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Po Box 193216
San Francisco, CA

A close-knit group of hand bookbinders, with shared interests in creating and collecting fine bindings, joined together to promote hand bookbinding and related book arts and to exchange information and ideas. 

the Gold Leaf Online

Welcome to the Gold Leaf Online, where members can read articles and interviews created by fellow members. 

Anne Hillam / Two Semi-limp Parchment Binding Styles

Rhiannon Alpers


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
HBC Member

The Legacy of Florence Walter: Celebrating a Century at The Book Club of California

Rhiannon Alpers

The Legacy of Florence Walter: Celebrating a Century at The Book Club of California
April 29, 2013 through September 2, 2013
Kathleen Burch & John McBride, Exhibition Curators The Legacy of Florence Walter at The Book Club of California features forty-five fine design bindings that her family has treasured for many decades. Her working sketches, photographs, keepsakes, and other printed ephemera supplement the portrait of Florence Walter as a matriarch and hand bookbinder. Since the opening reception, another fifteen bindings have been loaned by the Walter family for viewing through the end of the exhibition. At the opening reception on Monday, April 29, 2013, Professor Henry Snyder, OBE, introduced the exhibition and the grandchildren who have made it possible; they offered reminiscences of Florence and the family - and wonderfully, reminiscences that have been preserved on video by the Book Club. About Florence Walter: Born in 1884, Florence Walter began binding in 1936, and soon became one of the most prominent French-style binders in America; especially choice is her unique binding of James Joyce’s Ulysses, illustrated by Henri Matisse and published by the Limited Editions Club in 1935. Another wonderful volume is her dramatic binding of Henry Miller’s Into the Night Life (1947), personally inscribed by the author to her. Upon her death in 1972, her family donated her studio to Mills College: some 500 finishing tools and a book press (see our cover), as well as 42 books on binding & paper, a collection which has now grown to 340 volumes. Her work was shown at Mills in 1973 and at the Legion of Honor in 1976. The family retained her many bindings which are now on exhibition for the first time in nearly forty years. Florence, née Schwartz, married into the Walter family in 1907. Her husband, John Walter (1879–1930) was prominent in downtown retail and was an important figure in the San Francisco Art Association and the California School of the Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute. His brother, Edgar (1878–1938) was a sculptor whose work can be seen on the proscenium arch of the San Francisco Opera. In the wake of the Panama-Pacific Exposition The Gold Leaf 16 of 1915, he designed a bronze plaque for the life members of The Book Club of California; the originals of these can be seen at the entrance of the Club’s rooms. Florence herself was an important bibliophile, a great patron of the Grabhorn Press; she joined the Club in 1913 and was both the first woman on its Board and its first woman president (1952–1955). In 1951, she commissioned Wurster-Bernardi to build a house at 2745 Larkin, on the north crest of Russian Hill overlooking Ghirardelli Square and Alcatraz. Her bindery was a notable and wonderful feature of this home. This exhibition was made possible by the generosity of the family of Florence Walter. At the time of her death, her bindings in her personal collection were divided up among her children, Eleanor, Marjorie and Carol. The three daughters in turn divided up the books they received among their children, who treasured these bindings for four decades. All eight grandchildren as well as one great-granddaughter, Liza Dodd, have contributed their grandmother’s bindings to the Club for this exhibition. John Walter Sinton has contributed two of his grandmother’s favorite volumes, bindings by Rose Adler and Marius Michel, as well as a book he bound under his grandmother’s tutelage, a volume of travels in Russia. In 2012, the three children of Marjorie Walter Bissinger (1912–2003) donated their bindings to the Book Club for its new Florence Walter Collection. Their wonderful gift inspired this exhibition and celebration. These seventeen volumes joined a Walter binding of The Jerome Kern Library which the family gave to the Book Club in 1972. The Library now houses eighteen Walter bindings, the largest collection on public view. The children of Eleanor Walter Sinton (1910–1997)have loaned twenty-seven bindings. Patricia Sinton Adler donated two marvelous photographs of Florence Walter by Johan Hagemeyer (1928), which grace these rooms as well as this program and the invitation to the exhibition. Margot Sinton Biestman has lent us the elegant watercolor of Florence, painted by her daughter, Eleanor “Nell” Walter Sinton. I am deeply honored by the enthusiasm and generosity of the Walter family. Their grandmother, Florence, joined the Club in 1913. A century later, we welcome them to these Club rooms, where the bindings of Florence Walter glow in the cases. We invite all of you to savor this work over the next months.

Meet your Fellow Members: Klaus-Ullrich Rötzscher

Hand Bookbinders of California

Ulli remains a prominent member of the Bay Area book arts community. He served as president of Hand Bookbinders of California from 2008-2010 and presently serves as an officer of The Colophon Club. He continues to run a thriving bindery, and finds more and more pleasure in creating his own work. Perhaps that early dislike of repetitive work has finely caught up with him.

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Meet your Fellow Members: Claire Siepser

Nina Eve Zeininger

A book is the creation of a small enclosed world over a short period of time. The limits of this world are the covers and the time passing is the turning of pages. Installation is just an expansion of that world and performance is expansion and a shift in the control of time.
I like to use books as parts of my interactive work because you get to take a little piece of that world away with you and visit it in your own home and in your mind. Books have always held magic for me in that way.

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