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Posts Tagged ‘bookbinding’

  1. North Bennet Street School // Student & Alumni Exhibit 2016 – Alumni Work

    May 22, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

    The Annual Student and Alumni Show at North Bennet Street School displays work from both current students and alumni. In this post, I will be focusing on some of the outstanding work exhibited by those who have graduated from the full-time program. If you missed my previous post reviewing the Class of 2016’s design bindings of 1984, you can check that out here.

    McKey Berkman, BB ’11

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    When I looked at the headband and endcap on McKey’s binding of Books Will Speak Plain by Julia Miller I was in awe. Each thread is wrapped with perfect tension and her endcaps are formed so evenly creating a beautiful crescent shape. The binding is covered in full green goatskin. The tooled orange onlay is stamped in a matte grey and outlined with a single brown tooled line with small squares at each corner. The head edge is colored with graphite. The details on this binding are subtle, but done with such a high level of craftsmanship.

    Marianna Brotherton, BB ’14

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    This binding from Marianna is spectacular. I love the how the leather onlays pop away from the cover. Marianna’s binding of Euclid’s Elements of Geometry is bound in full green goatskin with suede doublures. The onlays are gilt in the center to highlight a specific shape. The title is tooled in gold down the spine. The edges are sprinkled with green pigment. The headbands are hand sewn with white and green silk. The book is housed in a beautiful 4-flap lined in suede. Each pointed flap wraps around the book to meet at the center. Check out more of Marianna’s work at her website.

    Lauren Calcote, BB ’15

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    Regulars to the blog, know my admiration for embroidered bindings. Lauren’s work has always impressed me and balances between contemporary and traditional. This embroidered binding of Familiar Lectures on Botany is bound on raised cords that are laced through the covers, which are covered in Galaxy Cave Paper. This richly dark handmade paper is filled with flecks of mica offering a subtle dazzle of shimmer. The embroidery is achieved with linen and metallic threads. The center motifs are designed with gold leaf for the sun and a piece of vellum for the moon.

    MiniGirdleBook-LaurenCalcote

    Lauren is also highly skilled with creating miniature bindings of historic models. This mini Girdle Book is sewn over raised cords and laced into cedar boards, which are covered in a crimson goatskin. The covers are blind tooled in a traditional lozenge pattern. There are even miniature brass clasps and a small linen knot to secure the book underneath your teeny, tiny belt.

    Samuel Feinstein, BB ‘12

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    It is so great to see work from a former classmate of mine. Samuel is one of the most talented binders of my generation. Story of the Eye by George Bataille is bound as a Millimeter binding in the Rubow-style. A strip of black goatskin runs across the entire head and tail edge of the book. An exquisite marbled paper (made by Samuel) covers the remainder of the binding. The marbled area is isolated to the spine with threads of color sprawling onto the covers. The head edge of the text block is decorated with gold leaf over graphite. The endpapers are also marbled, but on white paper instead of black. Check out more of Samuel’s work at his website.

    Fionnuala Gerrity, BB ’11 and Maryanne Grebenstein

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    During our time at NBSS, Fionnuala gave a presentation on back-painted vellum; a decorative technique seen on Cosway and stiff-board vellum bindings. It was clear to me that she was hooked by this niche area of bookbinding. Maryanne Grebenstein is a very talented calligrapher and teaches workshops at NBSS. Together they created this lovely rendition of a haiku by Matsuo Basho, a famous poet of the Edo period in Japan.

    Barbara Halporn, BB ‘06

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    There are so many things I love about Barbara’s binding of Webster’s Pictorial Dictionary by John M. Carrera. The leather from Pergamena has been distressed and is absolutely alluring. In these three bindings, Barbara references a historical Coptic binding. She even includes details such as headbands that wrap from cover to cover across the spine and leather toggles to keep the book securely closed. The title is blind tooled across the spine of the largest book. Check out more of Barbara’s work at her website.

    Becky Koch, BB ’12

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    Becky was also classmate of mine and I was so thrilled to see her work in the show. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is bound as a simplified binding with black goatskin for the spine and a deep red buffalo skin for the covers. A surface gilt seagull adorns the front cover. The red buffalo skin is puckered over raised triangles on both covers. The title is tooled in gold down the spine. The buffalo skin offers such a distinct texture, but Becky managed to amplify the skin through her manipulation of the leather. Check out Becky’s website: Dog Eared Bindery.

    Lauren Moon-Schott, BB ’13

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    Lauren is an incredibly talented binder and conservator. She currently holds a position at the Rare Book Room in the Boston Public Library and she is also one of my studio mates. She bound this amazing model of a Stationer’s Binding over Julia Miller’s Books Will Speak Plain. The covers are goatskin with toggles and ties in alum-tawed pigskin. The complexity of the binding is not to be under-rated. Each cross-tie has to be meticulously laced through the covers.

