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  1. January // Book Artist of the Month: Mary Uthuppuru

    January 2, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    AndThenThereWere8_3-MaryUthuppuru

    In preparation for their 2013 Annual Open House and Silent Auction, the Morgan Conservatory presented participants with two sheets of paper made at the Morgan and asked them to create a piece of art to be auctioned off during the event. Mary Uthuppuru was given one sheet of charcoal grey and the other of bright white.

    Mary found inspiration from the recent drop Pluto experienced from its rank as a planet and the heated discussions that followed. As the sole character in this artist book, Mary personifies the now dwarf planet in the form of a letter, where Pluto freely express himself after hearing this news of rejection. You can read more about Mary’s process in her blog post, Poor Pluto

    And Then There Were Eight is bound as an accordion with a removable spine piece, when fully opened the viewer can experience the vast and expanding qualities of outer space. The covers are most appropriately wrapped in beautiful handmade Moon Paper from Hook Pottery Paper. The paper appears to be a 3-dimensional print of the moon, but it is actually smooth (like paper). The interior pages were given an airbrush look by using a mouth atomizer and drawing inks.

    AndThenThereWere8-MaryUthuppuruAndThenThereWere8_4-MaryUthuppuruAndThenThereWere8_2-MaryUthuppuruI really enjoyed reading about your thought process behind this book. Not only did you find inspiration in a literary influence, but also in your own sense of humor. The application of pigment really captures the atmosphere and depth of space. Can you talk about the challenges and benefits to using a mouth atomizer?
    The mouth atomizer was a really fun thing to use. I actually had it for over ten years before I discovered its use during this project. It looks a lot like a compass, but without the pencil. One end goes into whatever liquid you are using (in the case of the Pluto book it was India ink and Winsor & Newton drawing ink) and then you blow on the other tube.

    The benefit in its use is also its challenge. So long as you have the lung capacity, this tool is very simple. Blow in the horizontal tube, and the ink is sprayed from the vertical tube. The difficulty is in style. If you are trying to get consistent coverage, then you have to be consistent with the pressure behind your breath. But it is easy to get used to with a practice piece of paper. Also, beware your work space. Cover anything surrounding the piece you are working on with newsprint or other waste unless you want a speckled work space.

    ThereWere8_Atomizer-MaryUthuppuru

    There is more than one way to use it too. In this book, for example, I cut stencils from transparency sheets to create the planetary bodies. This allowed for a clean, shaded shape that is much faster and reads truer than a traditional stippling stenciled technique. It is also easy to clean by running it under water then drying.

    ThereWere8_Stenciling-MaryUthuppuru

    I first met Mary in Chicago for the One Book, Many Interpretations exhibit at the Chicago Public Library, where both Mary and I had work in the show. I’ll be featuring her binding of Interpreter of Maladies from that show later this month. From the beginning, I noted Mary’s impeccable skill and her exceptional eye for detail, but I can’t forget to mention her infectious personality. Her humor mixed with kindness and generosity makes her a delightful person to engage with and learn from.

    Like myself, Mary, is just beginning her career in the field of bookbinding. Her ambition and creativity are inspiring, as is the interview (after the jump). Mary discusses her love for bookbinding and how she caught “the book bug”. Later in the interview, Mary talks about setting up her own home studio and how being self-employed has its ups and downs. But it’s quite clear to see that Mary tackles her obstacles with smarts and humor. 

    Come back each Monday during the month of January for more on Mary Uthuppuru and her work, which will bounce between bookbinding and book arts.

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  2. December // Bookbinder of the Month: Karen Hanmer

    December 1, 2013 by Erin Fletcher

    booksspeakplain1-karenhanmer

    The Midwest Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers recently revealed the exhibitors for a traveling exhibition called Plainly Spoken, which celebrates Books Will Speak Plain, a comprehensive survey of historical bindings by Julia Miller. Amongst the highly skilled and wide variety of bindings is a cutaway model by Karen Hanmer

    Karen bound her copy of Books Will Speak Plain as a traditional fine binding, sewn on flattened cords with laced-in boards. Partially covered in a beautiful light blue goatskin, otherwise hidden elements of the structure stay visible in this cutaway model. Tooling is done in blind and 23kt. gold foil to emphasize the location of sewing supports and lacing-on in addition to turn-ins, fills, sanding of the boards and formation of corners. The use of tooling as both an aesthetic treatment and as visual aid is just brilliant!

    booksspeakplain2-karenhanmerbooksspeakplain4-karenhanmer

    Although the book may appear to be incomplete, it includes all the necessary details that make a book a fine binding. The headbands are hand sewn using silk thread and the head edge is sponged with acrylic inks and sprinkled with gold leaf. The inside continues with the cutaway theme showing off the leather hinge, marbled paper endpapers, fills and corners. 

    booksspeakplain5-karenhanmer

    How did you approach this cutaway binding? Did you study Mark Esser’s models at the University of Iowa?
    I’ve made a lot of partially-finished models. They’re useful for teaching and help me remember process. But cutaways are something different since they appear unfinished and fully complete at the same time. Peter Verheyen has loaned me his springback cutaways several times, and I used them for reference when making my first cutaways. I’d admired Mark Esser’s two cutaway fine bindings in the University of Iowa’s online collection for a long time and was able to spend time with them on two trips to Iowa City this spring.

    I was able to use my design binding on Books Will Speak Plain twice this fall: for both an online exhibit of cutaways, and in a traveling set book exhibition. For the latter I added tooling to reference the binding process: the sewing supports and lacing, the turn-ins and fills, and the board-shaping.

    – – – – 

    The online exhibit that Karen mentioned above, is an annual themed exhibit held by the Book Arts Web called Bind-O-Rama. For 2013, the theme was historical cutaway models. The online exhibit can be viewed here

    Although I don’t know Karen very well (yet), she’s been incredibly sweet and supportive of my work. I first met Karen at her bindery in Glenview, Illinois. My friend, Anna, and I were in town for an exhibition at the Chicago Public Library; where both Karen and I had bindings on display. Since then I’ve kept in touch with Karen, leaning on her from time to time when I needed help. 

    I’ve had two opportunities to watch her work, which is quite fun. Once when she came to North Bennet Street School to teach us the flag book structure and most recently during the Standards of Excellence 2013 conference in Washington, DC. I hope to have more opportunities like this in the future. 

    After the jump is a wonderfully thoughtful interview with Karen, where she shares her experiences with bookbinding, teaching and marketing. Come back each Sunday during the month of December for more in-depth posts on Karen’s work in the field of bookbinding and artist books. 

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  • 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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