North Bennet Street School Workshops

North Bennet Street School has just published a new workshop catalog and updated the course listings online at

Coming up fast:  Todd Pattison with “Rebacking Bookbindings,” on March 20-21, 2010.

Also beginning in late March is a 5 Saturday run of “Introduction to Cloth Case Bookbinding” with Amanda Nelsen, and a three-day class from Stacie Dolin on Photo Albums.  There are a variety of courses on bookbinding, calligraphy, and marbling being offered from now through the summer from new visiting teachers and regular workshop instructors.

A few highlights include “New Oriental Bindings” with Monique Lallier (in collaboration with the American Academy of Bookbinding) and Katherine Beaty will offer a class on Islamic Binding.  Pop-up artist Paul Johnson is back with a new lecture and a couple of classes.  And for all those that have requested more conse rvation oriented courses there is “Tips and Tricks for Book and Paper Conservation” with Renate Mesmer in August.

Register online at or contact the workshop coordinator, Jourdan Abel at workshop @

Please watch this blog for New England Chapter lectures from several of the instructors above!

Chapter Events in April

Please note that the Todd Pattison lecture, “19th Century Bookbinders’ Mistakes- Why they are so fun to look at!” was previously posted with the incorrect date.  Apologies for any confusion but the correct date is Monday April 12, 2010 at 6 pm.  The lecture will take place at North Bennet Street School in Boston, and is free and open to the public.

The chapter will also sponsor an artist talk by Karen Hanmer on April 29, 2010.  Please save the date and watch for full information to be posted here as soon as we confirm the location (in the Boston area).

19th Century Bookbinders’ Mistakes

We are pleased to announce the next installment in a series of lectures co-sponsored by the New England Chapter of GBW and North Bennet Street School.  Free and open to the public, as usual, but please reserve a space in advance by contacting workshop @ or calling the NBSS workshop coordinator at 617-227-0155 ext. 102 so we can choose an appropriate size room for the lecture.

19th Century Bookbinders’ Mistakes –
Why they are so fun to look at!
An illustrated lecture by Todd Pattison

April 12, 2009
North Bennet Street School

Cloth bound books from the 19th century are often thought of as being machine-bound, or at least there is the assumption that these books were produced for the most part mechanically with very little human labor required. In fact, the reverse is true. Throughout the 19th century there were few steps in the bookbinding process that did not require human intervention and in most cases required the bookbinder to perform the specific task. For example, almost every sewn book produced before 1885 was sewn by hand.

With so much human activity involved, errors were sometimes made in the binding process. These mistakes are fun to look at, but they also tell us a lot about the manufacture of bookbindings in the 19th century. This talk will look at some of these mistakes to gain a better insight into the binding process and the attitudes towards materials, labor costs, quality control and what was considered “good enough” to sell to the public.

About the presenter:

Todd Pattison studied bookbinding with Fred Jordan in western New York state in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and went on to study with Hugo Peller and Edwin Heim in Ascona, Switzerland. He has an undergraduate degree in Art History from Nazareth College and an MLS from the University of Alabama, but contrary to Kiyoshi Imai’s opinion he is NOT a librarian. Todd is currently senior book conservator at the Northeast Document Conservation Center where he has worked for the past nineteen years.

Linked-Spine Bindings

A Bookbinding Anomaly:
Linked-Spine Bindings
An Illustrated Lecture by Sam Ellenport

March 18th  6:00 pm  at the Schlesinger Library
Radcliffe/Harvard University, Cambridge MA

Sam Ellenport of the Harcourt Bindery will present “A Bookbinding Anomaly: Linked-Spine Bindings.”  This illustrated talk will explore a little known aspect of bookbinding decoration, used on sets of books.  The binder makes use of the entire rectangle comprised of all the spines as a canvas on which to produce an overall design, whether representational or abstract.  This talk is free and open to the public.
Sam Ellenport, a past Chair of the New England Chapter of GBW, has been binding since 1970 and is a student of binding history.

The Obsolete Man and the Obsolete Book?

North Bennet Street School and the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers invite you to:

The Obsolete Man and the Obsolete Book?
A Conversation with Jeff Peachey

Thurs, Feb 18, 2010, 6:00-8:00 pm

Jeff Peachey will screen an original Twilight Zone episode, “The Obsolete Man,” present a short lecture, then lead a discussion based on some of the issues it raises.  Because of Jeff’s experience in examining and treating a wide variety of historic book structures, he is especially interested in how humans have interacted with the physical form of the book over the past 1,600 years, the importance of non-texual information and how the book has acquired such symbolic power.  The images of books in this episode form a locus for a variety of issues—authority, freedom, history, truth, the state, individuality, identity and conformity—that are explored in a classic Serlingesque manner.  “I am nothing more than a reminder to you that you cannot destroy truth by burning pages,” Romney Wordsworth (Burgess Meredith) declares when the Chancellor (Fritz Weaver) pronounces him obsolete, and then condemns him to death.  Wordsworth, a secret librarian, lives in a room not only surrounded by books, but virtually built out of them.  Considering aspects of book conservation, Peachey will deliver a short lecture touching on some of the ideas explored in the film, looking at how books are displayed in Wordsworth’s apartment, commenting on the various book structures portrayed and linking these to themes presented in the episode.  Models of several historic book structures will be available for handling.  Then some more general observations on the value of non-textual elements of books will be made, along with the challenges of conserving these elements.  This will be followed by an open discussion.  Possible topics include questions about the supposed death of the codex; the importance of non-textual elements in books; books as physical expressions of authority; books as moving, portable hand held sculpture; books as democratic instruments; the display of books as externalized knowledge; hand interaction in reading; and most importantly, how closely is our culture inexorably linked with the history of the book.

