April Lectures and Events

We would like to pass on information about some New England area lectures and events of interest to our readers…

April 1 (Fri) 4:30 PM
A Romp Through Five Centuries
Amherst, MA

Sam Ellenport will be giving a talk entitled A Romp Through Five Centuries of Bookbinding Design on Friday, April 1 at 4:30.  It will be given at the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College, sponsored by The Friends of the Robert Frost Library; it is free and open to all.


Final Watts Program events:

The Watts Program in the History and Culture of the Book at the John Carter Brown Library is presenting two public events in the month of April.  These will be the final events of the year for the Watts Program.  Please come and bring a friend.

April 4 (Mon) 5:30 PM   Moveable Books and Book Collecting 

Margaret B. Stillwell Prize Evening with Suzanne Karr Schmidt (Brown ’01) the Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow at the Art Institute of Chicago who will give a talk on moveable books in the Renaissance with comparisons to books today. The Stillwell Prize evening is co-sponsored with the John Russell Bartlett Society. It is a prize awarded by the Bartlett Society to RI undergraduates for their book collections.  Ms. Karr Schmidt won the prize in 2001.  Open to all. Venue: John Carter Brown Library

April 27 (Wed) 6:00 PM Watts Pecha Kucha

The Book in My LIfe – An eclectic evening of very-short talks by professionals and students to close the Watts Program series on Transformations of the Book.

A wide variety of practitioners and students reveal their thoughts on “The Book in My Life” in a series of Pecha Kucha-style presentations. 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide – the clock is ticking. Expect tales of literature, shelving and entertaining reflections on the eccentricities of paper and ink. Ideal for anyone who’s ever liked a book a little more than they really should have. Moderated by Andrew Losowsky, Watts Program Provocateur-in-Residence.  Open to All. Venue: John Carter Brown Library.


April 28 (Thur) 6:00 PM
NBSS Bookbinding at 25
North Bennet Street School

Bookbinding Department Head, Jeffrey Altepeter, will give a short presentation about the bookbinding program at NBSS and invites attendees to bring a book or two along.  Jeff and his students will offer informal evaluations and offer suggestions about potential repairs or conservation treatments where appropriate… or just enjoy hearing about why it is a favorite book in your collection.

This event is open to the public but reservations and a $10 fee is requested.  Registration for this and many other workshops is available at www.nbss.edu or by contacting the director of continuing education, Megan Kenealy, at 617-227-0155 or mkenealy@nbss.edu.

deFINEd Bindings

26 Bindings of the Pictorial Webster’s Dictionary

Thanks to our jury for their very hard work selecting the 26 bindings for our upcoming New England Chapter exhibition.  It was a challenging process to choose just 26 works from approximately 50 entries.  We appreciate that the jury put together a collection of work that truly defines this set book as a cohesive exhibition, which was as much a part of their charge as the recognition of individual craftsmanship and artistic design.

The 26 selected bindings will soon go before an honorary prize jury which will recognize a few of the works for individual honors.

Notices of acceptance (and the unfortunately necessary rejections) have been sent out.  If you have not yet received an email regarding the status of your entry please contact Jeff Altepeter immediately for clarification at bookbinding@nbss.org.

Please watch for information about the exhibition, which will open at the Bromfield Gallery in Boston in October in conjunction with the Guild of Book Workers conference.

Congratulations to all who were accepted and sincere thanks to all participants!

What is Contained

What is Contained: The Book As Subject And Object
Curated by Deborah Davidson
Gallery 360, Northeastern University
March 6 – April 12, 2011

Opening reception March 15 5:30 — 7:30pm

Gallery talk with Sven Birkerts, editor of Agni @6:15

Bookbinding in America in the 19th Century

A Special One Day Seminar at North Bennet Street School:

Bookbinding in America
in the 19th Century

Saturday, April 30, 2011, 8:30am-4:30pm
North Bennet Street School, Boston
Todd Pattison


In 1800, most bookbinders worked in small shops consisting of a handful of workers and bound a wide range of materials. By 1900, bookbinding had become specialized and included individual artists working on elaborate leather bindings, large factories with hundreds of workers churning out mass-produced books and (for the first time) amateur binders learning the craft from commonly available bookbinding manuals.

