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Posts Tagged ‘bookbinder of the month’

  1. Bonus // Bookbinder of the Month: Karen Hanmer

    December 29, 2013 by Erin Fletcher

    OverTheEdge-KarenHanmerIt was so hard to narrow down just 5 pieces from Karen Hanmer’s portfolio to feature during the month of December. So I present this bonus post, which includes 2 additional bindings, to wrap up both Karen’s feature and the interview segment for 2013.

    Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon (by Thomas M. Myers and Michael P. Ghiglieri) may be the reason why I first began to admire Karen Hanmer’s work and how I fell in love with the lacunose technique. This French-style fine binding is covered in full goatskin and features two large goatskin lacunose onlays. The tumbling figures are tooled in gold using custom brass tools, both on the covers, spine and edge-to-edge doublures, which have left a mirrored impression on the suede flyleaves (which you can see here). 


    After visiting with Karen in her home bindery, I attended the One Book, Many Interpretations exhibit at the Chicago Public Library in 2011. I had just been treated to handling some of Karen’s earlier works, that I was so awed by her recent fine binding of The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe. Karen employs so many techniques on this binding, but every part is flawlessly executed into a harmonious composition.

    Bound as a French-style fine binding in full goatskin with back-pared and cushioned onlays; some laser-printed. Sprinkled gold leaf creates a cosmic stream across the boards. The edges are decorated with graphite and sprinkled with gold leaf.

    These two bindings are amongst my favorites within your portfolio. The techniques you employed made for quite striking designs. Can you discuss the lacunose technique and using laser-printed onlays?
    I don’t draw, paint, airbrush, or do any kind of traditional printmaking, so to get imagery into my designs, I use the computer, or in the case of lacunose, brute force.


    I saw Paul Delrue present the lacunose technique at the Guild of Book Workers meeting in 2005. Thin bits of leather are adhered to a substrate or directly to the book, sanded, a PVA wash is applied and dried, and the leather is sanded again. More bits of leather can be applied, tooling can add additional texture, and color can be added to the wash to alter the tone. This process is repeated numerous times with finer and finer sandpaper, then finished with beeswax on a cloth.


    Laser-printing on leather is a technique I learned from Peter Verheyen. Pare leather to onlay thickness, paste it to tissue, dry flat. Print the desired image first onto paper so you can properly position the leather. Place the leather over the image just printed on the paper, and tape down the leading edge. Make a second laser print, this time on the leather. After the print is cool, fix the image with a protective coating. I use Cellugel. Krylon spray will also work, and SC6000 or Renaissance wax will probably work also, but be careful not to rub the toner off the surface as you rub on the protective coating. Then remove the leather from the copier paper and proceed to use the printed leather as an onlay or inlay.

    – – – – – – – – – –

    I want to thank Karen again for such a wonderful and thoughtful interview!

  2. Bookbinder of the Month: Karen Hanmer

    December 29, 2013 by Erin Fletcher

    LaCouleurDuVent-KarenHanmerLa Couleur du Vent is an exhibition featuring 50 bindings interpreting text of the same title. I previously posted about this exhibition in Sonya Sheat’s interview this past June. ARA-Canada in partnership with the École Estienne in Paris, organized an international exhibition of bookbinding to be held in both Paris and Canada during 2013 and 2014. I found Karen Hanmer’s design for the text to be quite striking and unusual from her other fine bindings. The overall design is simplistic, but the arrangement of fine, short lines creates a beautiful texture against the grain of the vibrant yellow leather. 

    Bound in full goatskin as a traditional French-style fine binding, Karen’s copy of La Couleur du Vent was sewn on flattened cords and the boards are laced-on. The red teardrop is a back-pared onlay, while the other teardrops are tooled using black, gold and red foils. The title is hand tooled using the same colored foils. 

    How did you come to participate in this exhibition? Are you a member of ARA Canada?
    Yes, I am a member of ARA Canada, and this is the third time I have exhibited with them. Their exhibitions travel in Canada and sometimes in France, and they still produce printed catalogs.

