Friday, July 22, 2016

Guest Blogger - Dominic Riley: A New Design Binding for an Old Book

San Francisco Old and New
Grabhorn Press, 1939
Design binding by Dominic Riley
This is a marvelous book, printed by the famous San Francisco Grabhorn Press, and I assume it was brought out partly to celebrate the building of the Bay Bridge, as the first illustration in the book is of the new bridge.

The book was given to me a few years ago by my friend and colleague Margaret Johnson, a stalwart of the bookbinding community here in San Francisco, with a view to creating a special binding for it.

The project was a joint venture. Margaret gave me a budget, and asked me to produce a binding for twice that amount. The reason was clear, and fitting: knowing that the San Francisco Public Library had for some time now wanted to have a binding of mine, but since they have a limited budget, she suggested that the finished binding would be a gift to SFPL from both of us.

It has been a joy to work on: this lovely book from this City’s iconic press, and it is a tribute from me to an institution which has for over twenty years provided me with endless help, as a research library offering much guidance and advice, support for my teaching here, and as a bastion of fine binding on the West Coast.

My design came from a simple sketch I made of some of the buildings referred to in the book: the Palace of Fine Arts, the ‘Painted Ladies’, the Coit Tower, City Hall and the Ferry Building. And towering above them all, the new Bridge.

The binding is a gift to the city from myself and Margaret, two transplants who have over the years made this fabulous city home.

Our guest blogger is design binder Dominic Riley. Dominic studied with bookbinder Paul Delrue and at the London College of Printing. He was a long-time resident of California before his return to Great Britain, where he teaches and designs book bindings. He is the recipient of the Mansfield Medal in Design Binding (2007) and was awarded  the Sir Paul Getty Bodleian Bookbinding Prize (2013). He was elected a Fellow of the Design Binders and is past-president of the Hand Bookbinders of California. Dominic starred with the wonderful local box maker John Demerritt in the library program "The Book Boys," which may be viewed on the Library's YouTube channel.

Dominic's design binding is on view with bookbindings from the Book Arts & Special Collections Center, a companion exhibit to the Hand Bookbinders of California Members Exhibition, through September 3. In the Skylight Gallery, 6th floor, Main Library.

Monday, July 11, 2016

HBC 44: Tom Conroy's HAMLET

Tom Conroy

Berkeley, California

William Shakespeare.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

New York: Knickerbocker Leather & Novelty Co., n.d.

7.6 x 5.3 x 1.3 cm.

Washed and gelatin-sized. Herringbone sewing on tawed goatskin thongs. Tracing cloth spine liner, pasteboards, tight backed. Laced-in linen backbead headbands, overembrodered with scarlet silk. Full scarlet Russell’s Oasis goatskin, blind and gold tooling.

Bound in 1986, but not previously exhibited. This was one of the first books I washed by myself, and one of the first where I used medieval structures for modern binding, but it was difficult to shelve. Once the notion of a nest of boxes presented itself they seemed to create themselves, over a period of three or four months; then the Muse departed as quietly as it had arrived, leaving the outer box of the main series untitled. A separate series of three enclosures (not exhibited) contains binding fragments, and the assemblage also includes a series of four-flap folders (not exhibited) as used by various rare book libraries in the 1980s; someday I will make one box to hold the entire assemblage.

Making the nest of boxes had the charm of naughtiness: almost all of them are styles that are not approved of by conservators, although old examples are often wonders of craftsmanship and have protected their books admirably. Also, it includes many scraps of material too small for other use but too good to throw away.

1). Molded fireproof pull-off case. Terracotta Harmatan goatskin, scarlet Oasis on throat.

2). Slipcase with chemise. Olive Oasis goatskin, chemise lined with paper marbled by Daniela Lang, sided with paper marbled by Richard J. Wolfe.

3). Traditional drop spine box (false solander case). Ochre Oasis goatskin with green onlays; gold and blind tooling. Lined with French marbled paper.

4). Oriental style four-flap portfolio. Tan bookcloth, jigsaw catch covered with tan goatskin, lined with yellow silk brocade, pegs of Honduras rosewood.

5). Reversed slipcase. Double false spines of undyed Harmatan goatskin, labels of green and gold goatskin, paper marbled by Daniela Lang on head and tail edges to mimic book edges. The call number is the proper Dewey number for Hamlet.

6). Library of Congress standard rare book box without portfolio. Off-white bookcloth lined with synthetic woven felt.

See Conroy's HAMLET in person, at the Hand Bookbinders of California's Annual Members Exhibition which will be on display through September 3rd in the Skylight Gallery on the 6th floor of the Main Library.