Well last Friday our class spent a really interesting afternoon at the V&A seeing the conservation being done on the Dickens manuscripts for David Copperfield – these were the actual pages that Dickens wrote – amazing!
Here you can seen some of the pages as I imagine they would have looked like on Dickens’ desk – all piled up and scribbled on! It’s unlikely these will be seen again in these piles as they are being re-bound in manuscript volumes for safe keeping at the National Art Library at the V&A.
The V&A are working through all the Dickens manuscripts they own and rebinding them, as the way they were previously bound (tipped on at three edges) was starting to pull at the pages. In their new housing the pages will be tipped on one edge and held down on the opposite side with a paper tag similar to what you would find in a photo album (as in the image above). This means the pages will be able to move around if they need to.
The covers of the manuscripts are in a replica marble paper that matches the original paper that covered the first bindings of these manuscripts that happened around Dickens’ time. These original bindings were taken apart in the 60’s by the V&A and rebound – this is what is now being updated.
Over the last couple of weeks we have spent a couple of afternoon’s with the exceedingly nice and knowledgeable Mr. Fred Bearman, who is the Preservation Librarian at the UCL Special Collection, and a Bookbinding Historian.
They have been wonderful afternoons, looking at some very early bindings dating back to the 15th century when printed books first came into existence, known as Incunabula, meaning ‘cradle’ or ‘swaddling’ in latin. Prior to this books were all manuscript and hand written, often by monks and clerical men.
There were also some other interesting ones, including a chemise binding – books with an extra cover on them which would wrap all around the book like a cloth, these popular prior to the development of Protestantism and after the latter these books were often cut down as they represented extreme Catholicism in some areas and were frowned upon.
Two very interesting afternoons – and very educational!! My brain is struggling to keep all the information locked in!!
This weekend I spent an enjoyable morning at the exhibition of two bookbinders in The Midhurst Gallery, where I met both Maureen Duke and Gaynor Williams, who were exhibiting some of their work, and were a delight to meet.
Both Maureen and Gaynor are Book Conservators as well as binders and teach at the nearby West Dean College. The exhibition itself was a feast for any keen binder, with a great display of various bindings, including miniature books, designer bindings and works of conservation. There was also a lovely display of some of Gaynor’s new bindings including some address books and photo albums, making use of some fantastic papers from both abroad and the V&A museum!
Outside the gallery was a fantastic selection of hand-marbled papers by Louise Brockman, which seemed to use traditional patterns with bright colours, making them look very modern and tempting! If you are keen to take a peek, the exhibition will remain in place until Saturday 24th July, and I believe they will be holding daily demonstrations throughout this time.
As our bookbinding year came to an end, we were given the opportunity to exhibit some of our work in the display cases at the City Lit. Unsurprisingly I was immensely excited about this, and so diligently went to photograph my first exhibited work!!!
Our books were displayed in two glass cases on the ground floor of the City Lit, which you can see here.
These show my two books on display, my coptic binding and the limp binding with the circles and ribbons next to Emily's japanese binding.
I think these two were Bob's - one was his coptic binding, which he made amazingly by carefully cutting out paper (BY HAND!) to make the intricate designs. For the second one, a disappearing spine pamphlet, Bob made the cover design and then had it printed onto book fabric, which he then used to cover the book - amazing!
This final coptic binding was Kate's, which I loved, and two very nice sewing samples!
The Principle of the City Lit, Peter Davies, said of our work - 'So much variety and fabulous work with the definite feel of a top of the range gallery – indeed much better than many exhibitions I have seen'
- Well done us!!