    Prior to a family vacation I posted on the Book_Arts-l asking for suggestions of things to see in Montreal. Cécile Côté invited us to visit her studio, and I was able to see the text block for this set book exhibit, which was designed, illustrated and printed by an intern under Cécile’s direction. [From the ARA-Canada website: This is a collection of poems by Gilles Vigneault, illustrated and designed by Nastassja Imiolek under the artistic direction of Cécile Côté.] I unable to find a translation of the text, so my design is based on the illustrations, borrowing often-used colors and the repeated teardrop shape and cross-hatching.

  3. Bookbinder of the Month: Karen Hanmer

    December 22, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    A painting that hung above the sofa in the childhood home of Karen Hanmer became the inspiration and source material for Fragments of Capri. Taking an object that had become so engrained in the landscape of her surroundings, Karen reproduced the painting full size as several inkjet prints then proceeded to trim the painting down to postcard size pieces.


    Bound within the pages of this drum leaf structure the viewer is given a disjointed look at the painting. Although each spread creates an appealing and what appears to be finished painting, a sense of belonging quickly creeps into the narrative. Created in 2011, Fragments of Capri, is an unnumbered edition of 100. Each book is unique in the variation to covers and interior pages. The spine piece is vellum stamped with gold foil.

    Horizons… Capri is a similar edition where Karen continues to deconstruct and reformat this familiar painting, further fragmenting our memories of the past.  


    Bound in the drum leaf structure with a stamped vellum spine piece, Horizons… Capri was also created in 2011 in an unnumbered edition of 30. This artist book is currently on display as part of the Guild of Book Workers traveling exhibition: Horizon

    horizons3-karenhanmer horizons2-karenhanmer

    I love these two books. The soft edges and pastel colors of the painting are beautifully paired with vellum and a touch of gold foil. Did your initial concept include both books or did one stem from the other?
    Before I began binding, I photographed my husband’s family painting hanging above the sofa it was commissioned to match. Ever since, I’d wanted to make something with my family’s painting. I was invited to make a piece for an exhibit where the works would be assembled by the viewer. I thought of a puzzle or maybe a cube constructed from a photo of the painting. That fell through, but then a friend asked for a set of 50 of something to include in his Fluxus-inspired journal. I photographed the painting, color-corrected the file to match the original, inkjet-printed several copies life-size, then cut them into postcard-size pieces.

    Working with these small prints gave me the idea to use the photograph of the painting for books also. I liked the idea of a fragmented walk through the dreamy landscape, and my first idea was to reference a pocket-sized travel-guide. The Guild of Book Workers had announced the theme “Horizon” for their next traveling exhibit, and I realized if I cut the full-size printed photo of the painting into eight long rectangles, each piece would contain an obvious horizon line. I’d been hoping for a chance to use vellum as a spine for a drum leaf or sewn boards edition, and I think the gold stamped title makes the vellum look particularly luminous.

  4. Bookbinder of the Month: Karen Hanmer

    December 15, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    Nevermore Again: Poe Exhumed is an artist book from Karen Hanmer presented in multiple bound formats. The content of the work mirrors the tales of Edgar Allen Poe to contemporary economic and political stories. Pictured above on the left is the Deluxe edition which is presented as an early 19th century style publisher’s binding covered in marbled paper by Pamela Smith. The endpapers incorporate the design of the wrapper from the Standard edition, which is pictured above on the right.

    Nevermore Again: Poe Exhumed is offered for purchase in several different formats. Why have you chosen to produce this piece in various editions? Have you found one edition to be more successful over another?
    Nevermore, Again is an artists’ book exploring how current events mirror stories written by Edgar Allan Poe. I could not decide between two structures for the binding, so for the first time, I produced a book in several editions.

    The deluxe edition uses the publishers’ boarded binding I learned from Jeff Peachey. It is historically appropriate for Poe’s era, and I was eager to use this interesting cusp-of-the-industrial-revolution structure in an edition. But as I researched Poe’s bibliography, I became fascinated by Tamerlane and Other Poems, the rare first edition of Poe’s first published work. To make my book more conceptually sound, I decided that in typography, size, and structure the standard edition should be a facsimile of Tamerlane, which was presented in a simple paper wrapper. Olivia Primanis at the Harry Ransom Center sent me detailed measurements of their copy of Tamerlane, and I went to the University of Chicago to examine another in person. The only change I made was sewing through the fold instead of stabbing adjacent to the spine. I wanted my book to open well.

    nevermoredeluxe-karenhanmer nevermorestandard-karenhanmer

    I’m very pleased with the text I wrote for Nevermore, and I wanted it to have readership extending beyond those with a collector’s budget, so I made a laser-printed chapbook version also.

