The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 8, Number 6
Dec 1984


GBW Standards Seminar, 1984

by Jane Dalrymple

Reprinted with permission from The Deckled Edge, newsletter of the Baltimore Area Conservation Group (v. IV, no. 4, Winter 1984).

The Guild of Book Workers held its third Seminar on Standards of Excellence in Hand Bookbinding in Pittsburgh on October 12-13. Preceding the two days of seminars were various open binderies and tours including R. L. Feller's lab at the Carnegie-Mellon Institute. Dr. Feller is studying, among other things, the effects of light on various papers, pigments, and polymers, attempting to analyze the exact mechanisms of degradation. The opening reception at the Hillman Library, University of Pittsburgh, featured an exhibition of bindings by the seminar leaders and other fine bookbinders.

Attendees at this year's seminar were not required to choose two of four sessions as they were at the 1983 meeting in Boston. Instead, the individual seminars were given four times to audiences of twenty-five so that, by the end of the second whirlwind day, each of the participants had seen all four sessions.

The sessions were as follows:

Michael Wilcox and Don Glaister demonstrated techniques for tooling leather with gold leaf, emphasizing spine lettering. Since Wilcox trained in England and Glaister studied in France, the contrast between their approaches was interesting. Hugo Pallor, for many years the director of the Ascona School of Bookbinding in Switzerland, demonstrated his techniques for edge gilding and gauffering. His difficulties with the English language were easily surpassed by his skill and charm and the help of a few German-speaking participants. Heinke Pensky-Adam, who apprenticed in Germany, covered stiff boards with vellum and demonstrated a case binding similar to the Bradel binding described in Laura Young's book. Don Etherington demonstrated the British technique of paring leather with a spokeshave, the making of a chamfered board, and pointed out standards to look for in a finely made corner, headcap, and spine.

Attendees at the Seminar agreed that the experience was valuable, and that the instructors were extraordinarily generous. Frank Mowery of the Folger Shakespeare Library videotaped each of the seminars for the Guild of Bookworkers' library to make them available to members who were unable to attend. Members have also been asked for their suggestions and ideas about future seminars.

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