Showing posts with label Bookbinders' workshops. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bookbinders' workshops. Show all posts

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Werner Kiessig, MDE aus der DDR

Ich bin immer auf der Suche nach interessantem zur Buchbinderei. In letzter Zeit sind gleich 3  Päckchen zu Werner G. Kiessig, Meister der Einbandkunst (MDE) in der DDR, hier eingetroffen. 

I was recently able to acquire some ephemera and sample books relating to the bookbinder Werner Kiessig who lived and worked in Berlin, Ost, but was also a member of the Meister der Einbandkunst (MDE), then a largely West German group that changed its name to "Meister der Einbandkunst – Internationale Vereinigung e.V." so that Kiessig could become a member.

Backing board for a calendar advertising Werner Kiessig's bindery, 1972
The calendar board and exhibition catalog artwork is by Werner Klemke who was very well known internationally
More examples of Klemke's illustrations can be found here or here
.

Kiessig wurde 1924 in eine buchbinderische Familie geboren - Der Grossvater gründete 1893 in Berlin eine Globusfabrik und Buchbinderei die sein Vater 1918 als industrielle Buchbinder übernahm. Kiessig machte seine Lehre bei Kurt Grünewald und studierte unter anderem mit Bruno Scheer an der Graphischen Fachschule in Berlin. Grünewald und Scheer waren beide Mitglieder der MDE. Er blieb in der DDR, machte 1948 seinen Meister im Buchbinderhandwerk, verpachtete die familiäre industrielle Buchbinderei und widmete sich der Einzel- und Sonderfertigung. 1956 wurder er als Kunstschaffender im Handwerk" anerkannt und später Mitglied im Verband Bildender Künstler wodurch er sich Vorteile verschafte und er die Erlaubnis bekam Mitglied der MDE zu werden auch weil MDE "Internationale" dem Vereinsnamen beifügten. Seine Arbeiten wurden international ausgestellt und er war aktive mit Veröffentlichungen und Vorträgen. Er starb 2014 in Berlin. Etwas zu Kiessig gibt es auch in dem Blog der Pirckheimer Gesellschaft in der Kiessig auch Mitglied war. 

Andere Aufsätze zu Werner Kiessig:

  • Werner Kießig. MDE-Rundbrief . 2013, Nr. 2: 10-11
  • Porträt, MDE-Ehrenmitglieder, Werner Kießig. MDE-Rundbrief . [2015], Nr. ?: 12-16
  • Der Meister der Einbandkunst Werner G. Kießig. Enthalten in Marginalien Bd. 225, 2017, Nr. 2: 93-95

Kiessig was born into a Berlin trade/industrial bookbinding family, served his apprenticeship in with Kurt Grünewald and studied with Bruno Scheer, both members of the MDE. After the war, he remained in what became the DDR. He earned his Meister in 1948. With his interests clearly in the hand/fine bookbinding side of the trade he leased the industrial side of the firm to focus on the other. 1956 he was recognized as a "Kunstschaffender im Handwerk," a "trade-based" artist, as well as being a member of the "Verband Bildener Künstler" and other cultural organizations. Because of these, he had greater freedoms to pursue his creative work and become active in international organizations such as MDE. He also joined Designer Bookbinders in 1981. He exhibited and presented widely, mostly in Eastern Europe. He died in 2014.

Alle drei Musterbücher | All three sample books

"Schriften, Linien, Ornamente" sind Musterbücher von einigen derselbigen, die man Kunden vorlegte. Hier Beispiele. Insgesamt, konnte ich 3 solche Bände erwerben, alle so aus dem Zeitrum zwischen den späten 50er bis in 70er. 

The sample books "Schriften, Linien, Ornamente" were used to give clients an overview of the type faces and stamps that could have been used on their books.











"Handeinbände," eine Ausstellung der Deutschen Staatsbibliothek von 1984 zeigt viele seiner einfallsreichen Einbände mit einer Vielfalt an Materialien. Bei vielen kann mann sehen wie er auch mit einfachen Materialien sehr ansprechende Einbände schuff.

Handeinbände was a 1984 exhibit of his bindings at the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek. He was best known for his "fine bindings," many of which were shown in the exhibit. In some of the examples one can see how he used simple and more available materials to create handsome bindings.

Auch sehr schön ist die Werner Klemke Zeichnungen auf dem Deckblatt des Katalogs.

Werner Klemke also contributed the cover design of the catalog.







