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Posts Tagged ‘benjamin elbel’

  1. July // Bookbinder of the Month: Ben Elbel

    July 1, 2015 by Erin Fletcher


    Boven Kamers is a collaborative Dutch pop-up book between neuroscientist Gerard J. Boer, professor Harry B.M. Uijlings, paper artist Ingrid Siliakus and graphic designer Moon Brouwer. The book contains a total of six laser cut pop-up spreads which send the reader on a tour through the human brain and its functions. Printed in a limited edition of 50, each book is numbered and signed.

    Ben Elbel‘s innovative rebinding of this book was just completed earlier this year.

    I have been waiting in anticipation to see this binding after you spoke to me about it. In your newsletter on this binding, you mention that the compensation folios are sewn together. The spine opens to a sharp ‘V’ allowing the pages to lay flat, can you elaborate on the sewing structure and any treatment done to the spine?
    Boven Kamers (literally means upper rooms in Dutch, a colloquial expression meaning brain), is an exploration of the human brain in the form of a pop up book, by the young Dutch designer and publisher Moon Brouwer.

    I was commissioned to re-bind the book by the Dutch Royal Library (The Hague).

    When I first received it, the book presented itself as a series of folios laminated with one another, each folio containing a pop up. A hard cover was provided but disconnected from the textblock.

    Technically, the challenge was to provide compensation for the pop-ups as well as a perfectly flat surface for them to smoothly unfold, all of this without sewing and without introducing blank pages between the folios.

    After some research I concluded that none of the existing binding structures (traditional or contemporary) were quite suitable to do all this, so I created a new one from scratch.


    It took about a year and the result is a series of ‘T’ elements made from heavy paper, sewn with one another. The folios are inserted between each T and secured only at the fore-edge. On the next images one can see how the spread ‘floats’ on top of the binding, allowing the pop up to fully unfold. The original cover was mounted at the back of the book and a lettering was created, on the spine and front board, to evoke a kind of staircase leading to the upper rooms.


    You can read a bit more about the binding and see some images of the book at various stages through the design process here.

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    Ben and I have kept in contact ever since he embarked on offering online courses (more on that in the interview). His work and business ethic are quite inspiring as Elbel Libro has expanded beyond the traditional bindery. He ceases to amaze me with his sleek designs and innovative binding structures. There seems to be no stopping his creativity.

    Check out the interview after the jump and make sure you come back during the month of July for even more probing questions regarding a selection of Ben’s work. You can get email reminders by subscribing to the blog, just click hereread more >

  2. My Hand: Skype Workshop with Benjamin Elbel

    March 4, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    When I was presented with the challenge of binding a book for a set of photography prints that would need to open flat, I sent my former instructor, Jeff Altepeter, an email to help me brainstorm. After discussing a few options, I received another email from Jeff showcasing the upcoming workshops at BINDING re:DEFINED. All of the workshops looked intriguing, but Benjamin Elbel’s Onion Skin Binding and The Shrigley appeared to be suitable solutions for my current project.

    My only problem was being in Boston and wanting to take a workshop in England. I contacted Benjamin through the help of Lori Sauer (who runs BINDING re:DEFINED and will be featured on my blog through the month of March). Benjamin and I decided to experiment and run the workshop through Skype (a recent topic of interest on the Book Arts Listserv).

    The workshop was based on The Shrigley structure and ran for 2.5 hours over 2 Skype sessions. The initial session was half an hour long. During this time I received instruction on creating the folded frames and cutting the corners. Benjamin had a camera set-up directly over his workspace and it was incredibly easy to see what he was doing. Our connection never lagged and the video image stayed clear, making it easy for me to read any measurements or notes that Benjamin jotted down. 


    During our second session, Benjamin walked me through the sewing and a simple hardcover case to house the frames. We did a pamphlet stitch to connect the frames in a concertina style. The case was constructed with two pieces of millboard and a thin, flexible spine piece covered in cloth. Ribbon was inserted into the boards to aid in the closure of the book.


    Once the cloth lining was pasted in, the frames could be fixed to the case. Overall, I think the workshop was successful. It was easy for me to follow Benjamin’s instruction. However I had made a mistake while folding my frames, which I didn’t realize until the near end of the workshop. In hindsight, we discussed the importance of reviewing my work before proceeding to the next step. In order to do this with the built-in camera I was using on my laptop, I would have to hover my work in front of the camera and move it around so Benjamin could assess what I had done. 


    I think performing workshops through an online interactive video platform such as Skype or Google Hangout could serve as a viable way for bookbinders to connect and spread their teachings further through the community. There are still some kinks that need to be worked out. I know within the Listserv there has been some discussion regarding this topic, but I would love to hear your opinions and whether you’ve been on either end of an interactive video workshop.

  • 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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