Manhattan Book Fair, Part 2

Rare Book Week is a big deal in New York City, where density is your friend. Three simultaneous book fairs, plus auctions, exhibits (like InsideOUT, for a very brief visit at Bonhams), and events the entire week. It’s a destination week in a destination city.

I showed my books at the Manhattan Book Fair on April 11th at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, across the street from the four day long ABAA book fair.
The book fair was fun and exhausting. My booth was constantly full of people eager to see and learn more about contemporary fine art bookbinding. I made quite a few new friends and saw some of my favorite regulars:
Lang, Christine, and Coleen
Bookbinders! Lang Ingalls, Christine Giard (creator of half the bindings I showed), and Coleen Curry
It takes more effort than you might think to create a small display like this:
Photo by Cara Schlessinger
Photo by Cara Schlessinger
The day before the fair, my temporary assistant, Michelle McCarthy, and I packed up all of my books and gear, and transported them 20 blocks to the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer. Then we began the really hard work.
IMG_2674

Here we are mostly unpacked and have put on my table cover (required but not provided). Michelle is sorting books. Please note that the display case is how we found it: filthy, no shelves, oddly placed brackets, and a temporary electrical hook-up. All normal. Not to worry.

Thanks to team Red Queen, we had plenty of paper towels and glass cleaner. Ooops! I forgot all about that. I didn’t need them at Codex. While Michelle cleaned the showcase, I mentally mapped the book layout, including shelf placement.  We deployed the tape measure, adjusted the brackets, and locked them down properly (a critical step to be repeated frequently). Then we carefully installed the glass shelves, well away from the slightly warm overhead fluorescent lights.

We start to place the books.

We start to place the books.

More books, and I change my mind.

More books, and I change my mind.

Photo by Diana Adams
Photo by Diana Adams

Am I laughing because almost all of the books are in the display case?

IMG_2683

The final arrangement, including iPad with videos of the kinetic features of Mark Cockram’s
Joseph Cornell: Shadowplay, Eterniday

Not shown: MAC slipcase by Sonya Sheats; TOR by Timothy Ely, Oscar Gillespie, and Robert Rowe; and L’ombre d’un cri bound by Christine Giard. Those three are strategically placed in the display cases of Red Queen Book Arts.

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What Makes a Binding Great?

Bookbinding is a difficult profession. It costs a lot of time and money to attain the level of craftsmanship necessary to do anything well. Being an obsessive perfectionist is not an absolute requirement, but it helps.

Then there are the artists who have chosen bookbinding as their preferred medium. It is a bit perverse of them. The level of craftsmanship, the depth and breadth of the knowledge of structures and materials that they must achieve before they can begin to create art in codex form is astounding. Combining all of that knowledge to imagine and create new tools, new structures, new techniques, and use unusual materials with which to express themselves is something few can do. Even then, not every binding is a success. This is true of art in any other medium.

Continue reading “What Makes a Binding Great?”

It’s Been A While

Time has gotten away from me. I can’t believe it’s been a month since my last post.

So many things happened in 2014: some good, some great; some bad, and some very bad. Oddly, even the very bad stuff turned into some very good stuff. The main thing is that I went from being an antiquarian bookseller who obsesses over fine art bookbinding on the side (not at all bad), to a bookseller who obsesses over fine art bookbinding all the time (very, very good) at www.AbbySchoolman.com.

Continue reading “It’s Been A While”