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Posts Tagged ‘sonya sheats’

  1. July // Bookbinder of the Month: Coleen Curry

    July 1, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    Coleen Curry was amongst the talented bookbinders who participated in the ARA-Canada exhibit La Couleur du Vent, an international design binding exhibition starting in Paris before traveling to Quebec in September 2013 and then Montreal in November 2013. La Couleur du Vent is a collection of poems by Gilles Vigneault, illustrated and designed by Nastassja Imiolek under the artistic direction of Cécile Côté. If it sounds familiar, I posted about this exhibition during last month’s interview with Sonya Sheats

    Coleen bound this copy of La Couleur du Vent as a ‘Montage sur onglets’ style so the prints would not get lost in the gutter. The term ‘Montage sur onglets’ refers to the signatures being sewn on stubs to release them from the confines of the gutter and offering a less restricted opening. Sewn on cords with laced-in boards, the book is bound in red water buffalo with chartreuse water buffalo edge to edge doublures. Exotic leather inlays of varying depths decorate the front and back covers. Title tooled with gold foil. The flyleaves are decorated papers made by Coleen. 

    A brief explanation about the design from Coleen:
    The colors match the prints in the book.  I took some of the shapes from the prints and altered them to create a feeling of blowing in the wind and to create movement.

    lacouleurduvent2-coleencurry lacouleurduvent3-coleencurry

    Coleen’s work has been on my radar ever since I came across her binding of Toni Morrison’s A Mercy at the Chicago Public Library’s exhibition One Book, Many Interpretations in 2011. I attended the opening reception not only because I love design bindings, but to see my own binding of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. This was the first time I had a binding on exhibit and I was quite honored to be on display with so many other talented binders.

    A Mercy by Toni Morrison bound by Coleen Curry

    A Mercy by Toni Morrison bound by Coleen Curry

    Coleen’s work masterfully mixes traditional leathers with some non-traditional textures such as exotic leathers, agate, and horsetail (to name a few). But I am more attracted to Coleen’s brilliant use of color; either by adding pops of color, subtle hints or just out-right all-over bold color palettes. 

    Read the interview after the jump and come back each Sunday in the month of July to view more gems from Coleen’s portfolio.

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  2. Bonus // Bookbinder of the Month: Sonya Sheats

    June 30, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    Photo by Brandon Constant

    Les Mémoires de L’Oiseau Mendelssohn by Monique Lepeuve was bound by Sonya Sheats in 2005 and was her first polycarbonate binding made during her first apprenticeship with Edgard Claes in Belguim. It tells the story of a bird by the name of Mendelssohn, who introduces the reader to the incredible characters in his family.

    This style of binding is referred to as “À Creneaux” and is archival in the sense that no glue or paste is applied to the text block. The signatures are sewn directly to the PVC spine with monofilament and could safely be removed by simply cutting the monofilament. The hinge between the polycarbonate covers and PVC spine is made from a spring-loaded watch pin.

    Sonya talks about her process for creating the airbrushed covers:
    The painted covers were done using two different processes. First, I applied four coats of paint with an airbrush (red, blue, white, and yellow ochre), and while these coats were all still wet, I took a steel brush and lightly scraped the paint. This created the fine bamboo-like grain of the design. Second, I used a series of templates to mask portions of the covers and airbrushed feather-like forms in shades of purple, circles in purple and lime, and black contour lines throughout the design.


    Photo by Brandon Constant



    Photo by Brandon Constant 

  3. Bookbinder of the Month: Sonya Sheats

    June 30, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    When Harold Pinter was award the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, the Nobel Museum (located in Stockholm) began a collaboration with the Swedish Bookbinders Guild to offer an annual Nobel Museum Bookbinding Exhibition. Their goal has been and continues to be to give bookbinders an opportunity to work together with contemporary writers. An archive of past exhibitions are also available on their site. 

    In 2012, Sonya Sheats bound Madrigal by poet Tomas Tranströmer, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Published in 2010, the text includes linoleum prints by Birgit Alm-Pons and was printed in a numbered edition of 50 (Sonya bound copy 13). Her binding was awarded honorable mention in the exhibition and was on display at the Nobel Museum alongside a biographical exhibit about Tomas Tranströmer from February to June of 2013. 

    Sonya’s binding is a true quarter binding structure. I’ll let her words describe the rest: 
    The spine is quite interesting. It is made of natural goatskin. The width of the leather spine piece is equal to two times the width of the spine. The hollow extends onto each board by approximately 0.5mm (one quarter the thickness of the true spine) and is attached to the boards by 0.5mm turn-ins on each side. Add all that leather up and you will get two times the width of the spine. The boards are a mosaic of zebra wood with inlays in birch wood. End sheets are tan Silsuede, and the book is encased in a shaped birch slipcase lined in Silsuede.

