Gavin Dovey Speaks for Himself

How to write a post about Paper Dragon Books?

Although it’s hardly necessary I have to post about Gavin Dovey because he is insanely creative. Or creatively insane. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. He has a great blog and Facebook page so you be the judge. There’s a great 5 minute interview of Gavin here, where he talks while he works. It isn’t as recent as his TV debut in the series New York Originals (series 2, episode 7), but it’s on the web. You have to buy the New York Originals DVD. He’s also in the companion book. Paper Dragon Books is in another book:  Made in New York 

The first thing about Gavin you will notice in his PDB blog and Facebook page is that if you need a binder to do something really weird, he’s your guy. He can’t walk away from a dare.

After watching the interview with him on YouTube, take a look at his other videos. The Hunter S. Thompson airbrush video looks to me like an example of “flow,” which I think is the current term for being “in the zone.” He also has demo videos for making craquele and doing gilt finishing.

Happy Festivus!

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Holiday Miscellany

It’s December and I work in a retail establishment. Have pity.

Here are some tidbits to tide you over until I can write a real post:

Giard Water

Christine Giard and Uriel Cidor have joined forces with Gavin Dovey at Paper Dragon Books, which shall henceforth be referred to as the United Nations of Bookbinding. It’s the makings of a sitcom: a Brit, a Frenchwoman, an Israeli (and sometimes a Dominican tailor/baseball player) share a bindery and hijinks ensue. Someone write a treatment, please.

Design Bookbinders (UK) licentiate Hannah Brown is in North America. She will be in New York this week. We have a date at The Morgan Library to do some binding research. First up, a few bindings incorporating embroidery on leather. If you know Hannah’s work, you’ll know why this might be of interest. Then we are going to examine five Deborah Evetts design bindings. There are hundreds of Deborah Evetts works at The Morgan, as she was their conservator for many, many years. Naturally, they are mostly enclosures and conservation binding. However, there was a great collector, Julia P. Wightman, who donated approximately 1800 items to the library. The collection includes miniatures, early children’s books, ephemera and books relating to binding, and design bindings, including some by Deborah Evetts. I hope Hannah takes good photos because we all know by now that I don’t.

Please note that I have not posted the photos I took at NBSS of Polly Lada-Mocarski bindings. They will not be appearing.

New acquisitions:

Scan 16Hand Bookbinding Today, an international art, 1978.

Scan 15

Contemporary American Bookbinding, 1990.

Please join the discussion going on in the comments section of my previous post. Good stuff there.

Adventures in Boston

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Hilarious Arthur Johnson binding spotted at the Boston Antiquarian Book Fair. Click for more information.

Homebound on the train from Boston, I thought about everything I’ve done and seen during the past week. The more I talk to binders, the more assumptions I didn’t realize I had are shattered. It’s wonderful! Break down my ignorance and build me up with knowledge. Bring it on!

On a related topic: I will be rewriting my Questions for Binders page as soon as possible.

I spent Monday afternoon with Sonya Sheats, all day Tuesday at the North Bennet Street School with Jeff Altepeter (I took terrible photos of some Polly Lada-Mocarski bindings and watched Sonya teach), and on Wednesday hung out with Jim Reid-Cunningham and the conservators at the Boston Athenaeum. We spent so much time in the conservation lab playing with Jim’s bindings and jabbering that there was no time for a tour. The Athenaeum was gutted and completely rebuilt since I interned there during library school (Fall of 1994?). I’ll take a tour another time.

Gavin Dovey was ubiquitous in absentia. I met Evan Knight in the Athenaeum lab. He worked in Gavin’s bindery, Paper Dragon Books, in Chelsea in 2006. I saw Uriel Cidor at the book fair. He is Gavin’s new I don’t know what. Assistant? Intern? Apprentice? Not sure. Everyone wanted to see the one piece of Gavin’s trade work my employers had with them at the book fair. He made it for a fragile, fan-freaking-tastic book. The binders all looked at the clamshell/slipcase combo and were suitably impressed by Gavin’s work, clearly redefining in their heads “trade” work. Then they looked at the book and pretty much said, “Oh. Cool.” That was the correct reaction.

Other binders I saw at the book fair: Abby Jones, Colin Urbina, and Erin Fletcher of A Flash of the Hand.

Next up: Sonya Sheats. You will feel even better about design binding once you know who she is and what she does.