Scholarship Recipient and Workshop Review:
I was the lucky recipient of the HBC scholarship for the Anne Hillam workshop “Two Semi-limp Parchment Binding Styles” at Gazelle & Goat Studio in San Francisco in 2018. The workshop focused on constructing semi-limp structures based on historical models studied by Anne Hillam. Not only did she describe the book structures but she had actual specimens for us to examine. One of the unique aspects of this workshop was a conservator who was teaching a class full of fine binders. Anne told us to put away our rulers and had us punch as we sewed rather than pre-punching before sewing.
Anne taught in a very relaxed manner and was extremely organized. She had a spiral bound booklet for each of us complete with historical information, drawings, and PowerPoint presentation printed. Having this gave us the ability to focus on the construction of the books rather than trying to write everything down. Prior to the workshop, my thoughts of working with vellum and parchment were filled with fear and trepidation. Anne completely eased those fears and made everything seem so easy with all the tips and tricks she gave us. One of which is, saliva does help when working with parchment.
We got to dye our threads and make our own cover linings – cartonnage, laminating printed waste. The most fun hands on making was making our cords for sewing supports. The cords were made by taking threads and winding them tightly together using a hand drill. This exercise made for a great bonding experience with my classmates. Even with all the information, the steps of making two structures, and the pace being relaxed, we all got to make 3-4 books.
I came away from the workshop with confidence in my bookbinding skills, an eagerness to work more with parchment and great friendships. We not only bonded over our love of bookbinding but over coffee, treats, food and bookbinding tools! And if I had to give one word for my learning it’s wabi-sabi. A Japanese term for accepting imperfection. When Anne told us to put away our measuring tools and remind us that the books were made quickly without a lot of tools, I let go and enjoyed the process of making. One of my books has a sloping kettle line but now I see it as evidence of my creation.
Cheryl Ball, scholarship recipient of the 2018 workshop