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Re: manuals and training

The discussion of a week or so back regarding manuals was very useful, as
a neophyte to bookbinding and conservation. I wanted to add one more book
to the mix, which is not a manual per se, but which I have learned more
from than many of the manuals mentioned: "A Degree of Mastery: A Journey
through Book Arts Apprenticeship" by Annie Tremmel Wilcox. (Minneapolis:
New Rivers Press, 1999) It traces her journey from taking simple book arts
night classes, to becoming the first woman apprentice to William Anthony
(master bookbinder), to becoming a master herself.

What I liked was that it was more than autobiographical; she describes
specific treatments, techniques, and projects in minute detail. (Perhaps
the attention to detail has just as much to do with her being a writing
teacher as it has to do with the care and attention she gives her book

I was very compelled by Wilcox's appreciation for apprenticeship, and had
already felt a strong resistance to MFA programs, which are few and far
between, and often very  expensive. I know there are some good ones out
there (e.g, North Bennet Street School, the programs in Chicago, Alabama,
etc), but have felt that for conservation work and fine binding work
specifically, (as opposed to "Artist" books) an apprenticeship would be
preferable. However, I searched the book_arts links, and was discouraged
by what I found. One person I wrote to replied that they only considered
apprentices who already had at least five years experience in bookbinding.

Are apprentices usually hand-picked by the "master", and is it bad form to
approach someone and ask? I suppose these things all depend, but I would
be grateful if other people had ideas of what the trends are in
apprenticeship these days, in the U.S. (not just the experience, but
literally how to go about procuring them).

Does a traditional one still last 5-7 years?

Thanks for any hints (this process can be mystifying for a beginner),

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