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Posts Tagged ‘emily martin’

  1. Guild of Book Workers – Standards of Excellence Seminar // Cleveland 2015

    October 25, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    I woke up very, very early on a Thursday morning to catch a flight out of Boston to Cleveland in order to attend the evening festivities planned for the first day of the Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence Seminar. I was delighted to be on the same flight with Deborah Howe, Collections Conservator at the Baker-Berry Library at Dartmouth College. The weekend-long event filled with book-related discussions had officially begun.

    We arrived in Cleveland to a brisk, yet sunny morning. My wonderful friends and colleagues, Henry Hebért and Jeanne Goodman, picked us up at the airport and we were off to the hotel located just a short walk from Lake Erie (and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame).

    The first day of Standards began with book-related tours across the city. At the last moment, I was able to snag a spot on the tour of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Our docent, a fellow GBW member, gave us a brief tour through the Western Art galleries, stopping from time to time to show off books from their spectacular collection. It was a real treat to see some fine examples of Western-style bindings and manuscripts.

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    In 2002, the Museum underwent renovations that included this beautiful 39,000 square foot enclosed glass atrium that connects the original building with the newer wing and is where we met our tour guide. (click to enlarge images)

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    We appropriately began our tour of early bindings with an Egyptian Book of the Dead of Hori scroll on papyrus dating roughly around 1969 – 945 BC. We swiftly made our way to the 11th century as our docent pointed out this beautiful Byzantine binding with the primary headbands still intact.

    We then saw a small collection of illuminated manuscripts with pigments that had been wonderfully preserved and appeared as bright as if they were created yesterday.

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    As a great lover of Flemish art, Queen Isabella treasured her library of devotional books; on display at the museum is a Book of Hours crafted for her by the most talented manuscript painters active in Ghent and Bruges during early 1500s. This circle of artists were renowned for their border decoration that often featured realistically painted flowers, scrolling acanthus leaves, birds and butterflies.

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    The Gotha Missal dating from about 1370 – 72 is shown in the image above (left) opens to a lovely miniature painting with vines running along the margins. Since the interest for most displayed book is in the content, binders get to see very little of the actual binding. Fortunately, the CMA has digitized and photographed a large portion of their collection. The leather binding over wooden boards is quite a beautiful example of a decorative medieval binding. The tooling could have been completed with a decorative roll and covers the entire surface of the covers.

    Next in the tour was a highly decorated leather case with cut-work and hand painted details in blue once used to cover a Qu’ran dated to sometime in the 15th century. We also saw a leaf from a Jain manuscript from India dating to sometime in the 15th – 16th century. But the final piece we saw was by far my favorite.

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    An Illustrated Marriage of Apparitions (Bakemono konrei emaki) is a humorous hand scroll created in the mid-1800s. The story is mainly told through imagery with cartouches scattered amongst the illustrations as a way to describe the scene (much like a comic book). The scroll is displayed open to the part of the story with the birth of the first child between two apparitions or bakemono. A procession of 100 whimsical and supernatural monsters follow the couple through their matchmaking, engagement, marriage and finally to childbirth.

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    The evening reception occurred at the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Education Foundation. This was my first time at the Morgan and I was blown away by the size of the space. It was covered with a multitude of various creations. From what I could gather, the space was divided into different areas, a small shop right near the entrance, an area for printing, the center of the room was used as an exhibitions space, and the back half was for paper making and other workshops. I did miss out on the tour of the garden just outside the building in the back, but I heard it was absolutely gorgeous.

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    Buoyancy was the exhibit on view at the Morgan, which explores themes of water and swimming and includes the work of Aimee Lee and Kristen Martincic. I really enjoyed Kristen’s realistic paper recreations of objects used in the water. Aimee created a large and impressive assortment of intricately woven sculptural ducks from hanji dyed with natural pigments.

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    left: Aimee Lee | right: Kristen Martincic

    Being that we were on the turf of the Midwest Chapter, members were invited to bring books for a pop-up exhibit. To our delight, this was also on display during the opening reception.

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    The books on display in the image above from left to right are: Cris Clair Takacs: Remembering Jan Bohuslav Sobota, Karen Hanmer: Bookbinding with Numerous Engravings and Diagrams and Richard BakerLe Tour du Monde en Quatre-Vingts Jours (Around the World in Eighty Days).

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    Working down the exhibit table is Eric Alstrom’s The Long Goodbye (seen on the left) and Charles Wisseman‘s World Bones. 

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    Next up Biblio Tech: Reverse engineering historical and modern binding structures from Karen Hanmer.

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    On the left is Tunnel of Love from Mary Uthuppuru with miniatures from Gabrielle Fox on the right.
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    Wrapping up my tour of the exhibit table is Joanna Kluba‘s Rainer Maria Rilke: Poems on the left and Emily Martin‘s Who Gets to Say on the right.

