Friday, 20 April 2018

Cut and Paste, Imperial 70 Typwriter.

After a few false starts and looking for my correction/delete pen I have managed to sort the text out and the page numbers. I love the rhythm that the text has, the living line as it were. Next is cut and paste. For those of us born PC (post computer) Cut is done with a knife , scissors or shears. Paste is sticky stuff for adhering stuff to stuff.

Key Board Action for the ABA

Taking my inspiration from the Fanzines I made in my youth, I am working on the text for EVOLUTION... Various Studies.  I have to remember there is no delete button.


Thursday, 19 April 2018

The ABA Rare Book Fair London

With only a few weeks to go to  The ABA Rare Book Fair London I am busy preparing the Artists book for the workshops I will be hosting during the event.

I will be making only 40 of the books which the workshop participants will be able to make during the event, adding their own individual touches to make unique books.

 First I folded a section up, without cutting to get the correct page order, what goes where etc

Then a template in a grid structure to ensure that I have a good base to work from, to ensure that the imagery, text and page numbers will be in alignment. The techniques and methods will, in the main, be BC (Before Computers) 

For FREE TICKETS please follow the link below. Please do not forget to say where you heard about the event...... me  😀


Tuesday, 17 April 2018


The text has been added to the individual spreads, creating the continuity of thought and expression. Work can no begin on the binding.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Flawlessly Chronic Inner Dissatifaction


New work taking shape.

So, what is a book?

So, what is a book?

In idle moments this question pops its head over the parapet of the utter chaos that takes the place of reasonable thought and order that is my mind. A simple question that one may reasonably have thought I would have at least one if not possibly two answers on the tip of my tongue.

To be honest, the more I work with or experience the book the more my thoughts of what a book is or, in fact could be, are enhanced. New works start today. Where I ask myself the question to find possible answers.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

A B A Rare Book Fair, London 2018

It is with a degree of pleasure that I am able to announce that I will be doing my thing at this years ABA rare Book Fair in London... A new venue...

I hope to be able to have a new collection available and to be holding workshops and the like. The event promises to be fun....

/ABA Rare Book Fair

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Creative Bookbinding in Manila.

 This promises to be a very cool couple of days.........

Ortigas Foundation Library. Lecture.......

I think that the poster says it all, except the bit about me being a 'Renowned'  If you can be there it would be great to see you.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

A small rant... What is more important... ?

A small rant... What is more important... ? I hope this post goes a little way in answering a recurring gripe that some of our community have.

Please note that this post contains my individual thoughts and opinions and has nothing to do with any of the organisations or institutions I am a member of or am affiliated with.

I used to teach in institutions where the minimum class numbers were, for example, 12. As I am sure you can imagine or perhaps have experience of .. it is impossible for any tutor to teach a hand, craft-art course to that number of students and expect the students to be able to achieve any degree of success or to realise their full potential. The class has to be geared to the slowest student and the lowest common denominator. This can be both frustrating and embarrassing for all concerned. There is then the wait to use equipment. Board choppers and other capital studio / class room equipment for example. Board choppers take up space and are expensive and in the main have only one use.. so much of the time they are standing idle. But, when the need arises in a workshop or a class room then they are in big demand. It is very rare for there to be one working, 100% board chopper between 4 students, usually there is, at best 2 board choppers in the class room.... One being a little suspect.
A while ago I was delivering a 2 day workshop in book binding that required the students to round and back a text block. There were 14 students and one backing or laying press. It took nearly 3 hours for everyone to back their books. I realise now that I should have checked what equipment was available but when one is told that the work shop had all the equipment necessary for 14 students.... Well, hind sight is a perfect science, lesson noted.

What is more important... ?

I have often heard that my fees are expensive. All is relative. As a tutor my fees are derisory when compared to many institution tutors wages. This is not a moan it is fact. I try to offer a balanced practice and endeavour to ensure that all my students get value for money.... not to ensure that have bought my latest book or have purchased the latest 5 minute wonder gizmo when all that is needed is a kids geometry kit and a length of board. No offence to those who do have a book published or sell wonder gizmos but you know what I mean.

