lørdag 8. oktober 2011

My photographs finally arrived...so here are some photos of books and calligraphy for you to enjoy and be inspired by

Decorative greeting with seal and everything!
Many people might wonder what I mean by that..."My photos have arrived". I feel quite old fashioned saying it, but I still use a camera with film rolls! Therefore, I gathered a few of them up and sent all 5 rolls in for developing at the same time.

It is quite exciting when you get them back in the mailbox, not knowing what you took photos of anymore. I will put out a few here to show what I have been taking photos of this year in relation to calligraphy and bookbinding.

Beautiful wood carved scroll holder
I've had two wonderful trips abroad this year. Went to Bruges in May for a bookbinding exhibition, and to Sunderland in England to participate in a calligraphy symposium. Having said that, I will start to show some of the greetings sent to the Oslo University on its 100th anniversary.


This year the university celebrated its 200th anniversary, and therefore they dug out the wonderful "greeting cards" and scrolls etc. - dusted them off and put them out for display in a gallery space in the University Library in Oslo.

It was quite a collection of really astonishing work. On wonders if there still are people out there to preform such skilled work in calligraphy and binding...But, oh yes there are, but the numbers of people being able to to so really is diminishing.

I apologize again for the poor quality of the photos. My camera could not take very good photographs, as a result of the glass cases the work was displayed in and the dim lighting. Hopefully, you can still enjoy the essence of it. 


In Bruges, the exhibition had bindings from a lot of French binders, but also local Belgium, Dutch and German bookbinders and some from Estonia, Latvia and Finland. I was the only one from Scandinavia participating. I wondered why no British bookbinders entered books, but I guess theres is a mix of the fact that there is a gap between French and British binders and that they gave their own bookbinding exhibitions to participate in.

However, I thought it was very interesting to see all the different binding styles and materials used and I felt privileged to be there. I will only show a few bindings here, because most of the photos really came out so bad because of all the reflection in the glass. The ones I have chosen are really beautiful, though :)  

In the first binding I just loved the use of feathers and the bullet caps. Sounds a bit creepy perhaps, getting the idea of shooting  game birds or something, but it was quite decorative, and the use of metal against leather and feathers - loved it! I'd love to touch this book, actually. The softness of the feathers is intriguing.

In the next binding I love the use of different dyed leathers so neatly inlayed into the plain white cover. Not only do you notice the colour, but you also see the different patterns on the grain in the leather pieces used. It is quite astonishing how many variations you can get in leather nowadays. Another technique used is to make reliefs in the leather. By using a white leather, the ridges in the leather make beautiful shadows.

In the third binding, yet again the shadow effect is used, but in a different way. Just like roof tiles, the leather pieces has been laid on top of each other, creating a beautiful yet simple design. The leather looks so soft - again I'd love to hold this book. I wonder if it could have been repeated on the back board or not. I like symmetry, but it would perhaps have become a bit too much if you repeated it in the back and front.

In the next binding I do in fact not remember which kind of leather that has been used, but see how beautiful the pattern is in the grain. One need not do much to the binding at all using such a beautiful material. The simple cross binding is enough to give the impression of a neatly bound book.

In the red and black book, my eye immediately was led to the metal plate on the front cover. I love print making, and this plate reminded me of an etched metal plate and I wondered if there were prints inside the book that would have images in relation to this printing plate. I do not know, but it would have been interesting, huh?

Underneath the red and black book is a simple book, where you again can see the use of an exotic type of leather, I would guess that it is snake. Since the title says something about Alger and therefore the use of leather like that makes sense. I get a feeling of sand and nomads looking at it and it makes me want to see the movie "The Sheltering Sky" again. Anyone else remember that movie directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, starring Debra Winger  and John Malkovich...? (You got to see it if you haven't).

Anyway, a bit side tracked there, but I love the Art Noveau-style lettering of the title and the soft off white background and the warm blue gray tone of the snake skin. My taste exactly, yet I would never come up with such a design myself. Isn't it great that there are other wonderful people out there to do it then? :)

The red book below is quite striking with its inlays of different coloured green leathers and the grey stripes and dots. I do not remember exactly how those stripes and dots were made of. To me it doesn't look like leather - I have to look it up. Just wanted to show this book here, because the colour makes me happy and the pattern is really beautiful and simple.