Saturday, December 14, 2019

Book and Paper Arts for School Students, a tale of two Pralles

Willi Pralle, Papier- und Papparbeit. Schulzesche Verlagsbuchandlung, Oldenburg, 1938.

Given the date of publication and the torn-out title page in my copy, I'm going to assume that it contained information linking it to the National Socialist government... Per the OCLC record, it was published for the Gauwaltg. d. NS.-Lehrerbundes im Gau Weser-Ems (Administration of the NS Teacher's Federation in the Weser-Ems District) that was based in Oldenburg.

The book would have been used in the teaching of paper and book-related crafts to/by teachers working with the lower school grades.

Interestingly, a Heinrich Pralle taught this subject at the Staatliche Kunstgewerbeschule zu Hamburg where Franz Weisse and Ignatz Wiemeler also taught. The book Die staatliche Kunstgewerbeschule zu Hamburg (1913) shows examples of works created by Pralle's students starting page 383. Given the similarity in name and focus, were they father and son?

Workshop where teachers would have been taught these paper crafts and more at the
Staatliche Kunstgewerbeschule zu Hamburg ca. 1913.
Click to enlarge.
Paper crafts as taught by Heinrich Pralle at the
Staatliche Kunstgewerbeschule zu Hamburg ca. 1913.
Click to enlarge.

The purpose of this instruction (in German) was to get children used to working with their hands, something that privileged those in rural areas over the cities because the children were more likely to have direct contact with this kind of work. From Die staatliche Kunstgewerbeschule zu Hamburg, "The pupil's workshops should not train craftsmen, they should educate in the children of all professions in the right understanding, sharp vision, and aptitude. Manual dexterity is valuable if mind and body are to be cultivated."

Willi Pralle's book introduces the topic in the same manner with specific instructions for a number of excercises... A similar book is So fertige ich allerlei Buchbinderarbeiten (1911) by Richard Parthum.


The illustration depicts a class-sized tool cabinet for the making of paper crafts.

Schematic for a simple octavo stab-sewn notebook and loose documents.

Schematics for making round boxes with lids.

Tipped in paste paper swatches.

Tipped-in paste and marbled papers.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Fritz Otto Gets Ready for the Week

Fritz Otto says a professional always makes sure their Kittel (lab coat) is clean and crisply ironed to start the week... This tacking iron is almost the right size, still need a proper ironing board though.


Fritz Otto washes, bleaches, and irons his lab coat every weekend, well almost every weekend. 

Below, the workshop of the Kunstgewerbeschule Hamburg under the direction of Professor Kurt Londenberg, former student of Ignatz Wiemeler. From the December "Bilderbeilage" of the Allgemeiner Anzeiger für Buchbindereien, [after 1957]. Note the nice crisp lab coats. 




Saturday, April 7, 2018

Mit Pappmesser und Kleisterpinsel (With Box Cutter and Paste Brush)

Mit Pappmesser und Kleisterpinsel (With Box Cutter and Paste Brush) by Helga and Joachim Schönherr. Berlin: Volk und Wissen Volkseigener Verlag, 1962.
Another charming manual, this one for secondary school children teaching them how to make decorated papers, portfolios, boxes, and basic bindings. The diagrams reveal much about the strong influences of the trade. In many regards this could be considered pre-professional training.

Sections include setting up the workshop; materials and tools; techniques for making pastepapers, lining cloth, making turn-ins, corners, punching slots for ribbons, ...; instructions for calendars, lining maps, photo albus, portfolios, stab sewn books, chess boards, boxes.



Setting up the workshop.

Classroom tool rack.

Making turn-ins using a waste sheet, as well as corners and trimming-out.

How to hold and position the chisel for lacing through ribbons.
Note the bevel of the chisel.

Covering the edges of a box.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Kunstgewerbeschule Hamburg

Happy to add this image of the bookbinding workshop of the Staatl. Kunstgewerbeschule in Hamburg Lerchenfeld to my collection. The workshop is significant for the first teachers there, Franz Weiße (1907-1942) and Ignatz Wiemeler (1945-1952). Both were among the absolute top of German binders and teachers of binding, and Weiße was Wiemeler's teacher. The building the studio is in was built 1911-1913, and this postcard appears to have been taken shortly after, so during Weiße's time.

Workshop of the Staatl. Kunstgewerbeschule Hamburg

Postcard verso

In addition to teaching at the school, Weiße was the author of numerous articles on bookbinding and marbling, including the monograph Die Kunst des Marmorierens (Translated into English Richard J. Wolfe as The Art of Marbling, and published by Bird & Bull Press, 1980)

Franz Weiße with student Martin Lehmann,
from Der Buchbinderlehrling, Vol. 11, Nr.11, 1938.