    That concludes day one of the Standards Seminar. Stay tuned for part two of the post soon.


  2. Guild of Book Workers – Standards of Excellence Seminar // Las Vegas 2014

    October 28, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    The 2014 Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence Seminar was located in Las Vegas at the Excalibur Hotel. My initial experience of the city was enchanting. As my first trip to Las Vegas, the lights and sights were captivating and surreal. The city is constantly bustling with excitement and anticipation. However, these abstractions of Vegas began to weigh on my experience.

    Despite the circumstances, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the Seminar and within this post I will present an overview of the events. Each Standards of Excellence Seminar includes a tour. The conservation lab at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas invited the attendees to view their facilities and see an overview of their collection, means of repair and exhibits.

    The official start of the Seminar occurred later that day with an opening reception at the University outside the Barrick Museum. We gathered outside in the warm weather to some treats and libations. The museum was open to us as well and featured a selection of contemporary 2-d and 3-d art juxtaposed with an exhibit of baskets from the Southern Paiute and Shoshone of southern Nevada. The reception is a great way to see who is attending and offers an opportunity to rekindle connections. There are a variety of people whom I connect with every year at Standards, which is one reason I love to attend the Seminar.

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    The first full day of the Seminar included two of the four presentations and ended with a Mix and Mingle event. In addition to those happenings, is the the vendor room. Each year the vendor room is filled with colorful leathers, handmade papers, bindery tools and more. There are many vendors who are staples of the vendor room and many who are new to the crowd. I’m always pleased to chat with the vendors, it’s so wonderful to have a personal relationship with the people who supply our materials. But on to main event: the very first presentation was by Emily Martin.

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    Emily’s artist book, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, was a Distinguished Winner for the Designer Bookbinders 2013 International Bookbinding Competition and became the subject of her presentation on Carousel Books. This style of binding was first used in the 1930s becoming more popular after WWII. There are two main types of carousel books: 1) floor and wall and 2) window (or starbook). Emily’s presentation was so well executed as she demonstrated how she created a hybrid of the two types for her Shakespeare book. Her instruction was easy to follow as she demonstrated her creative process and the steps for constructing an elaborate carousel book. One other element that I enjoyed from Emily’s presentation was her use of trace monotype as a means of creating illustration.

    The second presentation was on Parchment Over Boards from Peter Geraty. This is a structure that I have learned directly from Peter, while I was a student at North Bennet Street School. So Peter’s presentation was a wonderful refresher to a structure that I am currently working on in my studio. Due to the short-time frame of the presentations, many of the steps had to be rush through, but Peter did a wonderful job of completing the major parts of the binding. It was particularly nice to see how to shape the headcap, which can be quite difficult when working in parchment.

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    The first full day of the Seminar ended with a Mix and Mingle event, which is an informal way to show off your more recent work to the fellow attendees. A few tables were filled with a variety of book related projects from miniature bindings and finely printed artist books to handmade tools and fine bindings. It’s always delightful to handle books and have the opportunity to speak with the craftsperson about their work. This Mix and Mingle event is quite a new addition to Standards, only happening once before at last year’s Seminar, but I hope it will continue. It’s a wonderful way to engage in creative conversation with fellow bookbinders and conservators.

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    At the start of the second day of the Seminar was a presentation on Historical Letterlocking by Jana D’ambrogio. I really enjoyed Jana’s presentation because her enthusiasm for the subject of letterlocking was quite infectious. She presented on several letterlocking variations, detailing the folds and locking techniques used in order to secure a letter of importance. And there were quite a lot of variations from using the same material to create the lock, penetrating through all folded layers, pleating, triangular lock, the penguin lock and using wax seals. Every locked letter that Jana demonstrated was based on an actual letter, that had been deeply researched and investigated by Jana herself. She has traveled all over the world viewing various letters to decipher their letterlocking structures. All this research is just the start of a new database of information and a new lexicon on the habits of security during the 15th – 16th century.

    Jana wrapped the audience into her presentation as we were tasked to unlock our own letter. She also demonstrated a quick and easy way to lock a letter into a triangular shape, which can be sent through the mail even today.

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    To wrap up the day was the final presentation on the Traditional Medieval Girdle Book given by Renate Mesmer. In Germany the girdle book is called Das Beutelbuch and was a symbol of faith or status within society of the 15th century. The texts were either religious or legal. Around 800 girdle books can be found in art, yet only 23 physical examples are known worldwide (most in Germany and only 14 in their original cover). The structure of the book is similar to most 15th century wooden board bindings, there are so many variations to the sewing pattern, sewing support, endpapers and spine linings. Renate demonstrated the construction of the binding before moving on the creation of the girdle and Turk’s head knot.

