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Re: Bookbinding Leather Suppliers

This discussion has brought several things to mind for me. I was trained in
a very traditional manner and have been involved in this field,
professionally, for almost ten years now. In the past 8, I have also
participated in a number of exhibitions, and been responsible for organizing
the last two Guild of Book Workers nationally traveling exhibitions. Paper
Bound, the most recent one is also online for those who would like to see
it. The URL is http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/byorg/gbw/. I have also been
involved with some smaller scale exhibitions of student work here at
Syracuse University.

What I have noticed is this. People, binders, and patrons alike seem
enamored of leather. This leads many to simply go out and find what they can
and then wack out a leather binding in the "medieval tradition." Often, they
have no concept of sound structure or knowledge about the materials. When
readings on the subject are suggested, "cheaper is better" as well and they
just muddle along. The results look it, whether it is a student work, or
some overpriced blank book for photos on sale in a boutique.

Without wanting to hold anyone back, how about sticking with materials that
are understood and easier to work with and learning to excel at that. In an
exhibition (or anywhere else) I would rather see a first class, elegant,
well constructed paper binding no matter how simple, than a misunderstood
and lackluster leather binding. Working with leather involves a whole new
set of ground rules and those take a long time to learn. They are also
exceedingly difficult to adhere to when using some less (bookbinding) suited
materials. Once bad habits are developed, they are difficult to shed.

If one truly wishes to learn how to do leather bindings, then I would
suggest taking classes from someone who truly understands the craft and can
provide feedback and suggestions for improvement. We can't learn in a vacuum
and feedback is one of the most important things we can get for our work.
Yes, sometimes we will hear what we don't want to hear, but if it is well
presented and the flaws explained, then both will win. Yes, classes cost
money but they should also be looked upon as a business investment, and can
(don't hold me to this) be deducted as a business expense for those free
lancing. Of course that assumes we all declare our outside income to the IRS
(cough - cough). For a list of people teaching classes, look at the "Study
Opportunities List" on the Guild of Book Workers website,
http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/byorg/gbw/, which is organized by state.
Invest is good manuals and join the Guild, one of it's regional chapters,
the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild,
http://knet.flemingc.on.ca/~rmiller/cbbag/CBBAGhome.html, or for those of
you not in North America one of the other very fine organizations. Dues will
range from $35 on up, but you will find that it is money very well spent.
Ultimately, it all comes down to training and education. Once one
understands the fundamentals, everything else works out better, and
experimenting becomes easier. The results will reflect this. Perhaps is
someone already has done it, we could mount a bibliography, structured, of
print resources and manuals... The same goes for other organizations on the
net. I will be happy to add them to the "Book Arts Web" at
http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey. The archives for this list, the GBW and
CBBAG pages as well as many others can also be accessed from there.

Thus endeth the lesson. Flame away folks.


                  >>> I love working in the library. <<<
>>There is something to be said for working in a place bound in leather.<<

Peter D. Verheyen                                        <wk> 315.443.9937
Conservation Librarian                                  <fax> 315.443.9510
Syracuse University Library                <email> pdverhey@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Syracuse University               <www> http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey
Syracuse, NY 13244                  <listmgr> Book_Arts-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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