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My Hand…The Songlines

July 17, 2012 by Erin Fletcher

In the second and final year at North Bennet Street School all students are given the same book in sheets (known as a set book) to complete as a fine binding.  Given complete freedom over the materials and design, the inspiration should be derived from the set book.  This year we bound copies of The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin.

My main inspiration came from an Aboriginal painting depicting imagery referred to as Dreaming.  At the moment a mother is conscience of conception, the unborn child receives the spirit of a totemic ancestor connected with the location when awareness occurred.  In a general sense, the Dreaming relates to a period before the memory of living creatures, during the time of the creator ancestors and supernatural beings.  The paintings themselves are visual representations of the artist’s individual spiritual beliefs.

For this binding I wanted to challenge myself with a few different leather techniques including back-pared onlay, ascona onlay and using fluid acrylic paint to create a portion of the design.  The binding is full goatskin leather in chocolate brown.  The lizard is a back-pared onlay in fair goatskin.  A back-pared onlay is where a piece of thinly pared leather is pasted to a base leather of full thickness. The base leather is then pared to a workable thickness, creating a smooth transition between the base leather and back-pared onlay.

When it came to painting on the leather, I sought advice from binder Don Glaister. In order to achieve an opaque, smooth finish I used fluid acrylic by Golden.  The process was surprisingly quick, although once the paint hits the leather it become permanently colored. I also painted the inside of the front and back cover with symbols from the Dreaming.  This binding (along with my classmates) went on display during the Student/Alumni Show put on at the end of the year by North Bennet Street.

  1. vicki says:

    way more beautiful in person! great job, pooky!

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  • My name is Erin Fletcher, owner and bookbinder of Herringbone Bindery in Boston. Flash of the Hand is a space where I share my process and inspirations.
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