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Posts Tagged ‘kathy abbott’

  1. My Trip to Codex

    February 26, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    At the beginning of February, I flew to San Francisco to attend the Codex Book Fair for the first time. The Codex Foundation was formed in 2005 by fine press printer, Peter Rutledge Koch and paper conservator, Susan Filter. Since 2007, the Codex Book Fair and Symposium has run biennially, growing from 120 exhibitors in its first year to 220 in 2017. The venue has also been upgraded to the Craneway Pavilion (once known as the Ford Assembly Plant) to accommodate this ever growing event. The Symposium runs in conjunction with the fair and features keynote speakers within the field of artist books.

    The fair itself runs for four days, unfortunately I only had a chance to be there for the final two days. Needless to say, there was so much to see and so many people to chat with that I was unable to make it all the way through. If you are planning to attend in the future, give yourself four full days. You’re going to need it.

    This year, Codex hosted exhibitors from 26 different countries, who were there to showcase their artist books and fine press editions. In addition, various institutions that offer courses and programs in bookbinding and book arts were displaying work from current students and alumni. A handful of vendors could be spotted amongst the tables selling beautiful handmade papers and tools, plus leather and other binding materials.

    I had a really great time and would recommend making the trip if you are at all interested in bookbinding, book arts and printmaking. It will certainly open your eyes up to the vast levels of skill and creativity amongst our field. Below are some of the highlights from my visit to Codex.

    One of the first things to catch my eye were three bindings by Jonathan Tremblay. His work is so flawless and it was great to get the chance to handle these bindings and chat with Jonathan about his work. The best part of the raised inlay shown on the binding above, is that Jonathan hand-painted the exposed suede edges in a grain-like pattern so that it would blend in seamlessly. A truly amazing detail. Jonathan’s work was on display at A. Piroir Studio-Gallery, a fine press based out of Montréal.

    This lovely cloth book bound around brown thorns and embroidered with erotic images was constructed by Lois Morrison. Her work Leah, interprets an excerpt from the Old Testament. Lois’ illustrations are so expressive, her initial sketch in light blue pencil is still visible under the stitches (a detail that I just loved).

    Coleen Curry discussed a recent binding she completed for Nawakum Press. Her work is so textural and this piece was no exception. Combining a Pergamena grey goatskin with onlays of shark and sanded alligator skin. Really beautiful work.

    The book on the left is by Rhiannon Alpers and is such a creative and lovely way of utilizing the structure of the Secret Belgian binding. She was a delight to chat with and see her work in person. The work on the right is by the phenomenal printer and book artist Karen Kunc. Karen is from my home state of Nebraska, where she runs Constellation Studios. It was great to catch some insight on how this art form is being received in the midwest, particularly in an area that lacks exposure to book arts.

    Vellicate by Karen Hardy includes human hair and this amazing translucent clamshell box. She went through the book arts and printmaking MFA Program at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and is currently living in Asheville, North Carolina.

    A small selection from Vamp & Tramp Booksellers.

    This binding by Sol Rébora was one of many delightful finds at her table. It was so wonderful to meet Sol in person since interviewing her for the blog back in 2014. The delicate precision of her work is inspiring and Sol was kind enough to speak about the many details of her work.

    Towards the end of the final day, I made a quick stop at Tomorrow’s Past to say hello to Tracey Rowledge and Kathy Abbott. Above are two fine examples from their table. The two bindings on the right are stone veneer staple bindings bound by Sün Evrard.

    Well that’s just a small sample of the things I saw during my trip to Codex. As I mentioned before, it’s definitely worth making the trip. You’ll leave feeling inspired and emboldened to make work, plus you might walk away with an armful of goodies.


  2. Best of 2015

    December 31, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    Wow, this has been a busy, busy year and I can’t believe that 2015 is coming to end. I want to extend my gratitude to the people who have helped contribute to the blog this year:

    Interviews:
    – Kathy Abbott
    – Ben Elbel
    – Tini Miura
    – Tracey Rowledge
    – Natalie Stopka
    Conservation Conversations Contributors:
    – Marianna Brotherton
    – Henry Hébert
    – Becky Koch
    – Athena Moore
    – Jacqueline Scott

    I also want to thank everyone who reads the blog, subscribes to the blog and newsletter and to those who’ve left comments. It has really warmed my heart to see the growth of interest and recognition that the blog has receive over the course of the year.