Wiemeler, was perhaps THE most noted German binder of the 20th century, certainly from the US perspective. He was, among others, teacher of Kurt Londenberg (teacher of Frank Mowery), Fritz Eberhardt (teacher of Don Rash), and Arno Werner (teacher of many in Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley including Carol Blinn, Sarah Creighton, and elsewhere such as Gerhard Gerlach).

Ignatz Wiemeler (at left)with Kurt Londenberg in Leipzig, Germany, 1937.
From: Leben und Werk des Buchkünstlers Kurt Londenberg (1914-1995),
Helma Schaefer, ed., Verlag Ludwig, 2009.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Babette, Bärbel's long lost and secret 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, March 18, 2017

Bookbinding as Chick Lit

Bärbels fröhliche Lehrzeit (Bärbel's Happy Apprenticeship) by Felix Riemkasten written in 1953 is a charming piece of teen lit. for women. Illustrations by Christa W. Gräfin von der Schulenburg.

After the death of her father, Bärbel, at age 14, needs to leave school to take up an apprenticeship rather than going on to university like her eldest brother (She was a straight A student). She loves books, bookbinding isn't too strenuous (says her mother), ... What could go wrong? Nothing actually, mostly, and after finding an apprenticeship her first task is cleaning the store room (very familiar to me). Then there are challenges in dealing with the Altgeselle (Journeyman who never moved on to become a master), being the only woman, ... However, she's an ambitious over-achiever, pushes herself to learn new things, wants to create fine bindings and open new markets... A fun read that is remarkably accurate in its portrayal of many of the realities of apprenticeship, its descriptions of tools and equipment, and is up-beat, cheerful, and even empowering.

Bärbel pointing out some of her bindings in a book store window.

Although Germany had been relatively "progressive" about women as apprentices..., Bärbel was the first woman to apprentice with Buchbindermeister Schwannecke. All apprentices were referred to as "Junge" (boy), and Bärbel was also referred to as this... Bärbel's gender was also something that led to regular disputes with the Altgeselle, a journeyman who never progressed beyond that stage and was largely responsible for the day-to-day work and apprentices.

Bärbel heaving a sewing frame loaded with books through the bindery... Why? To demonstrate on her first day that she could carry her weight. Would be easier and safer to carry if held lower...

As woman, Bärbel was naturally weaker, something of a liability in a trade that required great stamina working while standing and carrying heavy loads... Hence, carrying the loaded sewing frame on her first day... Of course, she first had to identify the sewing frame never having seen one...The number and size (as well as dangerous) of the equipment and tools also intimidated her.

Among the adjustments was also that learning a trade as an apprentice was not a warm and fuzzy environment filled with mutual respect... Praise was scant, even when the work was well done, and apprentices (and journeymen) were chastised in the presence of others.

As part of her apprenticeship, Bärbel also had to go to trade school - the great equalizer where apprentices learned those things they might not learn in the shop... This was an experience she enjoyed, in large part because it was not the "bunker" her shop was.

Bärbel also learned about the value of acquiring the best tools and equipment very early on, and invested heavily in herself, often at the expense of a nice new dress... Fortunately, she was also able to borrow some equipment like hand presses or sewing frame so that she could practice at home...

Wrapped up in her ongoing conflict with the Journeyman was also the realization that it was very important to set personal goals for oneself, and that not to do so was to hold oneself back. For her, this meant going beyond mastering just the day-to-day skills, but taking it to the next level.

The book also did a good job of describing the types of jobs that came in, from repairing textbooks, to binding ledgers for businesses, to journals for libraries, ... This was the kind of work that sustained small trade binderies, and subsidized the more demanding work. It was also the kind of work that "allowed" apprentices to develop chops via rote memorization (of mind and hands), not her favorite. Via a conservation with another apprentice, she learns about his motivation for stealing, with his eyes, picking up tricks and new techniques. Bärbel is his favorite for this as she does the most beautiful work.

In terms of techniques, one of the best descriptions is for when Bärbel learns about decorated papers, and how to make and apply these. For her, this is also when she realizes even more what the design possibilities can be, and how to set her work apart. In some respects it felt the Bibliophile listening to the Master in Ernst Collin's Pressbengel (Bone Folder).

