I spent two years training in hand bookbinding at the North Bennet Street School in Boston.
Although I was a lifelong crafter, geek, and lover of books, it wasn’t until I took a History of Print class my sophomore year at Carleton College that I learned that people still made books by hand. I took all the Book Arts classes I could, learning printmaking, papermaking, and some simple, mostly non-adhesive book structures. I worked in the library, doing repairs on the circulating collection and processing the new acquisitions for Special Collections. I was even in a curatorial seminar that put together an exhibit of Artist’s Books owned by the college.
My friends were understandably dubious when I told them I was going to run away and become a bookbinder, but the North Bennet Street School has given me a great opportunity. We learn historical structures, which give me a better understanding of the use and importance of books throughout history, and more modern structures, ranging from simple conservation bindings to elaborate full-leather fine bindings, with tooling and decorative work. In the first year we made predominantly blank models, but now the focus is on books with text, and we have the opportunity to do design bindings which are reflective of the contents of the books.
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