The ABM offers lectures on a wide array of bookish topics. These lectures have covered topics from book history, to how-to instructional seminars on various bookbinding techniques! ABM lectures are held remotely and recorded. Missed a past lecture? Find it below to purchase access.
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Anthropodermic Bindings: Books Bound in Human Skin
The macabre practice of binding books in human skin sounds like the stuff of horror movies, but was actually perpetrated by well-respected doctors in the 19th century, a practice now known as anthropodermic bibliopegy. Would you know a human skin book if you held one in your hand?
Join librarian and author Megan Rosenbloom as she discusses her debut bestselling book, Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation in the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin, and how her interdisciplinary scientific team’s work to prove and disprove claims of anthropodermic books fits into the emerging field of biocodicology – where researchers apply proteomic, genomic, and microgenomic methods to old books to reveal heretofore unimaginable truths hidden in their pages and bindings.
A Beginner’s Bindery in a Hide-Away Box
To a hobbyist or beginner, starting out in bookbinding may seem intimidating–so much to learn, and so many tools. But Darryn Schneider of DAS Bookbinding wants to reassure the beginner that creating a bookbinding practice needn’t be scary. “I want new bookbinders focused on learning new skills, making books they are proud of, and having fun. I don’t want people feeling frustrated because they couldn’t make something for lack of a tool or material, or even a well-organized workspace.”
In this lecture Darryn–whose popular tutorials on YouTube include how-tos on bindings, tools, and materials–will share a set of tools and basic materials for the beginning bookbinder, as well as some tricks and tips for workspace optimization. You can fit everything you need into a box–Darryn will show you how.
Binding in the 3rd Dimension
Graham Patten is a bookbinder who applies his interests in origami, movement, and bookbinding to create unusual pieces that merge books and sculpture. The decorative and design elements of his work tend to arise from mechanical, structural, and kinetic ideas rather than from more traditional fine binding techniques.
In his presentation, Graham will discuss the origin of the three-dimensional origami-style bindings used on Curved-Folding Origami Design and other books, and the techniques he has developed to construct them. There is a continuum of structural possibilities within this theme that affect the functionality of the book structure. As he walks through the binding process, Graham will discuss the various design considerations that must be addressed, and how the binding process has evolved from book to book.
Content to Cover
A virtual lecture discussing the convergence of traditional bookbinding and book arts, exemplified by the books in the 49th Annual Members’ Exhibition of the Hand Bookbinders of California.
Juliayn is president of the Hand Bookbinders of California. She has a diploma in bookbinding and book conservation from the North Bennet Street School in Boston, Massachusetts.
She divides her time between her private practice (binding, repairing and conserving books) and teaching.
The Craft of Hand-Paring Leather
Join us for a virtual lecture and demonstration! For at least fifteen centuries, tanned leather has provided a durable, attractive, and pleasing tactile sensation for the covering of books. The leather must be selectively pared – reduced in thickness — to achieve proper functioning and meet aesthetic expectations. Book Conservator and Knife Maker Jeff Peachey will demonstrate the hand paring of vegetable tanned leather and discuss in detail the techniques and thought processes that this involves. Bookbinders, leatherworkers and anyone with an interest in traditional crafts will enjoy this practical and theoretical deep dive into hand and tool interaction.
Designing with Typography
Brenda Gallagher shows the ABM audience several ways to use letters as objects of design and discuss several ways of getting letter designs onto a leather binding including, tooling, painted incisions, debossing with cut shapes and polymer plates. Brenda Gallagher is a graphic designer, book artist and fine bookbinder living in Niwot, Colorado. She has worked designing commercial books and magazines for over 25 years in the Boulder area and serves on the board of the Boulder Book Arts League. Her work has been included in several juried shows for the Guild of Bookworkers and Open/Set bookbinding shows, many of which have traveled nationally.
Immerse yourself in the magic of the vanishing fore-edge, where paintings fade into gold. Acclaimed artist Martin Frost discusses the history of the vanishing fore-edge and shares valuable insights and techniques derived from the artist’s extensive 57 years of expertise in this revered craft. Martin Frost stands as a distinguished practitioner in this art form which has been officially recognized as ‘critically endangered’ by the British Heritage Crafts Association. Noteworthy accolades, including the prestigious title of ‘Maker of the Year’ bestowed by the British Heritage Crafts Association in 2017. As well as the national honor of the MBE in the New Year’s Honors list, personally presented by Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.
Going for the Gold
Samuel Feinstein is a bookbinder and finisher working in Chicago. While the basic tenets of gold finishing have not changed much over the years, approach in terms of design, precision of placement of individual tools, and utilization of different gilding sizes has. In his work Sam aspires to work seamlessly in all styles, historical and modern, to bring to the surface some of the essence of what is inside the covers. In his presentation, Sam will talk about how his traumatic brain injury left him unable to do other work, but introduced him to the world of hand bookbinding, the aspects of bookbinding history that truly inspired him to want to follow this path, and the one binding that set him on his course to want to do fine leather bookbinding and specialize in gold finishing. He was captivated by not only the detail of the work, but also the combination of playfulness of design and dedication to the mastery of the craft that went into its creation. In his slides he will demonstrate one of the many approaches to gold finishing that he employs in his work and teaching, as well as the philosophy behind his tooling method.
