Guild of Book Workers Newsletter
Number 113
August 1997


The 1997 Helen Warren Degolyer Triennial Exhibition And Award For American Bookbinding
May 29 - 31, 1997

Approximately fifty participants and presenters were on hand for the first Helen Warren DeGolyer Triennial Exhibition and Award for American Bookbinding in Dallas, Texas. This 1997 happening took place May 29 - 31 at the beautiful Bridwell Library on the campus of Southern Methodist University, and at the Craft Guild of Dallas, a fine arts educational facility.

Registration and check-in began Thursday, May 29, and refreshments and vendors welcomed those arriving at this time. The actual "DeGolyer Conference" (as it became known, since the official name is quite a long one) began Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. at the Bridwell. Jarmila Sobotova and Ladislav Hodney from the Czech Republic kicked off the activities, presenting "Oil Marbling on Water". One half of the participants worked with Ladislav, using plain water and oil based marbling inks diluted with turpentine, learning several of his techniques. The other half of the group worked with Jarmila, who had pans of marbling soup made from Gelesco, learning familiar combing methods all the way to Jarmila's favorite, the Spanish MoirÈ technique. The groups switched half way through the session so everyone could take a turn or two at the tubs.

Following the lunch break, Jan Sobota was on tap presenting "Hard Cover Vellum Bindings". Jan had a text block already sewn and proceeded to show participants how to prepare the spine, apply double ready-made headbands, make the shoulders with cotton cord and without rounding, finish the spine, and cut the cover boards along with "pressing boards" which were used to form a "hinge groove". Time didn't allow completion of the book, but Jan described the process for applying the vellum.

The Opening Reception and Award Ceremony followed. Remarks included a tribute to the family of Helen DeGolyer who made it possible for such a prestigious event. Shortly after Helen's death in February of 1995, the family not only donated Helen's bindings to the Bridwell, but saw that an endowment in her name would allow for the exhibition, awards, and an educational facet. Awards were presented by the Bridwell and by the Craft Guild of Dallas, where Helen had taken bookbinding classes for many years. Don Etherington received the $5,000 prize commission with his winning design, and Marky Miles and Jamie Kamph received Honorable Mention awards. The Guild presented "Special Mention" awards to Peter and Donna Thomas, Dorothy Westapher and David Bourbeau. The opening of the exhibit doors followed, and many of Mrs. DeGolyer's bindings and the exhibitionentries could be viewed at leisure.

Participants traveled northward on Saturday, May 31, for the sessions held at the Craft Guild. That morning Don Etherington presented a retrospective of his work, the first such presentation given by him. Through background information on his bookbinding experience, slides of his design bindings, humor, and the sharing of helpful tricks, Don allowed us to be proud of him as the winner of this first DeGolyer award.

Lunch was on your own....but many joined the Lone Star Chapter members who held their Annual Meeting and election over submarine sandwiches. The vendors were kept busy during this time also, and the doors of the four studios at the Guild were open for all to see the fine facilities.

Priscilla Spitler offered the afternoon session on "Sewn Boards Binding" -- also referred to as the Millenium Binding, developed by Gary Frost of Dry Frio Bindery in Utopia, Texas. It has its origins in the coptic-style, unsupported bindings of northern Africa. Priscilla took participants beautifully through all the steps as she made (and finished!) the binding right in front of our eyes. She also had many examples to show which were passed around for all to see.

That evening the Conference closed with supper at a Tex-Mex restaurant - typical for a grand Texas event! Afterwards, Marc Lamb, of Harmatan Leather, Ltd., presented slides and commentary on his family's tanning business, tracing the processing and transportation of leather from Nigeria through to the finished product.

The next Exhibition/Conference will be in 2000 ... and the book for the exhibition entries has already been announced. Surely, the 2nd Triennial event will be even bigger.

Catherine Burkhard, Dallas, Texas

P.S. The Lone Star Chapter Fall Newsletter will include detailed write-ups of all the sessions of the DeGolyer Conference. If you would like a copy, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope (55¢, please) for your copy to: Catherine Burkhard, 6660 Santa Anita Drive, Dallas, TX 75214.