Karen Hanmer

Artists' Books & Installation

Gallery: New Work

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Title: Medieval alum-tawed

Medieval alum-tawed

Medieval alum-tawed

Medieval binding model | $650 | add $50 for blind tooling | add $75 for handmade paper text block

The medieval binding may be the archetypal book: heavy wooden boards, partially or fully covered in leather, prominent bands on the spine, held shut by straps terminating in metal clasps.

Though the materials differ, the construction of these bindings is surprisingly similar to how a fine leather binding is made today. Paper has replaced parchment for the text block; thick, dense paper has replaced wood for the boards; and the sewing is now often done on flat supports to present a smooth spine. The sewing supports are still laced into the boards, the boards still nest into the shoulder but with a different profile, spine linings still provide support though they now stop at the edges of the spine rather than extending onto the boards to function as levers to aid in opening. Carefully formed corners are now designed to be invisible rather than merely protect, endbands are now decorative only instead of structural elements that lace into the boards. Clasps are no longer necessary to hold the book closed.

This models displays features typical of medieval bindings:

Text block size is 4.75 x 3.25 x 1.25 inches.

This model is accompanied by a twelve-page, illustrated booklet with bibliography outlining the construction of medieval bindings.

Also available:

Detailed instructions for constructing a Medieval girdle book | $25
Medieval cut-away binding model, lacing and covering appear in process to reveal how the binding is constructed | $500

Please note: these models are made to order and may not be available for immediate delivery. Average turn-around time is three months.