My Day in Bindings, Part 1

September 10th was like an orgy of bindings.

I saw so many bindings and spoke to so many binders in one day; it was sensory overload. It has taken me days to recover.

I started out in Somerville at Sheri’s place (Sheri is my editor), met Sonya Sheats in Cambridge, took the T with her to Boston to see La couleur du vent at NBSS. Sonya has a binding (which she doesn’t like) in the exhibit, but hadn’t had a chance to see it yet (more on that exhibit later). We ran into NBSS binding program director Jeff Altepeter on his way back from a coffee run for Dominic Riley, who was teaching at the school last week. We had arrived just in time for Dominic’s informal lecture about his life in fine art bookbinding. What a nice surprise! Sonya and I were allowed to sit in.


Continue reading “My Day in Bindings, Part 1”


Silvia Rennie, Tini Miura, and Hugo Peller

Laid into my copy of the Silvia Rennie catalog is a 1986 letter from Rennie to the recipients of the catalog, in which she refers to Tini Miura: talking to her on the telephone and trying to retrieve the camera that Miura left for her over a year before. I will not be posting it here.

Copyright fun fact:

The owner of the copyright of a letter is the creator – writer – of the letter, not the recipient, or the owner of the document

Don’t panic. I will not be writing a lecture on copyright law and managed risk.

I mention the letter because it demonstrates a point that I was going to get to eventually, but Mark Kirchner  reinforced it’s importance in his comment on my Treasures of The Strand, Part 1 post: teaching lineage.

As I wrote in the Introduction to this blog, contemporary design binders didn’t spring from nowhere. Tradition and technique are learned from a master binder. Binders teach (or copy) each other. They take students. They teach and take master classes. No one knows everything. There is always more to learn. I could say that the tradition of binding apprenticeships goes back to the invention of the codex. It’s sort of true, but I’d rather not be pompous.

Both Silvia Rennie and Tini Miura (and many, many others) studied with the Swiss master binder Hugo Peller. Works of both Rennie and Miura were on display at the GBW 75th Anniversary Exhibition (I’m going to have to abbreviate the exhibit title if I’m going to keep writing about it).

tini 75tini 75-bio

Rennie biorennie-poe 2

At the time of the exhibit, in 1981, Miura had already studied with Peller, but Rennie had not. I can’t be sure of the chronology, but it seems to me that Rennie must have studied with Peller in order to have created the work for her solo show in 1985.

I don’t know what Rennie and Miura were up to in the early- to mid-eighties. Rennie indicates in her letter that her life was a bit topsy-turvy in late 1984. But they obviously had a quite friendly relationship.

One of the books in Rennie’s show was My World of Bibliophile Binding by Kerstin Tini Miura, “Bound in homage to the author.”

rennie's tini