    I’ve sold many chapbook versions, all but one to individuals. The deluxe edition at $450 has sold significantly more copies than the standard at $275. This surprises me, especially because of pressures on institutional budgets, but I realize that Pam Smith’s marbled paper on the deluxe is hard to resist.

  5. Bookbinder of the Month: Karen Hanmer

    December 8, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    The flag book structure has become a reoccurring model in Karen Hanmer’s work. She has quite an eye for transforming flat imagery into interesting movable objects. Bluestem was created in 2006 in a small edition of 25, the work is inspired by Willa Cather’s My Antonia and includes a quote printed on the rear panel.

    bluestem-karenhanmerThe grass imagery is inkjet printed on polyester film and bound on either side of the panels creating a double-sided variation on the flag book structure. As you open and close this book a nice rustle is created by the movement of the pages. It’s quite simple and beautiful. 

    Inspired by the work of Hedi Kyle, you have, on several pieces used the flag book structure. How does this structure best represent your concept?
    Women and Cars by Susan King was among the first artists’ books I saw, and it has remained an inspiration. King’s use of the flag book structure gave me a model for everything I wanted to accomplish when making a non-codex book. It pairs multiple narratives with photographs, can be held in the hand and read like a traditional codex, opens fully enough to look commanding and compelling on exhibit, and gives viewers enough to enjoy that they will not focus on the book being printed digitally if that is an issue for them.

    The Bonefolder chose flag books as the theme for our 2008 online Bind-O-Rama exhibit. Although my previously editioned flag books were quite elaborate with multiple texts and imagery on inside and outside of the spine and boards, Bluestem appeals to my minimalist side. There’s almost nothing there: just a few words of text from Willa Cather’s My Antonia on the rear board and lines representing grass printed on clear polyester film and paper, yet the piece also effectively represents the boundlessness of the prairie.

    destinationmoon-karenhanmerCreated in 2003, Destination Moon, is another simple flag book structure that involves a complex layering of material related to the moon. Archival images pertaining to the Apollo Manned Space Program are on the reverse of John F. Kennedy’s “Man on the Moon” speech in addition to the song lyrics for Roy Alfred and Marvin Fisher’s Destination Moon, about a romantic journey to the moon. 


    But when the book is fully opened, all the viewer sees is an image of the space shuttle on its way toward the moon.


    Besides the flag book, Karen has played around in a variety of movable and folded structures. In her work Celestial Navigation, the triangular pages can be held in the hand and read like a traditional book or unfolded to reveal star charts. The structure is quite playful and can be folded into fantastic sculpted shapes. 


    In Pride Prejudice Passion: Tunnel of Love, Karen appropriately uses the tunnel book structure. This works combines text from the classic romance novel by Jane Austen with images cut from covers of the modern romance novel. As the term suggests, the content can be viewed through the length of the structure, similar to peering down a tunnel. 



  6. Bookbinder of the Month: Sonya Sheats

    June 9, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    Photo by Brandon Constant.

    Bien Aimé Raymond by Max Jacob with illustrations by Jean-Marie Queneau was bound by Sonya Sheats in 2007. This was Sonya’s first open joint binding using MDF and wood veneer. Sonya refers to this binding as an open joint because the covers are attached by the snakeskin and vellum sewing tapes, leaving an open (or empty) joint between the text block and the boards. It is a cased-in binding that is based on a structure that was used by Otto Dorfner in Germany in the early 1900’s.

    The covers are a dyed birch veneer with a dark blue Oasis goatskin spine. The endpapers are brown Silsuede and a brown Nepalese paper.

    bienaimeraymond2-sonyasheats bienaimeraymond3-sonyasheats

  7. Bookbinder of the Month: Sonya Sheats

    June 2, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    Photo by Brandon Constant.

    Paperrad was an artist collective based in Boston and comprised of Jacob Ciocci, Jessica Ciocci, and Ben Jones (all fantastic friends of Sonya Sheats). Their multimedia projects use “lo-fi” visual aesthetics, bold fluorescent colors, and images from popular culture.