    Wendy Withrow, BB ‘08

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    I met Wendy for the first time at the Standards of Excellence Conference last year in Cleveland, Ohio. I was so excited to meet her, not only is her work well executed and her craftsmanship clean, she was one of the few alumni that I reached out to when applying to NBSS. Her words were so encouraging and her work inspiring. As the only artist book in the show, Nine Months to Bear Fruit, is quite attractive. Each object is sculpted from clay and held shut with magnets. The exterior is painted with acrylic. Hidden inside each piece is a miniature accordion, which you can read by clicking here.


  2. North Bennet Street School // Student & Alumni Exhibit 2016 – The Set Book

    May 19, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

    As I walk through the bookbinding department at North Bennet Street School, I am greeted by that familiar mixture of excitement and anxiousness as the school year comes to an end. The students are working busily to finish their projects before stepping out in the larger bookbinding community. I always look forward to this time of year, that is, the Student and Alumni Show. The exhibit opened on May 16th and will run until June 2nd (click here for opening hours). If you are around the Boston area, you must stop by to truly appreciate the craftsmanship of each binding.

    The show will be highlighted in two posts, with this one focusing on the Set Book. Each graduating student is given a copy of the same book (a set book) and asked to create a design binding. I was incredibly impressed by the level of craft and creativity that each student employed in their binding. The set book for this year was 1984 by George Orwell, a literary classic and a story that many are familiar with. I had, in fact, never read the book. So in preparation for the following interviews, I read through an old 1984 edition that I had lying around. After photographing each book, I spoke with each binder about their inspiration behind their designs and how they chose to execute it. We candidly discussed the challenging and rewarding aspects of creating one’s first design binding.

    Peggy Boston

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    Peggy Boston used a dark blue Harmatan goatskin to cover her binding of 1984. Spanning across the binding is a large lacunose relief onlay with the title applied with airbrush. Five stone veneer inlays appear at the top half of the binding. The final element to the design is the painted outline of a man. The first thing Peggy mentioned to me in regards to her design was her craving for texture. Even in the small details, Peggy managed to apply some form of texture. Lacunose scraps were used to make leather wrapped headbands. The head edge is rough edge gilt in palladium. And stone veneer was used as the paste down and fly leaves.

    For Peggy, creating her design was all about connecting the past with the present. She first read the novel back in the 9th grade and acts of oppression against individuality were as aggressive then as they are now. The most effective way to beat people down is to isolate them up against a wall.

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    The eye is often used as a symbol for Big Brother, yet Peggy wanted to indirectly suggest the looming gaze of a watchful government. To achieve this she shaped layers of tissue underneath each inlay to offer a subtle spherical dimension to the circular pieces of slate. Peggy employed paint in her design in two ingenious ways: first is the airbrushed title mimicking graffiti on a crumbling brick wall and the second is the painted outline of Winston, the novel’s protagonist, creating a shadow to suggest the character’s former existence.

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    The lacunose brick wall was achieved by sanding through several layers of leather. Peggy used red and crimson colored goatskins for the bricks and covered them with a layer of brown goatskin to represent the grout. All of the sanding was done once the onlay was attached to the binding. Peggy did indeed achieve a level of depth with her design by incorporating just the right amount of variation in textures.

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    After graduation, Peggy will be moving back to San Francisco and looks forward to integrating into the thriving bookbinding community on the West Coast. Delighted to work in this medium, Peggy plans to continue studying bookbinding.

    Nicole Campana


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    Nicole Campana used three shades of grey goatskin to capture the emotion of this bleak novel. Minimalist lines are smoke tooled on both covers to create a scene from the book. A gold-tooled onlay of marbled paper laminated to mylar sits upon the table on the front cover. The title is also smoke tooled in the upper right hand corner of the front cover. The French double-core headbands are sewn with alternating shades of grey with a stripe of pink breaking up the pattern. All three edges of the text block have been sprinkled with various shades of grey pigment; layer upon layer to build a more textured look. Nicole hand-marbled the paper used for the paste down and fly leaves.

    One of the pivotal moments in 1984, is Winston’s decision to purchase the paperweight. Unlike the diary and pen he purchases earlier, the paperweight serves no real function yet unknowingly tethers him to the past. Through smoke tooling Nicole captures this scene. The back cover is a series of lines and angles, a minimalist rendering of the antique store front. As your eye moves onto the front cover, you are instantly drawn to the brightly colored paperweight sitting on the table that is tooled in a similar fashion. The smoke tooled lines are soft and hazy; the grittiness of 1984 is captured within the soot that lays in those tooled lines.

