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  1. Teaching at Paper & Book Intensive 2018

    August 28, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    In May of this year, I had the honor of teaching at the Paper & Book Intensive which was held at Ox-Bow School of Art in Saugatuk, Michigan. If you aren’t familiar with PBI, it’s a two-week intensive camp where participants take three workshops on topics related to bookbinding, printmaking, paper-making, conservation and book arts. Everyone stayed in lodging on the grounds at Ox-Bow and ate together during mealtimes. During off-hours, people spent their time creating, mingling, making toast from the 24-hour toasting station or roasting marshmallows at the fire pit near the lagoon.

    I had been invited to teach my 2-day Introduction to Embroidery on Leather workshop during the first session. In the first session, participants take two different workshops, one in the morning and the second in the afternoon. This meant, as an instructor, I had two different groups to teach over the span of four days. I had 13 students in the morning and 12 students in the afternoon.

    My workshop took place on the second floor of the print building. The space was wonderful. It is a newly constructed building with high ceilings and tall windows on all four sides that looked out into the woods. After getting settled and going through materials, we embarked on our first task of poking lots of holes into leather through a paper template. The room was so quite and still, that a unique soundtrack began to play out. The ping from the pin vise and crunch of the paper template mixed with birdsongs and swaying trees.

    The participants were working with buffalo skin for the samplers. It’s a leather that I love to work with and is very forgiving with embroidery work. Although certain challenges presented themselves with the darker skins. After we finished punching, we went through each stitch one by one. Students were invited to bring their own threads to play around with, so there was a nice mix of materials being used on the samplers. Some worked and some didn’t.

    At the end of the first session, everyone convened into the painting studio for a show and tell. I had been so distracted teaching by my workshop, that I didn’t get a chance to visit the other studios. So it was really great to finally see what everyone else had been working on.

    Above are samples from Letterlocking with Jana Dambrogio (left) and Vasaré Rastonis’ Conservation Binding Model for a 13th Century European Manuscript workshop (right).

    Above are some pieces from Velma Bolyard’s Paper Threads: North Country Shift (left) and Rebecca Chamlee’s The Printmaker as Naturalist (right) workshops .

    Many of my students had little to no experience with embroidery work, but everyone was determined to master each stitch. Threads were sewn and then torn out to make second and third attempts. I was really impressed with everyone’s ability to navigate through diagrams and hard-to-see demonstrations. In the center of their samplers, I asked each participant to design a letter in whatever stitch or stitches they preferred. Some students also began embroidering into bookcloth and paper. The participants in my workshop definitely felt the intensiveness of PBI!

    After session one was complete, everyone had a day off to recoup and relax. I went into town with some PBI pals to shop the local antique mall and each some local grub. Afterward, we walked to Oval Beach at Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful beach and view of the lake. We even made a couple of duck friends along the way.

    As an instructor, I was able to take a workshop during the second session and I chose John DeMerritt’s The Prototype: An Exploration of Edition Binding. I had met John a few years back during my second year at North Bennet Street School and have admired his work and ingenuity, so I was really excited to pick is brain.

    The structure of John’s class was informal, which freed everyone up to work on their own projects. We had materials to play with in order to develop prototypes. As someone who rarely gets a chance to spend time on personal work, it was very welcoming to have these 4 days to work out the details of an artist book that has been lingering in the back of my brain.

    On our final day of John’s class, we were commissioned by Mary Hark (papermaking instructor) to build a box for a paper quilt.

    We devised a design for the box and chose materials as a team. Mary let us choose from a selection of her papers for the box and we choose a beautiful crinkled indigo paper for the tray that proved to be rather difficult and pulled many of us together to trouble shoot. And without proper weights, we had to use body weight after attaching the tray to the base.

    photo credit (right): Cristiana Salomao

    photo credit (right): John DeMerritt

    I was tasked with creating an embroidered paper label for the box. We chose to use the coordinates of Ox-Bow and the dates of the second session as the title, as it represents the time and place of both creations. In the end, the box and quilt were put into the auction and was finally sold to the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

    At the end of session two, we assembled once again in the paint studio for another show and tell.

    Above are examples from Béatrice Coron’s workshop From Book Shelves to Cat Walk: Wearable Papercuts and Artist Books (left) plus Chela Metzger’s workshop Early Modern Record-Keeping Book Structures: Model Making and Investigation (right).

    Just a few pieces from Bridget Elmer’s workshop The Typographic Print (left) and Mary Hark’s workshop Papermaking Informed by a Sensibility for Textiles (right).

    Post show and tell, people began to wind down and get ready for the festivities ahead. That evening included a silent auction followed by a studio tour to see the various work created by the artists in residency. Along the tour, I savored some local Ox-Bow brews and chatted with a very talented artist about her brightly colored macramé sculptures. Check out the work of Noël Morical.