    In 2006, Jacob visited Sonya in France. Paperrad’s first book, BJ and Da Dogs, had just been published and he brought her a couple copies. Sonya had just finished her first apprenticeship with Edgard Claes and was about to return to Belgium to continue her studies. Jacob and Sonya thought it would be a good idea to bind Paperrad’s book, so he designed the cover while in France, and Sonya brought it with her to Belgium.

    This edition had been previously bound after publication, so Sonya dismantled the text block. To hide some wear left on the outer folds of the signatures, Sonya glued strips of fluorescent papers onto the folds. The structure for the binding is referred to as “À Creneaux” with an open spine in polycarbonate assembled in sections and PVC. The signatures were sewn with monofilament and exposed along the spine.

    A comment from Sonya:
    It will forever be a running joke between Edgard and me because he was quite shocked and unsettled by the colors in the Paperrad design. I hung up prints, templates, and color samples around my workspace, and Edgard joked that he had a hard time looking in my direction during that time. It took me about 22 hours to make 7 templates for the color blocks and to airbrush the design [with automotive paint]. 

    paperradpoly2-sonyasheats paperradpoly3-sonyasheats

    The interior of the boards were also airbrushed, one in lime and the other in a soft blue.


    Bound in 2005 for Paperrad, BJ and Da Dogs is this full embossed leather binding with colored foil tooling for the title. Below is another edition bound as an open joint binding with buffalo skin.


  8. Bookbinder of the Month: Derek Hood

    April 28, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    In 2012, Derek Hood bound a copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses in full dark blue goatskin with onlays and inlays in various leathers. Printed on natural calfskin (and used as onlays) are excerpts from Joyce’s recently released handwritten manuscript of Ulysses. The book was sewn on hemp cords, which were laced into the boards. The book edges are gilt in 24kt leaf, as is the title on the spine. Endpapers are leather jointed, with Japanese Kozo doublures.

    A hand drawn map of Leopold Bloom’s Dublin by Vladimir Nabokov inspired the design. It follows Bloom’s heady journey, starting from Dublin Bay and meandering across the Liffe. The simple map is intertwined with two fractured Greek masks.

    This first edition copy of Ulysses was published by Random House of New York in 1934. 


  9. Bookbinder of the Month: Derek Hood

    April 21, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    Looks Like Nothing The Shadow Through Air was published by Circle Press in 1972 in a limited edition of 175. Letterpress printed in Times Roman on T.H. Saunders mould-made paper, the content is previously unpublished poems written by Larry Eigner between 1960-1969. The edition includes illustrated relief prints by Ronald King. 

    Derek Hood covered the binding in multiple inlaid leathers including suede, calf and snakeskin. The top edge is hand gilt in 24kt gold leaf. Lettering is tooled in white, purple and 24kt leaf. Endpapers are leather jointed with Japanese Kozo paper doublures, which are tooled with purple arcs.

    The cover artwork is a direct response to the poetry of Larry Eigner. The space between the lines, that Eigner creates, say as much to the reader as the words upon them. The circular movement reflects Eigner’s constant referral to the moon, the sun and the interplay of light between the two. The gold dots are used to emulate the keys of Eigner’s 1940s Royal manual typewriter, which he used to type all of his poetry on. The title is lettered around the book to reflect the informal style in which Eigner laid out his poetry on the page.

  10. Bookbinder of the Month: Derek Hood

    April 14, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    Published by Golden Cockerel Press in 1930 in an edition of 500, this copy of The Phaedo of Plato is number 392. Written by Plato and translated into English by Benjamen Jowett, this edition also includes ornaments and initial letters by Eric Gill.

    In 2012, Derek Hood bound this copy for the Flow Gallery Exhibition. The binding is covered in light-blue goatskin with inlays of goatskin and alum-tawed calfskin. The outlines are recess onlayed with strips of grey goatskin. The book has Japanese Kozo paper doublures, which are leather jointed. The top-edge is hand gilt with the other two sides left deckled. Titling with Gill Sans hand letters are used in gold on the spine. The binding is housed in a cloth chemise and contrasting slipcase.

    The front cover shows a central abstract figure representing Socrates. The fractured image contains elements of his impending poisoning and transition from this world to the next. The muted palette and use of a wooden sphere are used to echo Socrates’ philosophical obsession with natural order. 

  • 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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