Tag Archives: North Bennet Street School

Wow! CODEX 2015

I was fortunate to make it to the CODEX festival this year. Very fortunate. It was amazing. There was something for everyone! Fine print, artists’ books, suppliers to the bookbinding and printing trades, book dealers, individual artists, everything you can imagine and more. I was not able to make it until the last day, but as a friend assured me who went on the first day, “There is so much to see, don’t worry about missing anything if you go at the end.” She was absolutely right! My buddy Annemarie and I spent pretty close to five hours there, and it went by like the blink of an eye.

One other great thing about CODEX was the people. So many fantastic people involved in elevating the making of books. I saw lots of work I enjoyed very much, and was able to strike up meaningful conversations with the makers right there, on the spot. Positive energy in abundance!  My CODEX buddy and I stopped for lunch and sat down with Jeff Altepeter, and had a great chat with him about how things are going back east at the North Bennet Street School. Sounds like the new building is wonderful and things are going well. He had gone to the Antiquarian Book Fair the previous weekend, as had I, and we talked a bit about how great it is to see beautiful old books that are not in need of repair. How unusual! Ha.

Anyway, in case you were not able to attend this year’s CODEX festival, here are some snapshots I took. Scroll over the photo to see a caption, or click on any photo for the slideshow. I must warn you that this is only a tiny, tiny slice of what was there! These are just the things I saw that I wanted to photograph, so this is my bookbinder’s-eye view.

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Nifty Folio Repairs

Hello again and apologies for the long absence. Since I last added to this blog, Book Island broke loose of its moorings and took float, settling just a few cattails from its former position. Improvements include more space for my growing family of bookbinding equipment (more on that in a later post) and for holding mini-workshops; and proximity to a large vintage Wedgewood gas stove. There are many tradeoffs to living and working under the same roof; working for oneself also has its pluses and minuses. Not having to commute long distances, and being able to do things like let bread dough rise or soup simmer while working at the bench are things I would identify as pluses. Of course, it is a more solitary lifestyle; and there’s the whole tax/admin angle that has to be dealt with. In any case, it’s where Book Island is at right now. After sharing some tips on guarding and folio repair, I will include some snapshots of the new studio and workspace.

One of the great advantages to having formal training in bookbinding was the multitude of sidebar-type techniques we all learned. Being in a two-year, full-time bench-centered program afforded my class a fair amount of time for goofing off in the nerdiest way imaginable. In teaching us paper and book repair and conservation, my teacher gave us lots of bonus extra tips and methods for saving time and making a better result. Some of them may be in wider use than I am aware of, and some I go through phases of using heavily and then not using for a long time. One of these is something I have nicknamed the Folio-Mat. Like many studio aids in bookbinding, it is simply fabricated from a few pieces of scrap materials you probably have laying around not currently helping anybody, but it is completely out of the question to discard: binder’s board, buckram, mylar, and your favorite archival spun polyester. Oh, and don’t forget the Scotch 415 double stick… Yes, from these humble beginnings, you too could create wonders! Observe…

Step one: Place a strip of pasted repair tissue on the center line of the board

Step one: Place a strip of pasted repair tissue on the center line of the board

Step two: place the folio or signature to be guarded on the tissue , amtching up the fold line with the center of the repair tissue

Step two: place the folio or signature to be guarded on the tissue, matching up the fold line with the center of the repair tissue

Step three: lift the buckram flap, and fold the whole flap over the folio or signature, thus bringing the otherwise wiggly half of the pasted repair tissue cleanly over the fold

Step three: lift the buckram flap, and fold the whole flap over the folio or signature, thus bringing the otherwise wiggly half of the pasted repair tissue cleanly over the fold

Step four: lift the buckram and return it to its original positions, and-voila!-your folio or signature has an unwrinkled, completely flat guard. Trim height to size when dry.

Step four: lift the buckram and return it to its original positions, and-voila!-your folio or signature has an unwrinkled, completely flat guard. Trim height to size when dry.

The Folio-Mat (trademark pending) allows you to easily unite two leaves separated by time and neglect in order to prepare them for sewing. I recently had to guard an entire textblock this way and was able to save some time. It was much easier to jog the separated leaves to the foredge, avoiding much of the stepping out leaves often do when regrouped into signatures. This paper was quite soft and fragile, having been in a mostly-disbound state for many years (burns and fading could be seen on the edges of the pages sticking out from the stack). To say this book was in tatters would be an understatement. I’m not sure the pre-treatment photos quite express the causes for trepidation I felt when approaching the repair… I’m sure we’ve all been there. It was very rewarding to see how it came out, however.

