Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: Gilding and gold leaf / I wonder

Expand Messages
  • 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 1 of 3 , Jun 12, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      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 2 of 3 , Jun 17, 2005
      • 0 Attachment
        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
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.