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Fixe Tippelei für die Gesellin - Story of a wandering bookbinder journeywoman

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This article was sent to me by my old masters where I apprenticed in
Germany. Best I can make out Fixe Tippelei  means Crazy Journey. Tippelei
is how the wandering journeymen refer to the wanderjahre, or "wandering
years." If someone else has a better translation for fixe in this context,
I'd love to hear it. Those who can read German and want to know more can
read about it at <http://www.tippelei.de/>.


WAZ - GELSENKIRCHEN <http://www.waz.de>
Datum 07.12.2001

Fixes Tippelei for the Journeywoman

For two weeks, Katja Zwirnemann was a guest of the Buchbinderei Klein <
http://www.buchbinderei-klein.de/> in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

When she leaves the bindery of Dietmar and Regina Klein at the Halfmannshof
on 21 December, the master will send her off with a Fixe Tippelei!  Katja
Zwirnemann, 24, is Wandergesellin (wandering journeyman).

The color of the bookbinder's guild is green. Aspirant Katja, a stranger to
the world of the wandering journeyman since 15 October was hired by email
in bookbindery of master-binders Kleins. Dietmar Klein: "This is the first
time we have taken on a "Wandergesellin." The first impression was great.
The woman can do everything and does it excellently. Katja from Leipzig is
glad to hear that. She notes the recognition in her Wanderbuch, a journal,
which carries with her.

Apropos, carry: Katja Zwirnemann carries the following implements in
luggage on her three year, one day, journey. On the head the black hat, a
green jacket, black (baggy bell bottomed) carpenter trousers with bib and
suspenders, a bag with her tools, in her hand the Stenz (knorriger
Wanderstab), a knotty staff, in her other hand bundles with her laundry. On
Monday she arrived at the Halfmannshof from Cologne.  She is curious about
the binder, the people, the Ruhr Valley (think North Jersey/Gary Indiana),
about Gelsenkirchen. Everything is new for Katja - and that is
important  to her "Wanderzeit." My parents were against it, I just wanted
some fresh air and a change of scenery. An Altgesell (terminal journeyman)
took me under his wings for the first few weeks.

On her departure from Leipzig (Saxony), she was accompanied by her
colleagues to the city boundary, she had to climb over the city boundary
sign: a prescribed ritual for the beginning of the journeymanship. Katja's
past experiences: Good ones and bad. On a religious holiday I had to spend
the night for the first time in a wet unfinished house - a Lutheren and
Catholic minister turned me out alleging I was a beggar-woman. Also two
master binders were not ready to give me the proscribed accommodations. On
the other hand she became acquainted with people who helped her with the
journey from place to place - she wants to wander to the bookbinder
paradise of Switzerland - for example by hitchhiking which is still widely
practiced in Europe.

She has no more than 5 Marks in her pocket. That too is law for wandering
journeymen. With these five Marks she wants to return home Saxony in the
Fall of 2004. After becoming a Master, she doesn't know whether she will
try to open her own shop, but it is something she is interested in. The
trade is so versatile, and one learns daily, too.

In former times wandering journeymen als carried a sword so that they could
defend themselves if needed. Is Katja Zwirnemann afraid on her wandering?
Not at all. Most people show interest in the tradition of wandering
journeymen. Thus: Fixe Tippelei! And Katja answers: Fix thanked. Currently
600 journeymen, among them 100 women are tippeln (wandering) in Germany.
Only two are bookbinders. HJL

Philobiblon: Book Arts, Different By Design
Hand Binding, Conservation, and Project Websites
Peter D. Verheyen

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