March 19, 2008

Welcome to the March Newsletter!

A quarterly compendium of news, knowhow and whatnot. All members of the Guild of Book Workers are welcome and encouraged to post comments.

The March 2008 Edition of GBW Northwest has been a real collaboration, and a joy to put together as a result. (Except for Blogger's formatting issues, which I have been struggling with. Placing photos in text is like working in quicksand, so please excuse my abandonment of exacting standards.) My principal tasks this issue have been encouragement and assembly. I hardly had to write a thing! This makes me feel really good about the newsletter's secret community-building agenda.

Well, take a look. The newsletter opens with official GBW business--our workshop coordinator Shu-Ju Wang has set up a fall workshop, and the GBW Exhibitions Chair Karen Hanmer has more information on the upcoming Marking Time show. There's also a call to action I hope you'll all respond to. Roberta Lavadour has a very 21st-Century idea for a Bookless Book Exchange, an online library of books which anyone can print out and assemble. It's a challenge to individuals to create something simple and clever they are willing to share. I'm curious to see what people come up with. . . do participate, and check out the results in the June newsletter.

Roberta has submitted detailed instructions for her twined binding to Bonefolder, and hopefully they will be available in an upcoming issue. For us, she's written the story of how she developed the binding with the deadline of her presentation at the Dallas Standards conference looming over her--a classic tale of ingenuity and persistence in the face of panic. Sophia Bogle, who wants to make sure the patient art of book restoration finds its place in the newsletter, has shared a set of instructions on measuring books for clamshell boxes. And Sabina Nies has contributed a piece on The Biannual Bookbinding Competition in St Remy les Chevreuse, France, encouraging entries in the 2009 event with inside info on her experiences as entrant and visitor to the 2007 competition. Finally, there's news and photos of what some other members have been up to.

Many thanks to all of you who have contributed!

Susan Collard

March 18, 2008

Save the Date--Barbara Mauriello Workshop

Shu-Ju Wang
Workshop Co-Chair, GBW NW Chapter

Join us in Portland for a workshop sponsored by GBW on October 4 & 5, 2008.
Barbara Mauriello will teach the 2 day workshop "The Box As Stage- Set", inspired by the Indian tradition of itinerant story-telling. We will make our own version of the story-telling box, Kavadh, complete with sliding door, stepped roof, finials and feet!

Bookless Book Exchange

Roberta Lavadour
Pendleton, Oregon

The problem with most book exchanges is the assembly work. All that printing, cutting, sewing, pasting, over and over again....blech! Here's an exchange that is all the fun with none of the muss and fuss.

1. Choose a simple book structure that can be created from one (or two) printed sheets of paper. Your book design can employ pop-ups, items tipped in and other conventions, but remember that you may need to provide additional instructions for assembly. Accordions, flexagons, boustrophedons, the slit octavos and folded french door books are good choices, but there's no limit to your own paper engineering genius.

2. When designing the printed pages, remember that most printers will not print to the edge of the sheet, so for bleed images, design the page at 7.5 x 10 or so and provide instructions to trim the page before assembling.

3. Post your image files as 72 dpi jpegs or pdf files on your website. (Send Susan the link so she can post them all in the newsletter.) Or, email the files to Susan Collard at and she'll get them posted online for you. Please also provide a small image of one of the finished books fully assembled. Deadline is June 1, 2008.

4. Provide simple assembly instructions if necessary. It is assumed that most GBW members know how to fold the basic structures.

5. Watch the GBW Northwest blog for the Bookless Book Exchange books, then download and assemble all your favorites. For a sample project, check out Roberta Lavadour's Gyromancy project at:

Guild of Book Workers 2009-11 Exhibition Update

Karen Hanmer
GBW Exhibitions Chair

An online Intent to Enter form for the 2009-11 Guild of Book Workers traveling exhibition Marking Time will be available June 1- July 30,2008. Digital images may be submitted online for jury January 1 through March 1, 2009. You must file an Intent to Enter to submit work for the exhibition.

There is a $2000 limit on insurance value for work included in Marking Time. There is also a size limit on the work. Books may not be largerthan 22 inches square and 12 inches deep, including protective enclosure. Flat or 2-D work may not be larger then 24 inches square,including frame and protective enclosure. Submitted works must have been created since 2006, and may not have been previously shown in a Guild exhibition (Chapter exhibitions excepted). All entrants must be members in good standing of the Guild of Book Workers for the entire run of the exhibition.

The show will open at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts in Minneapolis on May 15, 2009 and travel through March 2011, with venues including a mix of book arts centers and public and university libraries.

Watch the Guild newsletter for updates.

