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Review: Bookbinding 2000 Demonstrations – Don Etherington, Fully Dressed in Leather

Submitted by admin on Mon, 02/06/2012 - 08:03
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Review by Frank Lehmann

Bookbinding 2000 Demonstrations – Don Etherington, Fully Dressed in Leather: Conservation Style, RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, ISBN1-933360-6, DVD running time 68 min, $40 (or $33 if bought as part of a set)

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The conference Bookbinding 2000 brought together an international audience of binders and bibliophiles to commemorate the installation of Bernard C. Middleton’s collection of books on binding and related arts at Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) Cary Graphic Arts Collection. Part of the proceedings consisted of twelve lectures or demonstrations. Of these, the RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press has released six in both VHS and DVD format. This review only covers Don Etherington’s “Fully Dressed in Leather: Conservation Style.” The others will be reviewed in upcoming Newsletters.
Let me start off by saying that this is by far the best bookbinding instructional video I have seen to date. Don presents the information clearly and fully, and the video quality and editing is top notch and of a fully professional production.
In the video, Don demonstrates just the covering of the book (smooth spine, hollow back) in full leather. However, prior to the actual demonstration he gives a detailed explanation of how the book was forwarded and the reason why it was done this way.  One detail is the beveled boards, which allow much thicker leather to be used and still end up with elegant and pleasing edges. I found that throughout the demonstration, Don’s explaining why he was using a certain process was extremely informative. Instead of just following a step-by-step course, I understood the underlying reasoning behind it.
Following this brief introduction, Don then covers the book in full leather. It is here that the excellent camera work and editing come into play. In his Abbey Newsletter (Vol. 24, No. 1) article, Terry Belanger comments on the filming of the Bookbinding 2000 demonstrations: “[T]he star of the show was a video camera on an articulated boom whose unseen operator could cause his instrument to buzz around the demonstrations.”
Throughout the demonstration you are clearly able to see what Don is doing. When a close-up is needed it is there and in focus. This attention to detail makes the entire demonstration easy to follow and understand.
Once the covering is completed, Don gives a brief explanation of what he would have done differently had the book been done with raised bands. Questions from the audience are closed-captioned.
Given the high quality of the demonstration (this is Don Etherington after all) and the quality of the filming, I can highly recommend the video. The pricing is also very reasonable, especially if bought as part of the six-DVD set.

Frank Lehmann is a bookbinder/conservator in private practice. He runs Lehmann Bindery, located in Northern San Diego County, which consists of himself and two dogs—and he has no delusions who really runs the place.

Thanks are due to the GBW Newsletter, where this review was originally published.