RSS Feed
  1. Catching Up With Lori Sauer // No. 5

    August 27, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    For the final post, I wanted to highlight one of Lori Sauer’s more recent bindings. Done in 2017, Lori created a binding for Russell Maret’s Linear A to Z. Using an unusual binding style, Lori combine’s vellum and Japanese paper to create a binding that works beautifully with the text’s imagery.

    Russell Maret’s Linear A to Z is a beautifully printed book. And your play on the geometry perfectly harmonizes with the prints in this abecedarian text. Can you talk about the binding structure you used for this binding (particularly the board attachment and how it functions)? Is the vellum limp or over boards?
    I don’t know the name of this structure and sadly I can’t remember who showed it to me years ago. I’ll do my best to describe it. The text is sewn on vellum supports that are shaped like a bar with an arrow on each end. They have to be very precisely cut and measured as the bar is the width of the sewn spine plus the thickness of the covering material.

    The three covering pieces, in this case vellum, are cut to size. The spine piece is folded along the joint and the sidepieces are turned-in along the spine edge only. Slits are then cut in to the fold of the spine and folds of the board pieces that correspond to the sewing stations/supports. The ends of the arrows are very carefully fed through the slits. The points of the arrow shape lock the pieces together and on to the text block.

    I then tipped in a thin board to the gutter of the board vellum and drummed the vellum on resulting in a semi rigid cover. The black lines are waxed Japanese paper laid in to embossed lines. The horizontal line is cut in to the board vellum and inlaid with a laminate of vellum and paper.

    The doublures and flyleaves have black and white lines that echo the design on the outside.

    This structure can also be done in a single piece. A gusset is then formed between the inner board and text block. I hope I’ve explained this well enough. It’s very hard to describe without drawing some pictures!

  2. Catching Up With Lori Sauer // No. 4

    August 20, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    In 2016, Lori Sauer was one of six Designer Bookbinder Fellows selected to bind one the six titles shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Lori bound Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing, which was presented to the author on the night of the award ceremony.

    Your designs are so delicate, but have the power to capture deep emotion. Each element feels meticulously planned and placed in perfect harmony. Can you go through the stages of planning for Do Not Say We Have Nothing, specifically touching on the placement of the small red pieces?
    This is a binding done for the Man Booker Prize shortlist, work that always has a very tight deadline. I loved the novel, an epic tale spanning three generations of two separate families, who lived through a turbulent time of Chinese history in the mid twentieth century (the Cultural Revolution through to Tiananmen Square). There is a book within the book, called The Book of Records that ties the families and generations together. Classical music also plays a big part, in particular The Goldberg Variations, a piece based on repeated patterns and mathematics.

    I usually tend to work in light and pale colours, my penchant for minimalism. This is the first dark binding I’ve done for a long time but I felt it was needed to capture the psychological temper of the period. All of Chinese society at the time wore uniforms – drab, dark colours with only the Red Guard having something bright.

    With all of these elements stewing around in my mind I begin to sketch and when some of them start to work for me I make paper mock-ups – cutting out the right colours and shapes and moving them about – and take photos of the best compositions. I also work on my iPad with a drawing app. (I like Art Rage). I eventually settle on something that makes my fingers want to start work. Sometimes I settle on a design that’s a very long way from my starting point but I’m not unduly bothered that I move off in a sideways direction, as a good design will stand up on its own.

    The final design is my visual solution to a novel about music, the passage of time, families and Chinese writing.

    You’ve asked specifically about the small red dots. The ones on the outside (leather, shown above) were placed for compositional balance and add a necessary shot of colour. The dots on the doublures (paper, shown below) were very randomly applied. I worked instinctively and fairly quickly here and photographed a pattern I liked so I could use it for reference when gluing them down later.

  3. Catching Up With Lori Sauer // No. 3

    August 13, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Lori Sauer bound The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins in 2015, just three years after it was published by Arion Press. This limited edition includes illustrations by Stan Washburn. As Lori mentions below, she split the text into two volumes, creating two fine bindings that compliment each other beautifully. Each binding is covered with calfskin and decorative handmade paper.