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    Winston is drawn to the paperweight just as our eyes are drawn to the onlay on Nicole’s binding. Encased in the glass paperweight is a single piece of coral, which Nicole represents with her own hand-marbled paper. She chose bright shades of pink and gold laid out in a traditional stone pattern.

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    As you open the cover, the allure of the coral is amplified. Nicole uses the same hand-marbled paper for the paste down and fly leaves and you’re senses are flooded with warm emotions. A lovely juxtaposition from the melancholic exterior.

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    Nicole will continue to focus on bookbinding after graduation and has been building up an inventory for her Easy shop that will be launching soon.

    Todd Davis

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    Todd Davis bound 1984 in a medium grey Harmatan goatskin with blind tooled onlays in white and black goatskin. Elements within the lightbulb are both tooled in gold and palladium with a small amount of surface gilding in palladium. The title and author are smoke tooled across the spine. The back cover is adorned in a blind tooled lozenge design. The French double core headbands are sewn in blue and red silk. All three edges of the text block are colored with graphite. The paste down and fly leaves are a black, grey and white stone marbled paper from Compton Marbling.

    We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness. As a reader, we are introduced to this significant quotation only a few pages into the book. Todd found this line to be the inspiration for his design. Using a palette that is absent of color, Todd placed a black lightbulb on the front cover. The black bulb provides light with no illumination.

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    The entire design from afar has the subtle appearance of a noose, signifying the inevitable end that the protagonist will face. The lightbulb is a black goatskin tooled onlay. The interior elements of the lightbulb display three different design techniques: the filament is gold tooled, the leads are tooled in palladium and the stem press is surface gilt in palladium.

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    The headbands are the only instance of color on the entire binding. The colors that Todd chose represent the garment worn by Julia as described by Winston, her denim blue dress and red Junior Anti-Sex League sash. The endpapers are so extraordinary, they match the aesthetic of the binding to a T.

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    After graduation, Todd will be staying in Boston. Having recently purchased a bindery from a retired bookbinder, he is currently on the hunt for studio space in the Greater Boston area. The ideal space would be open for other binders to rent space and have access to the larger bindery equipment. Todd is constantly posting his handiwork on Instagram. You can follow him here.

    Emily Patchin

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    Emily Patchin bound her copy of 1984 in a medium grey French Chagreen goatskin. Six recessed circles on the covers contain a collaged watercolor drawing. The title is blind tooled on a leather circular label of red goatskin. The French double-core headbands are hand sewn in silk in grayish blue with a small stripe of red. The red stripe continues on to the head and tail edge as decoration. Emily created a unique paste paper for the binding, which she used as the paste down and fly leaves.

    Emily was intrigued by the notion of false memories which constantly plagued the protagonist, Winston. She chose to stray from her initial idea of representing the characters directly and instead focused on three objects that continually surfaced throughout the story: the diary, the paperweight and the thrush.

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    Mounted into the recessed circles on the front and back cover are a series of images representing the bird and coral (which was encased inside the glass paperweight). These images quickly degrade as your eye moves closer to the book’s fore edge. Emily cut out her watercolor drawings and laminated them to elephant hide paper. The two smaller images were slightly charred to amplify the falseness of their existence. The red label refers back to Winston’s description of the diary, his first “illegal” purchase from the antique shop.

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    The endpapers were created by layering white paint through stencils over a ground of graphite. The stencils were silhouettes of degrading buildings. Harking back to a once beautiful architecture that is now crumbling under effects of government.

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    After graduation, Emily will be moving back to California. Beginning in July, Emily will be taking Dominic Riley’s Design Binding Intensive at the San Francisco Center for the Book. You can see more of Emily’s work at her website Out West Bindery.

    Jonathan Romain

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    Jonathan Romain chose to isolate his design to the spine of the book. This design choice embraced the natural grain of the leather, which is so organic and rich. Jonathan chose a crimson colored Russell Oasis goatskin and tooled the spine in palladium with the title tooled in gold. French double-core headbands in mostly black with a fat stripe of red and yellow adorn the head and tail. The head edge of the text block is rough edge gilt. The Harmatan black goatskin edge to edge doublures are tooled in gold. Marbled paper from Payhembury was used as the flyleaves and to decorative the clamshell box.

    Jonathan played upon the concept of structure and foundation; starting from the urban landscape of 1984. Building upon the themes of crumbling architecture and walls as barriers he began to make a connection between the structure of a binding to the foundational integrity of a brick wall. In order to achieve his vision of asymmetry and the fluid-like grout lines between bricks, Jonathan handmade two finishing tools.

