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Gilding and gold leaf / I wonder

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  • hamburgerbuntpapier_de
    The last issue of PapierRestaurierung, the IADA s (International association of book and paper restorers) quarterly, mentioned a book that might be of
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 11, 2005
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      The last issue of PapierRestaurierung, the IADA's (International association of book and
      paper restorers) quarterly, mentioned a book that might be of interest, although its
      emphasis is on manuscript gilding: The Gilded Page, by Kathleen P. Whitley, published by
      Oak Knoll and The British Library.
      The bibligraphy gives several more books on that topic, both in German and English. If
      anyone should be interested, please contact me privately for titles.

      There is one thing that has me wondering since I have started work as a craftsman in
      general and as a decorated paper-maker in particular.
      Every good marbler knows how long it takes, how much work etc. it demands to become a
      good marbler. In fact, we all agree that learning never, ever ends. That applies not just to
      marbling, of course, but to all the other techniques of paper decoration as well (Don't I
      know it!) and to every other craft. Nevertheless,many people try to do everything single
      handed. Talk about decathlon? But even an olympic gold medalist has his or her weak
      points.
      As much fun and pleasure there is in exploring new fields, to my taste there are too many
      good marblers, printers, bookbinders etc. spoiling their work by trying in vain to
      double as their own good bookbinders, printers, marblers etc. What I'd like to know is,
      why? Why not combining forces with another craftsman, a person who has applied as
      much energy to his or her work to make the project a good or better one?
      This cannot be about money. Good work demands good money. Every hard pressed
      housewife knows that she has to adjust her purchases to her purse. The same applies to
      the crafts. If a project is beyond my means, I stop it or I adjust it.

      Susanne Krause
    • Jake Benson
      Dear Susanne, I certainly understand your sentiment about the quality and economic sense. Yet I also think that personal preference and a better sense of the
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 12, 2005
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        Dear Susanne,

        I certainly understand your sentiment about the quality and economic sense. Yet I also
        think that personal preference and a better sense of the context and application in
        question also helps. For my own part, I am a bookbinder who also does gold finishing in
        addition to restoration and conservation of books and papers. For me it is a good blend
        though I don't do any one activity full-time. Others are happy to focus on one activity.

        Traditionally among Parisian bookbinders there was a distinct seperation between
        "forwarders" which covered books in leather and "finishers" who woked exclusivly doing
        gold tooling. You visited the forwarder first and then went on to a different finisher. The
        work was incredible. In London, the large West End firms were broken into different
        departments where employees did one activity all day, and the "master' was the head of
        the department. Some smaller firms in would have the work broken in different
        departments, and the apprentice was required to rotate among the departments over a
        period of several years to become competent at all the tasks. I think it is a safe
        generalization to say that provincial areas require craftsmen who are multi-talented to do
        work on a wide array of items that came their way, while larger cities had enough demand
        to allow for specialists to evolve.

        It is really due to the rise of the Arts & Crafts movement that started just over 100 years
        ago, that the process of one individual working on a binding was revived. William Morris
        influenced T.J. Cobden Asnderson, and then Douglas and Sydney Cockerell, followed by
        Roger Powell. Their method was in a sense, a return to methods of Medieval monastic
        production. They felt that the over-processed and over-mechanized bindings were
        monotonous and over-done in decoration, and made with ppoor -quality materials. The
        Arts and Crafts philosophy and procedures continue to have a strong influence on hand
        bookbinding in the US and UK today.

        Of course my gold finishing is certainly not akin to the standard of Paul Bonet or Leon
        Gruel, my marbling is not what Sydney Cockerell would have preferred, and my leather
        covering is often far simpler than the lengths that French fine binders will go to. It may
        not pass as "mastery' in Paris or London, but it does do the job of satisfying my clients
        very real and immediate needs. While I am not traineed as a traditional Islamic craftsman,
        I am very intersted in various methods used in manuscript production, though I doubt I
        will ever be thought of as a "master" of any of them in places such as Turkey. Yet it does
        afford me some skills that I can use to restore the occassional Islamic manuscript that
        comes my way. My sights are not set on reproducing Imperial court bindings, just fixing
        something in as sound as as aesthetically pleasing a manner as possible.

        That makes me wonder about what the Arts and Crafts movement was like in Germany?
        Here in the US, the ideas were carried on by Elbert Hubbard and the Roycrofters. Yet we
        tend to think of it as very English style, though I know that the influence was felt more
        broadly in Europe. Perhaps the ideas became part of the jugenstil? This was never clear to
        me. We tend to think of Art Noveau and Arts and crafts as more distinct, although there is
        an overlap. For some reason I was under the impression that the relationship between
        commercial trade and handcraft in the German apprenticeship was fairly strong? Yet in
        other cases, the historical styles I have seen images of from Wolfenb├╝ttel and teh work of
        individuals like Dag Pedersen all seem very close to the arts and crafts aesthetics...
        Perhaps you never "lost" the tradional styles in Germany to begin with, requiring that they
        be "revived" later on?

