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Standards of Excellence 2013





October 24 - 26, 2013


The Seminar on Standards of Excellence in Hand Bookbinding is the annual Guild of Book Workers conference. Held annually at a different location around the country, participants attend presentations by leading experts in the fields related to the book and paper arts. Tours of binderies, conservation facilities, rare book libraries and papermaking establishments are regularly arranged in conjunction with the event. A list of past presentations is available on the History of Standards page. Additionally, many Seminar presentations are videotaped and made available to members and for purchase. The Guild's Annual Meeting is held in conjunction with the seminar.

For more information about the Standards of Excellence Seminar, contact Brenda Parsons, Standards Committee Chair.

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Registration for the DC conference is now closed as the conference has reached capacity.
The waiting list is now closed.

If you need to cancel your registration, please contact at your earliest convenience so your spot can be taken by someone on the waiting list. Registrations are non-transferable, and are refundable (with a 10% processing fee deducted) if requested through September 23, 2013.

No refunds are given for cancellations made within the 30 days prior to the conference. Cancellation fees do not apply to scholarship applicants who do not receive an award and are unable to attend without financial assistance. Registrations may not be shared and are non-transferable.

You can purchase additional banquet tickets until Oct. 17, 2013.





  Auction Donation Form Auction Donation Form (PDF)
  Roommate Request Form  

Registration (closed)

  Vendors Application (closed)  
  Scholarship Application (closed)  

Seminar Schedule

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

  3:30 pm – 8:00 pm Registration and Information in the “Pre-Function” area, outside of vendor rooms
  4:00 pm – 5:30 pm Chapter Chair meeting
  6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Board meeting

Thursday, October 24, 2013

  8:00 am – 5:00 pm Registration and Information in the “Pre-Function” area, outside of vendor rooms
  9:00 am - 4:00 pm Tours
  12:00 pm – 5:00 pm Vendor Rooms
  6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Opening Reception: The Great Hall of the Folger Shakespeare Library, located at 201 East Capitol St., SE, (map). Transportation will be provided for those who prefer not to walk.

Friday, October 25, 2013

  7:45 am – 8:15 am Light breakfast
  8:00 am – 5:00 am Registration and Information in the “Pre-Function” area, outside of vendor rooms
  8:00 am – 6:00 pm Vendor rooms
  9:00 am – 12:00 pm Morning session (half-hour break at 10:15)
  12:00 pm – 2:00 pm Lunch on own
  2:00 pm – 5:00 pm Afternoon session (half-hour break at 3:15)
  5:00 pm – 6:00 pm GBW annual business meeting

Saturday, October 26, 2013

  7:45 am – 8:15 am Light breakfast
  8:00 am – 5:00 am Registration and Information in the “Pre-Function” area, outside of vendor rooms
  8:00 am – 3:45 pm Vendor rooms
  9:00 am – 12:00 pm Morning session (half-hour break at 10:15)
  12:00 pm – 2:00 pm Lunch on own
  2:00 pm – 5:00 pm Afternoon session (half-hour break at 3:15)
  6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Cash bar and Silent Auction
  7:00 pm – 8:30 pm Banquet
  8:30 pm – 10:00 pm Live auction

Vendors Room

The vendor's room is open to the public during the seminar on the following days:

  Thursday, October 24, 2013 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
  Friday, October 25, 2013 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

Saturday, October 26, 2013

8:00 am – 3:45 pm

Click here for a list of vendors (PDF)

Tours - Thursday, October 24, 2013

All tours are optional, pre-registration is required.

9:30 am – 11:00 am Government Printing Office

732 North Capitol Street NW

GPO is responsible for the production and distribution of information products for all three branches of the Federal Government, including the official publications of Congres, the White House, other Federal agencies and the courts. GPO’s print production operations are designed primarily to meet the basic needs of Congress, but include fine bookbinding for publications that require this speciality. Participants will have a guided tour that includes GPO’s major printing operations, as well as spending time in GPO’s bindery and marbling section ( tour is limited to 30 participants. Participants must bring a valid government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport.


