From the Library of Alexandria to the Library of Congress, books have been mankind’s predominant repository for knowledge and communication. Continually evolving over time and geography, book structures are appreciated now more than ever for their versatility, variety, and creative potential. This workshop is an introduction to the materials, tools and techniques used in basic bookbinding structures. Working in a fully-equipped studio, participants learn the properties of materials ranging from paper to threads, adhesives, and binding boards. Using tools that have changed little over the centuries, participants begin by learning simple, non-adhesive book structures such as the accordion, Japanese stab binding, the long stitch, and Coptic.
The Ethiopian book introduces the structure of the multiple gathering codex. The model of an Ethiopian binding illustrates the persistence of early book structure and introduces us to a contemporary culture exemplified by its traditional book. To this day, books of the Ethiopian Church are bound in a way that reflects the structure and action of the papyrus book era of late Antiquity.
The Ethiopian binding is a member of the larger family of “sewn board” bookbindings. This early structure of the codex bookbinding is known from late Antiquity, particularly from northern and eastern African sectarian book cultures. It subsequently spread to Islamic and Eastern Orthodox cultures.
By the end of the week participants will explore the form most familiar today, the case binding, in which the text is folded into signatures, sewn through the fold, and finally secured to its covering boards with adhesive. This traditional German style case binding, also known as Bradel binding, is the most common bookbinding structure in use by binders in Germany. What makes the Bradel binding unique is the cover boards and spine stiffener. They are joined together with a strip of sturdy paper before covering creating a very sleek and streamlined appearance.
These are all binding methods that artists, bookbinders, even book conservators use now for a wide range of purposes. Throughout the workshop students are encouraged to make variations on the structures they learn, and are exposed to principles regarding the conservation and care of books. All materials and tools are provided, but participants may bring textblocks and decorated papers if they wish.