    Renate also engaged the audience’s participation by attempting to teach us the Turk’s head knot using a bouncy ball and a long, thin piece of leather. It was quite difficult to say the least.

    Throughout Renate’s presentation, the audience was enchanted by spurts of medieval knowledge from Jim Croft, who joined the stage to discuss wood and brass hinges.

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    The final event of the Seminar is the banquet, this year attendees were invited to dress in medieval garb (which is why Renate is dressed so appropriately during her presentation). And thanks to my classmate, Caitlyn Thompson, many of the NBSS students and alum donned hand-crocheted crowns. During dessert, the Guild’s President Mark Andersson, presented the Laura Young Award to Julia Miller and the Lifetime Achievement award to Sam Ellenport. The former is presented to someone who has served the Guild in an outstanding manner. The latter award was presented to Sam Ellenport for the countless ways he has influenced the field of bookbinding. Many people have been affected by his influence, for example, Sam was instrumental in created the bookbinding program at North Bennet Street School.

    Following the food and awards, is the real excitement of the night: the auction. Scholarship winners parade around the room with the items up for auction and excitement ensues amongst the crowd. I was delighted to participate this year for the first time and walked away with two beautiful pieces of suede that were so gorgeously decorated and altered by Coleen Curry. And thanks to Colin Urbina, I also got a dogtooth burnisher.

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    My night ended with several goodbyes, some lovely music from Jim Croft and an excellent show and tell from Don Glaister.

    Although, I was eager to leave Vegas, I had a wonderful time at the Seminar. Looking forward to seeing all my book friends and colleagues next year in Nashville.


  3. May // Book Artist of the Month: Roni Gross

    May 2, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

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    Tikilluarit was created for the An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street exhibition, which began in 2012, exhibiting nationally and internationally until 2015. The exhibition showcases a collection of artist books and broadsides that are a response to the explosion of a car bomb in Al-Mutanabbi Street, the historic center of bookselling and arts culture in Baghdad, back in March 2007. The exhibit came to Cambridge and was exhibited in three parts. Unfortunately, the session I attended did not included this particular work (I wrote a post about it).

    Tikilluarit is the collaborative work of three artists. But Roni Gross is the star of this post; her concept transformed a written piece into a conceptual binding. The sonnet, which makes up the text of the book, was recast from a Greenlandic series by Nancy Campbell titled “The Hunter Teaches Me To Speak” (originally published in Modern Poetry in Translation). The word ‘tikilluarit’ means ‘welcome’ in Kalaallisut, the native language in Greenland. The sonnet is as follows:

    The hunter teaches me to speak
    I place my fingers round his neck and feel
    his gorge rise – or is he swallowing
    his tongue? He wants to teach me the word
    for ‘welcome’. Suddenly, he’s trembling:
    his larynx rumbles, then his breath is gone.
    He asks me to remember those vibrations,
    and, anxious as a nurse who takes a pulse,
    touches my throat to judge its contortions.
    Will I ever learn these soft uvulars?
    I’m so eager, I forget that the stress
    always falls on the second syllable.
    My echo of his welcome is grotesque.
    He laughs, an exorcism of guillemets,
    dark flocks of sound I’ll never net, or say.

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    The modified accordion binding was executed by Biruta Auna using calfskin while Roni designed and letterpress printed the text on Mitsumata paper.

    Tikilluarit is bound in such a way that offers little access to the interior parts of the book. How does the text and binding correlate to one another?
    The poem speaks about a person trying to mimic the sound of a word spoken by another person by placing a hand around the throat of the speaker. The spine side of the book was made to be as visually important as the text block, which serves in effect, as the throat of the book. The text moves up and into the spine as if going down the throat. The exposed sewing is similar to the anatomy of the vocal cords.

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    The fourth collaborator is Peter Schell who crafted the unique sound sculpture that is paired with the deluxe edition of the book. In addition the deluxe edition includes a waxed linen wrap to house both the book and sound sculpture.

    Paired with the book is a wooden sound sculpture that can be activated by shaking it. What does the element of sound bring to the experience of this piece?
    The speaker in the poem says of the difficulty in learning to the language…”dark sounds that I will never net or say”. The wooden sculpture has an abstract wing pattern on the outside, which refers to an arctic bird which make a tinkling sound as its wings beat across the water. A sound that the human voice would not be able to replicate. It is another way of amplifying the words so that you can experience the poem in a physical way.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    I went into this interview not knowing very much about Roni, her history, her work or her artistic outlook. Through the interview, I hope you come to realize what I have: that Roni has a great appreciation for her artistic community and brings together unique artists in collaboration to expand on the concept of the book by conjuring up the senses. Enjoy the interview after the jump and sign up to receive email notifications so you don’t miss a post throughout the month of May which will feature more of Roni’s work.

    read more >


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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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