The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 9, Number 3
May 1985


Classes at Ascona

There are actually two schools of bookbinding at the Centro del bel Libro in Ascona, Switzerland, or at least two curricula, to judge by the quadrilingual flyers received at the Newsletter office. One is the Professional School for Book Restorers, and the other is the Professional School for Artisanal Bookbinding. Excerpts from the flyers are given below.

Professional School for Book Restorers

...Theoretical training deals with the following subjects: practical chemistry, physics, biology, and a good knowledge of materials; the causes of damage and suitable methods of restoration; the history of paper, books, bindings and style. Practical training is as follows: damage analysis, treatment and reconstruction of damaged papers; how to take apart and reconstruct historical bindings in cardboard, textiles, leather, parchment and wooden-boards.

...For the restoration of paper, the laboratory has a modern set-up for chemical treatment and a leafcasting machine. It can have up to 10 students at a time.

Organization of courses. The training system of the school is divided in courses which include specializing courses as well as practical ones that last altogether approximately six months.

In order to achieve a well-founded training it is desirable to complete all the courses and the corresponding practice weeks, but this is not absolutely essential.

The course organization is such that one can flexibly join at various times and levels. The courses are divided in two levels (I + II) in which the second one builds up on the first one and grants a deeper specialization. Once the compulsory basic course and the course for the restoration of paper have been completed (level I), the participant can decide about his future training, according to his interests and personal possibilities.

Also, if he likes, the participant can follow the entire course consecutively. During the courses there will be a daily theoretical lesson of at least an hour and a half. Specializing courses are offered additionally on request.

Conditions for admittance. To attend the school one must have completed a hand-bookbinding apprenticeship with certificate. the School Committee will decide individually about the equivalent value of other professional trainings: this applies particularly to foreigners.

Organization. Courses can also be called off if the mum-her of participants is insufficient. The school is open 10 months per year. The normal school hours are 8:00-12:00 a.m. and 2:00-5:00 p.m.

The courses are taught in German. If requested, however, explanations can be given and texts provided in English, Italian and French.

Enrollment is done on a first-come, first-serve basis. It has to be accompanied by payment of 1/3 of the tuition fee. The remaining part of the fee is due ten days before the course begins. Should a participant not take part in a course he has applied for, the amount paid shall remain property of the school unless his place can be taken over by another person. After completion of a course a certificate shall, be given to the participants.

Professional School for Artisanal Bookbinding

The lessons include the following items: paper, leather and parchment-bindings in all the different techniques with the appropriate slip-cases and boxes; also hand gilding, decoration and inlaying of leather, gold and colored edging processes, as well as hand-made headbands.

Included in the course is also the making of decorative and marbled papers, as well as other kinds of papers, made according to traditional methods and particular techniques; these are also used for single volumes and small editions.

One of the characteristics of this school consists in the fact that the teaching is based on creativity and the knowledge of forms and colors. Individual wishes of the students will be considered whenever possible.

The school has a pulp vat, in which hand-made papers with self-designed watermarks can be manufactured. There is also a library with many technical books as well as a collection of slides showing some of the most famous artistic book-creations.

The student can join the school at any time, provided a course has not already started, and he can decide how long he wants to stay, within a maximum of a year. The normal school hours are 8:00-12:00 a.m. and 2:00-5:00 p.m. Various one- or two-day special courses are frequently held and are described in detail in a separate prospectus. [This prospectus lists courses one to five days in length, costing 80 to 550 francs. Karl Jäckel teaches historic endbands, Edwin Heim gilding, Ole Olesen millimeter bindings, and six other teachers teach a variety of subjects.]

For more information, write Centro del bel Libro, Casella postale, CH-6612 Ascona, Switzerland.

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