I valiantly attempt to meditate, am still trying after all these years but am not very good at it, yet. I was intrigued when I read this in Brain Pickings: ‘Oftentimes during meditation, I am visited by flash-memories dislodged from some dusty recess of my unconscious — vignettes and glimpses of people, places, and events from long ago and far away, belonging to what feels like another lifetime.’ Maria Popova.
I have experienced exactly that, I remembered my own first visit to the Lake District during a deep restorative yoga relaxation session with Catrina. I saw that as strange but very understandable. In some ways the significance of that one memory was that the trip was with my junior school at the end of my time there and it was the first time I had been anywhere away from and without my mum and dad (Jack & Jenny K.).
The Society of Bookbinders (SoB) Conference 2017
I audaciously sent my bound version of Inside This Earthen Vessel with David Jury’s beautiful letterpress renditions of my six poems into the (SoB) Competition & it was included in the (SoB) Exhibition (organised and set up by Marie Doinne and Mylyn McColl) where it was in good company. It happened to be the biggest height & width-wise in the show. There were however many exceptional entries and I particularly liked the two books entered by Rahel Scheufele (Switzerland) who won the Second Prize & Third Prize in ‘Fine Binding’.
Sumi Perera’s ‘soundwave scroll & boxset’ called 28 or not 28 was for me one of the best in show as she not only bound her cd in a box but also created a very beautiful round box for her scroll.
Also I loved the cover, which was all I could see in the display cabinet- and I would have loved to have seen inside of Daniel Wray’s Koi Karp & Chips.
In fact the method of display disallowed showing insides of books which for me is a shame as the insides must make up 50-90% of the book. In my case I made the bind to house the prints! And the prints are high quality letterpress the words being very meaningful too.
The Catalogue has excellent design and layout by Mel Jefferson who also won the People’s choice award.
I was lucky to be able to attend several talks about different aspects of Bookbinding where I was astounded by how little I know:
Kathy Abbott –A ‘Tomorrow’s Past’ Modern Conservation Binding in Limp Vellum www.kathyabbott.biz I learned so much watching Kathy’s talk in which she informed me that EVA is the best adhesive to use as it conserves better. Very instructive about making a ‘pricking temple’ and how to score creases from the mid-page out to top/bottom.
Roger Green – Making a Drop-Back Box www.buchbinderei-green.de I recently made my first book-box which had a ‘lip’ around the box, Roger’s had no lip and it was much stronger.
Renate Mesmer – Medieval girdle bindings. Renate’s incredible intro to making girdle books was quite stunning, concomitant with someone who works at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.
Consuela (Chela) Metzger –the ledger book. Chela showed me the making of a cover in parchment with all sorts of tacketing.
John Mumford – Islamic bindings John gave a fascinating talk on how books were made after Constantine became Roman Emperor and felt the need to have ‘50 new churches decked out in shimmering gold and jewels which also adorned the parchment bibles that had to have heavy wooden boards on to keep the parchment flat.
Christopher Harvey- Old Manuscripts, Working Books, Changing Structures – Aspects of Book Conservation at the College of Arms, London www.college-of-arms.gov.uk Chris spoke well of the collection housed near St Paul’s in London where he tackles, ‘support & structural issues of the paper book-blocks’.
Peter Bower Adventures with Books: Investigations into Book History using Paper Analysis. Peter’s talk about his detective work in paper analysis was fascinating.
Paul Johnson – Pop Up Books In a way I saved the most intriguing til last. Paul showed us how he goes about making his incredibly complex one-off ‘pop-up’ books.
I was lucky to sit next to Monique Lallier during the formal meal in the Ballroom at Keele Uni as she proved to have a good sense of humour, as did her husband Don Etherington who told me he was an amateur binder and me being ignorant believed him, the joke was on me Don. It turns out that Monique does the most beautiful bookbinding and if I work hard for the next 50 years I may catch up with her. We also found that we read the same books, Book of Joy by Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu and Red Notice by Bill Browder, what a strange coincidence. Next I must read her book on binding which she did with her husband!
After attending the above talks and demos in just 2 days I was knackered but much better informed about some of the skills which are out there. So, I am sticking my girdle book under my belt and, like Bunyan’s hero Christian, I’m setting off on a long road down Bookbinder’s Way. First stop may be Wuppertal in Germany (Pina Bausch’s dance place) where Roger Green has his bindery. He lives about 30 minutes train journey from Dusseldorf where I hope to be later this year to benefit from Vest & Page’s workshops in Performance Art (PA). Verena & Andrea (who are V & P) are two of the very best PA practitioners and I am hoping that just being there and getting guidance from them will help me move forward in the arts of Performance Art!
Am gonna need as much help as I can get as am doing some of my own pieces at Colchester Art Centre on Nov 5th as part of a launch for my Shrewd Idiot books.
Talking of Colchester Art Centre I must congratulate Ant & the team for setting up a great show of photos taken by people who live out on the streets in Colchester. It opened on Friday night in the Old Bus Depot which is a big old dusty near derelict site but I love old bus & lorry depots, something about my youth when we used to go frequent them when it rained and we couldn’t keep playing football in the backstreets until the rain abated. So, shelter for me as a kid, and now shelter for the artworks made by people who could benefit from better shelter in today’s world.
2 thoughts on “Bookbinding and beyond”
Lovely post Pete. It was also lovely seeing you at the SoB Conference this year. You have of course now opened Pandora’s Box, to turn a well known phrase, and you may never be the same. Having dipped your toes in the murky and somewhat cliquey world of Bookbinding, you can now appreciate the enormity of learning required to be even a passable binder. I still very much feel like a novitiate (I only have a measly 10 years under my belt) so I feel your pain in how much there is yet to learn. Yet, it is exactly the fact that there is this huge, vast and varied amount of knowledge to acquire that excites me and keeps me going. I look forward to seeing your next entry into the SoB competition (you have 2 years so plenty time) and I hope you can help me spread the word about ‘proper’ Bookbinding throughout our multi-faceted Book Arts world! I’m determined to bring the two ever closer!! I was so very glad to see our Tracey Bush (one of my favourite book artists) win a prize in the Competition. This is just the beginning…. Sxx
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‘somewhat cliquey world of Bookbinding’ yes it is! but whereas most of the old chucks didn’t let me in there’s lots of cliques did open their doors, slightly. I had some real nice comments on my ‘signature'(?). I’ll be there helpin to spread th’word. I’ll be bach wid ma new books one day…Byndless Pete
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