Before treatment, foredge is in tatters.

Before treatment, foredge is in tatters.

Spine is tattered and battered, with many loss areas to outer leaves

Spine is tattered and battered, with many loss areas to outer leaves

Post treatment: top edge lines up much better, and you can see the bright yellow inked edge

Post treatment: top edge lines up much better, and you can see the bright yellow inked edge

no more tatters!

no more tatters!

Lovely illustrations now come through

Lovely illustrations now come through

Spine functioning normally

Spine functioning normally

Book lays flat and can be read without damage to the pages. Success! Thank you, Folio-Mat.

Book lays flat and can be read without damage to the pages. Success! Thank you, Folio-Mat.

More fun from Book Island:

New space with expanded equipment family: Ursa Minor (little nipper) on the far left, next Ursa Major (big nipper); Kensol now has its own homemade table with two castors. Workshop table is new too, as are the rudimentary tool kits mostly aquired from the Japantown mall. Come visit!

New space with expanded equipment family: Ursa Minor (little nipper) on the far left, next Ursa Major (big nipper); Kensol now has its own homemade table with two castors. Workshop table is new too, as are the rudimentary tool kits mostly acquired from the Japantown mall. Come visit!

 

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Filed under Bookbinding techniques, My projects

NBSS on tv

While having a deep conversation of a bookbinding nature with a friend recently, and wrapping up one of my typical thousand-ply yarns, I said, “Guess that was more story than you bargained for!” “Well, it just means I don’t have to watch more Craft In America episodes,” she answered. A pause. “Wait, what’s Craft in America?” D’oh! My tv was one of the many things given up in my move from Chicago to California. Although I don’t miss it, I suppose there are work-related things on tv from time to time I miss by not having one. I caught up on some of the episodes available online of this 2009 PBS series, and to my surprise discovered a segment on my alma mater, the North Bennet Street School. This episode also has an interesting and thoughtful interview with bay area book artist Julie Chen along with some shots of her beautiful and well-composed work. Another beloved bay area artist and printmaker, Tom Killion (yessss!!!), is featured in this same episode. I am always interested in how craftspeople integrate their work into their lives– the different work environments we create and the business models that result. The PBS series does not go too deeply into these issues, just gives us small, tv-shaped windows into the work and lives of craftspeople in a variety of fields.

Since some time has passed since I left NBSS, it was nice to watch the segment on my school, although at the time of filming, the bookbinding department had a different instructor and had moved to a different floor. I hear that spring 2013 marked the final year of classes in the building where I spent my two years beginning to learn my trade, and that the school is moving to a much larger building as of fall 2013. It’s great to know the school is growing; hopefully a good sign for the traditional crafts taught there. But oh! if those basement walls could talk. I remember that tiny closet with the Tormek where we all honed our knives, and the closet on the other side where the finishing tools were kept. My year was the first class that had the distinct advantage of a full set of gouges including a blender set for finishing tools, and wow, did we all keep those in heavy rotation. One of my classmates tooled a line drawing of Hank Williams and his wife Audrey on a plaquette! Amazing. My class also shared the distinction of producing the first bookbinder to win the prestigious Stanislov Cup. NBSS, the Fighting Craftspeople! Thanks Mark.

The segment on North Bennet Street School is about 44 minutes into the episode; Tom Killion is at about minute 18, and Julie Chen is 37 or so.

http://video.pbs.org/video/1275408713

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Ten years!

Ten years!

This was my Grandma Roz’s copy of the Fannie Farmer cookbook. Nothing left of the covers other than a scrap of the spine, I rebound it as a project in the bookbinding program at North Bennet Street School when I was there ten years ago. The book is still going strong through consistent use. It stays open flat enough to cook with without having to weigh down the pages or use some kind of cookbook stand contraption. Humble cookbook repair remains one of my favorite parts of being a book conservator in private practice, forming its bread and butter, so to speak. Anyone who has been to my kitchen knows I love cookbooks! I love to cook, so it’s natural that I like to keep those Joy of Cooking, Betty Crocker, Good Housekeeping etc books in good shape for all you home cooks out there.

Fannie-coversFannie-open

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May 16, 2013 · 9:09 pm