One of the problems is that many courses run by institutions and organisations are subsidised, giving a false idea of the costs to those who are attending. But if people think that sitting around chit chatting for half the day is good value for money while they wait for a piece of equipment to become available....then they can go a head.... Perhaps those students find the idea of working and studying for the whole day a little bit difficult or it is not so important as they are learning for pleasure not learning for a career... the teaching sort of getting in the way of the social side...

What is more important... ?

Now, before I start to be the hate figure in book binding it is important to realise that, in the UK at least, the number of Book binding and Book Arts courses are on the decline.. to the point that there are non except a very small hand full. Nearly all of those courses are attended by people who have been going for years (They remember the previous 2 tutors) and are there for the social side of things... Those wishing to learn for a career find it increasingly difficult to find space on any course. If they do it is more often than not a couple of hours a week without any form of progressive education that is constructive or offers a learning pathway.

What is more important... ?

As I said to small group (5) who attended my last UK Master Class... "If you think this is going to be a social event, the door is just there. We are here to learn, experience and work. This Master Class is about you getting as much as possible from the 2 days.. It is about you and not me". .... Do you know something? everyone who attended completed the work. Produced some amazing work that really stretched them to new levels.

What is more important... ?

So, what is good value for money? Non of the students in Studio 5 are wasting time waiting 3 hours to use a piece of equipment and then being shown the next step...... It is not rocket science to understand value for money. I understand the fee situation, I do try to be as fair as I possibly can.

What is more important...

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Things sometimes do not happen...

Since my last Blog entry things have not gone to plan. For reasons beyond my control and beyond the reasoning of any ordinary person the year has ended as I and many other people would have wished.

Lessons have been learnt and we move on.

I feel a new book is in the air......

Friday, 6 October 2017

Mark Cockram Solo in New York.

Mark Cockram in New York.

First Solo U.S. Show for Book Artist Mark Cockram Opens Today

The Center for Book Arts (CBA) opens its latest exhibit this evening dedicated to the work of British artist and CBA faculty fellow Mark Cockram. Beyond the Rules includes examples of Cockram’s creative bookbinding and book artistry. His multi-dimensional, multi-textual book sculptures reflect Cockram’s all-encompasing fascination with the book as art object.
Cockram Inferno Limbo.jpg
“I work with the book,” Cockram said. “Within the book, an infinitely complex array of materials and techniques come together and combine with a history as rich and diverse as we who create and use it. I often refer to the book in its totality as Alchemy.” Adept at working with traditional bookbinding methods, Cockram will often modify or develop new techniques as each project unfolds, depending on how he feels the text would best be served by a particular binding. Recent work has led him to create art with “up-cycled,” or creatively repurposed materials.

Though the exhibit itself only encompasses six books, each reveals Cockram’s careful consideration of both the textual elements and authorial intent. The eclectic list includes an art book inspired by The Divine Comedy, an homage to artist Joseph Cornell, and a reinterpretation of The Four Gospels.

As a professional bookbinder, artist, and teacher, Cockram’s work has been displayed at the National Art Library at London’s V&A Museum, the Library of Congress, the British Library, the Grolier Club, and in private collections worldwide. Beyond the Rules, however, is Cockram’s first solo show in the United States.

Beyond the Rules is on display at the Center for Book Arts through December 16.
                                                                                                                                                                   Also happening this weekend in Cambridge, Massachusetts: Nick Basbanes presents his observations from working with primary source material at the Longfellow House for his forthcoming dual biography entitled Cross of Snow: The Love Story and Lasting Legacy of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  A cake reception will precede the lecture at 2 p.m, which will be held at the Sherrill Library at Lesley University on 89 Brattle Street in Cambridge. The lecture is free to the public.
                                                                                                                                                                          Image: Inferno Limbo. Credit: Abby Schoolman

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Lincoln In The Bardo , Man Booker Finalist Binding.

Lincoln In The Bardo. Man Booker finalist presentation binding 2017. The binding structure is finished, now for the fun part. The binding will be in a Bradel binding style, double board, disappearing spine, leather jointed end papers and stuff.
I have managed to locate my 1862 London Illustrated News and the Pres' Lincoln bit in 1882 (9th Edition) Encyclopaedia Britannica. Further reading and gleaning...

