2011 // deFINEd Bindings

deFINEd Bindings: 26 Bindings of the Pictorial Webster’s Dictionary
October 5 – 29
Bromfield Gallery
Boston, MA
Exhibit Catalog – deFINEd Bindings Catalog

Eric Alstrom, Patty Bruce, Lesa Dowd, Mark Esser, Madelyn Garrett, Deborah Howe, Abigail Jones, Rachel Kadel-Garcia, Nancy Leavitt and Joelle Webber, Celine Lombardi, Athena Moore, Sabine Nies, Nancy Nitzberg, John Nove, Patricia Owen, Todd Pattison, Patricia Rosen, George Sargent, Patricia Sargent, Judy Sgantas, Sonya Sheats, Julie Stackpole, Andrew Thompson, Gerrit VanDerwerker, Katherine Westermann, Stephanie Wolff

The New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers is pleased to present this exhibition of design bindings, the result of our first bookbinding competition. A juried competition is something of a break with our tradition of open shows of member works, but the intention is actually to encourage a revitalized interest in design binding in the Americas. The time is ripe for renewed interest in fine binding, and opportunities to exhibit in selective shows are key to the development of this facet of our craft.

We invited members of the Guild of Book Workers to submit unique bindings of a set book, an exhibition format showing various interpretations of the same text and an interesting alternative to themed exhibitions in which binders select their own texts. The set book format presents a specific challenge to a binder. For this competition, the set book was John M. Carrera’s Pictorial Webster’s: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities.

Many of us in the New England area have followed the progress of Mr. Carrera’s epic project through the years. Some of us have enjoyed the opportunity to participate at various stages of the Quercus Press project. We have enjoyed each milestone along the way and were thrilled with the publication of the trade edition of this book by Chronicle Books, a critical development that made a set book binding exhibition possible. This book has extensive regional roots and connections and so was a natural choice for our Guild chapter.

The original source material, the history, and the book itself add up to a treasure trove of inspiration. The book’s visual and mental stimuli offer limitless opportunities for response, and the variety of responses seen here offer proof that it would difficult to imagine a more bountiful choice for the set book.

The jury assembled for this competition included the creator of Pictorial Webster’s himself, John Carrera, who fulfilled his promise to keep an open mind to the varied interpretations of his work. Amanda Nelsen, book artist/binder and the Program Director of Rare Book School, was another obvious selection since we can also thank her as the originator of this project in her former role as New England Chapter Exhibitions Chair. Karen Hanmer, book artist/binder, rounded out our jury as the independent team leader. All three were selected for their extensive experience as artist/makers with well-balanced views of art and craft. We thank this team for efforts above and beyond as they selected the 26 bindings to be exhibited from nearly twice that many entries.

The 26 bindings went through additional award selections by committees at Chronicle Books and North Bennet Street School. A prize committee headed by Chronicle Books Creative Director Michael Carabetta selected its three top choices for Best in Show:

First Place: Patty Bruce
Second Place: George Sargent
Third Place: Deborah Howe

A prize committee at North Bennet Street School in Boston headed by Bookbinding Department Head Jeffrey Altepeter awarded Mark Esser the prize for Exquisite Craftsmanship and Sonya Sheats the prize for Best Binding Structure.

deFINEd BINDINGS debuts in Boston at the Bromfield Gallery in conjunction with the Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence Conference in October 2011. It travels to the West Coast in early 2012, where it will be hosted by Chronicle Books in San Francisco.

We thank all of the binders that participated and note that there were many more worthy bindings submitted than could be displayed. We extend special thanks to Mary Pat Bogan, Chronicle Books, Quercus Press, North Bennet Street School, Bromfield Gallery, the jurors, and all of the binders in the exhibitions!

Executive Committee of the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers:

Jeffrey Altepeter
Christina Amato
Lori Foley
Amelia Sorensen

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