    On the following day, everyone gathered at the meadow under the theme of Renaissance in Space. We ate hors d’oeuvres and cheered on the jousters. Afterward we filed into the painting studio for one final dinner, which included lofting balloons from table to table until they popped. A mighty group effort.

    The evening quickly turned into night and people began to say their farewells. PBI was a truly incredible experience and one that I will never forget. Despite the pressures of teaching, my time at Ox-Bow was relaxing and inspiring. Being surrounded by creative and talented people who are both encouraging and supportive for two weeks can be life changing. It’s an experience that I would recommend for anyone that is apart of or wants to be involved in this community.


  2. Upcoming Workshops // May to July

    May 15, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    MAY:
    Make Your Own Punching Cradle
    May 20 (Saturday)
    9:00am – 1:00pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston MA

    A punching cradle is a very useful piece of equipment for bookbinders. During this class, students create a collapsible punching cradle with a variable length. The collapsible cradle is lightweight, saves space, and is perfect for traveling or working in small spaces.


    JUNE:
    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    June 19 – 23 (Monday – Friday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    This is a great workshop if you are interested in the full-time program at North Bennet or wanting to learn a new skill. During the workshop students will explore the basics of bookbinding through a variety of non-adhesive structures and finish the week by making a flatback case binding. We will discuss materials, adhesives, tool use and students will have access to traditional bindery equipment.

    Three-Part Bradel Binding
    June 26 – 30 (Monday – Friday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    The 3-Part Bradel binding offers a unique aesthetic over a traditional case binding. As the name suggests, the binding is assembled in three parts, which encourages the binder to use different materials to cover the spine and covers. For this workshop, students will use leather to cover the spine and a cloth or paper of their choice for the covers. Students will be guided as they pare their own leather.

    Students will also be using a variety of bindery equipment such as a sewing frame, job backer, plow and Kwikprint to complete their structure. We will also cover how to create a painted edge and stamp a custom label. Experience with leather is not necessary, but encouraged.


    JULY
    Bookbinding 101
    July 8 – 9 (Saturday – Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    This shorter workshop focuses on technique as students will construct through the aid of kits. Students will make three different binding structures and create an enclosure to house everything. This workshop is perfect for anyone curious about bookbinding and what North Bennet has to offer. No prior experience necessary.

    Single Signature Binding
    July 14 – 16 (Friday – Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    Creating an elegant binding around a single signature can be a tricky task. Students will use a basic sewing technique, known as a pamphlet stitch, to create a quarter leather hardcover binding. The illusion of a standard rounded-back leather bound book is created through the use of a stub and unique style of endpapers. This workshop is suitable for students with some binding experience and those who are interested in understanding how to maniupulate familiar techniques to fit a slimmer text block. Students will also have the chance to work with leather (no previous experience is necessary) and spend time practicing paring.


  3. Upcoming Exhibit // North Bennet Street School Student & Alumni Show

    May 14, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Stop by the North Bennet Street School for an upcoming exhibit displaying work made by both students and alumni from programs throughout the school. The exhibit will run from May 16 – 31. Open weekdays from 9:00am to 7:00pm (Closed May 18 and May 29).

    I have two brand new pieces in the exhibit, both recently completed and have yet to be uploaded to my website. But if you can’t make it to Boston, no worries, I will be posting about the graduating student’s set books and my favorite alumni pieces. Those posts will be coming in the next few days.


  4. Upcoming Workshops // April to June

    April 15, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    APRIL:
    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    April 24 – 28 (Monday – Friday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston MA

    There are still a few seats available for this workshop. This is a great workshop if you are interested in the full-time program at North Bennet or wanting to learn a new skill. During the workshop students will explore the basics of bookbinding through a variety of non-adhesive structures and finish the week by making a flatback case binding. We will discuss materials, adhesives, tool use and students will have access to traditional bindery equipment. This workshop is also available in June, see below for dates and link.


    MAY:
    Secret Belgian Binding – 3 Ways
    May 6 – 7 (Saturday & Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston MA

    This workshop is sold out. On day one, students assemble two variations of this non-adhesive structure, which is simple and can be quickly constructed. It opens flat and is perfect for thinner text blocks. On day two, students explore modified versions of the Secret Belgian binding by playing with the amount and size of sewing holes and incorporating Tyvek.

    Make Your Own Punching Cradle
    May 20 (Saturday)
    9:00am – 1:00pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston MA

    A punching cradle is a very useful piece of equipment for bookbinders. During this class, students create a collapsible punching cradle with a variable length. The collapsible cradle is lightweight, saves space, and is perfect for traveling or working in small spaces.


