Thanks to the lovely folks at Bromer Booksellers, I now (actually just after Xmas) have my very own copy of the catalog from the International Miniature Bookbinding Competition I wrote about here. The competition, sponsored by the Dutch Hand Bookbinding Foundation, the Museum Meermanno (The Hague), and De Buitenkant Publishers, attracted 155 submissions from all over the world, nearly half from outside of The Netherlands. The winners were announced at the beginning of October and the exhibition at Museum Meermanno is up through February 18, 2018. The catalog is tiny (see photo above with a quarter for scale). It’s not a miniature, but it’s appropriately sized for the books pictured inside. Despite the small size, catalog is truly substantive, containing an introduction by the organizers, an explanation of the competition assignment, and essay by Anne Bromer. The jury then walks us through the selection process, something we don’t usually hear about. They describe their methodology and, for each prize awarded, they explain the features that made that binding outstanding. In a way, it could be read as a how-to guide for competition judges, for competing art bookbinders, and for binding collectors.
The catalog reproduces the submissions, arranged by stage, as the jurors winnowed down the pool of submissions in four rounds of judging: first excluding those that failed to meet the size limitations (a painful thing to do to an otherwise gorgeous binding) and those that they felt failed to meet their technical or aesthetic standards, on through to the prize-winners. The bindings demonstrate a stunning range of creativity and technique.
So, who won? Read the rest of this entry »
Were you inspired by the miniatures in the exhibit of Neale Albert’s collection at Yale?
Try your hand at it!
Here’s a new international set book competition. The book looks pretty interesting. Below are the details, rules, and registration form. Good luck to all who enter!
The Dutch Handbookbinding Foundation (Stichting Handboekbinden) is organizing an International Miniature Bookbinding Competition in 2016/2017. This event is being organized in close co-operation with the Meermanno Museum (the oldest book museum in the world) in The Hague and Private Press De Buitenkant in Amsterdam. The competition will be closed with an exhibition at the Meermanno Museum autumn 2017.
Bookbinders worldwide are invited to enter this competition. The famous Dutch writer Geert Mak will exclusively write the text ( in English) for the miniature book to bind. Moreover, the well-known graphic designer Max Kisman will do the illustrations.
The jury will be made up of a panel of bookbinding experts and book designers who will be looking for a high standard of craftsmanship in relation to the bookbinding process, together with an original and innovative design. The jury will award three prizes for the most beautiful and well-crafted books, € 1000, € 750 and € 500 euros will be rewarded to the first, second and third prizewinner respectively.
All prize winning books will become the property of the Meermanno Museum and will be part of a new collection of miniature books, to be constituted as a result of this competition. Non-winners may choose to donate their entry to the Meermanno Museum (receiving a signed certificate of donation) or to have their entry returned to them after the exhibition.
You are invited to participate. You will find more information in the attachment to this mail and on our website www.stichting-handboekbinden.eu.
For questions and/or additional information you can contact Lidy Schoonens at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tine Krijnen at email@example.com
Usually, my husband is my captive audience when I want to talk about design binding. He nods and smiles, and says that it is nice to see me so animated. He’s very sweet. What a pleasure it was then, to jabber with someone who actually wants to talk about the subject!
I spent about three hours with Neale. He is so generous with his time and his books. The bindings are absolutely wonderful. He showed me so many, some by binders whose work I’d seen online or in exhibit catalogs, but some who were completely new to me. I could hardly believe that I was holding books that most people have never seen and, even when exhibited, will not be able to hold and examine closely. I am very, very lucky.
Neale told me many stories of binders of the past. He showed me his favorite binding, and a book bound by that binder’s son, now in his 90s, using the tools inherited from his father. We talked about commissioning bindings. He believes, when commissioning a binding, one should issue no instructions: the binder is the artist. It works. He has commissioned hundreds of bindings and has only once been disappointed enough to call the binder. That is an excellent recommendation for letting a binder do whatever he or she wants. We also talked about patience. It takes as long as it takes. I’m trying to learn patience. It’s not my best trick.
The afternoon went by so fast. I could have spent half an hour with each book, examining the design and execution of each, but I wanted to make the most of my time with Neale. I had fun trying to play guess-the-binder. I nailed Jim Reid-Cunningham, Del Hood, Hannah Brown, Paul Delrue, Alain Taral, and Jan Sabota, but I really don’t know the range of styles of most binders well enough to guess. I was just lucky with those. They were stylistically close enough to other works I’d seen recently. My binding crushes on Hannah Brown, Del Hood, and Alain Taral are firmly in place (yes, I know none of them work in the Americas, but who cares?). So many binders, not just those listed above, have a degree of finesse that just doesn’t translate in photographs, no matter how good.
In an afternoon of highlights, looking at around 30 interpretations of the same text was an incredible experience. The text was one that Neale had published in miniature format: the music and lyrics to Cole Porter’s “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” from the musical “Kiss Me Kate.” I love that scene in the movie, and it fits right in with Neale’s lighthearted love of Shakespeare. We ended up sitting on the floor of his library among piles of boxes, each one containing a jewel of a binding. It really was a little piece of heaven.
I was so absorbed that I took no notes and managed to take only two pictures: