Guild of Book Workers Newsletter
Number 102
October 1995



The GBW Newsletter reviews books, reports, new periodicals, booksellers' and auction catalogs and electronic products that pertain directly and indirectly to the book arts: papermaking, calligraphy, typographic design, printing book illustration, bookbinding, marbled and decorative papers, book conservation, etc. Reviews focus on issues of interest to active artisans and craftspeople. Interested parties are asked to send appropriate publications for review or notices to the book review editor.

Books received which are not strictly within the scope chosen for the Book Review section, but which might nevertheless be of interest to readers of the Newsletter are noted as books received.

Books or publication announcements should be sent to the Book Review Editor: Sidney F. Huttner, The Library of Tulsa Library, 2933 East 6th St., Tulsa, OK 74104-3189; 918.631.3133; fax 918.631.3791; internet:

The Book Review Editor welcomes notice from GBW members of their willingness to review and their areas of interest or knowledge.

Mirjam M. Foot. Studies in the History of Bookbinding. Scolar Press, Old Post Road, Brookfield, Vermont 05036-9704. 1993. 480pp. $109.95. ISBN 0-85967-935-7. To order: 800-535-9544 or Fax 802-276-3837.

Reviewed by John P. Chalmers, Curator, Special Collections, Chicago Public Library.

This excellent introduction to bookbinding history is for anyone contemplating or engaged by the history of the western book, and especially for those who are users, or custodians, of research collections.

Mirjam M. Foot has been writing on bookbinding history for the last 25 years. In addition to the material in this volume, she has produced two volumes of a projected three on the Henry Davis gift to the British Library. Studies in the History of Bookbinding collects many of Dr. Foots published articles from the last 20 years: it includes 64 essays, together with an introduction, acknowledgements, and indices of binders and of owners.

The author begins with a note, "Why Bookbinding?", followed with "Bookbinding and the History of Books", in which three important considerations are presented: the utilitarian importance of the structure of the book; social and economic history as reflected in bookbinding history; and third, how social and economic requirements shaped the binding trades themselves. The articles which follow are distributed under seven headings, each with an introduction: "Why Bookbinding"; "Bookbinding: A Dead Craft?"; "The Late Medieval Tradition in Bookbinding"; "Gold-tooled Bindings"; "Unusual Materials"; "Collectors and Collections";and "Preserving the Past".

Under the final heading, two esssays, "The Binding Historian and the Book Conservator" and "Preserving Books and their History" deal with preservation and conservation, a fitting conclusion to the series that sets out to show why bookbindings are important.

Since Howard Nixons death, Dr. Foot has been contributing the "English & Foreign Bookbindings" articles which appear in nearly every issue of The Book Collector. Forty-two of these articles are collected here, as well as four of her early contributions to the "Foreign Bookbindings" series, written before the "English" and "Foreign" series were merged. The remaining nineteen articles are for the most part gathered in from journals such as Designer Bookbinders Review, The British Library Journal, The Paper Conservator, Bookbinder, from Festschriften, and from collections such as Studies in Seventeenth-Century English Literature, History and Bibliography, edited by G.A.M. Janssens and F.G.A.M. Aarts.

Any gathering of this kind is valuable in its convenience as a single volume with indices. But Dr. Foot has provided much more by revising her earlier writing to change attributions, to pull related articles together, and to expand discussions with new information. Furthermore, the articles coming from edited collections and festschriften (not easily found outside of large research libraries) are long and substantial: "Some Bookbinders Price Lists", "Bookbinding Patronage in England", "The Olga Hirsch Collection of Decorated Papers", and "Some Bindings for Charles I" among them.

If the book appears to be expensive, note that it is printed on costly heavy-coated paper to favor 148 black and white illustrations, all more than adequately reproduced for general recognition and comparison. Many of the illustrations are significant improvements over those which appeared in The Book Collector (e.g., the one for Studies No. 28). The volume weighs in at two pounds, five ounces, which will test the case binding over time, but the paper grain is parallel with the spine, and the book opens beautifully.

Latin American Book Arts. An exhibition at the Center for Book Arts, New York City, January 13-March 25, 1995. [45p], printed rectos only, bound with brads in a wrapper. Center for Book Arts, 626 Broadway, New York, NY 10012. ($6.00 + $2 s&h).Reviewed by Pamela Finnegan, The University of Tulsa.

Brian Hannon, its executive director, writes a brief introduction to this trilingual publication of the Center for Book Arts in which he playfully chastises the citizens of theUnited States, and even more directly those living east of the Mississippi River, for having little or no knowledge of the countries commonly referred to as "Latin America." Forty artists participated in this exhibition of works on paper accomplished in such media as acrylics, watercolor, and ink and executed in techniques which included silk screen, etching, engraving, calligraphy, painting, sculpture, collage, and photo-mechanical imagery. Base materials ranged from handmade paper to muslin to ox leather and gold.

The exhibition clearly challenged any preconceived notions the viewer might have had about what one might expect to see when the word "book" is invoked. Hannons introduction is brief but provocative, challenging the viewer to reconsider a conception of the book as mere word catalog and to enter an alternate artistic possibility wherein the book acts as a catalog of the sensory world. He rightly points out that Latin American artists offer U.S. citizens an exemplary bridge toward this broader view of the world of the book since the Latin experience, while so close geographically, may be very distant culturally.