Linking the Past, Forging the Future
In our digital age, it’s hard to remember (or even believe) that books were once so rare and costly that they were kept chained to the shelves. But even chains cannot protect a centuries-old book from the wear of time–and many hands. When a chained medieval book in Stanford Libraries’ collection needed repair it took a group effort to conserve the book and create a model of this unusual binding structure that could stand in its place for use by scholars and researchers: a group at the intersection of scholarship, conservation, and craft. Join us for a virtual panel discussion with Kathleen Smith, Aude Gabory, and Karen Hanmer as they discuss their collaboration across disciplines; see the resulting facsimile, and marvel at the thought, art, and skill that went into creating it.
The Manufacture of Leather
The American Bookbinders Museum is pleased to present The Manufacture of Leather, led by David Lanning, of J. Hewit and Sons, UK. David will present a virtual tour of the J Hewit & Sons Tannery and talk about the leather manufacturing process. Have you ever wondered where they get their hides, how it’s tanned and what archival tannage is?
David will talk about the structure of leather, ‘Beamhouse’ operations, and finishing leather for use in binding. Don’t miss this chance to ask him anything leather manufacturing and about his career at J Hewit.
Marbling Fine Bindings
Join bookbinder–and marbler–Deborah V. Thomson of Echo Art Bindery for a look at marbling techniques on fine bindings. Deborah has a diploma in fine binding from the American Academy of Bookbinding where she studied with Don Glaister, Peter Geraty and Monique Lallier. She learned marbling with Regina St. John of Chena River Marblers. In this virtual lecture she will discuss marbling techniques on leather, and as an edge treatment as well as instructions on how binders can bring this practice into their space. Come with your questions. Deborah will share her experience and answer questions about techniques and tools.
Suzanne Moore is a lettering artist, painter, and printmaker whose eclectic interests meld in the diversity of her artists’ books. Her books blend abstract and representational imagery, rich color and surface treatments with textual content and contemporary lettering to create work that obscures the line between word and image, legibility and abstraction. Lecture listeners will virtually step inside Suzanne’s studio and enjoy an interactive learning experience as she discusses her artistic methods and collaborations with fellow book artists and bookbinders, providing a live demonstration based on techniques used in her most recent works.
The Poison Book Project
Dr. Melissa Tedone will discuss the discovery of arsenic in Victorian-era bookcloth and how this discovery influences our understanding of Euro-American bookbinding materials and manufacture. The Poison Book Project investigates the use of toxic heavy metals (including arsenic, chromium, lead, and mercury) in mass-produced 19th-century books. Come learn how and why toxic compounds were used in bookbinding and how the Poison Book Project is using crowd-sourced data to enhance our understanding of this aspect of book history. Melissa will also share how to identify potentially ‘poison books,’ tips for safer handling, and how interested bibliophiles can contribute to this research.
Tips & Tricks for Developing Design Ideas
A basic how-to for bookbinders looking for ways to create design ideas for bookbinding, the talk will begin with the content and mood of the book. Brenda will discuss how to respond artistically to the content of the book with your own visual statement.
We will explore ways to work around the negative inner voice, beginning with word play and exploring ideas with thumbnail sketching through to designing final compositions. Other topics covered will be what to do when you get stuck and the value and vulnerability of receiving feedback from others.
Tools of the Trade
Brien Beidler is a toolmaker and bookbinder. In his work, he draws inspiration from the tooled decorations found on leather bindings of the 17th and 18th centuries. For Brien, books from this period are a harmonious combination of beauty and approachability, much of which is a result of the quirky tool designs as much as the creative (and often hurried manner) in which they were used. Rather than making historic replicas, Brien engraves his own finishing tools which he in turn uses to decorate the covers of his bindings. He also cuts custom finishing tools for other binders. In his presentation, Brien will be talking about his finishing tool making experiences over the last few years. Beginning with the inspiration he garners from historic exemplars, Brien will walk through the process he currently uses to cut, file, and hand-engrave useful and (hopefully) beautiful tools, as well as how he incorporates the designs into his binding work.
The Way is Narrow
What’s in a name? Or more aptly, what’s in a title? In spine titling there are a range of different issues, aesthetics, and techniques the hand bookbinder considers before beginning work. Is the spine flat or rounded? Paneled? Will the titling work be done on or off-book? A range of technologies–from hand tools to machine stamping to screening–even computer-aided design–are available to the binder. And an even broader range of materials can be brought to bear: leather, silk, paper, foils, gold leaf. All this is in the service of a spine which will both identify and create beauty. Binder Alice Vaughan will discuss the intersection of materials, technique, and art in spine treatments.