    At this time I like to reflect on my year. Herringbone Bindery saw a nice shift in workflow this year. As I removed conservation and repair services, I saw more edition work come my way. A few of these projects will be finishing up early in the new year and I plan to write up a post about them. I had another successful year teaching at North Bennet Street School with roughly 85% of my offered workshops running. I also began my second year as a Middle School Book Arts instructor. It’s been so delightful to see the creativity flow from the kids, stay tuned for a new feature on the blog.

    What to expect in the New Year:
    – an updated website: My husband and webmaster has been working on a beautiful new and easy to navigate website. We hope to have it up and running before the end of March.
    – I’ll be working on a fair amount of design bindings in 2016 and will be posting about them along the way
    – another round of interviews

    As I do every year, here is my list of favorite posts from 2015.

    bestof2015a

    1. December // Bookbinder of the Month: Kathy Abbott
    I am really delighted by this interview with Kathy Abbott. She is very methodical about her approach to design binding from selecting the perfect goatskin to applying her decorative techniques. Kathy’s discipline is inspiring and so are her simplistic designs.
    2. Artist: Rachel Foullon
    3. Client Work // Ye Sette of Odd Volumes

    bestof2015b

    4. Makin’ Care of Business Interview
    In July, I was interviewed by Rachel Binx at Makin’ Care of Business. It was a great way to reflect on my successes and how I’ve overcome challenges throughout the years I’ve been in business. I was honored to be apart of this collection of interviews with other talented craftsman and artisans working successfully as entrepreneurs.
    5. Artist: Nicholas Schutzenhofer
    6. North Bennet Street School // Student and Alumni Exhibit 2015 – Part One & Part Two
    I love writing this post every year. It’s a joy to speak with the students about their design bindings; detailing their concepts and techniques, what worked and what didn’t. This year’s exhibit also included a lovely selection of bindings from alumni, which you can read about in Part Two.

    bestof2015c

    7. Conservation Conversations // Making an Old Book Whole Again by Jacqueline Scott
    Jacqueline Scott had a slew of internships this past summer, which offered great material for the Conservation Conversations column on the blog. I particularly enjoyed this treatment of a binding in the collection at the Newberry Library in Chicago.
    8. March // Bookbinder of the Month: Tracey Rowledge
    I am so awed by the art work and bindings from Tracey Rowledge. Her responses to my interview questions were so thoughtful and inspiring. There is no mistake that she is a talented craftsperson with an impeccable ability to meld her artistic capabilities into her bindings.
    9. Artist: Tomma Abts

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    10. Seventh Triennial Helen Warren DeGolyer Exhibition and Bookbinding Competition 2015
    As a first time participant in the DeGolyer Exhibit and Competition, I found the experience to be quite rewarding (despite the fact that I didn’t actually win anything). It forced me to execute an idea for a design binding in a new and more extensive way. This post goes into detail about my own proposal and the proposal from winner, Priscilla Spitler.
    11. Artist: David Quinn
    12. July // Bookbinder of the Month: Ben Elbel
    An innovator in the field, Ben Elbel has continuously churned out variations on structures and has developed several new styles of binding. I am always looking forward to his next project; to read about the challenges posed by the binding and the elegant solutions he comes up with.

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    13. My Hand // Dune
    This year I finished my design binding for Dune, that was then accepted into the Guild of Book Workers Traveling Exhibit: Vessel. I am very pleased with the outcome of this binding, particularly with the edge decoration and the successfully gilt concentric circles. No easy task.
    14. Artist: Lily Stockman
    15. Conservation Conversations // The Continuum by Henry Hébert
    Henry Hébert has been writing for the Conservation Conversations post for 2 years now and has continuously delivered interesting and sometime hilarious content. The outcome of Henry’s treatment shared in this post is stunning. The new binding is well executed and is treated with respect to the binding’s historical content.

    Happy New Year!


  3. Bonus // Bookbinder of the Month: Kathy Abbott

    December 31, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    WingedChariot-KathyAbbott

    I am ending my interview with Kathy Abbott with a bonus post. The binding above is Winged Chariot by Walter de la Mare. Kathy completed this binding in 2012 by covering the book in full burgundy goatskin. The tooled designs are done in Caplain leaf and the head edge is gilt in the same.

    When laying out a tooled design, especially one that is to be symmetrical across the book (like the design on Winged Chariot), what is your approach? Have you always employed the same method for transferring your design or has your technique changed over time?
    I have been fortunate to have been taught gold tooling in both the traditional manner, whilst I was at college and then latterly, in the contemporary manner by Tracey Rowledge. Both Tracey and my traditional gold finishing tutors have used the same method of marking out a diaper pattern (a diagonally marked grid), which can be a useful way of creating symmetry across both boards.