This event is free and open to the public.  To reserve a seat, please email workshop @ or call the Workshop Office at (617) 227-0155, x 102.

If you would like to get even more of a Jeff Peachey fix while he is in Boston, please also note that he will be teaching a workshop at North Bennet Street School.  This should prove to be a more in-depth experience than the usual introductory workshop– appropriate for advanced binders as well as those newer to the field.  Online registration for this and many other workshops is available at

Case Binding with Jeff Peachey
Fri-Sun, Feb 19-21, 2010, 8:30am-4:30pm 

Making a hardcover, cloth case binding is de rigueur for most introductory bookbinding classes. This three-day workshop, however, will combine the praxis of making a case binding while placing it in historical context of 19th C. machinery, paper wrappers and boarding. By making a new case binding containing our textbook as well as disbinding and documenting a mass produced case binding, then recasing it, participants will gain hands on experience. Production techniques will also be addressed; in 1991-92 Peachey recased about 3,000 books. Case binding will also be examined in historical context by reading excerpts from 19th C. “how-to” books, other contemporary descriptions of binderies and tracing the development of bookbinding machinery through PowerPoint presentations. Participants will learn to use a sewing frame and plough. Participants will complete a paper wrapper, a boarded binding, a cloth cased textbook (containing facsimile pages from a number of 19th C. bookbinding manuals) and reverse engineer a book of their choosing. Participants should bring basic bookbinding tools and one book for recasing. Some bookbinding experience is necessary–this workshop is an excellent introduction to one of the most ubiquitous book structures, as well as basic bookbinding skills—but it is also suitable for advanced students wishing a more in-depth examination of the historical context of this important book structure.

Bertha Stuart Exhibit

Barbara Hebard says, “You all are cordially invited to the gallery talk on October 15 at 6:00 pm.”

A Fixed Rule of Design: the Book Art of Bertha Stuart
Boston Public Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts Department
October 5 – December 31, 2009
Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm
For directions to the BPL go to:

Bertha Stuart (1869-1953), an Oregon artist, trained at the School of the Art Institute of
Chicago, moved to NYC in 1900, and studied at Cooper Union and the Art Students League while creating more than 175 book cover designs, numerous page decorations, and illustrations for major NYC publishers between 1902 and 1912. Bertha, an award-winning artist, also designed bookplates. In 1912 she returned to Oregon, was a trustee of the Society of Arts and Crafts of Portland, and pursued a career in interior design. This exhibition of books with covers and interior pages designed by Stuart also includes bookplates and items from her interior decorating career. The curator, Barbara Adams Hebard, Conservator of the John J. Burns Library, Boston College, will give a gallery talk on October 15, at 6:00 pm.

Barbara Adams Hebard, Conservator of the John J. Burns Library at Boston College, is a graduate of the North Bennet Street School bookbinding program.  Ms. Hebard is a member of the National Guild of Book Workers and the Ticknor Society. She is a Professional member of The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, a Fellow of The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, and Board Member of New England Conservation Association. She is proud to be an Overseer of North Bennet Street School. She frequently exhibits books of her own design nationally and internationally. Ms. Hebard also enjoys writing articles on book related topics.

More for June

Our friends at the Letterpress Guild of New England sponsor the 6th annual Printing Arts Fair:

Printing Arts Fair
Sunday, June 21, 2009
10am to 4pm
Museum of Printing
800 Massachusetts Ave
North Andover, MA

The Letterpress Guild of New England will be hosting the 6th Annual Printing Arts Fair on Father’s Day, June 21, 2009 at the Museum of Printing located just across from the town common. The Fair is free to the public and runs from 10am to 4pm. Co-sponsored by the Letterpress Guild of New England and the Museum of Printing, it’s the perfect time to learn about the book arts and printing, with papermaking and bookbinding artisans demonstrating their craft. Also on hand are stone lithography, intaglio and letterpress printing demonstrations. And for the first time the fair will present Steamroller Printing in honor of the 100th anniversary of the beloved Vandercook Proof Press.

On display in the big tent and upstairs in the Museum are artwork, stationery, prints, books, decorative papers, crafts, posters, type and letterpress printing equipment from such vendors as Albertine Press, B Designs, Brookfield Paperworks, Carta Inc., Sea Dog Press, May Day Studio, Swamp Press, Sun Hill Press, and Zoetropa. The Museum has a fantastic selection of letterpress items for sale for those wanting to try their hand at printing. Vendors will also be donating items to the raffle that benefits the Museum.

The New England Chapter of GBW will offer information about the GBW at a table sponsored by North Bennet Street School.  NBSS students will offer basic bookbinding demonstrations throughout the day.  Jeff Altepeter, NEGBW chapter chair, will present short demonstrations of gold tooling in the morning and afternoon.

See for maps and information about this event.

printing arts fair poster

 More on June 21st

If you plan to be in New York instead of North Andover on June 21st Jeff Peachey will present a talk sponsord by the University of Trash titled “The Obsolete Man and the Obsolete Book.”  The lecture takes place June 21 at 3:00 pm at SculptureCenter in Long Island City, NYC.  See complete information on Jeff’s blog:

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