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  1. July // Bookbinder of the Month: Ben Elbel

    July 1, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    BovenKamer1-BenElbel

    Boven Kamers is a collaborative Dutch pop-up book between neuroscientist Gerard J. Boer, professor Harry B.M. Uijlings, paper artist Ingrid Siliakus and graphic designer Moon Brouwer. The book contains a total of six laser cut pop-up spreads which send the reader on a tour through the human brain and its functions. Printed in a limited edition of 50, each book is numbered and signed.

    Ben Elbel‘s innovative rebinding of this book was just completed earlier this year.

    I have been waiting in anticipation to see this binding after you spoke to me about it. In your newsletter on this binding, you mention that the compensation folios are sewn together. The spine opens to a sharp ‘V’ allowing the pages to lay flat, can you elaborate on the sewing structure and any treatment done to the spine?
    Boven Kamers (literally means upper rooms in Dutch, a colloquial expression meaning brain), is an exploration of the human brain in the form of a pop up book, by the young Dutch designer and publisher Moon Brouwer.

    I was commissioned to re-bind the book by the Dutch Royal Library (The Hague).

    When I first received it, the book presented itself as a series of folios laminated with one another, each folio containing a pop up. A hard cover was provided but disconnected from the textblock.

    Technically, the challenge was to provide compensation for the pop-ups as well as a perfectly flat surface for them to smoothly unfold, all of this without sewing and without introducing blank pages between the folios.

    After some research I concluded that none of the existing binding structures (traditional or contemporary) were quite suitable to do all this, so I created a new one from scratch.

    BovenKamer7-BenElbelBovenKamer4-BenElbel

    It took about a year and the result is a series of ‘T’ elements made from heavy paper, sewn with one another. The folios are inserted between each T and secured only at the fore-edge. On the next images one can see how the spread ‘floats’ on top of the binding, allowing the pop up to fully unfold. The original cover was mounted at the back of the book and a lettering was created, on the spine and front board, to evoke a kind of staircase leading to the upper rooms.

    BovenKamer6-BenElbel

    You can read a bit more about the binding and see some images of the book at various stages through the design process here.

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    Ben and I have kept in contact ever since he embarked on offering online courses (more on that in the interview). His work and business ethic are quite inspiring as Elbel Libro has expanded beyond the traditional bindery. He ceases to amaze me with his sleek designs and innovative binding structures. There seems to be no stopping his creativity.

    Check out the interview after the jump and make sure you come back during the month of July for even more probing questions regarding a selection of Ben’s work. You can get email reminders by subscribing to the blog, just click hereread more >


  2. February // Bookbinder of the Month: Haein Song

    February 1, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    MythOfSisyphus-HaeinSong

    This beautiful binding of The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus was crafted in 2013 by Haein Song. Bound as a Bradel binding, the spine is covered in a natural goatskin with dark blue vellum covers. The sprinkled dashes on the covers are hand tooled in gold. The spectacular endpapers are hand printed. 

    MythOfSisyphus2-HaeinSongMythOfSisyphus3-HaeinSong

    This binding is absolutely stunning and so flawlessly executed. The covers are a beautiful dark blue vellum. Did you find the material difficult to work with in either the structural or tooling aspect of the binding process? I have a single experience with vellum over boards, but I know that bookbinders approach the board construction differently. May I ask if you prepped the boards for the covers in any particular way for the vellum?
    I heard few notorious rumours about vellum but I don’t think I found it difficult at the time I was working on it. Partly because it was a relatively small bradel binding and there wasn’t headcaps or joints. The spine of the book is covered in natural goatskin. 

    What I found afterwards was that the front and back vellum boards sometimes change their shapes depending on the humidity or temperature of the surrounding. But surprisingly it comes back to the original shape after some time. I was told that it needed a little bit of time to climatise.

    Later I was also told that lining vellum with a very thin paper (archival bible paper or Japanese paper) would reduce this changeable characteristic. 

    Tooling wasn’t particularly hard after practising enough on sample boards but I don’t think I have an ample amount of experience to compare differences in tooling on leather or vellum.

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Haein or been presented the opportunity of viewing her work in person. However, I’ve had her website bookmarked for a while now, checking back from time to time to ogle her work. As I began preparing a list of people to interview this year Haein’s name popped up as a suggestion from Hannah Brown, whom I interviewed at this time last year. So with Hannah’s endorsement and my growing fondness, I present the following interview with Haein Song. The interview ends with Haein’s elegantly worded philosophy on bookbinding. 

    Come back every Sunday during the month of February for more posts on Haein’s work. You don’t want to miss it, Haein shares some of the creative techniques behind her expressive and artistic bindings. 

    read more >


  • 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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