  4. Bookbinder of the Month: Sonya Sheats

    June 23, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    Photo by Brandon Constant.

    In 2010, the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers exhibited a series of juried design bindings for Johnny Carrera’s Pictorial Webster’s: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities. As a project that began in 1996, Carrera patiently sifted through a collection of around 12,000 engravings from the Merriam-Webster Company that are now housed in Yale’s Arts of the Book Press room in hopes to create a visual dictionary inspired by the Illustrated Webster’s. Carrera’s Pictorial Webster became available to the public as a trade edition in 2010. Original letterpress copies were bound in several different styles from full leather to oak boards to full cloth. Additional copies were left unbound and made available to bookbinders.

    Sonya Sheats was amongst the binders selected for the NEGBW exhibit deFINEd BINDINGS hosted at the Bromfield Gallery in Boston, MA. Bound as an open joint binding and sewn on water snakeskin and vellum tapes. The spine is white and black snakeskin and the covers are MDF and walnut veneer with dyed walnut onlays. The binding fits snuggly inside a shaped walnut slipcase. Sonya’s binding was awarded “Best Binding Structure” by North Bennet Street School

    A comment from Sonya regarding the structure of the binding: 
    Looking back, I do not think I would use an open joint structure on a book this thick. The covers essentially hang off of the book by the sewing tapes, which are hidden in a sort of de Gonet style with the dyed wooden onlays. Because of the hefty appearance of the walnut, I think it works here, but in general, I think of this structure as quite delicate and lanky. 


    Photo by Brandon Constant.

  5. Bookbinder of the Month: Sonya Sheats

    June 16, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    Photo by Brandon Constant

    5 Nouvelles Conjurations by Pierre Mrejen was bound by Sonya Sheats in 2010 and is the smallest book she’s ever bound at 8.5cm x 7cm (3.3″ x 2.7″). Bound as an open joint binding sewn onto eel skin and vellum tapes. The spine is brown goatskin with polycarbonate boards covered in frog skin and décor in snakeskin. Each cover uses one full frog skin.

    Sonya’s use of exotic skins has become a signature in her work and one of the reasons why I love her bindings. 


    Photo by Brandon Constant

    Sonya originally bound this copy of Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert in preparation for a décor class taught by Florent Rousseau. However, Sonya was displeased with the work she did and immediately reworked the binding once the class was over. Sonya cut off half of the buffalo on each cover and replaced it with new leather of a noticeably different grain. To hide the seam between the new and old leather, Sonya pared salmon skin to a lace-like thinness and place them over the seam as an onlay. The seam was still quite noticeable, so Sonya blind tooled a decorative fillet over the salmon.

    A comment from Sonya: 
    This book is the one that I receive the most inquiries about on my website and in my studio. It draws the most attention for some reason, though it was made from a series of impulsive decisions. All of the shades of pink and bordeaux come straight from the illustrations inside.

  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. June // Bookbinder of the Month: Sonya Sheats

    June 1, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    Photo by Denis Larocque.

    La Couleur du Vent is a collection of poems by Gilles Vigneault, illustrated and designed by Nastassja Imiolek under the artistic direction of Cécile Côté. Sonya Sheats bound this copy for an international design binding exhibition organized by ARA-Canada and the École Estienne in Paris. The exhibition is currently on display in Paris until it travels to Quebec and then to Montreal. The exhibition is also viewable online at ARA-Canada: La Couleur du Vent

    Sonya bound this edition as an open joint sewn with tapes made out of vellum and box calf, spine is tanned calf skin with onlaid bands of muted green and taupe water-snake skin and one band of red calf skin, boards in MDF and walnut burl veneer, and onlays in lace wood and calf skin. The subtle accent on red comes straight from the illustrations in the book.

    While finishing my second year at North Bennet Street School, Sonya was invited to teach my class the simplified binding structure, a technique she learned from Sün Evrard. Initially, I had the pleasure of meeting Sonya during an open studio event in Cambridge. I was able to tour her space and handle many of her bindings. I am very intrigue and captivated by Sonya’s clean design and level of skill. I would like to thank Sonya for taking the time to share her experiences and skills with me through this interview

    Read the interview after the jump and come back each Sunday in the month of June to read more about Sonya’s work. 

    read more >

  • 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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