    This design of this book wasn’t done using a diaper pattern. It contains one long poem, about time and to express this, I had a very fine 5mm short pallet made to create the imagery, and wanted the tooled design to be fairly random. I made a paper template the same size as one of the boards, drew out the design with a fine ink-pen. I photocopied the drawing, cut out some of the areas of the design and re-positioned them until I was happy with it. I then traced the design and reversed it. I always pin my designs up on the wall and live with them for a while before I begin tooling.

    When I was ready, I photocopied the design onto thin handmade paper, attached it to the binding, tooled through the template, removed the template and blind-tooled again direct, applied the glaire and then tooled each impression with 3 layers of Caplain gold leaf (which was picked up on the tool itself).


  4. Bookbinder of the Month: Kathy Abbott

    December 27, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    LovesLaboursLost-KathyAbbott

    This 2006 binding from Kathy Abbott is Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost with illustrations by Berkeley Sutcliffe. The binding is covered in full pink goatskin and includes multi-colored goatskin onlays. The top edge is colored pink to match the leather.

    One of the reasons that I wanted to do this interview with you is that you create such striking and simplistic designs, which really push forward the beauty of the leather. What is your selection process for choosing the perfect leather?
    I adore the graininess of Nigerian goatskin: every skin tells a different story through its grain. Depending on which angle you cut your piece of covering leather, you can express a landscape, a sea, a wind, trees; all sorts. I don’t often use the spine of the skin on the spine of my books: I find it much more interesting to move my template window around the skin until I find something more arresting about the grain. I also love all the faults on skins: dyeing faults, holes, scars etc.

    When I have read my text, I set off to find the perfect skin to express as much of the story as possible. I have often looked through a hundred or more skins at the tannery until I find the ‘right’ one: the poor guys at Harmatan have been so patient with me over the years! Often, I have found it difficult to embellish the skin I have chosen, as the grain is saying everything I want to say about the text. I do all I can to celebrate the beauty in every skin I use.

    Sadly, we can no longer get Nigerian goatskins because of the political situation there. So obtaining anything grainy now is a challenge as the grain of Indian goatskins is quite flat in comparison. Luckily I have a large stock of Nigerian skins, so I will be ok for a while, but I won’t be able to be so choosy in the future.

    NewYorkRevisited-KathyAbbott

    This is a binding of Kenneth Auchincloss’s New York Revisited that includes wood engravings by Gaylord Shanilec. The book was published by The Grolier Club of New York in 2002. Kathy covered the binding in full black goatskin and detailed the covered with handmade paper onlays. Click on the image to get a full sense of the graininess of the leather.

     


  5. Bookbinder of the Month: Kathy Abbott

    December 20, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    BenitoCerano-KathyAbbott

    The 1926 Nonesuch Press edition of Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno with illustrations by E. McKnight Kauffer was bound by Kathy Abbott in 2013. The book was bound in full grey goatskin with recessed paper inlays. The head edge was gilt in Caplain leaf to appear distressed.

    I would love to talk about your aesthetic. Your designs are compelling because of their simplicity, where does your inspiration come from? Are you drawing from the book itself or outside influence?
    I am a passionate reader, so the inspiration comes from reading and re-reading the text until I get a ‘sense’ of the book. A colour usually is the first thing that comes to my mind and then I write down the key themes of the text, which stay with me after I have finished reading: that’s my starting point. I then search for the skin of leather that best expresses the essence of the text or that will emphasise my idea for the design.

    My ideas usually get distilled down to their absolute essence: I want to lure the reader in to my books, to entice them to discover what the book is about.

    For Benito Cereno I wanted to express the extreme savagery of the text. The story is set on a shipwrecked boat that has been mutinised by its slaves, who have slain most of the crew with cutlasses. I chose the skin because the grain looked windswept and stormy and I also wanted to continue the feeling of a windy storm within the endpapers and in the scratches to the Caplain-gilded head of the book.

    BenitoCerano3-KathyAbbott

    After practicing the slash marks many times, I found that the only way to make them look savage and frenetic, was to actually slash the book very fast with a scalpel, once the book was covered. This was hugely stressful, as I only had one chance to get it right: once the first one was done, I had to hold my breath and repeat it three more times!

    AStitchInTime2010

    In addition to Kathy’s binding of Benito Cereno, I also wanted her to speak about her design for A Stitch in Time or Pride Prevents a Fall. This binding was created in 2010 and is also a Nonesuch Press edition published in 1927.
    A Stitch in Time is quite a silly poem about a 1930’s girl about town, who finds herself a slightly dangerous situation when she is duped into having lunch alone with a man who has sexual intentions towards her. She gets herself out of a potential sexual assault because she can’t bear the thought of her assailant seeing a tear in her green petticoat, which she had hastily sewn up with pink thread before leaving her house.

