Guild of Book Workers Newsletter
Number 98
February 1995

Report on the Dallas Standards Seminar

by Cris Clair Takacs

Eleanor Ramsey, San Francisco Fine Binder, gave a presentation entitled "In Search of Elegance: Edge Treatment Redefined". Many of her bindings have windows or shapes cut into the covers either allowing the doublures to be viewed through the boards, or, as in the case of her binding of Scriptura Naturae (a large format book), hinged cutouts that can be used as an easel for the book. They are held in place in the covers with imbedded magnets. Ms. Ramsey constructs her covers by laminating various plys of boards in alternating grains to obtain the necessary stiffness. Experiments are made for each project. She demonstrated covering the board edges on a half-leather binding, utilizing thin leather strips around the edges and covering the rest with decorated paper. Complex shapes and pierced holes are also covered with thin pared strips cut into tongue and groove shapes to fit around and into corners.

Magnets are imbedded into 4-layered boards covered in reemay, then notched. Magnets are sealed to prevent rusting and are laid end-to-end, edge-to-edge or perpendicular--whatever is required. You can order magnets to a given polar orientation. Magnets used to hold a large hinged door in a cover have to be balanced to prevent warping, so poles are alternated along the edge. You must experiment to get it right. Ms. Ramsey lines boxes with ultrasuede, sticking it down with PVA or a paste wash applied directly on the cloth. If she gums it up she washes it out, hangs it to dry and tries again. It certainly looks elegant when (* Ms. Ramsey's list of favorite suppliers included Micro Mark, 340 Snyder Ave., Berkley Heights, NJ 07922-1595, (800) 225-1066 (miniature tool specialists) and Michiko in Napa, CA which sells ultrasuede for $34/yd. Call information for the phone number).

Robert Espinosa, Preservation Librarian and Conservator at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, gave a demonstration of a "Modified Limp Vellum Binding". The classic vellum binding is a case structure with a laced-in text block. It is resistant to opening and tense at the hinge. Mr. Espinosa's structure releases the tension by having two separate vellum covers and a spine piece (or "bonnet") of alum-tawed pig or goatskin sewn to the text block by the headband. Some of his example bonnets had been colored by suminagashi, which gave a subtle color to the white leather that complemented the vellum covers well. The binding uses two headbands: 1) a strip of vellum which extends from the kettle section to 2mm beyond the head or tail of the text block; 2) linen thread sewn through the primary headband and the spine piece. The text block is sewn on thongs of Cowley pigskin which has been "boarded" (rolled back on itself or over a chair edge in all directions) to fluff the fibers of the leather and make it more pliant. The endpapers are a single sheet of heavy handmade paper hooked around a double fold of book- weight handmade paper then scored and folded back on itself zigzag fashion, after the book is sewn.

To keep the spine as flexible as possible, Mr. Espinosa uses photo quality gelatin to glue the back. The thongs are then laced into the vellum covers. The whole is light, flexible and elegant. He uses paper clips to tie the thongs to a sewing frame and duct tape to hold them at the bottom. He also fashions a protective cradl

Exhibits available for ogling during the Standards meeting were: "Brandhof, Etudes pour une Maternite - Twelve Design Bindings", an exhibit of small-format bindings, organized by Paula Gourley. "Milliseconds to Millenia", organized by the Hand Workshop of Virginia Center for the Craft Arts in Richmond, set off a long winded discussion on the definition of artists books. Also on hand: "Bridwell Library & Modern Book Art: An Exhibition in honor of the GBW" (some of the gems of their collection) and letters written by Brother J. Wesley. Those staying through Sunday morning got to view half of the "50 x 25" Rarach Press exhibit that Jan Sobota had set up in his conservation lab, and listen to Isaac Gewirtz talk about "The Art Nouveau Book in Britain, France and America, 1885-1924". Two people were appointed to handle the bindings for Mr. Gewirtz, but he was so engrossed in his talk that we just passed them down the row and had a real close look. It was a weekend of binding overload.