Another red book underneath. This was fun to see because there were different techniques used. On the back cover the letters were "pricked" onto the leather onlays. On the front cover the "pricked" effect was sticking out like a toothbrush. Funny! Would never have crossed my mind to bind something like that :)

The little brown book beneath that one is very small. Size does not matter when it comes to beauty. I love this book. It looks soft to touch, it has a beautiful brown tone to the leather. It has a few small details of the binding method showing. Just little metal studs giving the little dot over the i, right?

Underneath is a photo of one of the glass cases where the books were on display. I think it was over 200 bindings on display, so here you only get a glimpse of a fraction of the total exhibition.

Anyway, under the book case photo is a close up of my entry of Victoria by Knut Hamsun. A book I love and cherish. I feel like I made it justice to bind it in a simple limp vellum style binding using calf skin strips to sew it on. The knitted pouch and the tinn buttons made it stand out as a book with national heretige. It makes me proud that my book was chosen for this exhibition. As I said to the leader of the exhibition, I would have come anyway just for inspiration looking at the other participant's work and because Bruges is such a beautiful place, however, I was so happy to see my book displayed with all the other beautiful books there. They complementet eachother and widened the range of binding styles, materials and creativity.

By the way. I do not remember titles of the books on display, nor the names of the binders or where they're from just now. I have a catalogue from the exhibition, but I decided to focus on the bindings on display rather than telling you this. I wanted to tell you what I like about all these different books (sorry fellow binders, I might get back to giving the bindings a bookbinder's name and country at a later time, but for now I will just focus on the bindings themselves).

The Chairman of A.R.A Belgica held an opening speach on the opening of the exhibition. He talked a bit about what distinguishes bookbinding in 2011 looking at the books displayed in the exhibition. There were approximately 200 on display, and he had noticed in the books displayed that we tend to work with different types of leather nowadays. Perhaps because we have easier access to it now? Snake, fish, other reptiles and not just goat and calf skin. Also he talked about the different painterly effects we make onto the leather. I do not have good photographs of that, however, there were some really beautiful examples of that displayed, among them a binding of The Little Prince bound by a Latvian woman. The blues she used for the cover together with the gold worked perfectly!

If there are other binders out there that would like to participate in such an event like this, I urge you to go to ARA Belgica's webpage http://arabelgica.be/en/view/activities to see more. As you can see there is already planned an exhibition in Canada for 2012. To all bookbinders out there - why not enter this exhibition? It will give you a reason to go go Canada next year...


I went for one week to Sunderland to participate in a quite amazing Calligraphy Symposium, if I might say so. I took a class with Thomas Ingmire - whom I have admired for quite some time and as a bonus we had our own poet or bard helping us to use techniques related to words and how we use them as calligraphers, called David Annwn (a Welsh name). I loved it - L O V E D it!!! Just being there with fellow calligraphers and exploring different techniques in relation to movement to sounds and music, and finding letter shapes in all the different marks we made. It totally opened up my mind for lettering. I did not know before I got there, that I would love it as much as I did, and neither did I expect to get the reaction I did at the end of the week...Whew - I had a kind of break through and felt much more confident at the end of the course. It was a bit like a vitamin boost. I guess other people would not understand that the scribbles I display here as "something  or anything", but they are! They are made freely in response to music as a collaboration in groups of four, and the marks are made using different tools and inks/colours. 

As I often say to my students (or rather participants in my calligraphy classes), the marks you make are defined by the tool you make the marks with - it is really so, but in combination with speed and rhythm of course the marks will be defined and create different shapes and forms.

After this course I said to myself that I would use this "making marks to music" method as a warming up method before I do other calligraphy work. Also it could be used as meditation. AND last but not least, you never know what might happen. Maybe you will find the most remarkable marks working in this way - so you can in fact use it as research.

Anyway, I will put out some photos now, and more will follow - AND I will also write about my Ashes and Ocean-book which I talked to our in-house bard about :) Can't wait for all this to materialize. And I want a drum set for Christmas...! :)