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Re: Book Art Criticism: New Thoughts

Dear Richard,
 Book Art Criticism and definitions of what constitutes a book aside, from my
neophyte bookbinding world your "books" blank or full are an awe to see and such
a credit to the world...


Kathy Parulski...too many causes - too few rebels...
Capricorn Bookbindery
Bristol, CT
Richard Minsky wrote:

> Q&A from an off-list message:
> >if you think my questions may be of any value to the
> >discussion feel free to pass this message on -- minus my identity.
> >The blank book you made for Mr. Phillips -- was it
> >made for him to be used for his manuscript translation
> >or was that what he decided to use it for after you created it?
>         It was commissioned by Tom Phillips for the translation.
> >How did this chronology affect your design process?
> >To what extent did the two of you collaborate on the project?
>         Tom gave me no rules except for the size of book he likes to write
> in. I decided to translate the binding style of Dante's Florence into a
> contemporary British craft bookbinding idiom. First I studied 13th and 14th
> century Florentine bindings in the British Library. The most interesting had
> an overall pattern of blind-tooled Florentine lilies--the symbol of
> Florence. It is similar to a fleur-de-lys, based on the Golden Section.
> I went to T.N. Lawrence and Sons in Bleeding Heart Yard and bought enough
> vintage Whatman handmade paper to make the book. I gave Tom a sample to
> write on and he liked it, so I sewed the paper on four double raised cords.
> Meanwhile I asked Tom to draw a Florentine lily for me, which he did. I sent
> the drawing to a toolmaker and had three tools engraved- one outline, one
> relief and one intaglio.
> While the tools were being made I went to the National Leathersellers'
> Centre in Northampton (England) and learned how to tan leather. I tanned a
> half dozen Nigerian goatskins using Sumac (the traditional tannin for
> "morocco" leather) for use in the binding, and dyed them. While there I also
> made two alum-tawed ratskins for my binding of Patti Smith's _Babel_.
> I sewed linen "double-p" endbands, a stitch I learned from Nicholas
> Pickwoad. This made an "outdent" at the head and tail of the spine that I
> worked the leather over, to add to the medieval feeling of the book.
> When tooling, I made a pattern using the three tools, and different amounts
> of darkening of the leather. This was controlled by first making a pattern
> in candleblack on tracing paper, and transferring it to the book by tooling
> with cold tools through the paper onto dry leather. This made a very faint
> pattern. I then dampened the leather and redid all the impressions with cold
> tools. Next I heated the tools slightly and redid the impressions twice in
> the damp leather. The impressions I wanted darker I continued to re-tool
> with hotter tools. The darkest ones have 10 impressions.
> I chose a pattern of three horizontal and three vertical impressions of the
> intaglio tool to make the darkest. This is because of the importance of the
> Trinity in Medieval Florence and because Dante's Divine Comedy is a trilogy.
> This is, of course, not a copy of a Medieval binding. Those used just one
> tool and did an overall even pattern. This is an interpretation--a
> translation. I thought it important for Tom to have a translation of the
> binding to do a translation of the text in. By using 20th century British
> handmade paper and many contemporary British techniques in the binding, and
> by tanning the leather using early chemistry in a modern British tanning
> facility, I was attempting to use materials, techniques, and design that
> supported the metaphor of the book's purpose.
> A photo of it is online at:
> http://minsky.com/6.htm
> The original is in The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and
> Visual Poetry in Miami Beach.
> That was 1979. In 1986 I bound a copy of the 3-volume illustrated limited
> edition that Tom produced of Dante's Inferno, using the same tools, but it's
> very different. A photo of one volume is at
> http://minsky.com/12.htm
>         Richard
>         http://www.minsky.com
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