    I tried to make the pink leather onlays on this binding look like they were sewn through the green leather.


  6. Bookbinder of the Month: Kathy Abbott

    December 13, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    In the interview at the beginning of the month, I asked Kathy Abbott about Tomorrow’s Past, an exhibit inspired by Sün Evrard’s article in The New Bookbinder, Volume 19. The idea is to rethink the approach of repair work in a contemporary and more visible way. In this post Kathy explains the treatments for two bindings and why she chose to do these repairs in an unconventional way.

    I’ve chosen a selection of bindings from your Tomorrow’s Past portfolio. I find the treatments to be delightful yet still respectful to the bindings historic value.
    Thank you. I could never undertake this sort of conservation treatment if I hadn’t worked for 9 years as a book consevator and bindery manager at the antiquarian booksellers: Bernard Quaritch Ltd. I learned so much there about antiquarian books and from working on such a wide variety of them, each with very individual needs. I continue to conserve antiquarian books as well as Islamic manuscripts, where I constantly have to stretch my skill base in order to do the right thing for the book in my care. This allows me to have a lot of tacit knowledge at my fingertips when I approach my Tomorrow’s Past work.

    SacredDramas-KathyAbbott

    In the treatment of Sacred Dramas (1818) you’ve included this brightly hand-colored tissue that is quite a stark contrast from the original covering material. What was the prior condition of the book and why did you choose, what could be perceived as an unconventional route of conservation?
    I made this work for a Tomorrow’s Past exhibition at the Aram Gallery, London, in 2013.

    SacredDramas2-KathyAbbott

    I found the book with both boards detached and no spine, and I spent a lot of time looking and handling the book before I decided on the course of action. The book’s sewing was intact and each edge was marbled, so I didn’t want to disturb it by re-sewing. The book didn’t open well, so I reattached the boards with linen and they now open right back and touch each other at the spine. I didn’t want a heavy spine that would impede the book’s opening even more, so decided on a sort of hollow, made from handmade paper but the head and tail of the spine has a little flap which tucks down inside the hollow, so that it doesn’t have a vulnerable cut edge. The decoration on the spine is hand drawn with acrylic inks, to relate to the decorative gold tooling on the boards. The boards themselves were quite damaged and needed to be repaired, so I decided to highlight both the board attachment and every repair, with the same bright blue colour that appears within the marbled edges on the book-block. The re-binding of this book came the year after conserving Q. Horatii Flacci Carmina Expurgata, where I first explored the concept of highlighting the repairs and it felt absolutely like the right thing to do. It has caused a lot of controversy though: people either love it or hate it.

    SacredDramas3-KathyAbbottSacredDramas4-KathyAbbott

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    QHoratiiFlacci-KathyAbbott

    The repair on the binding of Q. Haratii Flacci Carmina Expurgata (1784) is subtle yet stunning. Can you walk us through the steps: was the book resewn and how was the hand-gilded paper used to repair the binding?
    This poor book was in such bad shape when I found it but I absolutely loved its original binding and thought it was essential to keep every last crumb of it. My good friend is a Kintsugi restorer: this is where broken Japanese ceramics are repaired with lacquer and the repairs are highlighted in real gold or silver powder, rendering the piece even more beautiful. I thought that this particular book would really benefit from this sort of treatment.

    QHoratiiFlacci2-KathyAbbott

    The sewing was broken in many places and the alum-tawed thongs were very brittle and had snapped in several places, making them unusable. I didn’t want to use new, white thongs, as they would look very bright and at odds with the rest of the book, so decided to dye some alum-tawed skin dark brown to match the titling, using conservation leather dyes.

    I pulled the book and then repaired the tears in the cover with Japanese tissue, the text-block did not need to be guarded nor repaired. I then re-sewed the book following the original sewing positions. I gilded a piece of hand-made paper with 23.5 carat gold leaf and the piece was then inserted under the turn-ins of the cover and was adhered to the original turn-ins only, using methylcellulose.

