Specially bound copies of a new book by Hiroko Karuno, "Kigami and Kami-ito", the results of years of study in the traditional Japanese method of making paper thread from handmade paper. This thread has been used to weave "shifu" cloth for kimonos and other textile items since at least the 17thC. Hiroko wanted us to create a few copies of the book bound in her shifu, three versions of which are on view here. The creation of the cloth alone, first the thread, which can be dyed with such things as gardenia seeds, loquat leaves and Japanese chestnut skins, and then the weaving into 6' lengths about 14'' wide took several months of meticulous work. You can imagine that this supplied a nervous moment when cutting the lengths up for making the cases. Paperback copies of this extraordinary work are available at The Paper Place on Queen St. in Toronto or from The Japanese Paper Place.
One final effort from the BBII class. A millimetre style German case binding with Japanese paper trim at the head and tail edges. I supplied my paste papers for the covers and particularly enjoyed the apocalyptic landscape of the one second from the right. We sealed the washi trim with Klucel G and polished it up with a piece of beeswax that was in with the sewing supplies. I may redo the edges of mine with SC6000 as it works better. Very happy with the application of the class and their results.
Last Sunday Mary, Manu and I attended the pre-opening of the brand new Aga Khan Museum in Don Mills. Devoted to historical and contemporary Islamic Art, the museum has extraordinary exhibition space and was showing some of its best stuff. There was everything from an enormous 15th C. carpet to a miniature book about 3" tall. I had been working on producing one of the exhibits for the opening, a series of flip books by Pakistani artist Bani Abidi and gladly accepted their invitation to the "soft" opening. The final preparations were still being completed- no labels yet on the exhibits, pieces of masking tape indicating the positions of as yet uninstalled work-but that took nothing away from the experience of this beautiful building. We wandered around for an hour or so, missed the tour of the glass roofed mosque as I had to get to work and finish the flip books!- and left altogether impressed. Definitely worth a look.
Some very fine work from my students at Metchosin International Summer School of Art. The papyrus text blocks were sewn in Ethiopian 2 needle, kettle stitch style and covered in leather decorated with a design cut out of thin goatskin onlaid and laced onto the base leather with strips of vellum. Designs varied from Christian to Cabalistic, pagan to peonies. It always amazes me how much application people bring to the making of these beautiful, personal and quite impractical book forms.
In the past 30 or so years, seemingly whether time has permitted or not, I have occasionally caught myself taking this precious commodity away from my work as a bookbinder and restorer to produce what I have always called “my own” work. This has usually taken the form of design bindings, i.e. interpretative fine bindings of an existing text, and artist’s books in which I have acted as creator of both text and binding.
The impetus has frequently been to take part in book arts exhibitions such as “The Art of the Book”, a major Canadian show mounted every five years by The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild. And in recent years, I have had to sneak periods of up to a few weeks on the trot to take part in shows conceived and executed within the small community of letterpress printers, binders, calligraphers, and others committed to the book arts. These are my friends and colleagues. I have tried to spin the enormously creative contact available from such people as George Walker, Will Rueter, Margaret Lock, Susan Warner Keene, Nancy Jacobi and my studio partners, Reg Beatty and Kate Murdoch, into experiences that take me deeper into exploration of skills or new directions. These moments of stolen “me time”, as much as they are challenging and even infuriating, are as wonderfully luxurious and satisfying as an extended bubble bath.
Nevertheless the market for such work lies in the range between small and non-existent. So what is the point of this kind of larceny? Love of the materials, respect for collaborators, and the desire to “make”- that’s what makers do-all in the name of keeping books, in all their incredible variety, going strong. After all, the book is of course incomparably civilization’s greatest achievement. Let’s not forget that.
I am grateful to Massey College for the opportunity to show these results of my long-term embezzlement. DT March 2014
A new binding for submission to the "Contemporary Bindings of Private Press Books Touring Exhibition 2014-15". "Tonge's Travels" was published by The Old School Press in Bath and features watercolour illustrations by John Watts. The original was a manuscript travel diary from 1857 recording Mr. George Tonge's boat trip through the Mediterranean. I used my paste papers cut into strips and onlaid onto the full calf binding to suggest both water and the notion of a hand-written document. I added a couple of Moleskine style touches including a pocket in the back which I supplied with paste paper "postcards" of sights along the route, and a foredge strap, here depicted lying in front of the open book. The show opens at St Bride's Church, Fleet St., London on May 14 of this year. See you at the opening!
A Xmas present for my wife, a big Sherlock fan from way back. Mary cautiously permitted me to rebind her taped up 2 volume set of the Complete Stories that she has had since the early '70's. She had indicated a liking for one of my recent paste papers-this one with added black ink details that gave it a certain spikeyness. That and a bit of green goatskin did the trick. She liked the result -which made two of us.
Sara Angelucci's contribution to "We're in the Library" dedicated to the opening of the new Artscape building on Shaw St. Sara had us make concertina books of increasingly dark prints made from tintypes of 10 unidentified schoolchildren. The children "disappeared" as the prints darkened to obscurity. The books were then housed in clamshell boxes that also hold the original tintypes and the books and boxes displayed on a custom made library cart equipped with headphones on which are playing children's voices reading stories. This was a project that we got more and more attached to as it neared completion. See the article in this week's NOW magazine.
This Saturday, I have a table at the 29th Annual Book Arts Fair featuring several new projects, and some new editions from the Pointyhead Press catalogue. The event takes place in the Great Hall at OCAD, and runs from 10-5. This is with Manu from deer press.
And the last word in fancy Moleskine style bindings - complete with cloth gusseted pocket. The text block is a special thin but very opaque Japanese machine made paper very successful for use with a fountain pen. Yes, there still such stalwarts out in the world who know the satisfaction of keeping a hand written journal and the unique feel of a good pen. I should know. I'm one of them. These were for a customer with good taste. Now I want one.
Here are some of the results of the Medieval Journal class I taught for the Haliburton School of the Arts last weekend. Paper by Papeterie Saint Armand of Montreal. The book featured exposed, long and link stitch sewing and a closure which employed a purpose built button made from leather and vellum.
A clamshell box to house an ipad. My customer wanted to personalize the tablet while protecting it. The iPad sits snugly in a well in the lower tray, easily retrievable using the ribbon. The outer shell is stamped with the company logo.