Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Floating Boards

Have just spend a very satisfying couple of days in a workshop with seven other binders exploring a technique known as 'floating boards' - a technique, developed by the Belgian binder Edgar Claes, in which the boards are connected to the spine by cords (or tapes) alone. While this structure is inherently weaker than bindings with leather, cloth or paper hinges, it is well suited for use with clean cut or non-traditional (eg metal) boards. For those of us doing the workshop, it was an opportunity to fine-tune some skills and working methods that will be needed for a series of follow-up workshop on French 'laced-in' bindings that are planned for later in the year. The workshop was run by John Tonkin, one of Australia's finest design binders. It was great to be able to pick John's brains, catch up with old friends, make new friends, exchange ideas and talk about the sorts of things that only bookbinders find interesting.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Backwoods and Along the Seashore

I'm back from the bush and definitely missing the small things that you notice in the absence of an urban cacophony - the processions of ants, the movements of birds, the stalking of a goanna.
Among my favourite authors are those who lovingly document such things - Annie Dillard (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek), William Least Heat-Moon (Prairyerth), John Blay (Part of the Scenery) and, of course, Henry David Thoreau (On Walden Pond).
This week's book is a rebinding of Thoreau's Backwoods and Along the Seashore, a selection of extracts from The Maine Woods and Cape Cod. The design comes from an imagining of the author dressed in a cotton shirt, striped woollen trousers and braces. The binding style is French Simplified with capeskin spine and cloth covered boards with wool and nylon webbing onlays. The book has been included in exhibitions at Sydney's Gallery Red (2009) and Canberra's Civic Library (2011).

Monday, 2 April 2012

Slow progress

I am slowly working my way through the set-back described in my last post, one book at a time, one book a day with lots of days without the enthusiasm to manage even this.
A useful distraction has been PJM Marsh's book Beautiful Bookbindings - A Thousand Years of the Bookbinder's Art. Included in the book is the following tale:
In 1911, the London binder Francis Sangorski completed an elaborate, jewelled binding of the Rubaiyat of Omar Kajayyam which was sold to an American collector. The binding was lost when it went down with the RMS Titanic on its voyage home.
In 1932, Stanley Bray, a nephew of Sangorski's business partner, recreated the binding and placed it in a bank vault for safe keeping only to have it destroyed when the bank was bombed during the London blitz.
A third version of the binding was produced by Bray in 1982 and is now housed in the British Library.
The thought of Bray's persistence is just the spur I need to press on.