In the end, Bärbel passed her Gesellenprüfung ending her apprenticeship, but she stayed on at the bindery. First though, time to forget about the bindery and go dancing...

Bärbel gets to go dancing but is encouraged to wear gloves because of calluses...

Newly minted as a journeyman binder, Bärbel seeks out venues for showing her work, and perhaps earning some extra income. A local bookstore is more than happy to display her work in their shop window, also indicating that customers can contact her via the store. Ironically, she has very little success in attracting work. She does gain a patron of sorts in her brother who was at university and is now doing well, binding books for him (and his friends...). This eventually catches the attention of the (now other) journeyman who rats her out to the Meister. Without her Meister and the license to run her own shop she cannot legally do this kind of work on the side. However, after reprimanding her more for using shop resources without permission and compensation, he senses opportunities for his business and adds Kunstbuchinderei to his name. This gives him more prestige, and with Bärbel's skills that he acknowledges are more refined than his, a broader pallet of services. The other Journeyman gets reproached for being a busy-body, and further when learning that she is earning more than him, and as a girl no less, plans for further revenge. This back fires, or as is said in German "geht in die Hose" (went to his pants), literally. Bärbel, meanwhile, continues to be allowed to borrow equipment, and is quite happy with the situation.

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...

The frontispiece: That's a heavy load that she's carrying on her shoulder. She's carrying a book in a finishing press through town, just like on the other occasions when she borrows equipment from the shop to keep working on her own books at home...

Finally getting a binding job via the book store, she gets to know a Frau Director Feld, a woman who is very successful and independent in her life. This Frau Feld becomes her patron in the classic sense, giving her commissions, discussing bookbinding with the interest of Collin's Bibliophile, but even more. Asking her to leave her portfolio of designs, materials, and decorated papers, she shows these to like-minded friends, but also arranges a tea in her home where Bärbel gets to meet these friends and give her pitch. While very surprised by this scenario, she is very prepared, poised, and confident.

Bärbel confidently and enthusiastically at work.

One of the guests mentions an upcoming competition for a new guest book for the city (every village, town, city, ... had one). Open to all, Bärbel enters a design finely executed on a sample binding. She is heart-broken to learn that she did not win having been beaten by established artists, and is told by Frau Feld that the gentleman who encouraged her to enter was doing so largely in jest – she was still very young and inexperienced, and the winners were established and highly respected artists. She did, however, come in fourth and her work was exhibited with the winners, a consolation. Her Meister was appropriately proud, and wanted her to remain with him to do the higher end work that she had been bringing to the bindery – who would do it if she left... Frau Feld had other ideas however and had been busy networking to find Bärbel a position in a large trade bindery where she would work in the extra binding department. Having worked in the same bindery for her apprenticeship and journeyman years, she had very limited perspectives and alternative experiences. Moving on would be very important for her professional development, something the Meister also realized.

The [binding] world was hers for the taking, and with her drive, passion, and the help of patrons and mentors she would succeed.

Bärbel dedicating a guest book she bound to her patron.

So, from this 54 yr curmudgeon, a fun read loaded with accurate descriptions of the trade and apprenticeship in general, positive and encouraging, and with the complications of teen love and its associated drama. Based on my personal experiences as an apprentice in Germany during the 1980s, I found the portrayal of the Meister and his relationships with the others fair and largely accurate - apprenticeship is not summer camp, management style ranging from brusque to encouraging, what we would expect in the traditional trades. For someone like Bärbel who was academically strong and would have gone on to university, the contrast would have been stark and revealed crass differences in class and educational background, as well. Throughout though, Bärbel and the Meister handled themselves and each other well, and the real antagonisms were expressed through the journeyman who never showed any drive or enthusiasm, but was jealous of those who did. Ultimately his behaviour had him strongly reprimanded – shape up or ship out – and he and Bärbel came to an understanding. Finally, there was Frau Feld, a successful and cultured woman whose strong support (and some enabling) opened many doors for Bärbel, doors that she walked through with confidence to close the deals that Frau Feld had started.

Thinking that this book might have been reviewed, or at least mentioned, in Das Falzbein, THE journal for bookbinding apprentices I leafed through my complete run page-by-page starting in 1952. Alas, nothing, disappointing because I think the book could have encouraged readers to at least consider our craft. I did, however, find numerous images of female apprentices and art school students who could have been models for Bärbel.

So anything like this appear in English or another language?

See also my post about Babette, Bärbel's long lost and secret older sister?, aka Babette bindet Bücher.

Both books can be found via various online antiquarian platforms: