Sol Rébora bindings: Argentine Eye Candy revised

The first time a saw a picture of a Sol Rébora binding, I felt weak in the knees. It was (and still is) on the Designer Bookbinders of America web site.

There is an extensive interview with Sol in The Thread That Binds. (Seriously, people. You have to get a copy of this book.) Coming from a family of artists and bookish folk (an aunt was an antiquarian bookseller!), it seems that Sol was born to be a designer bookbinder. At art school, Sol chose bookbinding as one of her classes three years in a row, despite planning to be a fashion designer. Call it coincidence; call it fate. Whatever you call it, bookbinding kept throwing itself in her path. First, her aunt needed some bindings done for books in her store. Her brother, who worked in a store selling conservation and restoration materials, introduced her to an artist who needed help figuring out how to put her work into a book to show at a gallery. The curator wanted to know who made the book. He turned out to be the editor of books with very small limitations. The edition of 40 copies he’d just done needed boxes. Guess what? His bookbinder had just died! Sol got the job and found her first binding mentor and cheerleader. When she showed him the design bindings she had been goofing around with at school, he showed he a book with pictures of 20th century French bindings (was it the one by Alisdair Duncan?). Once she saw those pictures, Sol knew that was what she wanted to do. At the time, no one in Argentina was doing design binding. Now what?

First, Sol studied privately with a bookbinder, learning traditional French fine binding. Eventually, though, Sol knew she would have to go abroad. There were many obstacles, but Sol is a lucky woman. After a few false starts, things started to fall into place. Sol was finally able to study with masters in Canada, the United States, and Europe. The results of her hard work, combined with her natural talent, are impressive (understatement).

Neale Albert has a couple of her miniatures in his collection, so I was able to experience her work up close.  Her technique is superb.

I had a quick Facebook chat with Sol recently. She was so nice. She answered my questions about my favorite binding and offered to send me more pictures.

Alice in Wonderland. Dos Amigos Press. 33cm x 27cm Shown at the Buenos Aires Antiquarian Bookfair 2011
Alice in Wonderland. Dos Amigos Press. 33cm x 27cm
Shown at the Buenos Aires Antiquarian Bookfair 2011
The flowers are goatskin onlays and the tooling and lettering are done with candle soot over blind tooling.

Rebora Alice upper board

Rebora Alice spine

Rebora Alice w box

Society of Bookbinders 2007 Award for Craftsmanship Maria Sol Rebora Carta de Anastasio el pollo sobre el beneficio de la Senora La Grua
Society of Bookbinders 2007
Award for Craftsmanship
Carta de Anastasio el pollo sobre el beneficio de la Senora La Grua
Society of Bookbinders 2009 Harmatan Award for Forwarding Milongas by Jorge Luis Borges Full leather with a design in five sections. Edges gilt. The spine and front edges are red goatskin, the central panels are onlays. The doublures are also red goatskin. The title has been tooled in gold along the spine.
Society of Bookbinders 2009
Harmatan Award for Forwarding
Milongas by Jorge Luis Borges
Full leather with a design in five sections. Edges gilt. The spine and front edges are red goatskin, the central panels are onlays. The doublures are also red goatskin. The title has been tooled in gold along the spine.
Balada Para un Loco By Horacio Ferrer Single copy with Calligraphy, Design and Illustration by Nancy Leavitt Bilingual edition (English translation by Alberto Paz) Published - 2009 Size - 284mm x 182mm A full goatskin binding that is divided into six pieces by inlays with different levels worked with onlays in relief, with violet and white goatskin worked with sandpaper to change the shades. Tiny circles have been inserted across the cover.
Balada Para un Loco
By Horacio Ferrer
Single copy with Calligraphy, Design and Illustration by Nancy Leavitt
Bilingual edition (English translation by Alberto Paz)
Published – 2009
Size – 284mm x 182mm
A full goatskin binding that is divided into six pieces by inlays with different levels worked with onlays in relief, with violet and white goatskin worked with sandpaper to change the shades. Tiny circles have been inserted across the cover.
First Prize 1º Premio Competencia Internacional EARA Fernando Noy - Hebra Incompleta.  French structure. Full goatskin leather cream color, with inlays on natural  and cream colors. Blind tooling around the circles. Title in blind.
First Prize
1º Premio Competencia Internacional EARA
Fernando Noy – Hebra Incompleta.
French structure. Full goatskin leather cream color, with inlays on natural and cream colors. Blind tooling around the circles. Title in blind. 19.7 x 13 cm.

Hebra

Romeo and Juliet 1973 French binding construction, covered in full goat skin leather; natural, white, yellow, black and brown onlays, leather sanded to get different tones of color. Doublure and flyleaves on goat skin, black and brown color. Décor of gold and blind tooling. Top edge gilt.  35 x 26 x 3 centimeters. Created 2005.
Romeo and Juliet 1973
French binding construction, covered in full goat skin leather; natural, white, yellow, black and brown onlays, leather sanded to get different tones of color. Doublure and flyleaves on goat skin, black and brown color. Décor of gold and blind tooling. Top edge gilt. 35 x 26 x 3 centimeters. Created 2005. Lent by the Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University for the Guild of Book Workers 100th Anniversary Exhibit, 2006.
Distinguished Winner Designer Bookbinders International Competition 2013 Romeo and Juliet, illustrated by Michèle Forgeois. Calligraphy by Mark Livingston. The Allen Press, California, 1988. 28 x 18 cm Full white goatskin with red goatskin underlays. Titled in blind on the spine. White goatskin doublures and dyed Japanese paper flyleaves.
Distinguished Winner
Designer Bookbinders International Competition 2013
Romeo and Juliet, illustrated by Michèle Forgeois. Calligraphy by Mark Livingston. The Allen Press, California, 1988.
28 x 18 cm
Full white goatskin with red goatskin underlays. Titled in blind on the spine. White goatskin doublures and dyed Japanese paper flyleaves.
Cole Porter. Brush Up Your Shakespeare. 3 x 3 inches Photo by Hannah Brown
Cole Porter. Brush Up Your Shakespeare. 3 x 3 inches
Neale Albert Collection
Photo by Hannah Brown
Percy Bysshe Shelley’s To a Skylark French structure. Full black goatskin with low relief covered on natural color goatskin and relief pieces in white goatskin and black goatskin worked with mixed techniques. Doublures of patinated embossed black goatskin. First flyleaf in patinated light gray goatskin.
Percy Bysshe Shelley’s To a Skylark
French structure. Full black goatskin with low relief covered on natural color goatskin and relief pieces in white goatskin and black goatskin worked with mixed techniques. Doublures of patinated embossed black goatskin. First flyleaf in patinated light gray goatskin.

10 detalle tapa 1 mail

11 detalle tapa 2 mail

Gerard Charriere

Gérard Charrière is a Swiss bookbinder and artist who practiced in the United States from 1965-2001. He now lives in Berlin.

I recently acquired the catalog pictured below. Sadly, all the images are in black and white. It has been a bit of a struggle to find color images of his work. 

Gerard Charrière: Reliures d’art: An exhibition in The Thomas J. Watson Library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York — November 30 to December 31, 1982

The first color image I saw of one of his bindings is in the retrospective section of the Guild of Book Workers 100th Anniversary Exhibition catalog (another recent acquisition). The catalog is online, but I wanted my own copy.

Eleanor Wolff, Spaces, 1973 Bound in full purple chagrin leather; sewn on recessed cords; green suede leather doublures and flyleaves; green handsewn silk endbands; top edge gilt; décor of blind tooling with multicolored leather onlays; title tooled in gold. 24 x 16 x 1.5 centimeters
Eleanor Wolff, Spaces, 1973 Bound in full purple chagrin leather; sewn on recessed cords; green suede leather doublures and flyleaves; green handsewn silk endbands; top edge gilt; décor of blind tooling with multicolored leather onlays; title tooled in gold. 9.5 x 6.25 inches

The Center for Book Arts had an exhibition of Charrière bindings in 1990, Gérard Charrière Unique Books and Reliures D’Artbut only the wraps are in color:

Les Pyramides, 1989. Unique. Mixed media paintings. Triangular binding. Spine in black leather. Cover in tuquoise leather with silver leaf. Signed. 8.5 x 7.5 x 7.5 inches
Les Pyramides, 1989. Unique. Mixed media paintings. Triangular binding. Spine in black leather. Cover in turquoise leather with silver leaf. Signed. 8.5 x 7.5 x 7.5 inches

There’s a really terrible image of the binding on the back of the catalog. Fortunately, I discovered that Bowdoin College in Maine has several Charrière bindings, including that particular binding and a binding quite similar (but not identical) to the one in the 1982 exhibit. Bowdoin has excellent images embedded in their online catalog, bless them:

Limbour, Georges, 1900-1970 Masson : dessins / Georges Limbour Paris : Braun, c1951 Bowdoin Spec. Coll. copy bound by Gérard Charrie`re in turquoise oasis with multicolor leather and paper onlays and gold tooling; ultra suede doublures; housed in an oasis and silk solander box 11 p., 16 leaves of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 32 cm Jane Webster Pearce Collection Bowdoin College
Limbour, Georges, 1900-1970
Masson : dessins / Georges Limbour
Paris : Braun, c1951
Bowdoin copy bound by Gérard Charrière in turquoise oasis with multicolor leather and paper onlays and gold tooling; ultra suede doublures; housed in an oasis and silk solander box.
11 p., 16 leaves of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 12.5 x 10.5 inches
Jane Webster Pearce Collection Bowdoin College
Traveling Through Dream Landscapes "Artist book with four original signed drawings. Oil crayon, ink and bookbinding tools on Rives. One-of-a-kind"--Colophon Bound in full black oasis, with black leather onlays and palladium and oeser tooling 1 v. (unpaged) : chiefly col. ill. ; 16 x 27 cm Jane Webster Pearce Collection, Bowdoin College
Traveling Through Dream Landscapes
“Artist book with four original signed drawings. Oil crayon, ink and bookbinding tools on Rives. One-of-a-kind”–Colophon
Bound in full black oasis, with black leather onlays and palladium and oeser tooling
1 v. (unpaged) : chiefly col. ill. ; 6.25 x 10.5 inches
Jane Webster Pearce Collection, Bowdoin College

Two more spectacular Charrière bindings from Bowdoin College Special Collections:

Tzara, Tristan, 1896-1963 Entre-temps / Tristan Tzara ; avec une eau-forte et quatre dessins de Henri Laurens [Paris] : Le Calligraphe, 1946 Bowdoin Spec. Coll. has copy no. 78 from the "original edition," signed by the author and the artist; provenance: Jane Webster Pearce Bowdoin Spec. Coll. copy bound by Gérard Charrière (1974) in full purple shagreen with mlticolored leather onlays and gold tooling; doublures in green ultra suede; housed in a quarter-calf decorated paper chemise with matching solander box
Tzara, Tristan, 1896-1963
Entre-temps / Tristan Tzara ; avec une eau-forte et quatre dessins de Henri Laurens
[Paris] : Le Calligraphe, 1946
Bowdoin Spec. Coll. has copy no. 78 from the “original edition,” signed by the author and the artist; provenance: Jane Webster Pearce
Bowdoin copy bound by Gérard Charrière (1974) in full purple shagreen with multicolored leather onlays and gold tooling; doublures in green ultra suede; housed in a quarter-calf decorated paper chemise with matching solander box. 8.5 inches
Charriere Billy Budd
“The text of this edition was edited from the manuscript by Harrison Hayford and Merton M. Sealts, Jr., copyright 1962 by the University of Chicago”–Verso of t.p
“This limited edition of 185 books was made by Benjamin and Deborah Alterman … All the artwork was printed directly from engraved endgrain woodblocks. 160 copies (Arabic numerals 1-160) were bound with a patinated bronze spine and wooden boards … 25 copies (Roman numerals I-XXV) were issued in sheets. Deborah engraved the woodblocks and Benjamin did the typography. Together they designed the book and the artwork”–Colophon
Bowdoin Spec. Coll. has copy no. 16;
100 p. : ill. ; 10 inches. Provenance: Jane Webster Pearce
Bowdoin copy bound by Gérard Charrière (1992) in blue oasis, with mixed media collage and gold tooling; gold decorated endpapers; housed in a cloth solander box decorated in black and white acrylic, with ultra suede lining