my bindery when we returned home.  They visited in August and shortly afterward, David asked if I would be interested in collaborating on a new project he was working on for CODEX 2015.  I crafted a design binding on Nawakum’s featured release Encheiresin Naturae – an incredibly large text with abstract prints by Barry Moser and an ‘heroic crown of sonnets’ by Paul Muldoon.  This was the beginning of our collaboration.

    The Santa Rosa fires were devastating for David and his family– they lost everything including Nawakum’s entire inventory and archive. They escaped in the middle of the night with minutes to spare.  David has since relocated to the Tacoma area for a year and is already working on 2 books, one of which is about the fires. We still collaborate and I am in constant awe of the artists he brings together to make incredible fine press limited editions.

    The mood of Trading Eights is so different from your other bindings. The black on black offers a subtle contrast with spontaneous blips of subdued blue and unusual texture. The framing of these inlays with a repeating title across a wave-like path really contains the design in a way that is different from your other work. So are we seeing a new style emerge from you or is it just that the subject matter of Trading Eights demanded a more sleek design.
    Trading Eights was a delight to work on and listening to the Autumn Jazz station on Pandora got me into the groove of Chet Baker, The Monk and Charlie Parker amongst others.  I wanted to create an intimate feeling in a smoky jazz club and chose a narrow color palette of blues, greys and then black and white.

    I don’t think that you are seeing a different style emerge, rather the subject matter and the book design steered the style for this binding.  The book is clean, with hues of grey and blue.  The black and white underscores the importance of the smoky jazz club.  Jazz performance is personal, intimate: “You can follow the changes in the riffs on their faces … Look into their faces. Peer into their eyes, their souls.” Jim Todd clearly feels the same way about the faces of the great live jazz performers.  The particularly lovely translucent interleaves, with beautifully evocative smoke images, introduces the reader to each large engraving as though peering through the smokey haze in a jazz club.

    I wanted a subtle lyrical feeling in an intimate atmosphere similar to what it would be like sitting in a club listening to musicians trade eights.  The title is repeated across the bottom with 8 notes (each word being a note) and then repeated (traded) across the top, which encloses the design on the boards to create the intimacy.  Jazz is organized yet allows the musician to riff into their own exploration and the design is my attempt to do that.  The shapes on the front and back boards are clean, woven and tight, yet I wanted to explore boundaries with depth and color and texture.


  • 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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