More Bookbinding Study Opportunities

Following up on our recent promise to do better about keeping you all informed about New England study opportunities…

North Bennet Street School offers another round of courses this summer and there is still time to register!

Bookbinding Courses

Stacie Dolin will teach the fundamental bookbinding course, Cloth Case Bookbinding.  June 27- July 1, 2011.

Martha Kearsley will offer a comprehensive introduction to book repair with The Cloth Case Reback, July 5-8, 2011.  Martha will then teach Sewn Boards Binding, July 9 and 10, 2011.

Two creative, recent NBSS graduates will present a unique course exploring the use of natural dyes in bookbinding.  Paper Dying with Plants runs July 11-15, 2011, and will be co-taught by Arini Esarey and Celine Lombardi.

Jeff Altepeter will offer an Introduction to Leather for Bookbinding, July 18-20, 2011.  This course is primarily focused on leather paring (thinning the leather) and will include plenty of hands-on practice as well as an in-depth discussion of the materials, tools and techniques used in leather bookbinding.  Great for those with basic bookbinding skills or for those that need to pick up long-neglected knives!

Modernizing the Historic Model will be co-taught by Stacie Dolin and Arini Esarey, July 25-29, 2011.  Come explore variations on historic binding structures using modern materials.

Martha Kearsley will be back, August 1-5, 2011, with an Introduction to Boxes and Enclosures.

A one-day class, Embellishing the Cloth Case, will be taught by Celine Lombardi and Anne McLain on August 6, 2011.  This is a great follow-up for students that have taken the fundamental cloth case binding course and anyone else that wishes to add some new layers.

Calligraphy and Related Arts

Maryanne Grebenstein of Abbey Studio will be at NBSS again this summer and fall with her popular courses on Calligraphy and Illumination.  Manuscript Gilding, July 9 and 10, 2011; and then come back for Hand Lettering: Five Styles, August 1-5, 2011, to learn the five basic lettering styles using a broad edged pen.

If you want more than the taste offered in these summer calligraphy courses please check out the Three Month Calligraphy and Illumination Intensive offered in the fall of 2011.

Online registration for North Bennet Street School workshops is available at

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 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 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.

Lindisfarne Gospels

Patricia Lovett to lecture on the Lindisfarne Gospels

March 8, 2011
5:30 pm
Barker Hall, Room 133
(Humanities Center)
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA

Patricia Lovett, chair of CLAS (Calligraphy and Lettering Arts Society) in London, is the author of Calligraphy, Illumination and Heraldry as well as other important books on the subject– and of course a highly accomplished calligrapher and designer.


The annual conference of the Guild of Book Workers, with the grand title of “The Seminar on Standards of Excellence in Hand Bookbinding” probably sounds a little daunting to those not familiar with the event.  The conference is held each year at different places around the country, and is in fact a highly social as well as highly educational.  The conference is a wonderful opportunity for the annual cross-pollination in our wide-ranging field of “book workers.”

In addition to the formal presentations there are tours, social events, a banquet with an entertaining auction– and one of the best reasons to attend might be the vendor room which will be packed with temptations.

The conference topics offer something for everyone, with presentations on traditional bookbinding, book arts and book conservation.  There are frequently presentations that cross disciplines, and the variety is part of the very structure of the Guild of Book Workers.

This year the conference is in Tucson, AZ.  October 14-16, 2010.   There is an extraordinary group of presenters (see below), and we know the local host committee has worked hard to put on a great event.  There is still time to register, and you can do so online for the first time this year.  See the Standards page on the GBW site at

Standards Presentations 2010

Michael Burke – Byzantine Binding
Michael Burke started his working life as a chemist researching the transformation of coal into oil. He later worked in occupational health with asbestos. Michael studied bookbinding with Dominic Riley and paper conservation with Karen Zukor. He was involved in establishing the bindery at the San Francisco Center for the Book, and edited Gold Leaf, the journal of the Hand Bookbinders of California.

Michael lives in the Lake District, England, where he teaches bookbinding at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal and at Society of Bookbinders (SoB) events across the UK. He is a past chair of the North West and North Wales region of SoB. He has taught for diverse book arts groups across the USA, including Los Angeles, Seattle and Salt Lake City and in 2007 he taught at Paper and Book Intensive in Michigan. Last year he travelled to São Paulo to teach for the Brazilian group ABER. In recent years Michael has been researching the structures of ancient and medieval bindings. Michael will demonstrate the making of a medieval Byzantine binding. This leather binding is unique in that is bound from the boards to the center, resulting in a natural rounding of the spine, at which point the two halves are joined.