Designing the Twined Binding or, How Sheer Terror Can Drive the Creative Process

Roberta Lavadour
Pendleton, Oregon

Two things have pushed me forward in my quest to make books: 1. Getting myself into situations that were way over my head then having to work my way out of them, and 2. Keeping a vivid sense of the worst-case-scenario close at hand and running like Hell to stay ahead of it.

So when Jim Reid-Cunningham asked if I would make a presentation to the Guild of Book Workers at the 2007 Standards of Excellence Conference, I thought, “Now THERE’S a venue where a flop could effectively end my career...Let’s do it!”

Now, while “book artists” are often regarded as the lower end of the food chain when it comes to traditional fine binders, being given a mandate to be innovative in a field marked by thirty years of rampant innovation is a tall order, and many book artists have risen to the challenge. We can thank PBI, Standards and other presentation venues for encouraging them to jump into the deep end.

I knew that I wanted to create an exposed-spine binding that allowed for a rich, all-over design on the spine – something that amp-ed up existing bindings by sheer volume and density of thread. I experimented with a wide range of options, beginning with a basic stitch that would basically provide a substrate for doing thick embroidery work over the top. As you know, ideas are one thing and the basic laws of physics are another. Each design proved to be either physically impossible or, possible, but rattier looking than a third grade string art project with no structural integrity. I began to panic.

I needed to ditch the embroidery and find inspiration closer to home.

Living in Pendleton, we’re surrounded by amazing fine craft. The rich traditions of both the cowboy and Native American cultures are alive and well in the saddles, silver work, blankets and beadwork that are created here. I find the basket twining and rawhide braiding especially compelling.. My brother-in-law Joey Lavadour, a member of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and of Walla Walla descent, is a master weaver and amazing teacher. Tim George, who works with the legendary Hamley & Co. is a master rawhide braider. Both were endlessly generous in providing encouragement as I tried to adapt each craft to two bookbinding structures, as described in my proposal, “..inspired by the Cowboy and Indian heritage of Eastern Oregon”.

The design process always brings to mind an assignment my friend Mare Blocker uses with her drawing students – “Draw your brain as a carnival ride”. Just about the time I think I’ve got a fabulous idea, riding high on the glee of my own cleverness, the bottom drops out and I realize that I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. I guess it’s that thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie in me that compels me to take the ride over and over again. After so many gut-wrenching cycles over the years, you finally come to trust that you will come out the other side, even though the fear and anxiety are always just as intense.

The basket twining inspired binding seemed like it would be the easiest. 14th century account books that employed weaving over long stitches seemed to be a natural departure point, but I also felt compelled to employ linen cord in some way, as it’s most similar to the hemp cords that Joey weaves his baskets over.

After several miserable attempts at weaving perpendicular to the spine, I finally figured out how to make it work going the other direction. I’m sure I’m not alone in having had my mind wander while executing a packed sewing, imagining how that lovely and orderly linen thread over 12 ply linen cord design would look if replicated to fill the spine and left exposed in the finished book. Throw a little color variation in there and it would be hot.

The twining worked just fine. The challenge then, of course, was what the heck to do with seventy-five cord ends that needed to be attached to a cover board.

One night we were watching a Sundance Channel piece on mountain bikes that were made from bamboo. The engineer connected the parts by dousing strands of frayed-out hemp cord with epoxy, forming it around the joints then sanding it to a smooth, beautiful surface. Ah ha! I thought. I would fray out the cords, epoxy them to cover boards and sand them to a gorgeous sheen.

After being sufficiently frightened by the State of California warning on the epoxy label, I conducted a few experiments. The finished surfaces turned out looking much more like dull, grey chipboard rather than the luxurious wood-like sheen I’d envisioned. Never mind the fact that I’d be up in front of 100 conservation-minded experts extolling the virtues of bookbinding with epoxy.

So I nixed that idea and set aside the fluffy sample to concentrate on the “cowboy” binding. On a whim a few years ago I had picked up Bruce Grant’s Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding and had been playing around with teaching myself some basic braids. I'd incorporated some flat braids, covered rings and turk's head knots in a design binding of The Oxbow Incident and liked the textures a lot. I'd started practicing covering some tool handles in the studio with braided leather and was captivated by the technique, which allows the weaving to appear to emerge from the butt of the handle as if by magic. In my head, this concept could be adapted to a binding.

Knowing that I didn’t want to demonstrate leather or vellum in front of GBW members who were true experts with those materials, I tried to find a suitable substitute. Pergamenata Parchment seemed like a good idea, but, it wasn’t strong enough unless lined with Tyvek and cracked when folded against the grain. The translucency and strong pull was also a problem when covering boards.