The Center for Book Arts is to be praised for acknowledging the languages of the exhibitions artists by printing the catalog text in Spanish and/or Portuguese as well as English. It is lamentable, however, that from the catalogs cover title ("Arte do Libro Latino Americana / Latin American Book Arts / De Libro Artes America Latino") forward the Spanish (and I presume the Portuguese) shows evidence of poor translation and editing. The exhibited works are illustrated with not very well reproduced black-and-white photographs. The catalog suggests strongly a spectacular show of artistic bravura, but by itself it only hints at what was without doubt a beautiful and stimulating exhibition.

Design and Pattern in Decorated Papers: Wet and Dry Techniques. Hand Papermaking, Inc., 1994. Washington, DC. Edition of 150. $145.00. Hand Papermaking, Inc., P. O. Box 77027, Washington, DC 20013-7027.
Reviewed by Phoebe Jane Easton.

The portfolio of papers decorated in wet and dry techniques was conceived and executed at Hand Papermaking, publishers of Hand Papermaking Magazine and Newsletter to expand its interest in education in the field of collecting and documenting historic and contemporary papers, their history, and techniques. The project was initiated by the board of directors who selected the artists invited to participate, and decided upon the structure of the project. Twenty-one artists were selected, many of them well-known nationally and internationally. The dry techniques as defined in this portfolio are those in which the paper is decorated after the sheet is formed; wet techniques are those where the decoration is achieved during the formation of the sheet. Wet methods are not well-known except among paper makers, particularly in Japan. The literature on this technique is scant. Literature on the history and techniques for the dry techniques is much more plentiful, especially in recent years. All of the artists were required to use handmade paper for their projects, and for those who were not paper makers, this was a challenge. All achieved excellent results; the handmade paper strengthened and enhanced the designs. Eight artists were chosen to work with dry methods, and thirteen with wet techniques.

The portfolio is housed in a cloth covered clam shell case, and contains a 29-page book presenting a preface by Michael Durgin, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Hand Papermaking, Inc., an introduction by Marilyn Sward for the Portfolio Committee, and an essay by Sandra Kroupa, of the University of Washington Libraries, on: Inheritance: The Past and Future of Paper Decoration. Artists then are introduced individually, each presenting aesthetic considerations for their work, technical details, and a biographical sketch. The availability of the artists work follows, with their addresses. An additional section cites retail sources for the artists work. The final section is a selected bibliography of decorated papers. Shrdlu, the printers devil, was at work here, for Charles W. Woolnoughs name is misspelled Wollnough on p. 27. Following are the individual folders for each artist, with their names on the covers.

The portfolio is a treasure chest for everyone who enjoys, collects, or makes decorated papers. All too often, in many cases, the paper lover is frustrated and saddened when visiting a collection of papers to find that so little information, if any, is available to document the papers and their makers. The portfolio may well help to establish a new standard for contemporary paper makers and artists.

The individual papers are a delight -- each so different. The individual folder for each allows the viewer to touch, hold to the light, gently turn the paper, or to simply absorb the beauty flat on the table. This is so much more enjoyable than to have the papers fastened in a book, or firmly mounted.

The artists whose work in the wet techniques are presented are: Neal Bonham, who used a Water-Pik to assist in creating his leaf patterned paper. Kathy Crump created a dimensional paper that must be enjoyed by touch. Richard Hungerford created a colorful paper reminiscent of confetti; it causes Sandra Kroupa to hear calliope music. David Kimbal used two layers in his work, which is reminiscent of water flowing over rocks in a tidepool. Donna Koretsky created a musterious night sky of deep purple with myriad stars, stars that ay not be seen immediately but appear with gentle turning of the paper, as one would turn a free endpaper. Barbara Lippmans colorful paper was partially inspired by Japanese washi papers. Wendy Franklin employed a complex technique to create a pattern of multiple combs in her paper. Sharon Morehouse evokes falling purple plum leaves in a misty fog. Bridget OMalley straddles the line between wet and dry; both techniques are important in her paper, reminiscent of a batik. Margaret Ahren Sahlstrand has captured lilies in her sculptured white paper, another that must be touched. Gloria Zmolek Smith created a lovely paper for a wedding announcement, with embedded fern leaves and a pattern similar to marbling. Annie Tremmel Wilcox has simulated a marbled pattern with the use of colored pulp. Marilyn Wold, in the final paper, has formed a lovely transparent flower pattern on a white ground. It must be held to the light for full enjoyment. All of these patterns are beautiful and intellectually challenging. They also make ones back ache when the labor involved is considered.

The dry techniques are more familiar, but remarkably diverse, and original results have been achieved. Polly Fox chose a pineapple paper from the Philippines for her marbled paper, inspired by the New Mexico sunset, but used a combing reminiscent of the pineapple to tie in her paper to the design. Peggy Skycrafts paper is exotic, with luminescent and metallic colors in her marbled paper. Don Guyot created a lovely paper using classic methods but modern color handling. James T. Downey has been particularly successful in blending his heavy paper, dyed with walnut, with his marbling in a large open pattern. Susan Kristofferson works with paste papers, with crisp touch and interesting colors. Virginia Buchan and Nora Ligorano work with paste papers in a decidedly contemporary style. Dana Draper and Ingrid Butler Draper used a black paper by Tom Leech, painted white circles, and then marbled loosely. The effect is that of a mysterious night scene. Richard Flavin has lived and worked in Japan for may years. His contribution is an old stencil cut in a suminagashi pattern, printed in light green on a dark kozo paper. These few introductory words can do no more than whet the readers appetite to see these remarkable papers.

All of the artists are broadly educated in diverse fields, accomplished in their métier and willing teachers.

The portfolio is a unique collection of fine decorated papers with supporting information that will be a contribution to the private or public collections of decorated papers.