Sunday, April 23, 2017

Babette, Bärbel's older sister?

About a month ago I introduced Bärbel who had to leave school at the age of 13~14 following the death of her father, and go off to learn a trade so she could contribute to the household. Bärbel was the protagonist in Bärbels fröhliche Lehrzeit (Bärbel's Happy Apprenticeship) that I wrote about in Bookbinding as Chick Lit. This genre is known in German as Backfischromane, an interesting term. I had found the book by accident while surfing eBay... and ordered it on a whim, no researching the Author further in any detail. The story spoke for itself, and the illustrations were fun. After that post I received an email from a librarian colleague in Weimar who wrote to let me know that Felix Riemkasten had written an earlier version of the book in 1935... Well, now I was obligated to dig deeper if only to see what the differences were. After all, post-war Germany in 1953 was a very different time from Nazi Germany in 1935...

Babette bindet Bücher (Babette Binds Books) arrived early last week and provided a wonderful deja-vue experience. The 1953 story (Bärbel) was an almost identical word-for-word reprint with the same characters, but with a different illustrator (Lotte Oldenburg) than the 1935 story (Babette). Babette did however provide some differences that were interesting. The first was the choice of typeface in the 1935 story, an appropriately German fraktur. Makes for an interesting combination with the typefaces used on the cover... I did look through my Buchbinderlehrling to see if the book might have been reviewed or at least mentioned, but alas, no. Babette was described in Georg Ruppelt's Buchmenschen in Büchern (Book People in Books), 1997, accompanied by the frontispiece illustration.

Both books can be found via various online antiquarian platforms:

Cover | Einband

From the dedication below, I wonder if Lotti Kessler went on to become a bookbinder because of Babette's story...

Dedication | Widmung
Lotti Keßler
zum Geburtstag 1936
von ihrer Freundin
Lore Panzer.

The frontispiece and title page below show Babette in workshop with Meister Schwannecke and depict her as a the book-lover she is.



The 1953 story with Bärbel began with her being told by her mother that with the death of her father and the loss of income, that she would need to leave school to learn a trade and contribute to the household. We do not learn how the father died or other family details. These were, however, revealed in 1935's story about Babette... Babette's father was the local "city clerk" (Stadtsekretär, Beamter/Civil Servant) and went after his duties and responsibilities with great dedication. He was thinking of these on his way to hearth and home when he stepped into oncoming traffic on a slushy wintry day... He died instantly, a small consolation for his family... As the youngest of three she also had two brothers, one a student at university and the other a sailor. As a student, Babette was very bright and would certainly have followed her brother to a university - she wanted to become a teacher...

Babette cleaning the store room in her first days as an apprentice.
Babette muß in ihren ersten Lehrtagen den Lagerraum aufräumen.

More about Babette's family and the consequences from the death of her father...
Mehr über Babettes Familie und die Folgen vom Tode des Vaters...


Babette's mother spoke strongly about these consequences and the impact that they would have. Babette answered with "jawohl" and "jawohl Mutter...," I.e. "yes, ma'am! A good obedient child who knows her duties and responsibilities. The story itself is told very unpolitically, although duty and obedience (Pflicht und Gehorsam) could be interpreted that way, and probably should be in the context of 1935 when everything was politicized, including trades and education.

After this the story continues identically with only very minor variations for both Babette and Bärbel.



Coffee with her former teacher, note press under table.
Kaffee mit ihrer ehemaligen Lehrerin. Die Presse ist unter dem Tisch.

Babette gets to go dancing but is encouraged to wear gloves because of calluses...
Babette geht tanzen und wird geraten Handschuhe zu tragen wegen Hornhaut...

Babette sewing | Babette beim Heften

The cranky Journeyman's pants are glued to the stool as a prank, and torn out.
The other apprentice got sent to his apartment to grab a new pair...
Die Hose des fiesen Gesellen wird vom Lehrling an den Hocker geklebt.
Nach gelungenem Scherz muß Letzterer eine neue Hose holen.


At the exhibition | Bei der Ausstellung
The end | Ende


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Parchment from Salmon - Lachs Pergament

By now, everyone show know that I have a certain infatuation for working with fish leather. Part of the reason may be that it is so different and uncommon. A bigger reason may well be the connection to Ernst Collin and my project around his writings... I first wrote about the uses of fish in binding back in early 2014 - Something Fishy - Fish Leather for Binding - with subsequent posts showing my uses of the skins. Recently while looking through all my issues of Der Buchbinderlehrling (1927-43) I found a short article about "Fips" and the eel skin in the volume for 1937. I've worked with eel leather (Very thing, but strong. Great for millimeter bindings), but this was the first article that described making parchment from a fish skin. The earlier articles were scant on the tanning/drying details. In his third year, "Fips" wanted to do something special for the binding on the Buchbinderlehrling he was going to enter into the annual bookbinding competition. So, he went next door to the fish monger and asked for a really big and fat eel, but without the meat, guts, bones... After some discussion, he got what he needed, scrubbed it clean in the courtyard of the shop (to the disgust of all) and tacked it to a board to "let the sun do the rest." It was that simple.

Inzwischen sollten alle wissen, daß ich so eine verspinnerte Vorliebe für die Verwendung von Fischleder... an Einbänden habe. Ein Grund mag sein, daß es so anders ist und von fast niemanden mehr verwendet wird. Der größere Grund mag die Verbindung zu Ernst Collin sein der bekanntlich einige Aufsätze über Fischleder in der Buchbinderei geschrieben hat. Ich habe über diese zuerst 2014 in dem Aufsatz Something Fishy - Fish Leather for Binding geschrieben mit weiteren Aufsätzen wo ich meine Anwendungen beschrieben habe. Neulich fand ich beim Durchblättern meiner Buchbinderlehrling Jahrgängen (1927-43) einen kurzen Aufsatz über "Fips" und die Aalhaut. Ich habe schon einig Male Aalhaut verwendet (sehr dünn, aber stark), ideal für Edelpappbände, aber dieser war der erste Aufsatz in dem beschrieben wurde wie aus Fischhaut Pergament gemacht wurde. In den meisten Aufsätzen die ich bis jetzt gesehen habe ging es eher ums Gerben, aber in allen Fällen mit wenigen Details. Als Lehrling im dritten Jahr wollte "Fips" sich etwas besonderes für seinen Einband vom Buchbinderlehrling für den jährlichen Lehrlingswettbewerb ausdenken. Aus verschiedenen Gründen kam er zur Aalhaut. Also, ab zum benachbarten Fischhändler. Ein ganz dicker sollte es sein, aber ohne Fleisch, Gräten, und Innereien... Die hat er von dem verdutztem Fischweib sogar kostenlos bekommen. Also zurück in den Betrieb um die Haut zu reinigen (zum Eckel aller) und aufzuspannen. So einfach war das.

"Fips" setting out his eel skin to dry in the sun.
"Fips" beim Aufspannen seiner Aalhäuten.

Judging by the picture in the article (above), perhaps the eels fattened themselves after the Battle of Jutland.

Dem Bild oben nach wurde sein Aal vielleicht von der Skagerrakschlacht so fett.


Friend and colleague Monica Langwe in Sweden sent me these pictures of fish parchment she had, so I now had a sense of what I was aiming towards. Nice to see the unique textures I was used to from working with fish leather in the parchment, too.

Meine Freundin und Kollegin Monica Langwe in Schweden schickte mir diese Bilder von Ihrer Fischpergmenthaut. Jetzt hatte ich eine Ahnung wie das Ganze aussehen sollte. Schön auch zu sehen, daß die eigenartige Oberflächenstruktur wie beim Leder erhalten ist.

Fish parchment detail | Fischpergament Detailansicht
View of overall skin | Gesamt Ansicht des Pergaments
So..., the other day my wife was pulling into a parking lot with our local seafood trucked parked in it. Among the mussels, clams, and scallops was a modest Atlantic salmon fillet with skin on. She knew about my crazy projects and wanted to provoke me into action. So, after eating clams and mussels, I got to work skinning the fish.

Also, vor einigen Tagen wurde das Auto meiner Frau in einen Parkplatz mit dem Laster vom Seefruchthändler versteuert... Unter den Muscheln und Jakobsmuscheln war auch eine bescheidene Seite atlantischen Lachs mit der Haut dran. Sie wusste von meinen verspinnerten Projekten und wollte mich sticheln... Also Muscheln gegessen, und dann ran die Arbeit den Lachs zu enthäuten...

Pulling the skin off.
Beim Enthäuten.

Almost done – I rewarded my helper with scraps of sashimi
Fast fertig –Meinen Helfer habe ich mit Sashimiresten gefüttert.


The skin being cleaned after removal.
Nach der Enthäutung fing die Reinigung an.

The skin was first washed and rinsed in very mild (useless) dish detergent
and water to remove oils and the scales that remained...
Die Haut wurde zuerst in sehr milder Geschirrspülseife und wasser gewaschen
zwecks entfettung und den Rest der Schuppen los zu bekommen.

Soaking for 2 days in kaolin clay to degrease further and aid in smell removal.
Die Haut wurde als nächstes für zwei Tage in einer Kaolin/Wasser Mischung gelegen
zwecks Entfettung und Geruchentfernung.

The skin stretched out to dry in the sun under tension, just like "Fips'" skin.
The Haut unter Spannung in die Sonne zwecks trocknung gelegt,
so wie "Fips" es auch gemacht hat.
In for the night, nice and taut. Will it pass the dog test, will Loki lick it?
Rein für die Nacht. Wird es das Schnüffeltest bestehen, wird Loki es lecken?

This morning I found several greasy spots that I cleaned, and then out in the sun it went again.

Heute Morgen einige fettige Stellen gefunden die ich gereinigt habe, dann wieder raus in die Sonne.

The finished parchment | Das fertige Pergament

Recto

Verso

Detail