Dec 202015
 
The book I made in the workshop.

The book I made in the workshop.

I like Drum Leaf and similar types of bindings. I’ve read as much as I could find about making them, and I’ve seen a video of Tim Ely making one, but mine sometimes have bumps where I don’t want them and other unintentional features that displease me. When I saw that John DeMerritt was going to be teaching a Drum Leaf workshop the week I was going to be at the San Francisco Center for the Book anyway, I jumped at the chance.

John turned out to be funny and nice, and made the class a delight. By this day, I was so tired I glued some of the wrong pages together and even managed to … ugh … slice a finger and drip on my book. Fortunately, it was on the end page and was not going to be visible once the book was finished. But my classmates were going to see it. I was embarrassed. But John turned this into a light-hearted moment too. (Among other things, he told us he used to have a sign in his bindery that advised, “Don’t bleed on the work.”)

It was such an educational class. There were a few times when John would show us something or share a tip, and that one thing alone was, to me, worth the tuition in itself.

We made the spines out of Cave paper. John had us pare the paper along the sides, using our scalpels and sanding blocks. I must say, it had never occurred to me to pare paper before. He also taught us a handy trick for turning-in the cover papers over the board edges using a little squeegee tool, which creates a neater edge when gluing.

We also were given nice materials — aside from the Cave paper, we also got handmade Saint-Armand papers for the covers, and enough materials to make two books. Yum.

There are piano hinges in front of the wing that open out to reveal much more inside.

There are piano hinges in front of the wing that open out to reveal much more inside.

Immediately after the workshop, Paul Johnson was back to give a talk about his work. He showed us his amazing, big and long accordion-style sketchbook, which he invited people to spread out around the room (alas, I didn’t get any photos of it). He talked about his father, who’d been a talented amateur artist, and showed us slides of some of his father’s drawings. He talked about his own work and about how the environment in which he’d grown up — in the shadow of the nearby cathedral — had influenced his work throughout life. Afterwards, we were invited to go up to a display of his magnificent sculptural books. I did get a few snaps of these, but they barely convey the complexity and size of his wild, multi-layered creations (for one thing, most were so big when opened out that it was impossible to get more than detail shots in that crowded space). I noticed later, after downloading the pictures, the childlike looks of wonder and joy in the faces of my fellow adult attendees as they circled the display. As I say, the photos don’t do them justice.

Close-up of one of Paul Johnson's Books

Noah's ark (opened)

Noah’s Ark, unfolded.

Close-up of Noah's Ark

Close-up of Noah’s Ark.

PS: Twenty years ago, John DeMerritt and Dominic Riley made a video about the history of bookbinding that was shown on San Francisco’s Public Broadcasting Station. I thought I’d post a link in case you haven’t seen it. It’s a half-hour long, but is much fun. Around the six minute mark they transition into historical costume…

 

 

Related Post

  4 Responses to “My San Francisco Week in Books: Part Two”

Comments (4)
  1. Oh. Wow.
    Childlike wonder would have been mine. My mouth would have been open too.
    A sign saying ‘Don’t drool on the work’ would have been appropriate.
    Love that you could be there.

    • Thanks, EC! I think I might have literally drooled… They are all lightweight and hollow, which is even more amazing — only paper. It was magical.

  2. I love the colourful whimsy of that book/ark/magicthing. Bloody fingers? Oh yes, been there,done that.I am careful, but my fingers bleed easily.
    Glad you had a good time down in the Big Smoke. That’s as opposed to the Big Smoke at home :-( It’s good to plug into the recharger for a while.

    • Di, if you saw the pictures of Paul J. on my previous post, that object he is holding is the ark — it folds completely flat.

      Ugh, the fingers… yes… ehem…

      And the best part of all might have, indeed, been the cleaner air down there. As soon as I got out of Humboldt County my cough disappeared and I felt so much better, at least in my chest. The air was clean until — literally — I crossed over the Humboldt County line an hour + south of home. The air was so thick with wood smoke in places it was painful to draw a breath. When you have to go to the big city for a clean air break, you know there’s a problem!

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.