    JUNE:
    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    June 19 – 23 (Monday – Friday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    This is a great workshop if you are interested in the full-time program at North Bennet or wanting to learn a new skill. During the workshop students will explore the basics of bookbinding through a variety of non-adhesive structures and finish the week by making a flatback case binding. We will discuss materials, adhesives, tool use and students will have access to traditional bindery equipment.

    Three-Part Bradel Binding
    June 26 – 30 (Monday – Friday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

    The 3-Part Bradel binding offers a unique aesthetic over a traditional case binding. As the name suggests, the binding is assembled in three parts, which encourages the binder to use different materials to cover the spine and covers. For this workshop, students will use leather to cover the spine and a cloth or paper of their choice for the covers. Students will be guided as they pare their own leather.

    Students will also be using a variety of bindery equipment such as a sewing frame, job backer, plow and Kwikprint to complete their structure. We will also cover how to create a painted edge and stamp a custom label. Experience with leather is not necessary, but encouraged.


  5. Upcoming Workshops // March to May

    March 17, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    April 24 – 28 (Monday – Friday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston MA

    This is a great workshop if you are interested in the full-time program at North Bennet or wanting to learn a new skill. During the workshop students will explore the basics of bookbinding through a variety of non-adhesive structures and finish the week by making a flatback case binding. We will discuss materials, adhesives, tool use and students will have access to traditional bindery equipment.


    Secret Belgian Binding – 3 Ways
    May 6 – 7 (Saturday & Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston MA

    Just a few spots left in this workshop. On day one, students assemble two variations of this non-adhesive structure, which is simple and can be quickly constructed. It opens flat and is perfect for thinner text blocks. On day two, students explore modified versions of the Secret Belgian binding by playing with the amount and size of sewing holes and incorporating Tyvek.


    Make Your Own Punching Cradle
    May 20 (Saturday)
    9:00am – 1:00pm
    North Bennet Street School, Boston MA

    A punching cradle is a very useful piece of equipment for bookbinders. During this class, students create a collapsible punching cradle with a variable length. The collapsible cradle is lightweight, saves space, and is perfect for traveling or working in small spaces.


  6. Upcoming Workshops // February to April

    February 15, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Here’s a list of my upcoming workshops, which will be taught at the North Bennet Street School in Boston.

    Bookbinding 101
    February 28 – March 9 (Tuesday and Thursday evenings)
    6:00pm – 9:00pm

    This shorter workshop focuses on technique as students will construct through the aid of kits. Students will make three different binding structures and create an enclosure to house everything. This workshop is perfect for anyone curious about bookbinding and what North Bennet has to offer. No prior experience necessary.

    Register here.


    Limp Vellum Binding
    March 4 – 5 (Saturday and Sunday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm

    This two-day workshop will focus on the classic and elegant limp vellum binding. Students will learn how to sew over alum-tawed thongs using a sewing frame, create hand-sewn endbands and manipulate vellum.

    Register here.


    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    April 24 – 28 (Monday – Friday)
    8:30am – 4:30pm

    There are still a few seats available in this workshop. This is a great workshop if you are interested in the full-time program at North Bennet or wanting to learn a new skill. During the workshop students will explore the basics of bookbinding through a variety of non-adhesive structures and finish the week by making a flatback case binding. We will discuss materials, adhesives, tool use and students will have access to traditional bindery equipment.

    Register here.


  7. Visit Herringbone Bindery at Fort Point Open Studios // June 17 – 19

    June 13, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

    FPOS_SP16_color-1

    Come visit Herringbone Bindery during Fort Point’s Spring Open Studios during the weekend of June 17th. We will have our doors open for the preview on Friday and all weekend long. I can’t wait to show you what I’m currently creating and give you a tour of our space.

    Fort Point Open Studios
    Friday, June 17th // 4:00 – 7:00
    Saturday, June 18th and Sunday, June 19th // 12:00 – 6:00

    Find our studio address by searching bookbinding in the directory of participating artists. You will find the listing of my studio mate, Colin Urbina, who will also be around showing off his bindings. See you then!


  8. The Rock and Roll Capital of the World

    October 14, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    cleveland

    It’s time again for the Guild of Book Workers annual Standards of Excellence Seminar. This year it will be taking place in Cleveland, Ohio. This will be my first trip to the city known as the home of Rock and Roll (perhaps I’ll make a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). But most of my time will be spent mingling with delightful bookbinders and conservators while attending informative presentations and spending all my money in the vendor room on leather skins and other irresistible goods.

    I’ll be writing about my experience at the Seminar upon my return mid-October.


  9. My Second Trip to Rare Book School

    August 1, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    During the week of July 5th, I spent my days walking the grounds at the University of Virginia and its surrounding neighborhoods in Charlottesville as I attended Rare Book School for the second time. This year I was pleasantly surprised by the return of many of my classmates from last year as we had all enrolled to take Jan Storm van Leeuwen’s Advanced Seminar in the History of Bookbinding. You can check out my post from last year here on the Introduction to the History of Bookbinding.

