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Re: Book Arts and Crafts

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I was thinking that the word 'and', placed as it is in the expression
'Arts and Crafts' between the two entities, should not be taken to
distance the two; rather, as a congiunction, it should be understood to
bring the two parts closer in meaning. Aren't arts and crafts activities
intrinsic to one another? Doesn't an artist - painter, say - try
mastering the craft of his/her painting? Equally, wouldn't dedicated
craftspeople, when producing a piece of work, strive to achieve harmony
to the best of their ability? These are not retorical questions, in my
view. The Arts and Crafts Movement in England at the end of the 19th
century came about as a response to the excessive industrialization
producing objects, including books, without particular quality or
originality (a large number of marbled papers for books were made
mechanically for example). William Morris, who spearheaded The Arts and
Crafts Movement, was a culturally sensitive person and reacted with
innovative fervor to the threat of loss of the know-how accumulated in
the past. The impact of this social phenomenon was noticeable not only
in Britain but in Europe and North America as well. On founding the
Kelmscott Press, he writes (Hammersmith, London, 1891):

  "It was only natural that I a decorator by profession should attempt
  to ornament my books suitably: about this matter I will say that
I      always tried to keep in mind the necessity for making my
decoration a   part of the page of type.
  In designing the magnificent and inimitable woodcuts which have
  adorned several of my books, my friend Sir Edward Burne-Jones has
  never lost sight of this important point, so that his work will not
  only give us a series of most beautiful and imaginative pictures, but
  form the most harmonius decoration posssible to the printed book."

Looking at the big picture of history, it is possible to observe that
after a technical advancement, society lets itself to be carried away
with the novelty. Then there comes along somebody or a group with
awareness and vision able to pick up matters where they were left, to
synthesize old and new in a significant manner again. The eminent and
interesting Italian printer Aldo Manuzio was such a figure. He came to
Venice when he was already 40 years old, certainly familiar with the old
styles in manuscripts and incunabula. His publishing career lasted from
1494 to 1515, date of his death. He was a classical  scholar, so he
edited books in and from Latin himself; for better accuracy of those in
Greek he employed greeks among which there is a Musurus; his handsome
roman typeface was cut by the very skillful Francesco Griffo of Bologna.
In order to save space he designed 'italic', the cursive lettering. He
reduced the size of books so that they were more practical to carry, at
the same time budget friendly to many more students - therefore
disseminating the humanistic culture - without giving up anything from
the quality of the book. The name Aldus and his dolphin and anchor
symbol became known all over Europe.

I am happy to conclude quoting from a passage, confirming my ideas, in
Alberto Manguel's book titled "A History Of Reading" (Knopf, 1996,
Canada, p.135):

     "It is interesting to note how often a technological development -
      such as Gutenberg's- promotes rather than eliminates that which it
      is supposed to supersede, making us aware of old fashion virtues
      we might otherwise have either overlooked or dismissed as of
      negligeable importance. In our day, computer technology and the
      proliferation of books on CD-ROM have not affected - as far as
      statistics show - the production and sale of books in their old
      fashioned codex form."

It may be that ourselves too in the arts and crafts, by making artistic
books of all kinds, whether after a workshop of one day or years of
trial and error, we are trying to place ourselves in the new
era.                                             Rezan

P.S. Sorry for the long 'verbiage' and the confusion of my computer
clock, it has gone crazy. I can't locate the battery inside it. So, I go
one way, clock goes another (until my husband decides to replace the old
technology with the updated one!).

Rezan Peya Gökçen,

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