10:30 am – 11:00 am National Archives & Records Administration Conservation Laboratory

Research Entrance, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) safeguards and preserves the most historic records of our Government, ensuring that people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. Participants will visit one of NARA’s conservation laboratories dedicated to treating archival records. This newly renovated space has been an active conservation lab since the Archives opened in the 1930’s. The conservation staff will show current treatment projects. ( tour is limited to 18 participants. Participants must bring a valid government-issue ID, such as a driver’s license or passport.


2:00 pm – 3:00 pm The Freer & Sackler Galleries Conservation Laboratory

National Mall Entrance, west of The Castle

The Smithsonian Institution’s first art museum was the Freer Gallery of Art, opened to the public in 1923. It was joined by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in 1987. The two are physically connected and also ideologically linked through the study and exhibition of Asian art. The collections also include 9th-19th century Korans and illuminated manuscripts from Iran, the Arab world, and Turkey. In addition, the Freer Gallery contains an important collection of nineteenth century American art punctuated by James McNeill Whistler’s Peacock Room. Participants will have a tour of the Department of Conservation and Scientific Research, accompanied by Paper Conservator, Emily Jacobson. ( This tour is limited to 12 participants.


3:00-3:30/3:30-4:00 pm Library of Congress Conservation Laboratory

Conservation Division, Room LM G38, Library of Congress Madison BuildingThe Library of Congress is home to the largest book and paper conservation lab in the country. Conservators are responsible for the preservation and conservation of rare materials from all of LC’s special collections, representing materials from the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The tour will highlight treatments currently in progress as well as recently completed work. ( This tour is limited to 15 participants per time slot.


9:00 am – 4:00 pm Baltimore Highlights Tour

The Betty and Edgar Sweren Collection of Artist Books & The Conservation Laboratory of the Walters Art Museum

Spend the day admiring books - both old and new - in Baltimore and Timonium, Maryland. In the morning, participants will enjoy a behind the scenes tour of the Walters Art Museum’s Book Conservation Laboratory where the staff recently completed treatment on the Archimedes palimpsest. ( After lunch, the group will travel to the home of book art and fine binding collectors, Betty and Edgar Sweren. They will give us a tour of their Library, which holds about 800 contemporary artist’s books and private press books. Cost: $20; This ALL DAY tour is limited to 20 participants. Transporation is provided. Participants may purchase lunch at The Walters or nearby.


12:00 pm – 3:00 pm Open House: Library of Congress Rare Book Reading Room

Room LJ 239, Library of Congress Jefferson Building
The Rare Book and Special Collections Division (RBSCD) at the Library of Congress is hosting an open house for Standards participants. Their reading room will present highlights for viewing from the vast collection. RBSCD staff will be on hand to answer questions. A wide variety of materials will be on display, including fine bindings, artist books, design bindings and iconic titles. This event is open to all attendees of the Standards. If you plan to join us, please sign up on the Registration Form.

Presentations and Presenters

Eric Alstrom

Traditional Bindings, Untraditional Books: Japanese Manuscript Bindings and Boxes

The Japanese tradition of bookbinding departs from the Western tradition in many ways, including materials, methodology and functionality. All of these differences lend themselves to a fresh approach when used in modern artists’books. In this presentation, the method of bookbinding used in ancient Japan (slightly updated for the modern bindery) will be demonstrated, including the primary sewing using kozo thread and several sewing patterns for decorative, secondary sewing. A wrap-around style box with bone clasps will be shown. We will also discuss how this style of binding can be applied to artists’ books and see some examples, both traditional and non-traditional.