This workshop examines the history of bookbinding in the 19th century, arguably the most dynamic time in the binding industry in the last 500 years. Although we discuss the two most important developments in 19th century bookbinding — the transition to case binding and the introduction of cloth as a binding material – all aspects of bookbinding establishments, book structures, materials, and binding equipment is examined.

Special emphasis is placed on important individuals throughout the century, rare or unusual bindings, elements of decoration, binding styles and the bibliographic significance of the 19th century binding.

New England GBW member Todd Pattison studied bookbinding with Fred Jordan in New York state in the  1970s and 1980s and continued his studies with Hugo Peller and Edwin Heim in Ascona, Switzerland. He has an Art History degree from Nazareth College and a Masters in Library Science from the University of Alabama. Todd was senior book conservator at the Northeast Document Conservation Center for nineteen years and begins as the Harvard College Library Collections Conservator in September 2010.

Registration for this and many other workshops is available at www.nbss.edu or by contacting the director of continuing education, Megan Kenealy, at 617-227-0155 or mkenealy@nbss.edu.

Calligraphy and Illumination

More news from our friends at North Bennet Street School :

Calligraphy and Illumination:
Boston and Beyond

Three Month Calligraphy and Illumination Intensive
Sep 12-Dec 9, 2011, 8:30am-2:30pm, with studio time until 4:30pm
Maryanne Grebenstein, Instructor
North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that we once again offer our comprehensive course in calligraphy, manuscript illumination, and bookbinding at North Bennet Street School. Taught by master calligrapher Maryanne Grebenstein of The Abbey Studio, this course will cover in-depth calligraphy, layout and design, manuscript gilding, and the use of computers and calligraphy. The final project is creating a hand-lettered illuminated manuscript and binding it by hand.

The class begins with a thorough introduction to calligraphy, covering six lettering styles (five broad edged pen, one pointed pen), then moves on to layout and design – how to effectively use multiple styles of lettering on one piece, how to determine letter size, and how to utilize color. After that, work on letter drafting, drawing and painting letters for headings, logo design, and large lettering. Then work on manuscript gilding, utilizing gold leaf, gesso, and vellum. After gilding, class moves on to computers and calligraphy, learning how to convert hand lettered artwork into electronic media for utilization in computer graphics. Finally, create your illuminated manuscript, putting all of your skills together by designing and creating a hand-lettered manuscript and binding it into a book.

This class is designed for those with no prior experience as calligraphers or manuscript gilders; however, there will also be plenty to learn for those with more experience.

The tuition includes a materials fee for some supplies; students will be expected to provide most hand tools and materials. If you don’t own any calligraphy or bookbinding supplies, expect to spend approximately $800-$1100 on tools and materials for this course, including supplies for your illuminated manuscript.

Online registration is available at www.nbss.edu or call the school at 617-227-0155.


and Beyond Boston….

Illuminated Manuscript Trip
May 26-Jun 8, 2011

In partnership with Maryanne Grebenstein of The Abbey Studio we offer what promises to be one of our most exciting adventures. We will begin our trip in Paris, with accommodations in the Latin Quarter. This fun and lively section of the city in the 5th arrondissement is named for La Sorbonne, where Latin was the spoken language of the students during the middle ages. The neighborhood is teeming with restaurants, shops, and galleries and is home to one of the main reasons for our visit to Paris: Musée Cluny (also known as Musée National du Moyen Age). It’s an easy walk to la Sainte Chappelle, Notre Dame, Luxembourg Garden, the Louvre and many other wonderful sites. Our stay in Paris will include guided visits to Cluny and Marmottan, as well as a stop at Les Enluminures, a gallery specializing in Books of Hours.

From Paris we will head to Mont Saint Michel and Avranches. For many of you, no introduction to Mont Saint Michel is necessary. Located between Normandy and Brittany, it is well known as the monastery that becomes an island with the movement of the tides. The original structure was begun in the year 708 and has served as an abbey, a church, a prison, and a fortress at various times in its 13 centuries of existence. To this day, it remains one of the most important religious pilgrimage destinations. We will tour Mont Saint Michel and its scriptorium, where hundreds of manuscripts were created. Our accommodations will be in the lovely neighboring town of Avranches, home to the new Scriptorial d’Avranches, a museum devoted entirely to housing its collection of over 200 manuscripts created at Mont Saint Michel.