    Can you talk about your use of materials and how they connect to the text? Which elements are paper and why use paper over another type of material?
    Relating a material to a text is not something that I ever find myself mulling over. In rare cases one might pick wood for a book about wood, etc., but in the majority of cases leather is used, as convention. I’ve moved away from leather and now mainly bind in vellum because it’s so beautiful. Just to break out from my habit I bound this one in calfskin and paper. The calfskin because it has no grain and paper because I’ve always wanted to use it as major material for a design binding. I’ve always had the feeling (perhaps I’m wrong here) that paper is not considered appropriate for serious work. But it has a longer shelf life than leather, is open to a wide range of decorative treatments and I haven’t met a binder yet who isn’t besotted with it.

    The circular shapes are paper and the area around the circles is calfskin. The paper is a heavy weight Griffen Mill, specially made for a commission I did and these are some of the off-cuts. The pieces have been tinted with watercolour to achieve a range of neutral shades. The leather has been sanded over the top of a pimply surface to create texture.

    This is a very long novel with many characters and lots of narrative layers. There were a number of key scenes set on some shifting sands, a metaphor for the quasi-surreal nature of the plot. My colour choice came from this and also why I wanted to use a variety of textures/materials.

    This is a single volume production (Arion Press) but I decided to split it in to two bindings because I find very thick books rather clumsy. It worked out well to divide it because of how Collins had structured the story into two sections. I liked doing a pair of complimentary bindings, as I was able to use more than just one of the many compositions I had played around with.

    Shown below are the two interior views of each volume. 

  4. Catching Up With Lori Sauer // No. 2

    August 6, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Lori Sauer bound this Arion Press edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Silverado Squatters in 2014. The book is bound in vellum with decorative elements in Japanese paper.

    I really love your use of materials on this binding. It offers a peaceful and calming interpretation of the Napa Valley landscape portrayed in this classic travel memoir. Can you speak about how you covered the book in vellum? Is the division created by using two separate pieces of vellum or through a decorative application?
    R.L. Stevenson is in the top five of my favourite authors and I’ve bound quite a few of his works. This one from Arion Press has sepia toned photographs from central California as illustrations. Bindings for books with images present a particular set of challenges. I never attempt to reproduce an illustrator’s work in a design but will do my best to capture the tone or mood. With this piece I used both the serene quality of the photos along with Stevenson’s literary style to guide me. Stevenson’s prose reads with such ease and grace, something that is incredibly hard to do. I’m pleased that you’ve picked up on this!

    Each piece of vellum (two on each board) is lined with a slightly different shade of backing paper in order to give a very subtle shift in colouration. The pieces are turned in on their meeting edges so that the line between them is clean and soft.

    The vertical lines are Japanese paper, onlaid in to pressed grooves.

    What technique did you use for the decoration on the doublures?
    I did an iPad ‘painting’ to create the doublures and inkjet printed them on to hand-made paper. (I like this technique very much and need to remember to do it more often). I then applied small pieces of Japanese paper and these were back sanded before I stuck down the doublure. Very subtle marks are made by the onlays on the suede flyleaves.

  5. Catching Up With Lori Sauer // No. 1

    August 1, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    I first interviewed Lori Sauer for the blog back in March 2013. I thought it might be time to check in and see what new bindings Lori has created over the past four years. Over the month of August, I’ll be featuring five of Lori’s more recent bindings. Let’s begin with a book Lori bound in 2013, a copy of A Line illustrated by Suyeon Kim.

    A Line was published by Incline Press in 2009 and is an illustrative narrative of linocut prints by Suyeon Kim depicting the companionship between a blind fisherman and his dog. Lori bound her copy in the dos rapporté structure with dyed vellum. Lori adds decorative elements with twine and ink.