    QHoratiiFlacci3-KathyAbbottQHoratiiFlacci4-KathyAbbott

    The sewing of the front section to close the binding was very complex: the fold of the pastedown was hooked around the first and last sections. To close the binding, (join the cover to the sewn text-block) I had to sew through the front section and the hooked fold of the pastedowns at the same time. The sewing had to go around the thongs, (which needed to be laced through the cover before the sewing could be done), without piercing through the pastedowns nor the cover. I had to make a series of needles, curved to different angles in order to achieve it. It was one of the most technically difficult things I have ever had to do but the result looks very simple. On the finished binding, the gold is only visible where there is a piece of the spine missing and a tiny bit through the lacing positions.


  7. Bookbinder of the Month: Kathy Abbott

    December 6, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    AsYouLikeIt-KathyAbbott

    Jumping back to 2008 with this binding of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Kathy Abbott bound this 1903 Roycroft Shop edition in full scarlet goatskin. The cascading hearts are black goatskin onlays. The head edge is gilt using moon gold.

    I’ve noticed that you never title your bindings. What are your reasons for this choice? Are you ever criticized for this decision by collectors or other binders?
    I wouldn’t say criticized but it is often commented on! I like the reader to be curious about what’s inside the book, without actually ‘telling them’ what it’s about. For me, a book’s design must flow freely across the front board, the spine and the back board without interruption. I feel that a title would break the flow in my work. This is purely personal: I have seen many binders use titling beautifully as an essential element of their design but this is just not for me, at least for now that is! All of my bindings are housed in bespoke drop-back boxes and the title of the book is always on the box, so it’s not a problem.

    The free-flowing design for this book is a nod towards the love letters that Orlando leaves for Rosalind in the trees of the forest.


  8. December // Bookbinder of the Month: Kathy Abbott

    December 1, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    OnACalmShore-KathyAbbott

    On a Calm Shore is a 1960 edition by Frances Cornford with illustrations by Christopher Cornford. In 2015, Kathy Abbott bound this copy in full grey goatskin with recessed and embossed onlays with relief printing. The edges are decorated and printed to match the design on the covers.

    Can you walk us through the processes used to create the layered design in the recessed areas of the binding?
    This text-block was a very unusual choice for me as it was printed in the 1960’s on modern paper and was heavily illustrated. I am usually drawn to early 20th century, letterpressed printed books from private presses, with no illustrations. When I found this text in a second-hand bookshop, I was delighted: the poems were charming and the illustrations were so vibrant and alive, that I just had to buy it.

    OnACalmShore2-KathyAbbott

    I made this binding for an exhibition in London last year called: Covered. I have responded to the references to the sea in the poetry and to the layered screen-printed illustrations by the author’s son, Christopher Cornford on this binding. I felt that the structure had to be a fine binding over layered pasteboards so that I could sculpt the boards easily, and cover it in beautiful grainy leather, to create different textures.

    OnACalmShore3-KathyAbbott

    Boards before lacing onto the book.

    To create this design, I cut away parts of the boards; laced the boards on and lined the outside with paper to form a solid ground for the leather. I then covered the book with Nigerian goatskin, pushing the leather into the recesses with a very fine-pointed bone folder. I made seaweed-y shapes from millboard (a very laborious job achieved by cutting out the shapes with a scalpel and making bespoke sanding tools to get into the nooks and crannies) and then pressed the millboard pieces really hard into the dampened recessed areas of the covers. I applied the feathered yellow onlays, pressed the millboard shapes in again and then relief printed on top with acrylic ink through scrim, to achieve the texture, which is consistently used within the book’s illustrations.

    OnACalmShore4-KathyAbbott

    left: Boards laced onto book with design cut out | right: Binding covered in goatskin with feathered onlays.

    My response to each book I bind dictates the technique I must employ, often pushing me outside anything I have ever tackled before, and forces me to be on the edge of my practice technically: I always embrace this process.

    What techniques did you employ to carry that pattern onto the edge decoration?
    I coloured the edges with terracotta coloured acrylic ink and then used the same relief printing technique for the texture.

    OnACalmShore5-KathyAbbott

    This interview comes as a suggestion from Haein Song after I interviewed her back in February 2014. Not knowing anything about Kathy or her work, I soon discovered that, though her bindings may appear simplistic, her designs are meticulously planned and thoughtfully executed. In addition to her striking designs, I was pulled in by the gorgeous leathers used to cover her bindings. In the interview, I ask Kathy about her design processes, techniques and her strategy for choosing the perfect skin. She also goes into the concept behind Tomorrow’s Past and the ease of publishing a bookbinding manual.

    Check out the interview after the jump for more about Kathy’s training and her creative process. Come back each Sunday during the month of December for more on Kathy’s work. You can subscribe to the blog to receive email reminders, so you never miss post.

    read more >


  • 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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