Biblio Tech with Karen Hanmer – Day 1

I just finished my first day at the 2011 Focus on Book Arts conference.

I am so very tired – here’s the math: Elissa + 3.5 hour flight delay = getting to the conference at 2:30 a.m. Many thanks to the magical power of caffeine.

Today was day 1 of a 2-day workshop with Karen Hanmer – Biblio Tech: Reverse Engineering Historical and Modern Binding Structures. The focus of our work was on board attachment.

I have to tell you – Karen is a riot. She has this really dry sense of humor that’s right up my alley. She also has a very human presence, meaning that she doesn’t have that “you’re in the presence of greatness” air. Of course, she is pretty great.

Karen started out the class by passing around around 2 dozen cutaway models of historical and modern bindings:

Box of historical and modern bindings

Box o' awesome

I took pictures of most of the bindings, but I’ll save those for another post.

We completed three bindings today: Tacketing, Crossed Structure, and Sewn Boards (Gary Frost).

Tacketing started with folding 20 sheets of paper into one mega-signature – this made for a very boingy book. Someone has a date with a press when he gets home:

Binding with tacketing

It was a pretty straightforward binding. Inside the signatures were little pieces of leather called stays – the stitches went through the stays to the outside of the book when sewing the signatures to the leather cover.

Binding with tacketing

Here are some shots of the outside of the completed book:

Binding with tacketing

Binding with tacketing

Next we worked on the Crossed Structure binding. I really enjoyed this one and I can totally see myself doing it again.

Covers for crossed structure binding

Here’s Karen doing a demonstration for the class:

Bookbinding demonstration by Karen Hanmer

Sewing the crossed structure binding

Crossed structure binding

Lastly, we worked on the Sewn Boards structure. I’m embarrassed to admit that until today, I never knew that this stitching was known as the French Link. I’m not sure if others would agree, but I think it looks elegant.

Sewn boards binding

After attaching the text block to the covers, we attached only part of the end paper so you could see how it looked underneath. I am already appreciating how useful these models will be in the future.

Sewn boards binding

And the finished book (it doesn’t look that exciting when closed):

Sewn boards binding

Sewn boards binding

I’m really looking forward to my second day! I’ll leave you with Karen’s super quote of the day:

Bookbinding is an interesting combination of measure, measure, measure, measure, slap it down and hope for the best.

4 Responses to “Biblio Tech with Karen Hanmer – Day 1”

By Laura - 25 June 2011 Reply

Looks very intensive but a lot of fun! Love her quote at the end of your post!

By Elissa - 28 June 2011 Reply

Laura –

The fact is that you can only have so much control over your work – it’s both frustrating and freeing.


By velma - 27 June 2011 Reply

karen is great. i spent some serious airplane time with her once. it was great fun.

By Elissa - 28 June 2011 Reply

Velma –

Airplane time? Did you two just randomly end up together or were you traveling to/from somewhere book-related?


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