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    The tooling is purposefully rough, offering an evener richer likeness to a brick wall. The doublures are adorned with four gilt triangles arranged like an hourglass sand timer. Each triangle represents one of the government buildings from the story: the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Peace, the Ministry of Love and the Ministry of Plenty.

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    Jonathan and I spoke for some time about the aesthetics of a box. I prefer to create a highly decorated box to match my elaborately bound book. There are some issues to this desire of mine. An elaborate box can increase the price significantly and might also need it’s own protective layer (which I usually remedy with a simple 4-flap enclosure). Yet Jonathan leans in the direction of creating a simply designed box that stresses functionality. Whatever your opinion, I wanted to include Jonathan’s box as it so nicely ties in with his binding. The black Canapetta cloth is adorned with a red title piece and the same tiger’s eye marbled paper as the book.

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    Jonathan is currently interning at the Rare Book Room at the Boston Public Library. Beginning in late summer he will move over to the Boston Athenaeum’s Conservation Lab as the Von Clemm Fellow. You can find more of his work at Romain Bookbinding.

    Mary Grace Whalen

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    For Mary Grace Whalen’s binding of 1984, she opted for a somber look. Bound in black goatskin with blind tooled onlays of black and red goatskin. The title is tooled in gold on the front cover. The leather wrapped headbands at the head are a bisque color, while the headband at the tail is scarlet red. The head edge of the text block is colored with graphite. The paste down and flyleaves are printed on Nideggen and extends her concept from the cover to the interior of the binding.

    Winston’s fate begins to unravel the moment he puts words to paper in his diary with an antique nib pen. The nib icon perfectly captures Mary Grace’s design concept, which is centered around the power (or subsequently the consequence) of the word. In 1984, thoughtcrimes can be curbed by notions such as crimestop, blackwhite, and doublethink. All of these words are product of Newspeak, a suppressive language where ideas of beauty, individuality and emotion are continually redacted and soon forgotten. Winston fights so hard to recapture old memories, trying to validate this thoughts by writing them down on paper.

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    Technical issues arose with Mary Grace’s initial design, which featured a black nib dipped into a pool of red ink all on a base of bisque colored leather. Overcoming a devastating hurdle, she revised her design to black on black. The tone on tone is a design choice that I admire. This revised design captures the spirit and dread of the story more closely. The back cover features the tip a of nib with two red droplets signifying the two gin-scented tears that trickle down from Winston’s eyes in the moment of death as he concedes his love for Big Brother.

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    When you open the book you are faced with a redacted excerpt of the Declaration of Independence. In 1949, Orwell wrote about a future dystopia that has since passed. Yet the current political affairs surrounding battles over autonomy and the right to express one’s individuality begins to shift closer to a universe seen in Orwell’s fictional novel. However, Mary Grace leaves the reader with an uncompromised version of the Declaration at the end of the book. Hope is not lost.

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    Mary Grace will be staying in the Boston area and will continue to hone her skills in bookbinding.

    I want to thank Jeff Altepeter for once again allowing me to interrupt his classroom to converse with the graduating students about their set books. As always, it was such a treat to get to know each of them a bit more through their craft. Congratulations and good luck, Class of 2016!


  3. Kids in Book Arts No. 2

    February 29, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

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    We began our Spring semester with three new groups of kids. In the spring, the Book Arts Program welcomes 5th – 8th graders. So the level of maturity, creativity and hand skills changes with each level, but everyone begins with the same project: paste papers. We have each kid make at least 6 sheets of paste paper which will be used to cover their projects over the course of the semester.

    The kids used an mixture of rice paste and acrylic paint with the combination of various paste paper utensils to develop different patterns and textures. I wanted to capture some of the kids in the process of making their paste paper, but my hands were deep in a bucket of water keeping all those utensils clean. I can’t wait to see what these kids come up with over the next few months.

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  4. Kids in Book Arts No. 1

    February 8, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

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    The kids just finished up their final project of the semester. In the Turkish Map Fold project, we asked the students to draw us a map to an imaginary location complete with symbols and a key describing those symbols. One of my favorites came from our student Rocco. Each island is connected by a long, wooden bridge (well except where sea monsters have destroyed the bridge). The waters are also inhabited by dangerous pirates navigating around Monster Island and Trident Island (shaped like a trident, of course).

    We also got a collection of Thank You’s from our students! Some included pop-ups, cut-outs and flaps, such a great and innovative group of kids.

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

    December 31, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

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    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).


  6. Bookbinder of the Month: Kathy Abbott

    December 27, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

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    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.

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    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.

     


  7. Bookbinder of the Month: Kathy Abbott

    December 20, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

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    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.

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    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!

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    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.


  8. 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.


  9. 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.


  10. 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


  • 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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