Eric Alstrom is Head of Conservation and Preservation at Michigan State University, where he also teaches bookbinding for the Residential College for the Arts and Humanities. Eric apprenticed with James Craven at the University of Michigan and continued his training at the Bessenberg Bindery in Ann Arbor. He has previously worked at Ohio University and Dartmouth College, where he expanded the College’s
Book Arts Workshop to include bookbinding instruction. He has taught bookbinding and conservation workshops in the Midwest and New England for over 17 years, including Japanese bindings and boxes more times than he can remember. Eric has exhibited his artists’ books and design bindings nationally and internationally and also co-edited the 2012 book Planning and Constructing Book and Paper Conservation Labroatories: A Guidebook.


James Reid-Cunningham

Leather Rebacking

Damaged leather bookbindings pose a great challenge to bookbinders and conservators. This presentation will cover traditional leather rebacking techniques for both tight and hollow back books. Leather rebacking utilizes thinned and colored leather to repair broken joints and reattach loose spines and boards. Because of drying times during the process, the series of steps in leather rebacking will be demonstrated on several volumes. Topics will include: consolidating leather, lining and lifting the existing spine, lifting board leather along the spine edge, staining new leather to match the existing binding, board attachment, paring leather, covering, re-adhering the original spine, plating the boards, and final touch-ups. There will be discussion of repair leathers, dyes, surface coatings, consolidants, adhesives, and tools for lifting and paring.

James Reid-Cunningham trained as a bookbinder with Mark Esser at the North Bennet Street School in Boston. Following twelve years as the conservator of the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, in 2003 he was named chief conservator of the Boston Althenaeum, a private membership library founded in 1807. He is currently the deputy director of the Athenaeum and supervises library and museum collections and services, in addition to digital initiatives and the conservation laboratory. A noted teacher in book and paper conservation, he has taught workshops at Harvard University, Dartmouth College, Kilgarlin Center for the Preservation of the Cultural Record at the University of Texas at Austin, University of Kentucky, Paper and Book Intensive, Garage Annex School for Book Arts, and New England Museum Association. Since 2009, he has served as the adjunct lecturer in book conservation in the graduate art conservation program at Buffalo State College. In 2006 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the North Bennet Street School. He was president of the Guild of Book Workers from 2006 to 2010.


Don Glaister

Covering a Book in Full Leather, Apply Leather Hinges & Board Lining

During the first half of the session Don will demonstrate the entire process of covering a book with goatskin – from the initial pasting of the leather to the final tweaking of the mitered corners. In the second half, leather hinges will be applied and boards will be lined. In short, the book will be transformed from a specifically constructed conglomeration of paper, board and thread into a finely crafted leather voume. Of special interest to Don is sharing his enthusiasm for the process of binding, especially the covering process. Some of the techniques demonstrated in Don’s presentation may be familiar to experienced binders. However the specific methods he will demonstrate are the result of over 35 years of accumulating, modifying and inventing techniques will prove interesting to old pros and beginners alike.

Donald Glaister is a book artist now living and working on Vashon Island, Washington, near Seattle.He began his bookbinding career after receiving degrees in painting and sculpture from San Jose State College in California, and studying binding privately with Barbara Hiller in San Francisco and Pierre Aufschnieder and Roger Arnoult in Paris. His long and active professional career in design bookbinding has centered on the exploration, development and use of unexpected binding materials, visual humor and spontaneous visual expression, while working within the classical framework of the European binding form. Beginning in 2002, Don’s work expanded to include the design and production of editions of artists’ books which include painting, sculpture and poetry that Don has made. Don has taught binding and design privately and as Professor of Book Arts at The University of Alabama. He currently teaches classes and serves as Director of Fine Binding at the American Academy of Bookbinding in Telluride, CO. His work appears in private and institutional collections throughout North America and Europe.