Next we will travel to London. Our visit to London will, we’re sure, prove to be one of the highlights of the trip. We will have a guided visit to the British Library, home to many famous manuscripts such as the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Sherborne missal and many, many others. We are very excited to tell you that we’ve added a visit to Lambeth Palace Library to our itinerary to see a special exhibition and attend a lecture by two superstar scholars of medieval and renaissance books, Dr. Christopher de Hamel and Dr. Michelle Brown. This is a very unique opportunity – the lecture has been arranged by CLAS (the Calligraphy and Lettering Arts Society, London) and we have a personal invitation extended by Patricia Lovett, the Chair of CLAS (and author of Calligraphy, Illumination & Heraldry), to attend. There will be a special exhibit called “Translating the Bible” as well as the lectures. Maryanne says, “I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. de Hamel in New York City last spring and I can assure you he is incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining.” He is the author of several books, including A History of Illuminated Manuscripts and Scribes and Illuminators. He is the former head of the Western Manuscripts department of Sotheby’s, London. You may have had the opportunity to hear Dr. Brown when she was in Baltimore lecturing at The Walters Art Museum as part of the St Johns Bible exhibition there a few years ago. She also has authored several books including The Historial Source Book for Scribes which she co-authored with Patricia Lovett, and is currently the Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library. This is a “not to be missed” opportunity that we know you will enjoy.

Our final destination will be the charming city of Dublin, home to Trinity College Library and the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells contains the four gospels and was written in about the year 800. We will have a guided visit to the Long Room and the Book of Kells, with plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere along the cobblestone streets within the walled campus of Trinity College. Located just a few blocks from Trinity College, we’ll find another one of Dublin’s treasures: the Chester Beatty Library, home to an extensive collection of illuminated manuscripts and other fascinating collections.

Our trip will be just shy of two weeks, leaving on Thursday, May 26 and returning on Wednesday, June 8. The cost breakdown follows and includes all hotel accommodations (and breakfast), all ground transportation, and all museum entry fees. It does not include airfare, which can be arranged through our agent or independently. Please read carefully the Terms and Conditions that follow the pricing. In order to hold your place, your non-refundable deposit of $1150 per person must be received by February 15, 2011.

Per Person, Double Occupancy: $3727 Per Person, Single Occupancy: $5204

Terms and Conditions: Deadline for deposit extended! Please call if you are interested in registering. A non-refundable deposit of $1150 is due with registration. The balance will be due by March 15, 2011. Please contact Claire Fruitman, Associate Director, at 617.227.0155 to register and process payment. Please contact Maryanne Grebenstein at The Abbey Studio at 781.740.9000 or mcg@theabbeystudio.com with any questions regarding the itinerary. Travel insurance is highly recommended and is not included in the quoted price. Further information regarding travel insurance, and a confirmation of your participation in the trip will be sent to you upon receipt of deposit. Air fare is not included in the quoted price and must be purchased either through our agent or independently.

The Magic of Paper Marbling


Tuesday, March 15 Time: 6:00 – 7:30 pm | Cost: $10
North Bennet Street School
Boston, MA

Regina and Dan St.John of Chena River Marblers demonstrate traditional combed and stone pattern marbling and share samples of their work. Specializing in fine marbled papers, marbled silks and hand-bound books since 1987, Regina and Dan are masters of this fascinating craft.

Rooted in tradition, Chena River Marblers of Amherst Massachusetts use methods that were used in Renaissance Italy by bookbinders, but they never forget that the craft has its roots in the Middle and Far East.

Originating in China and Japan, marbling traveled the silk route into Persia and Turkey and on into Europe. Their marbling continues to encompass much of the past, though they do not hesitate to incorporate a 21st Century twist to pattern, color and technique.

To register (cost is $10) please see http://www.nbss.org/workshops/schedule.asp and click on lectures and demonstrations.