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Posts Tagged ‘tooling’

  1. Client Work: Leather Panel Redesign

    October 15, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    This beautiful leather box was crafted by a student at North Bennet Street School. The green leather panel was stamped with a hand carved wooden block to create the delicate design. Unfortunately, the color and subtleness of the design conflicted with the client’s vision. Placed inside the box is a daguerreotype-style plaque of Johnson Chapel located at Amherst College, where the couple noted on the cover got married. The client approached me to have the panel redesigned using the color of Amherst: purple. 


    The green leather panel was carefully removed and a new piece of purple leather was cut down and pared to the right size. For the new design, I kept the original border layout and text placement, which indicates the location of the wedding, the couple’s names and the date of the ceremony. The center motif is inspired by the Johnson Chapel building. Using simple architectural lines, the tower of the chapel was recreated through carbon tooling. The clock at the top of the tower indicates the time at which the wedding ceremony began. 

    All of the text on the new purple panel has been hand tooled using Gill Sans handle letters and palladium leaf. Palladium was chosen to mimic the look of the plaque inside.


    The design on the box was rather tricky to capture within the limitations of my photo-documentation set-up. But the image below highlights the design through raking light, bringing out the grain of the leather against the blackness of the tooled lines. The client was very happy with the newly completed box and couldn’t wait to present the couple with their overdue wedding present. 


  2. Client Work: Single Section Full Leather Binding // Part Two

    August 1, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    If you missed Part One of this post, you can check it out here.

    After cautiously and carefully paring a rather large piece of goatskin, I was ready to cover. Being that it’s summertime and rather warm in our bindery, I was faced with the challenge of a thirsty piece of leather and quick-drying paste. After wrestling with the leather, particularly the headcaps and corners, the book was successfully covered and put to rest overnight. 

    The design on the cover is quite simplistic, an inspiration from the first musical score titled Three Nyatitis. A nyatiti is a five to eight-stringed plucked lyre from Kenya. The eight lines are spaced wider at the head of the cover then at the tail, where they end to form a partial circular shape. This negative space represents the sound hole of the instrument. The lines have been blind tooled into the leather.  

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    The title for each composition has been gold tooled along the visible spine of the leather on either side of the blind-tooled lines. Each title has been hand-tooled with 16 point Centaur handle letters.

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    An interior shot showcasing the beautifully handmade paste papers from Deena Schnitman.

  3. Bookbinder of the Month: Edgar Mansfield

    November 11, 2012 by Erin Fletcher

    I wish this image were in color, it’s a really striking design; the marks are almost sketch-like appearing at random to build a dimensional landscape. Thirstland Treks by Carel Birkby was printed by Faber and Faber in 1936 and this copy was bound by Edgar Mansfield in 1948. Covered in a native dyed yellow-brown morocco skin with slight creasing in the grain. The tooling is a combination of light and dark blind with a small amount of gold on the cover and spine.

    This is the first experiment with using the grain as an active and expressive element in the design.

    Reference: Modern Design in Bookbinding: The Work of Edgar Mansfield, pg. 27

  4. Bookbinder of the Month: Sybil Pye

    September 30, 2012 by Erin Fletcher

    Even though this book is more heavily tooled then her other bindings, she keeps to the same rhythm of repeating her signature tools in order to create the design.  The same tool is used in each corner and lines are used to break up the already complex design. This edition of Francois Villon’s Ballades and Miscellaneous Poems was printed in 1900 by the Eragny Press and bound by Sybil in 1928.  Covered in red goatskin over 5 raised bands, the design also includes onlays of green and natural goatskin. This book can be seen in detail online at the British Library.

  5. Bookbinder of the Month: Sybil Pye

    September 23, 2012 by Erin Fletcher

    Another edition of Thomas Sturge Moore’s The Little School, this copy was also printed by Eragny Press in 1905 (but on paper instead of vellum).  Unlike last week’s binding, Sybil didn’t bind this edition until 1940, much later in her career.  Covered in a turquoise goatskin with inlays of jade-green, light red, black and natural goatskin. Again you find the familiar shapes gilt in gold, anchoring the corners with the fat “o” tool, repetition in the stacking of the rounded triangle, and lines that run the full height of the book.

  6. Bookbinder of the Month: Sybil Pye

    September 16, 2012 by Erin Fletcher

    Sybil Pye was a long-term companion to artist and poet Thomas Sturge Moore and throughout her career bound several copies of his book of poetry The Little School. This copy was printed on vellum by Eragny Press in 1905 and bound by Sybil in 1916. Covered in green goatskin with inlays of vellum and gold tooled with her familiar brass tools. Marianne Tidcombe’s Women Bookbinder 1880-1920 gives ownership to the Wormsley Library, but you can view this binding on the British Library’s online catalogue

  7. Bookbinder of the Month: Sybil Pye

    September 9, 2012 by Erin Fletcher

    The British Library houses an immense collection of bookbindings. But if you can’t make it to London you can view incredibly detailed scans of their collection online. This binding of Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici, Urn Burial, Christian Morals and other essays was bound by Sybil Pye in 1940 and is owned by the British Library. Only the upper cover has been digitized, but we can see the book was bound in a black goatskin with 5 raised bands on the spine. The design on the cover has been implemented with onlays in a fair goat and tooled in gold with her signature brass tools. 

  8. Bookbinder of the Month: Sybil Pye

    September 2, 2012 by Erin Fletcher

    In 1931, Sybil Pye bound this copy of Christina Rossetti’s Poems from Gregynog Press.  A full leather binding of dark green goatskin with inlaid shapes of bright green and natural goatskin.  Gold tooling is done with her custom brass tools.  This binding is owned by the Wormsley Library.  

  • 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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