        Jake
      • hamburgerbuntpapier_de
        Jake, it is not pure specialization I was talking about, not breaking work in 1000 tiny bits... it was the idea of knowing one s limits. If a person knows
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 17, 2005
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          Jake,
          it is not pure specialization I was talking about, not breaking work in 1000 tiny bits... it
          was the idea of knowing one's limits.
          If a person knows where the limits are, they will avoid many avoidable mistakes and spoil a
          smaller number of objects. What is needed is honesty - am I really sure I can do this? -
          and readyness to ask for and take advice.
          How many Morrises and Sandersons and Bonets are there? One in a decade, if as many.
          Including those no one knows about, maybe three or five. They do their job, and the rest
          of us does another job.

          The Arts and Crafts movement in Germany is responsible for what I call 'the bookbinder's
          decathlon'. There are still (too many) bookbinders, especially in the older generation, who
          feel it is absolutely necessary that a bookbinder can do everything and that it is a disgrace
          to give parts of the work to a specialist - with predictable results on the objects in
          question. A person who has done the last gilt top edge 30 years ago may not have
          forgotten how it is done, but can it be a good gilt top edge?
          The arts and crafts movement certainly revived crafts, decorated paper-making among
          them, but it also generated a problem. Many artists looked into the old crafts and tried
          their hand. For instance, many artists made and gave a lot of impact to decorated paper.
          On the other hand, many of them lacked a good technical base. Now bookbinders
          perceived that artists did do a job in the craftmen's field that was pleasing, innovative and
          interesting but technically on amateur's level (no offence meant; amateur is made from
          amare = to love!). Confusion of crafts vs. art has not yet abated, with lots of self-
          righteousness and condescension on both sides.
          And I guess you are right, arts and craft mingled with jugendstil - with the provision that I
          am no art historian and do not want to be one.

          Susanne krause


          --- In Marbling@yahoogroups.com, "Jake Benson" <handbindery@b...> wrote:
          > Dear Susanne,
          >
          > I certainly understand your sentiment about the quality and economic sense. Yet I also
          > think that personal preference and a better sense of the context and application in
          > question also helps. For my own part, I am a bookbinder who also does gold finishing
          in
          > addition to restoration and conservation of books and papers. For me it is a good blend
          > though I don't do any one activity full-time. Others are happy to focus on one activity.
          >
          > Traditionally among Parisian bookbinders there was a distinct seperation between
          > "forwarders" which covered books in leather and "finishers" who woked exclusivly doing
          > gold tooling. You visited the forwarder first and then went on to a different finisher.
          The
          > work was incredible. In London, the large West End firms were broken into different
          > departments where employees did one activity all day, and the "master' was the head of
          > the department. Some smaller firms in would have the work broken in different
          > departments, and the apprentice was required to rotate among the departments over a
          > period of several years to become competent at all the tasks. I think it is a safe
          > generalization to say that provincial areas require craftsmen who are multi-talented to
          do
          > work on a wide array of items that came their way, while larger cities had enough
          demand
          > to allow for specialists to evolve.
          >
          > It is really due to the rise of the Arts & Crafts movement that started just over 100 years
          > ago, that the process of one individual working on a binding was revived. William
          Morris
          > influenced T.J. Cobden Asnderson, and then Douglas and Sydney Cockerell, followed by
          > Roger Powell. Their method was in a sense, a return to methods of Medieval monastic
          > production. They felt that the over-processed and over-mechanized bindings were
          > monotonous and over-done in decoration, and made with ppoor -quality materials. The
          > Arts and Crafts philosophy and procedures continue to have a strong influence on hand
          > bookbinding in the US and UK today.
          >
          > Of course my gold finishing is certainly not akin to the standard of Paul Bonet or Leon
          > Gruel, my marbling is not what Sydney Cockerell would have preferred, and my leather
          > covering is often far simpler than the lengths that French fine binders will go to. It may
          > not pass as "mastery' in Paris or London, but it does do the job of satisfying my clients
          > very real and immediate needs. While I am not traineed as a traditional Islamic
          craftsman,
          > I am very intersted in various methods used in manuscript production, though I doubt I
          > will ever be thought of as a "master" of any of them in places such as Turkey. Yet it
          does
          > afford me some skills that I can use to restore the occassional Islamic manuscript that
          > comes my way. My sights are not set on reproducing Imperial court bindings, just fixing
          > something in as sound as as aesthetically pleasing a manner as possible.
          >
          > That makes me wonder about what the Arts and Crafts movement was like in Germany?
          > Here in the US, the ideas were carried on by Elbert Hubbard and the Roycrofters. Yet we
          > tend to think of it as very English style, though I know that the influence was felt more
          > broadly in Europe. Perhaps the ideas became part of the jugenstil? This was never clear
          to
          > me. We tend to think of Art Noveau and Arts and crafts as more distinct, although there
          is
          > an overlap. For some reason I was under the impression that the relationship between
          > commercial trade and handcraft in the German apprenticeship was fairly strong? Yet in
          > other cases, the historical styles I have seen images of from Wolfenb├╝ttel and teh work
          of
          > individuals like Dag Pedersen all seem very close to the arts and crafts aesthetics...
          > Perhaps you never "lost" the tradional styles in Germany to begin with, requiring that
          they
          > be "revived" later on?
          >
          > Jake
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