Karen Hanmer

Variations on The Sewn Boards & Drum Leaf Bindings

The Sewn Boards binding is an elegant, modern adaptation of an ancient binding. A stiffened outer signature sewn along with the text block functions as the book’s boards. The Drum Leaf binding is a perfect structure for printmakers, photographers, or anyone who desires to present visual narratives with no sewing thread to interrupt the flow of imagery. Because a Drum Leaf book is made of single folios, not signatures, the complexities of imposition are not necessary when laying out text. Like the Sewn Boards binding, the Drum Leaf can also utilize stiffened outer folios as the book’s boards. Both structures can be dressed up or down with a variety of spine treatments and edge decoration techniques. Both books open flat. They can be constructed quickly, are perfect for edition work, and can be made in a sparsely equipped studio. Both are also perfect structures for beginning binders. Students learn principles of working with common bookbinding tools and materials such as grain direction, folding signatures, tidy application of adhesive and measuring one component of the book to another. This presentation will demonstrate both the Sewn Boards and Drum Leaf bindings, including a variety of options for finishing the spine and wrapping the boards. Numerous examples of cutaway and completed models of both structures, along with finished artists’ books will be available for examination.

Karen Hanmer’s artists’ books and design bindings intertwine cultural and personal memory, and are often playful in structure or content. She exhibits internationally, and her work is included in collections ranging from The Getty Museum and the Library of Congress to Yale University and Graceland. She is a leader in the book arts community, having served on the editorial board of The Bonefolder, as Guild of Book Workers Exhibitions Chair, and as frequent exhibition curator. She offers workshops and private instruction focusing on a solid foundation in basic binding skills.

Hotel and Travel Information

The conference hotel is the Liaison Capitol Hill
415 New Jersey Avenue, N.W. (Map)
Washington, D.C. 20001

Toll Free: 1.866.246.2203 (US)
Telephone: 1.212.465.3661 (outside the US)
Email: and refer to code: BOOK3 or Guild of Book Workers.

The Guild room rate is:

  Single/Double: $159 / night
  Triple: $189 / night
  Quad: $219 / night

This room rate is available until October 1 or until the Guild’s room block is full.

Need a roommate?
Fill out the form and we will do our best to find a match.


Transportation Information

Downtown Washington is served by three major airports: Reagan National, Washington Dulles, and Baltimore Thurgood Marshall BWI.

Reagan National is the closest airport to downtown. Ground transportation options to the hotel include Metro, taxi, or shared van. Information about shared vans can be found here.

Public Transporation from Reagan National: Blue and Yellow Metro lines both serve the airport. If you take the Blue line, transfer at Metro Center for the Red line to Union Station. If on the Yellow line, transfer at the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro station for the Red line Union Station stop.

Because of the distance between Dulles and BWI and downtown DC, taxis are expensive. One transportation option is a shared van service. For information on shared vans from Dulles Airport go here.

Public Transportation from Dulles: The 5A bus leaves from Dulles every 30 minutes and terminates at the L’Enfant Plaza metro station in Washington. The trip takes approximately 50 minutes. Once at L’Enfant Plaza, take either a Green or Yellow line train two stops to the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro stop. Tranfer there to the Red line and exit at Union Station. For information on shared vans from BWI go here.

Public Transportation from Baltimore BWI: There is shuttle service form the airport to the MARC commuter train (weekdays only) and Amtrak rail lines, which both terminate at Union Station. The trip is approximately 30 minutes. Additionally, the B30 bus from the Greenbelt metro station (on the Green line) goes to and from the airport. Once on the Green line, transfer at Ft. Totten to the Red line to arrive at Union Station.

Directions to the Liaison Captol Hill Hotel from Union Station: The closest Metro stop to The Liaison Capitol Hill is Union Station, on the Red line, approximately three blocks away. To reach the hotel from Union Station, exit the metro and cross the plaza to E Street, NE. Walk west on E St. crossing North Capitol Street. Continue on E St. one block to New Jersey Avenue. Turn left on New Jersey Ave. and walk towards the Capitol. The Liaison is located on New Jersy Ave. between D and E Streets.

For more information on using the Metro to travel around DC, including fares and schedules, consult the WMATA trip planner page.