Wednesday, 23 November 2016

On a recent trip to New York I had the wonderful opportunity to deliver my miniature book commission to Neale Albert in person. It was great being able to see Neale’s reaction to my binding, as he gives the bookbinder free rein over design and execution of the book.  That afternoon Neale was extremely kind to share some of his favourite pieces from his beautiful library and vast collection of miniature books, artistic bindings, and artefacts. There were many extraordinary works in the collection, though my favourite piece was Atlas of the British Empire, bound by George Kirkpatrick and housed in an exquisite leather globe box. I also loved Kirkpatrick’s leather kaleidoscope, covered in miniature book onlays. These were just a few of the works that illustrate the fascinating and infinite variety of Mr. Albert’s incredible collection. I was thrilled to see several Jan Sobota books in person and experience the true three-dimensional and tactile nature of his work. Neale’s dedication, passion and enthusiasm for artistic binding, book arts, and related artefacts are truly inspirational.

Neale kindly gifted me a signed copy of The Poet of Them All: William Shakespeare and Miniature Design Bindings from the Collection of Neale and Margaret Albert, which includes an excellent introductory essay by James Reid-Cunningham on the art of contemporary designer bookbinding. The book is an exhibition catalogue of Mr. Albert’s Shakespeare collection including miniature artistic bindings, re-bindings, and various Shakespeare inspired artefacts. The overall exhibition contains a broad range of work focused around Shakespeare, my favourite being a three-dimensional miniature wooden model of the Globe Theatre by Tim Gosling.

At the center of the Alberts’ collection is a group of thirty-nine hand-bound miniature design bindings of “Brush up on Your Shakespeare,” which is the name of a song from Cole Porter’s musical “Kiss Me Kate” based around Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. All of the miniature bindings were commissioned from world famous bookbinders by Mr. Albert. The miniatures contain the music and lyrics to that song and each of the bindings is totally unique and wonderfully imaginative. The edition was published by Neale’s own Piccolo Press and letterpress printed by Tideline Press in New York. As Elizabeth Fairman points out in her “Introduction” to the book the works in the exhibition “provide a glimpse into the heart and mind of a true collector, one who does not merely accumulate things for their own sake, but actively engages in the process of creating a work of art and intuitively understands the resonance that certain objects can evoke.” The Alberts make collecting a work of artistic creation.

Photography by Ailene de Vries





Sunday, 13 November 2016

Over the past year I have been working on submissions to both the International and U.K Designer Bookbinders Competitions. On Thursday I attended the private view for the U.K Designer Bookbinders Competition where I was excited to have two books on display. The Set Book was Vita Nuova by Dante and my Open Choice entry was In Smoke by Canadian Printmaker and Wood Engraver Alan Stein. I was thrilled to receive the St. Bride Foundation Prize for Finishing for my Set Book and The Clothworkers’ Company Prize for Open Choice Book 2nd Prize. I am honored to have my bindings exhibited along side such a talented group of Bookbinders and Book Artists and I look forward to participating in this competition again in the future.



Open Choice Book Description
IN SMOKE Ten Variations on Eugenio Montale
Poems by Gary Michael Dault. Wood engravings by Alan Stein
Ultra flat back book construction. Unsupported link stitch secondary sewn with full linen board attachment and skirting with ¾ hollow. Hand sewn endbands with hand sewn Manhattaning to tail. Hand printed leather jointed endpapers with edge-to-edge doublures.  Hand dyed fair goat. De-bossing to back board and cold gold de-bossing to front board with leaves.  Design inspired by reoccurring theme of the natural world and imagery of forests, foliage and gardens in relation to growth and the fragility of love.


Set Book Description
Vita Nouva - Dante
Unsupported link stitch secondary sewn with full linen board attachment and skirting with ¾ hollow. Book and three-dimensional figure covered in hand dyed fair goat. Full Sunago decoration.  Sewn silk endbands. Handmade digitally printed leather jointed endpapers with edge-to-edge doublures.
Design inspired by Dante’s dream of Beatrice in flames. The female figure represents earthly love while the gold flames rising into the night sky illustrate darker themes of mortality and religious transcendence.

This week I had the exciting opportunity to visit The The Wyvern Bindery and meet with the owner Mark Winstanley. The Wyvern specializes in bespoke books, boxes and portfolios as well as book restoration and repair services. Located in the heart of London’s traditional printing and bookbinding district, the space is filled with exciting projects, traditional/modern materials and tools and a wonderfully knowledgeable staff. The bindery’s clients range, from personal collectors and antiquarian book dealers to creating props for movies including Game Of Thrones and Harry Potter. Mark trained at the London College of Printing and his enthusiasm for books is inspiring and contagious. My favourite book in the bindery was a ledger with brass edging at the head and tail that weighted almost more than I could lift! I look forward to returning in the future and seeing the exciting and interesting projects The Wyvern Bindery is working on.


Friday, 4 November 2016

I had the exciting opportunity to attend INK LDN, the new international antiquarian and book arts fair in England.  The venue was a beautiful stain glass covered gothic mansion, which was featured in the popular television show Downton Abbey. There were many wonderful antiquarian books, manuscripts and artists books from European and American dealers. 

The booth I found most interesting was Abby Schoolman Books which I was familiar with as she represents my teacher Mark Cockram. Abby is a book dealer based in New York with a fantastic collection of artists books from living bookbinders including Timothy Ely, Sonya Sheats, Celine Lombardi and Mark Cockram. I found these books inspirational and the diversity of the work extremely interesting. They displayed a range of both highly conceptual designs and modern material use and techniques. My favourite binding was Mark Cockrams Sir Patrick Spens utilizing his invented technique of tesseri and cold gold work evoking imagery of water and ships.  I look forward to seeing Abby’s collection of bindings at The New York Antiquarian Book Fair in March.

Timothy Ely
Mark Cockram

Timothy Ely
Timothy Ely
Mark Cockram
Timothy Ely
Abby Schoolman