Nancy Ruth Leavitt – In Search of Content, the Joys and Challenges of Creating the Book Form
Nancy Leavitt is a calligrapher specializing in unique hand-lettered and painted manuscript books. Leavitt’s interest in the hand-lettered book developed as a result of her studies in the U.S. and Great Britain. Her work resides in many prestigious collections and she has received several grants from the Maine Arts Commission for research into her craft, including quill cutting. She lives, works, and sings in Stillwater, Maine.

Like an engineering project, a book is a complex three dimensional design made up of many parts. Content is the central idea of the design and narrative is how it unfolds, how the story is revealed and concealed. Our goal as bookmakers is to intentionally integrate all aspects of the design to strengthen the structure, form, and content of our works. Through demonstration and example, Nancy discusses her rigorous yet playful method of researching, compiling data, developing, and realizing materials for her manuscript books.

Martha Little – Book Forensics: Interpreting Evidence of Structure
Martha Little has been a bookbinder and book conservator since 1976. She was Book Conservator at the Yale University Library and Head of Conservation at the University of Michigan Libraries, and is now in private practice in California. Her early training was with Jane Greenfield, who incorporated a study of historical structures and the making of models into the work day, and with Roger Powell in England, whose powers of meticulous observation will always be an unattainable standard. Martha took part last year in a condition survey of manuscript books at the National Library of Egypt in Cairo, where she learned that two people can look at the same detail and see two different things. 

Every book conservator accumulates knowledge of some of the small details that are clues to a book’s invisible or lost structure. A remnant of a leather strap may lie in a board; extra holes suggestive of an earlier sewing may be apparent in the folds; raised areas where the covering material has become worn reveal where cords are laced in underneath. Martha’s presentation will examine more ways of interpreting physical evidence when examining a book, in order to determine how it was made and what materials were used. She will bring old books to look at and discuss; recreate evidence though different means to see which interpretation seems more plausible; demonstrate some simple tests to identify materials, and show how the knowledge of the observer can both help with and get in the way of seeing what’s there.

Jeffrey S. Peachey – Late Eighteenth Century French Binding Structures
Jeffrey S. Peachey is the owner of a New York City-based studio for the conservation of books and the inventor of conservation tools and machines. He is a Professional Associate in the American Institute for Conservation and a previous chair of the Conservators In Private Practice. For more than 20 years, he has specialized in the conservation of books and paper artifacts for institutions and individuals. A consultant to major libraries and university collections in the New York City region and nationally, he has been the recipient of numerous grants to support his work. A well-known teacher, Peachey also provides conservation-focused guidance to students in art, bookbinding and conservation programs.

This presentation will focus on the structural aspects of a typical 18th century full calf French binding by comparing contemporary descriptions in bookbinding manuals, examining extant bindings and experimenting with reproduction tools and equipment. In some respects, this structure is the end of utilitarian leather binding–50 years later the cloth case begins to predominate. Some features of this binding style include cutting the boards with a pointe, ploughing the edges in-boards, four variations of transverse spine liners and sprinkled cover decoration. Primary texts include Diderot’s Encylopedie (1751-1780). Gauffecourt’s Traite de la Relieure des Livres (1763) and Dudin’s L’Art du Relieur-doreur de Livres (1772). Specific conservation concerns for these structures will also be discussed.

Odyssey 2010

Deena Schnitman’s pastepapers, Jesse Meyer’s parchment… these are just a couple of our members and friends in the vendor room at the Odyssey Calligraphy Conference at Stonehill College at the end of July.  The vendors and a few other things are open to the public.  Check out

One day vendors are on July 24th, but check the link for hours and additional dates.

Garage Annex School

A message from our friends at the Garage Annex School:

We hope to see you here at Garage Annex School in Easthampton, MA.

One space has opened up in Julie Chen’s workshop, Secrets of the Magic Tablet, July 12-16. If you are interested, please email me at Whoever contacts me first will get the go-ahead to register.

Our next workshop is Nancy Leavitt’s In Search of Content: The Joys and Challenges of Creating the Book Form. May 1-2. Come mature as an artist! Nancy’s work is so beautiful. We need two more students to commit to this workshop in order for it to run. So if you are thinking about coming please do let us know. It would be a shame to cancel and then find out others of you intended to come. And if you have friends you think may be interested, please help spread the word!

Thank you very much.
Greta Sibley

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!