 It always pays to have more than one avenue of research available. In my 1950 Encyclopaedia Britannica a photo of Pres' Lincoln dated Jan 3rd 1861. Near enough to use.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Lincoln In The Bardo, Man Booker Binding 2017. End bands.

Now that the edge decoration is complete I can start on the end bands.... the end bands are sewn in silk with a one needle technique. Simple, stylish and practical.
The End bands, such little things but oh so important.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Lincoln In The Bardo. Man Booker Binding 2017

Lincoln In The Bardo. Man Booker 2017. The more I read the more I begin to understand what is and is not happening. A little research and lots of reading can go a long way when designing a book. I am not going to spell out the text page by page as I would encourage you to read the book. However, my design is being informed by the voices, some 166 voices. Simply, Bardo is a Tibetan/Buddhist term that sort of refers to the state of between lives or incarnations. A sort of limbo if you will. The text swirls and twists around two central figures, President Lincoln and his son Willie. One of which dies very early on and the other sort of does not realise what is happening around him. I am starting to work on the edges of the text block. I realise that it is sort of breaking the rules but I want the colour on the edge to creep onto the surface of the pages, as if the book has been immersed or dipped in a pool of blood or some similar viscous bodily fluid. What fun !

 The fore edge during the decorative process. I feel that it is important for the end papers/doublers to tie in with the edges in some way.
 The edge near completion. The light white over wash just knocks the colour back and gives a sense of movement to the edge.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Man Booker 2017, the first few days.

For me at least, the start of the Man Booker month is slow. I do not wish to imply that I am sitting around drinking cups of interesting coffee. No, I am reading, formulating design rationales, then reworking them.. One of the aspects of the Man Booker is that one usually sits at the same table as ones author, they are alive. Trust me, it is not often, as a book binder that one works with living authors and the like. So when they ask 'What inspired your design?' it is best not to be fumbling around in the dark for the next thing to say. The sections have been trimmed, sewing positions marked and the end papers made. Let sewing begin.
This book is complicated. The dialogue is in dead conversation. By this I mean that the characters in the book are dead. The dialogue is layered, contradictory and paced. I have the beginnings of the design bouncing around my sketch book, brain and backs of Red Lion Menus.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Man Booker 2017

It is that time of year again.... Man Booker 2017..

Friday, 8 September 2017


There are many reasons why I enjoy working with the book. It is only over the last few days that I have discovered that for the last few years I have been on a journey... I feel like a student again, that sense of finding out, of gaining skills and knowledge. New paths to follow and who knows.. new paths to create.
I will never loose the simple pleasure of working with wonderful books and collectors that encourage and excite the imagination.

I feel the desire, the need to rediscover, for myself at least, the theatre of the book. I would like to start to work in larger formats and to explore in more depth the art of the book that I now realise I have kept on the back burner for too long.

It will be interesting to see how I balance the work and what transpires.

Inferno... Finished.

 Finally Inferno is finished and will begin its journey to New York (USA not North Lincolnshire UK) to be exhibited alongside other recent works in an exhibition. Please follow the link to a 'Live' recording of a recent face book page blast....

For more information regarding the exhibition at the Center for Book Arts please follow the CBAlink 

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Inferno. Exotic Tours and othe studio stuff.

Various aspects of Inferno. Inferno will be forming part of my exhibition at the Center for Book Arts in New York (in New York State not North Lincolnshire) I am very excited about this event as this will be my first solo show with books.

Top. The binding for Exotic Tours. Below, page details. I am happy.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

In Limbo.

In Limbo, part of the first spread for Inferno.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Plan B and Selected Material on show.

 I am very pleased with the cunning plan of using mirrors to allow the viewer to see the text block and the binding at the same time. I think this is very important as the totality of the book is easier to understand.

 A twist, the text block is on show with the binding being viewed via the mirrors.

Plan B and Selected Material on show at the Art Workers Guild In Bloomsbury, London.

Thank you Leigh for the images  (iphone)