I had hauled some pieces of Tim Barrett’s papercase paper back from a book arts gathering years before and started experimenting with those. The paper was perfect. The book structure, however, was problematic. I was working with models where two boards were covered separately with strips extending from the spine edge that were then to be interlaced and woven back over the spine sewing and covers. I was able to create just one miniature model that held promise, but when I tried to weave the strips on a larger scale, the materials seemed to stage a rebellion against my best laid plans. At this point it was just 8 weeks before Standards and I was faced with two dead-end projects.

Then, just as in the old Reese's commercials where her peanut butter gets in his chocolate and vice versa, the two ideas intersected, and weaving over the extended paper supports instead of linen cord seemed to hold promise.

The first model I made actually looked pretty good. Now I had to get busy creating more samples to show off different variations on that model. Weaving is time consuming, and I worked day and night. I finished a fifth book on the flight to Dallas and another two, one full-size and one miniature, in my Standards dorm room.

The good news is, the presentation seemed to go fairly well. I don’t think it totally rocked the world of the Guild members, but most attendees seemed reasonably engaged and intrigued.

The culmination of my week was when one of the respected Guild big wigs confided in me that, “..sometimes the ‘book arts’ things can be a bit flakey, but your wasn’t flakey at all”. What more can you ask for, really?

Now, being able to make a book for yourself is one thing. Trying to explain its construction to others is something else altogether. Communicating the steps of a fairly complex and unfamiliar binding was, and continues to be, a challenge. After sending a set of instructions with images to Peter Verheyen for possible inclusion in The Bonefolder, I woke up with a start one morning, realizing that there was a much easier way to streamline the addition of the gatherings. Those instructions were updated just yesterday, and I’m sure that more refinements will develop in the future.

My next goal is to create at least 50 twined bindings and get them placed in teaching collections across the country. In the same way some people knit, this stitch has become something that I can practically do without looking, and I find it very relaxing. I’ve been experimenting with some of Bridget O’Malley’s heavy papers, heavy vellum (the real stuff from Jesse Meyer) and recycled materials like shipping straps, all with good success.

The culmination of this project would be to see others take on this binding, creating their own designs and variations. That would make the scary parts of the roller coaster ride all worthwhile.

How to Measure a Book for a Clamshell Box

Sophia Siobhan Wolohan Bogle
Ashland, Oregon

Measuring a book properly is what really makes the difference between a professional job and a box that doesn’t fit the book. I was taught this method by David Weinstein who is an honors graduate of the London College of Printing and a master book restorer. I first wrote the instructions down so that a client could get a box made without having to send me the book. I let the client know ahead of time that I would only guarantee a perfect fit if I had the book, but that this method, done properly, should work satisfactorily.

To Begin:
Get a stiff metal ruler that starts with zero at the edge of one end. There can’t be a gap on the ruler before the measuring starts because you need to measure the books standing up on a table from the bottom up. I will be measuring in inches, but if you prefer metric the conversion should be simple. My board shear is in inches so I have to stick with that.

Height: Stand the book up on a flat surface with the front cover facing you and the spine perpendicular to the surface of the table. Set the ruler up behind it with the zero on the table. (This goes for every measurement.) Physically get down so your eye is level with the top of the book. Slide the ruler slowly from the fore-edge to the spine so that you determine the very highest point of the book. Usually it is at the joint or near the spine. Write down the measurement to the nearest 16th of an inch that is fully visible over the top of the book. Do not round down to a number below the edge of the book.

Width: Stand the book up on its fore-edge now with the tail of the book towards you and the head of the book away from you. Use weights to prop it in place. Place the ruler behind it so that you are looking down the spine towards the head of the book. Get that measurement. Do the same towards the tail end of the book and compare measurements. Be sure to check there isn’t some anomaly in the middle by sliding the ruler slowly from one side to the other looking all along the spine with the book parallel to you. Be sure to write down the biggest number.
If there are any obvious discrepancies on the spine that make a taller point somewhere in the middle of the spine (like raised bands) then use the ruler along the side of the spine and get a triangle that has a 90 degree angle to find the highest point setting the triangle on each raised band and looking at that measurement.

Thickness: Place the book flat on the table and put a small weight (about 2 pounds) in the center of the cover. The point is to mimic the compression of the box. So a big weight or a small weight will skew the measurement. Get your eye level down to the top of the book. Use the same ruler method and look all around the book for the highest point. It is usually at the spine area.

It is better to have more space than not enough space, therefore add a measurement just for space to these measurements to be sure it will be big enough, just an additional 1/16th or 3/32nds. If someone else has done the measurements and you do not have the book in your possession then add another 1/16th space to each measurement.