    The class began with Jan laying out the terminology that would be used throughout the course. As many bookbinders and other professionals working the book may know, terms regarding binding anatomy, design and tools vary from country to country. There are even multiple terms describing the same thing. For ease, Jan chose to use typical English binding terms.

    With each lecture, Jan took us through a detailed history of binding styles and design styles beginning mainly with the Middle Ages and moving through to the 19th century surveying several countries throughout Europe and briefly speaking about bindings in the United States. After several hours of lecturing and many pages of handwritten notes, we were invited to view items from Special Collections and tasked with creating detailed descriptions before comparing our own to Jan’s.

    The description process begins with an overview of the binding before narrowing the focus to each little detail. Using Jan’s extensive outline as a guide, I would note the decoration that adorned not only the covers and spine but also along the board edge, turn-in, endcap and raised bands. Attention is also given to the endbands, text block edges and any text that appears on the binding. Once the exterior of the binding is reviewed, I would then survey the endpapers and the book for any annotations and marks of ownership. The reason for such a comprehensive overview is to extract clues in order to pinpoint the binding’s country of origin and time period.

    RBSDescription-ErinFletcher

    The first binding I had the pleasure of describing was a beautifully tooled leather bound copy of La siege de Mets by Bertrand de Salignac Fenelon. From my findings I deduced that this binding may have produced sometime during the late Middle Ages in France. The Renaissance saw a Persian influence in binding with much more gold tooling. The most rewarding part of describing this binding was my discovery of very faint lettering on the spine. The lettering was blind and placed over the semé patterning (small repeating background pattern). This faint lettering confused me at first, but then I came to realize that the lettering was a result of the title having been tooled onto a label much later in the life of the binding. The label has since been removed, but proof of its prior existence still remains.

    Moving into the 18th century, I grabbed a fairly indelicate Cottage-roof style binding. That is to say, the design is quite striking, but not the work of a talented finisher. As a design style only found in England during the late 17th to the early 18th century it wasn’t too difficult to determine its origins. Inside is a calligraphic inscription: “Mary Sharland, Her Book, October 21st, 1766adorned with flourishes. In addition to the inscription were some unusual punched shapes (two dotted outlines of a circle seen faintly on either side of the date in the image below).

    RBSDescription2-ErinFletcher

    One of the last bindings I had the opportunity to look at was an unusual bespoke binding from the 19th century which incorporates binding and design styles from the Middle Ages Germany to 18th century England. Lyra Germanica was published in 1859 and translated from German into English.

    RBSDescription4-ErinFletcher

    The spine and joint have been tooled in a way that accentuate the raised cords as was often seen on bindings in the Middle Ages. The boards are heavily sculpted, another unusual feature for the 19th century but typical for bindings from the Middle Ages. The covers were panel stamped with a very modern geometric design. The wide frame with corner compartments is very typical in English bindings beginning in the 19th century.

    Before the course came to an end, we looked at a selection of almanacs from RBS’s collection as well as miniature almanacs from the collection of book collector Pat Pitsner (one of my classmates). Within Pat’s collection, we saw a few embroidered almanacs, one shaped like a ladybug, a silk scroll housed in an enamel case and a late-fanfare style binding with matching leather slipcase. It was a wonderful surprise and with each binding, oohs and aahs rose from the class.

    RBSDescription5-ErinFletcher

    Finally, we took a look at a large sample of publisher’s binding after receiving a brief lecture from Jan. There were also a few bespoke bindings sprinkled about the table, like the binding on the right in the image below. Gifted to his newly betrothed wife, this binding is tooled over paper onlays in silver leaf that may have been mixed with other metals.

    RBSDescription6-ErinFletcher

    I once again had a wonderful time at Rare Book School where I gained a deeper understanding of binding styles from around Europe during the late Middle Ages to the 19th century. It was such a treat to sit in on Jan’s class and to be exposed to his vast knowledge on bookbinding history. If you’ve been debating about whether or not to make the trip to Rare Book School, I would highly recommend it. You are guarantee to walk away with an abundance of knowledge on the topic that interests you. Plus you’ll be surrounded by charming book loving folks working in all sorts of fields and backgrounds.


  10. Sign Up for the Monthly Newsletter

    March 9, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    newsletter-preview


    I’m excited to announce the launch of the Herringbone Bindery newsletter. Sign up to receive an email once a month and stay informed on all the thrilling events going on. Stuff like:
    – projects from the bindery
    – upcoming posts and interviews on Flash of the Hand
    – highlights from my Etsy shop
    – workshop opportunities
    – other newsworthy tidbits

    You can subscribe to the newsletter by signing up below.


  • Visit My Bindery
    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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