    I love the playfulness of the cover compared with Suyeon Kim’s linocut prints. How did you manipulate the vellum to achieve a hazy water-like quality?
    I love this book, no text, just a narrative in images. The images veer off in to fantasy, a bit like a Chagall painting, and are full of warmth and charm.

    You asked about the vellum – I dyed it. I buy very clear and clean white skins for this and interesting markings appear with the dye (I use watered down FW acrylic inks). I start with dying the flesh side as it soaks up moisture better. If I need to I’ll wipe some of the ink on the hair side too. The first pieces I coloured for this weren’t exactly right so I did a second set. I ended up using the first set as doublures. I can go through a lot of vellum this way in order to get the right shade but the rejects always get used up eventually.

    Are the red and yellow lines actual threads running across the binding? If so, how are they adhered to the vellum covers?
    The red and yellow lines are also acrylic ink, applied with a nib. The white line is inlaid string.

    I’ll also say that the book is printed as a concertina and folds out to seventeen feet, I think. It was pretty badly folded so I had to fiddle quite a bit to get the edges to line up. I decided that it would be rare or never that someone would open it all the way so I attached guards on the reverse to keep it like a conventional book. I then used a stub for the spine so that the pages would fan open. The physical result ties in well with the playfulness and watery theme of the images.

  6. Best of 2017

    December 31, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    As 2017 comes to an end, I want to reflect on a few of Herringbone Bindery’s success. I’m particularly proud to have another binding sell to a private collector and have my work shown in three exhibitions (one domestic and two international shows). I’ve continue to work with some really wonderful clients this year, including artist Laura Davidson and 21st Editions. Next year, I look forward to more of these collaborations, creating work for upcoming exhibitions and traveling more to teach.

    Here are a list of my favorite posts from 2017:

    1. My Time at Penland
    I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to spend a week at Penland School of Crafts. My week spent at this retreat gave me the chance to unwind and focus my creative energy on fiber arts. Exploring further options with embroidery.
    2. My Hand // Feed Sacks
    This was one of a few personal binding projects I was able to work on this year. I mainly played around with embroidery through tissue on this binding.
    3. Artist: Leigh Suggs
    I got the chance to see her work in person at the gallery at Penland.

    4. Catching up with Lori Sauer
    Check out this updated interview with binder Lori Sauer. Over the course of one month, I’ve highlighted five of her most recent bindings. Lori and I discuss her design concepts and her choices for structure and materials.
    5. Studying in London with Mark and Tracey
    Although this trip occurred in 2016, my post wasn’t live until early in the year. It’s a great review of the techniques that I learned from these drastically different, yet utterly talented binders.
    6. Swell Things No. 39 // Zürich Edition
    My trip to Zürich was surprisingly filled with amazing art, decorative papers and beautifully crafted tools.
    7. Catching up with Hannah Brown
    In the first of my updated interview series, I reached out to Hannah Brown. She has created a wide range of work since our last interview, but I chose to focus on just five of her most recent bindings that I absolutely adore.



  7. List of Interviews // Bookbinders & Book Artists

    January 30, 2023 by Erin Fletcher


    Kathy Abbott
    Hannah Brown // update
    Eduardo Giménez Burgos
    Mark Cockram
    Coleen Curry // update
    Benjamin Elbel
    Annette Friedrich // update
    Karen Hanmer
    Derek Hood
    Lang Ingalls
    Monique Lallier
    Tini Miura
    Lori Sauer // update
    Sol Rébora
    Tracey Rowledge
    Sonya Sheats
    Haein Song
    Book Artists:
    Jody Alexander
    Amy Borezo
    Sarah Bryant
    Susan Collard
    Laura Davidson
    Dianna Frid
    Roni Gross
    Diane Jacobs
    Ellen Knudson
    Sarah McDermott
    Michelle Ray
    Natalie Stopka
    Mary Uthuppuru


  • 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.
    The StudioNewsletterInstagramEmail me
  • Archives