Books to Hold or Let Go is an upcoming exhibition at Canberra’s Craft ACT gallery.
Opening on 14 May at 6pm, Books to Hold or Let Go showcases Australian and international binders working with the text of Ampersand Duck’s fine press publication Poems to Hold or Let Go by Rosemary Dobson and Rosalind Atkins. The exhibition will run until 20 June, and associated events (floor talks or readings) are being negotiated.Poems to Hold or Let Go is a 56pp volume printed using photopolymer plate and boxwood wood engravings on 125gsm rag mould-made Magnani Vergata laid paper. The binders have received the book in sheet form (folded but unsewn), and it is totally up to them what they will make of the cover. To see the original volume, go here. I am really looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!
I have asked participating artists to send me images of their work in progress, so watch this post as I add to it over the next couple of months.
First up is Sydney bookbinder Barbara Schmelzer, who has decided to do a German vellum binding and is sharing images of her preparations to airbrush the vellum:
Next is Mia Leijonstedt, who is one of our international binders: She is Finnish, but working from the United Arab Emirates. Mia’s contribution to the exhibition will be a soft cover binding with “long-stitch” structure. According to her:
Most often long-stitch bindings leave the sewing showing on the spine but this will be covered. The base cover is maroon goat skin laminated with silky fabric and the onlays will be dyed parchment.
Showing the general colour scheme of the binding and the preparations for sewing –
soft leather cover laminated and folded, endpapers dyed and trimmed.
A close up of book just before sewing.
Book sewn with white thread in long-stitch style. Thread dyed black on the spine side.
Front cover of the binding open, showing the doublure laminate and endpaper.
Preparing to cover the sewing with dyed strips of parchment
that will also form the basis of the binding’s final design.
Next we look at a few images showing some of South Australian binder Mark Gilbert’s planning processes:
Mark’s been drawing up his ideas…
Making maquettes and practising his blocking…
… And is now fully into production.
Lorraine Brown, formerly of Sydney but now working from Queensland, is still working on her cover design, but so far the book is sewn on 5 cords (each cord being 3 ply unbleached linen yarn, wound 3 times to create a 9 ply cord) using waxed linen thread, and the endpapers are Canson Ingres Vidalon cream 100 gsm plus a decorative paper. Here’s a shot of the sewing:
Lorraine is sewing onto cords using a sewing frame.
There are a number of ‘alternate’ bindings emerging as well. Printmaker Lee Bratt, of Canberra, has constructed a concertina format for her book sheets:
A view from above. The poem pages are removable.
A detail of the front panel, featuring one of Lee’s prints.
Genevieve Swifte, also from Canberra, is working on a very conceptual version of the book. Here is her initial ‘promotional’ image:
whets the appetite, somewhat, doesn’t it?
It’s very exciting, seeing all these ‘tasters’. Here’s more:
“The wooden boards having been cut to size. Next step is cord attachment and sewing…”
Victorian bookbinder Elke Ahokas’s book is bound in a Carolingian style. The covers are of Victorian Coobah (Acacia salicina) which will be oiled. The text block is sewn onto hemp cords using waxed linen thread.
“The front cover, un-oiled as yet….”
Dario Castello is the president of the ACT Bookbinders’ Guild. Here’s a peek at his work:
a detail of the front cover
Joy Tonkin, of Book Arts Canberra is preparing an exposed sewing technique in the style of Jean de Gonet’s binding.
The book is sewn onto snake skin tapes. The hollow-back spine is covered in oasis leather. The boards are a wood veneer with polycarbonate and leather onlay decorations. The endpapers are hand-made papers from Nepal. The book is housed in a box made from hand-made papers, lined in suede, and titled in kangaroo leather on the spine.
Linda Newbown is also from Canberra:
an open-book view of Linda’s binding.
Laced-in binding. Vellum spine, paper boards, kid leather (from found glove). Bound 2009.
Binders hold the printed pages momentarily. We bind the pages so that you may more easily hold them. The bindings will show signs and marks from the binders’ hand. We have held these pages and now let them go.
Less than six weeks until the opening! Watch this space!