To Finish:
Double check all of the measurements after you have completed one round of measuring!
What we want is for the book to fit exactly so that it doesn’t move around when you shake the box. If the book does shake in the box for any reason you can easily add some acid-free felt or paper to fit beneath the book as an extra liner. It is impossible to make the box bigger or the book smaller once it is done.

Next time I will address figuring out the measurements for the trays based on materials used.

Sophia Siobhan Wolohan Bogle
Red Branch Book Restoration

The Biannual Bookbinding Competition in St Remy les Chevreuse, France

Sabina Nies
Ashland, OR

The 10th biannual bookbinding competition announces the new book for theyear 2009: "The Marriage of Figaro" by Beaumarchais.

Competitors will receive one copy of the 1000 numbered limited edition of 176 pages well printed on Arches Vellum with exquisite illustration. The 120 Euros fee includes registration, postage, the exhibition catalog, and returning the book.

A glimpse of the 2007 exhibition

The exhibition takes place in St. Remy les Chevreuse, close to Versailles in France. The village supports this event generously and what a mindboggling wonderful exhibition it was last year! Last year's competition's book was "The Tales of Mother Goose". To see about 600 copies of the same book bound by 600 international bookbinders all in one place is just an unforgettable impression. From classic leather to wild artist books, everything was there. Professional fine bindings as well as students' work and sculptured bindings..there was no limitation.

Sabina's entry in the 2007 competition

Participating in this competition and seeing the exhibition is an exciting experience. There is only one drawback: the books are written in French and so is most of the competition's but a few of the organizers speak English. Inquiries to:

Member News and Gallery

From Jessica Spring of Springtide Press, Tacoma, tidings of great doings March 2:

"In Tacoma (where nearly the whole town knows the definition of "Wayzgoose," a gathering of printers) the 4th Annual Small Press Month Wayzgoose was a smash. Literally. Printers, papermakers and book artists travelled from Olympia, Seattle and surrounding Washington to provide hands on demonstrations of their crafts free to attendees. Sponsored by King's Bookstore, this year's event included steamroller printing. Five artists carved 3 x 4 foot wood or linoleum prints, with the inking and printing taking place in the street outside the store."

Here's Jessica with wood engraver Carl Montford inking up a portrait of Gutenberg and his press. . .

Sweet pea of King's Bookstore, who runs the event with Jessica, gets to drive the, um, press. . .

And voila!

Thanks to Russ Wiecking for the action photos.

But wait, there's more Gutenberg in the news!

Michael and Minnie Chrisman, of Bookbinders Workshop in Salt Lake City, have embarked on a remarkable task--binding over a hundred facsimile copies of the Gutenberg Bible, using historically correct methods and materials. You can read about the project in an article from The Salt Lake Tribune (the photo, by Paul Fraughton, accompanies the article). Should you be inspired to learn more, Bookbinders Workshop is holding free three-day workshops in wooden board binding each quarter of 2008. Perhaps it's time to start planning that trip to Salt Lake City--a great place to visit, I might add. More info on the classes is posted at the Bookbinding Forum.

In case you thought Jessica Spring had her hands full with Wayzgoose, she has also written a couple of excellent articles to launch Flurry, a new on-line journal sponsored by Boxcar Press. (There's also an essay by Walter Hamady that c(/sh)ould be required reading for anyone who makes books and wants some reminders why.) Jessica writes us, "Boxcar Press just premiered a revamped website ( that includes some great features for book artists and printers. Written in a blog format, "Flurry: A Journal for the Printer" investigates options for eco-friendly printing and also includes a profile of Walter Hamady of The Perishable Press. Printers might also like to check out the video section which includes how-tos for makeready, roller alignment and other essential skills." (Plus there are sexy photos of presses! --ed.)

Quite a few of us have books in the upcoming Secrets & Lies show at 23 Sandy Gallery, Portland, March 20-April 26. Check out the on-line catalog!

Another Portland show, Fresh Impressions, is closing March 20 at Oregon College of Art and Craft. An enticing show of letterpress in contemporary art, it too has a worthy on-line exhibition catalog. Though best in person, of course, like most things in life.

Shu-Ju Wang of Portland sent me photos of two Pillow Books--they're gocco-printed on tulle, and just back from a show in Tennessee, if I'm not mistaken--and asked me to choose one for the gallery. I choose both! The first is Tenuous Connections. . .

And the second is Random Cruelty.

And that's it for the March newsletter. Thanks for reading. The next issue will be out in June, with contributions due early in the month. And don't forget the Bookless Book Exchange!