Sunday, February 2, 2020

Ignatz Wiemeler and Gerhard Gerlach Together at MoMA

MoMA in NYC has placed records of its exhibitions from the founding in 1929 to the present online. Included are some catalogs, some images of the installed exhibits, checklists, and press releases in some combination and to varying degrees. While not on display at the same time, both Ignatz Wiemeler and Gerhard Gerlach exhibited at MoMA.

Ignatz Wiemeler, Modern Bookbinder: [exhibition], October 2nd to October 24th, 1935.

Among them is the catalog to the 1935 exhibit, Ignatz Wiemeler, Modern Bookbinder!

Cover to Ignatz Wiemeler, Modern Bookbinder

The catalog also references the article "Bookbinding, Old and New" by Wiemeler that was published in The Dolphin, No. 1, 1933. The complete run of The Dolphin is online at Carnegie Mellon University. This was his only publication in English.

Wiemeler student Gerhard Gerlach was himself part of an exhibit titled The Arts in Therapy
February 3–March 7, 1943. The items in the exhibition represented "a selection from a nationwide competition, open to all American artists and craftsmen, for new designs and objects in those crafts acknowledged to have therapeutic and recreational value for disable ad convalencent members of the Armed Forces."

In the category "projects for patients," Gerlach received an "honorary award" with a Morris Levine for a lap board that was used for binding. Gerlach die the bookbinding. Levine was credited for the lap board. A lap board can be seen at right in the image from the exhibition below.

Lap board at right.

These kinds of activities, including for veterans were not unique to the United States. A contemporary example from Germany was Ruth Zechlin's Soldaten Werkbuch für Freizeit und Genesung. Ravensburg: Otto Maier Verlag, 1943 (2nd ed). It was designed for convalescing soldiers and those on leave, and starts off with instructions for making a Bett-tisch (bed table) for making the quite complex projects on. These include wood working, origami,bookbinding, dolls, all manner of crafts really. See some images showing the cover with pasted-on label, title page, the Bett-Tisch, and examples of bookbinding in the post "Bookbinding for Rehabilitation." More articles here.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Lunch Instead of Fish Skin Binding

Back before Christmas, Fritz Otto was on vacation in Greece (aka Wegmans like any good fisherman) and caught a bunch of sardines. Finally, a right-sized fish he could work from start to finish for his own binding(s).

Today, pulled them out of the freezer to practice his flaying skills...

Catch of the day.

Filleting was the easy part.

The Peachey lifting knife was great!

Filleting was the easy part, but alas, the skin was too thin to get off. He also tried pulling it off of the intact fish but that was even less successful. Alas..., nothing left to do but make lunch for himself.

Just fried in a little olive oil with pepper. Didn't need more for a tasty meal.

Rülps! (How Germans Burp) That was delicious!
So, defeated in making parchment, successful in preparing a meal.

To learn more about making parchment from fish, see
"Fips" and His Eels: Fish Skin in Bookbinding
Book Arts arts du livre Canada (Vol 10., Nr. 2, 2019)

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Fish skin fashion: a dying craft by China's 'mermaid descendants'

A small minority along China’s ‘Black Dragon’ river have a long history with the water. According to legend, the Hezhen people descend from mermaids, but now some of their unique traits, such as their signature fish skin suits, are at risk of vanishing. Michelle Hennessy reports.

You Wenfeng, 68, an ethnic Hezhen woman,
poses with her fishskin clothes at her studio in Tongjiang

Ethnic Hezhen You Wenfeng's Chinese Han student learns
how to make clothes from fish skin at You's studio in Tongjiang.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Square Back Bradel Binding Tutorial on the Pressbengel

What a delight to discover during a random web search...

Watch Queensland, Australia based Darryn Schneider of DAS Bookbinding demonstrate a square back Bradel binding (German case binding) using my instructions and the downloadable sheets for my translation of Ernst Collin's Pressbengel (as The Bone Folder).

The demonstration on YouTube is nicely done, and is a great use of the downloadable text in signatures. Intended audience is students and workshops, and it can be used for just about any common codex-based structure.
Ps., I'm always happy to see bindings on the textblock by individuals and those in workshops. Bonus points for those using parchment they made from fish. ;-)

The Bone Folder by Ernst Collin.

I also recommend checking out his many other tutorials, also on his YouTube Channel.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Fish Parchment and Leather Swatches

A sampler of all the fish I've made parchment from.

From top: mackerel, sea bass, lane snapper, haddock, Arctic char, Atlantic salmon.
Underbellies are lighter than tops.

Note: except for the mackerel, the skins are highly translucent.

And below, examples of commercially available tanned fish skins.
See here for more.
From the top: eel, suede trout, glazed salmon, suede salmon, glazed carp.

Book Arts arts du livre Canada (Vol 10., Nr. 2, 2019)

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Fritz Otto Doing a Colored Edge and Endband

↣ Happy New Year 2020! ↢

Here's hoping we don't go too full-on Weimar,
but some bindery projects will help keep us sane, maybe.

Coloring the freshly plowed top-edge using a paste paper technique.

I think I'm liking the effect!
Next, I add some shape and crispness to the rolled leather endband.

And, a little more in that spot...

OK, that's done. What's next?

Monday, December 30, 2019

Sushi and a Philosophy of Craft

Saw Jiro Dreams of Sushi last night, amazing food porn that was filled with thoughts about how we learn and master a craft, apprenticeship, and how to sustain what is a lifelong journey. The clip below kind of laid that all out in the kind brutally honest wisdom only a true master could pass on.

One of the terms often referred to is "shokunin" a term that loosely translates to "artisan" but means so much more. The Kyoto Journal has an interesting article, "Shokunin and Devotion" that is definitely worth reading. As the master woodworker Tasio Odate said:

The Japanese word shokunin is defined by both Japanese and Japanese-English dictionaries as "craftsman’ or ‘artisan," but such a literal description does not fully express the deeper meaning. The Japanese apprentice is taught that shokunin means not only having technical skills, but also implies an attitude and social consciousness. … The shokunin has a social obligation to work his/her best for the general welfare of the people. This obligation is both spiritual and material, in that no matter what it is, the shokunin’s responsibility is to fulfill the requirement.

There is an interesting post about Odate here.

In the clip below Jiro Ono lays his philosophy out: Once you decide on your occupation, you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about our job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That's the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably.

In a word, fantastic, sobering, inspiring, ... You'll also be extremely hungry during and after, and unless very lucky, highly unlikely to ever experience, especially since reservations must be made at least a year in advance...

The film is available on Hulu and Netflix, as well as YouTube.

Definitely worth watching!