Sunday, October 25, 2020

Fritz Otto makes The New Bookbinder

When Designer Bookbinders' latest issue of The New Bookbinder, volume 40 arrived, the one with my article "Fish Tales: Experiments with fish skin for bookbinding", Fritz Otto was blown away to find himself and the salmon parchment/shark leather box he made included in the "Lockdown" section of the issue. It's a fantastic issue, that carries the subtitle/theme of "Creative covering; the clothes on our books." Fish skin certainly fits that theme. 

"Lockdown" was a two-page spread of images from each of the issue's contributors with a brief blurb about what they had been doing during the COVID-induced lockdown we have all lived with since March. Lots of different projects, most binding related, some not such as mask making, gardening, and painting. It was a wonderful recognition that the work we do does not exist in a vacuum.

Checking out the cover with Nadine Werner's
fantastically photographed paper folding.

Hey, look, that's me! How'd that happen?
You can't see it, but that's the picture from when I made that box.
The Meister shot it on b/w film, something he has been getting back into.

Here's the description on the back.
Even mentioned my guide, the Bone Folder.

Hmmmm, a sign of the world of total information control
we live in. Instagram added this when the image was uploaded.
Better watch what I upload, or not! ✊


Dark Archives – Anthropodermic Bibliopegy

 Megan Rosenbloom's Dark Archives is out! Read the review from the New York Times and elsewhere. Dark Archives is a wonderfully conversational dive into this subfield of bibliopegy. It also connects to topics here because of articles on the subject by Ernst Collin and Paul Kersten, the latter also the focus of part of one of the chapters.


Should Fritz Otto be worried? First fish, now this.
The Meister knows about Paul Kersten and others, also Pergamena... 
Time to 🏃.

To learn more, listen to this great conversation. There are others online as well. Just check out #DarkArchives on Twitter.

Anthropodermic Biocodicology (HUMAN LEATHER BOOKS) with Megan Rosenbloom & Daniel Kirby 
Listen on Ologies with Alie Ward

Anthropodermic bibliopegy is a long, fancy way of saying “HUMAN SKIN BOOKS” and the study of confirming or debunking them is … Anthropodermic Biocodicology. For this skin-crawling, history-trawling Spooktober episode, we chat with the absolutely wonderful and charming medical librarian and expert of books bound in human skin, Megan Rosenbloom. Also, on the line: analytical chemist Dr. Daniel Kirby, who discusses how books are tested to confirm if they are, in fact, human leather. Why would someone make these? What’s in between the covers? Whose skin is it? What do they smell like? And what can they tell us about our culture and our past? Rosenbloom has just released her book “Dark Archives” and gives us a peek into the world she’s come to know so well. Listen under a blanket or with a nightlight on, though. It’ll give you goosebumps.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Trout Fishing on the Rapid Streams

In 1983 the Guild of Book Workers organized a small set book exhibition of sixteen fine bindings on Cutcliffe's The Art of Trout Fishing on the Rapid Streams published as a fine press book with illustrations by D. R. Wakefield. That fine press edition is no longer available, but the original is (scroll down).

The catalog cover. Print copies can still be found.
It is also online via the Guild of Book Workers' website.


H. C. Cutcliffe. The Art of Trout Fishing on the Rapid Streams. Revised and illustrated by D. R. Wakefield. Tiverton, Devon: The Chevington Press, 1982. Printed in Perpetua type on handmade Barcham Green. 10½ x 7 7/8 x 3/8  inches. Limited to fifty copies, signed and numbered by the illustrator.

Binders who participated were:

  • William Anthony
  • David P. Bourbeau
  • Lage Carlson
  • Betty Lou Chaika
  • Jerilyn Glenn Davis
  • Odette Drapeau Milot
  • Louise Genest-Côté
  • Donald Glaister
  • Ursula Hofer
  • Jamie Kamph
  • William Minter
  • Joseph Newman
  • Gisela Noack
  • Gray Parrot
  • Julie Beinecke Stackpole
  • Griselda Warr

The catalog is illustrated in the style of the day with smallish black and white photographs. Still, it is a wonderful record of the exhibit representing some of the most active binders of the day. Some are still active, some not so much, and some have passed. Included in the catalog are the binder's education, prior and past positions, and a description of the binding. Mine also included the price list for those works that were for sale.

The price list in 1983 dollars.

So, ordered a first from 1883 to bind. Paper ok, needs a bath, smells less like a damp lakeside camp than the last book, but otherwise in good condition. Still, going to pull, wash, and deacidify. The book is also available in print and digitally via the Internet Archive.


When engaging in piscatorial bibliopegy, I prefer to use skins that I have preserved, but when Janey Chang shared these oak gall tanned brook trout on her Insta I couldn't help but ask whether she would part with them. When making parchment the color largely disappears, and other tanning methods overpower the delicate coloring of the fish. These are just perfect. Now to work on a design that honors the fish, and book.

So, who's up for an exhibit on this book?