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Re: [BKARTS] The Demise of Fine/Design bookbinding in America?


I guess there's nothing to argue with there, if you include the "exceptions" , within each generation, that prove the rule.

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Verheyen <verheyen@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date:         Tue, 28 Oct 2003 15:27:06 -0500
To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject:      Re: [BKARTS] The Demise of Fine/Design bookbinding in America?

> Having just seen the Guild of Book Workers' "In Flight" I will say that I
> too was disappointed not to see more "fine" / traditional bindings. It is
> what I do, what I have the greatest interest in and affinity for. That
> said, I was really pleased to see the rich diversity and high quality of
> the "artist's books" in the "In Flight" exhibit. The craft aspect was
> uniformly quite high and showed a maturation of the genre compared to
> earlier exhibitions. Many of the artists were also first time national GBW
> exhibitors.
> As to why there weren't more fine bindings, I think that there are many
> reasons, the biggest one being a generational shift. When viewing GBW
> binding exhibits going back to the 75th Anniversary exhibit (we're coming
> up on 100) one can see a transition from what I'll call the 1st generation,
> the ones who kept the Guild alive in "dark ages" from post WW II to the
> early 80's. The 2nd generation are the ones who developed and made modern
> American binding what it is beginning in the 70's - 80's and really shone
> in the "Guild's 80 Years Later," "Billy Budd," "Fine Printers Finely Bound,
> Too" exhibits. These were trained by the 1st generation in the techniques
> of classic binding (fine and edition). The 3rd generation are those who
> entered the field in the past 10 or so years, people with more art than
> craft backgrounds, perhaps more focused on art than craft, but bringing
> with them fresh ideas and innovative structures and materials. Rather than
> being apprentice trained in the classic sense many of these became involved
> in the book arts through course work in BFA and MFA programs, by attending
> workshops at many of the regional book arts centers CBA, MCBA, SFCB, ...
> With traditional apprenticeship opportunities not as plentiful as they
> might have been and changes in learning styles, North Bennet Street School
> in Boston seems to have filled that void rather well. Or, they got into and
> learned via books and (yikes) the Internet.
> The 1st generation is now mostly retired, and with changes in economics the
> 2nd generation no longer has the time (or commissions) to devote to fine
> bindings which can be exhibited (often for up to two years). They're busy
> producing beautiful works for others. That leaves the 3rd generation to
> exhibit. The danger I see is that the core skills associated with
> traditional binding, skills such as gold tooling and finishing, working
> with leather/vellum, which will die out if not passed on.
> I don't think that this situation is unique to the North America though.
> The way the craft is being taught and practiced is changing world wide.
> While it has become much more accessible, much has also been lost.
> Let's keep this discussion going.
> p.
> _____________________________________
> Peter D. Verheyen
> Bookbinder & Conservator
> <verheyen@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> The Book Arts Web & Book_Arts-L Listserv
> <http://www.philobiblon.com>

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