Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Alaska.....the new PDB apprentice

Alaska McFadden started as the 2012 PDB apprentice, and in the first few weeks is already making an impact......A book Artist in her own rite aleady, she runs A Wrecked Tangle Press in Brooklyn with colleague Jessica Elsaesser.
Alaska is already proven to be a great asset to the bindery, and you can follow her progress at her blog :

anything with a spine

check it out and see what she's up to....

blog hiatus over soon...too many irons in the fire...more part 2 of the new york book fair....i know but the books are worth the wait.......

Wrecks divide...Tangles bind....quite!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New York Book Fair - parte deux

This will be a first for the PDB blog as I join the mile high club as it were posting as I am from 30,000 feet in the air over cowboy country, Texas. It is amazing the things technology affords us to do.
Please enjoy these French Book binding gems from the fair.............

parte deux...........

It wasnt all ancient manuscripts, incunabular, iconography and brass ornaments at the fair.

Modern design binding and book art, aswell as fine print were surprisingly well represented.
A real highlight for me was coming face-to-face with a fine number of french art-deco bindings, know only to me by thumbing through the pages of my copy of Alastair Duncan’s “art deco and art nouveau bookbindings".
There were pockets of modern french bookbinding from those periods throughout the many booths, but there was a heavy concentration in the booth of Dr.Fluhmann from Zurich. The good Dr. had some stunning and famous bindings from both the art nouveau and deco periods.

The two amazing bonets on display were immediately recognisable, and would jump out at any bookbinder. The size, the characteristic gold tooling, yes all that , and the fact that you’ve studied them in books for a long time...nothing beats seeing one in person. Some lucky person snapped up Bonet's binding of "FLORILEGE DES AMOURS"  that night for 25,000...a bargain! I congratulated the Dr. and he was assured that it had found a good home.....nae bother! as they say up north because he still had at least 2 more fine Bonet's, yet another spectacular binding with onlays, a very precisely completed gold work naturally, and studded with mother of pearl- “Bubu de montpartnasse by Charles Louis Phillipe”. 
The pieces of shell I have used in the past were rather thin, these were a good thickness, so i can appreciate the difficulty of cutting such exacting shapes.

The affable Dr’s collection was just getting started ......there were more bonets that were on display - most of which was instantly recogniseable to anyone who has studied french bookbinding from that period.
A very familiar binding by Francois Louis Schmied (les climats) with effortless gold tooling with each impression and line completed without any discernable deviation in heat pressure or dwell....a typical design mapped out using half circles, and intersected straight lines giving that characteristic schematic and architectural look that is so pleasing and familiar in almost all objects from that period.
The binding opposite by Francois Louis Schmied,  demonstrated a willingness to break from the more tradtional format...using appliques and surface gilding and colouring, The precision of the inlaid veneer was evident and of course impressive, but this binding was more notable for the abscence of a rigid architectural pattern. The calf skin was immaculate, not a scratch or a dimple in it!
The rest of the bindings on display struggled to compete for attention in Dr.fluhmann’s comparatively modest cases, but were no less interesting or famous for that matter. 

The art Nouveau bindings are distinct....the colours are darker, the designs much more figurative, often using floral patterns of onlays and tooling , though not always. This style was evident in an art nouveau style binding of Goethe’s Faust Charles Meunier. Instantly recognisable again, not least for the planed boards and cut-relief leather work.....techniques I covered at school when doing medieval binding...and have seldom used since.
Next to that was a copy of Faust bound much more to my taste by Bonet..great leather work, and tooling, and of course the powerful dot-tooled pattern work. You can see the wonderful large grain of the moroccan skin, sadly no longer around.
The Dr’s modest booth was made up of 2 cases housing a little over ten bindings, small and Qto sized, all of them stunners, all of them significant bindings from an important period of bookbinding, all of them historically significant pieces of art.

The fair was huge, wall to wall booths from dealers all over the world, with just an absolute cocophony of books and art, and you would have to go far to find more great french bookbinding from that period and later.

French dealer Jean-Baptiste de Proyart brought along a large and fine collection of books. Now its probably the Philistine in me but i am a sucker for larger bindings...i guess there is just more of it to love....never truer when facing Pierre-Lucien Martin’s binding of Stephanie Mallarme’s “Un coup de des jamais n’abolira le hasard” .
The design is so simple and maybe that’s why I like it so appears to be an alphabet of handletters cut in outline, so that the letter can be tooled and an onlay placed within the outline and tooled again... definately envious of the handletters.

I suppose that by now we have been spoiled so much that we barely even notice the rather modest bindings by Jean de Gonet on the shelf below...three diminuitive bindings all in a row showing the characteristic 3-phase binding, sectioned hollow, and exposed sewing. One stood out from the others in that it appeared the leather covering material at the spine seemed to be made up using strips of a skin weaved together??!!

Jean Baptiste also had another work by Stephanie Mallarme, bound by Bonet, which was very pleasant, and easy on the embarrassment of riches by this time really..

One more then, by another famous french binder known for his adept finishing ...Henri Creutzevault..

The Brick Row Book Shop brought this very famous binding of “Le Grand Testament” by Francoys Villon bound by french binder Lucie Weill in 1948.
Again, although there was definately more historical bookbinding at the fair than anything else, there was a great deal of interesting finds and modern binding work, and we have barely scuffed the veneer.

Up next ...well bindings from Douglas Cockerell of course, not one , but 2 kelmscott Chaucers...and some great stuff from pirages, bromers, etc...etc...

descending over the Poconos on a sunny day....

the better part of leaving New York,  is coming home.