Karen Hanmer

Artists' Books & Installation

Gallery: Thrifty Picks

New Work History & Culture Sculptural & Movable Book Structure Modelse Toys & Games Science & Technology Place/Time Altered Bindings Civics Lessons Photo-Based Work Archive Thrifty Picks

Title: Girdle Book Instructions

Girdle Book Instructions

Girdle Book Instructions


Medieval on the Go: The Girdle Book. Complete instructions for crafting a girdle book | $25 available directly from Lulu.com

Glenview, IL: Karen Hanmer Book Arts, 2011, 2015.

28 pages, 8 1/2 x 11" with numerous illustrations, tool list and extensive bibliography. Begun as a workshop handout, these detailed instructions can also stand alone as a guide to create this interesting historic binding in one’s own studio. This is an advanced level structure for those who already have experience with traditional binding.

Completed girdle book and medieval binding cutaway models also available

The Girdle Book Structure

The girdle book is a medieval binding structure featuring a long extension of leather, which could be attached to a traveler’s belt. The leather extension often terminates in a decorative knot or hook. This leather extends from the tail of the book, so the text can be read while the book is still attached to the reader’s belt. The twenty-three known examples of girdle books date from 1454 to 1579. There are hundreds of representations of girdle books in paintings and other visual arts. These books were small, with a normal range of 90-160 mm tall (3.5 to 6.25"), up to 50 mm thick (2"). Half of the extant bindings are on vellum, half on paper. Eighteen are manuscripts; five are printed works.

Constructing a Girdle Book Model

The girdle book model described in these instructions is a hybrid, drawing on techniques used in bindings throughout the Medieval era (11th to 16th century). It will be constructed with a combination of ancient and modern techniques and materials.

Features include:

Student testimonials

This handout exemplifies (the written) part of what makes you an outstanding teacher: the ability to take a complicated and lengthy process and organize/clarify/simplify it to the point that most people can successfully complete the process.
Having been in 2 of your workshops I can say that I enjoy your teaching style a lot. You cover a lot of information in a limited time --and in a way that stays with you. The handouts are excellent references and reflect how you've thought through all the steps and the most efficient way of doing them. The emphasis on conveying the key information, rather than walking out with the finished book of your dreams is especially important. It actually encourages more experimentation and practice and makes one think about the various ways the techniques can be used. In other words, you're conveying concepts and specific technical approaches, rather than leading people in making a particular object. I found it refreshing also to learn skills and techniques that can be used to produce quite elegant looking results, without requiring lots of special tools and years of practice.
Daily, I'm singing your praises! I've practically worn your handout out, covering all the leads to websites, new books, and general instructions. Yes, I finished all the books from class and am now working on a second and third of some. Plus, I am starting to feel comfortable enough to start exploring some of my own options. You created a class that just keeps on teaching long after we have all gone home.