Monday, February 21, 2011

Bind-O-Rama 2011 - Artistically Reversible: Where Conservation and Art Meet

Welcome to the 2011 Bonefolder Bind-O-Rama that demonstrates the intersection of conservation and the art of the book. We challenge binders and conservators to think about their work in different ways and to create compelling new work that applies “non-destructive and completely reversible book structures.” Since 2003, the Tomorrow’s Past movement (See The Bonefolder, Vol. 7, 2011) has led the way with work that demonstrates a high regard for the integrity of the original object, the application of current conservation best practices, and an innovative interpretation of book structure and aesthetics resulting in work that is lasting and fresh.

The integrity of the original is a key value of this movement, and stresses that books are not rebound or interpreted simply for the sake of doing so. Books of significance as artifacts with key elements of the binding in treatable condition or requiring simpler treatments are not appropriate candidates for this kind of treatment. Suitable books would be those that may have boards or other elements missing, have been previously repaired/rebound and showing the negative effects of those treatments, or whose original structures may have caused the breakdown of the binding in the first place. All treatments completed for this Bind-O-Rama must conform to current best practices in conservation, be reversible, and ultimately “do no harm.” This is NOT an altered book event. In contrast to past Bind-O-Ramas this event will be juried by the members of The Bonefolder’s board who are themselves trained conservators and active in the field. Kathy Abbott, a member of the Tomorrow’s Past movement will also participate as juror.

For ideas and more context please see the article in The Bonefolder, Vol 7, by Charles Gledhill, the Tomorrow's Past web pages, and this post at the Riverlark blog entitled Old wine in new bottles.

Additional examples can be found by Suzy Morgan, Gaylord Intern in the Conservation Lab at Syracuse University Library. In her posts she discusses the book she treated and some of the "ethical" questions. Take a look at these links: and

Another example is the work of James Reid-Cunningham, conservator at the Boston Athenaeum. His treatment is at

Karen Hanmer's example is at

To participate, please select the book you will treat/rebind carefully, keeping at the forefront the needs of book and your skills as a binder and/or conservator. Each entry must include:
  • Images: At least two, no more than 5 images of treatment including before, in-process, and completed. 
    • Specifications: Minimum 640 x 480 pixels @ 72dpi, jpg file format of your book. Files must be named as binder's name-1.jpg... (e.g. verheyen-1.jpg, verheyen-2.jpg) 
      • Examples below provided by Kathy Abbott.
  • Condition Report: please follow structure/syntax of example provided.
    • E.g.: Samuel Butler, Hudibras (London 1817). Bound in full leather; front board and parts of spine missing; text block sound with marbled edges.

      Hudibras (before, front board missing)
      Hudibras (before, front board missing)
      In process
  • Treatment Report: Includes statement of why the illustrated treatment was selected, description of selected structure, and aesthetics (please follow structure/syntax of example provided)
    • E.g.: Adapted ‘simplified binding’. Original sewing retained; spine lined with linen and hand-made paper; new endpapers of plain hand-made paper (to match the original); decorated, hand-made paper spine and hand-coloured, hand-made paper over hand-made paper pasteboards. 133 x 77 x 24mm. Bound in 2010.

      Hudibras (completed)
  • Brief Bio Sketch: of that includes training in binding/conservation (no more than 250 words)
    • Kathy Abbott served a four-year apprenticeship in bookbinding and then gained an HND from the London College of Printing, followed by a BA (Hons) from Roehampton University . She is currently self-employed as a bookbinder and book conservator and is a partner of Benchmark bindery, set up in 2009 with Tracey Rowledge. Kathy teaches bookbinding at the City Literary Institute and West Dean College and conducts many workshops across the UK. She has been exhibiting with the group Tomorrow's Past. since its formation in 2003.
  • Brief Treatment Statement: How this treatment approach impacts you and your work. (no more than 100 words)
    •  I create new structures which are sensitive to the needs of antiquarian books. They use little or no adhesive and are fully reversible. The inspiration for the colours used in the covers comes from those found on or within the original text-block.
All Images must be sent to <> at the time the entry form is submitted.

Actual online entry form will be added here during the summer.

Deadline for entries Oct 31, 2011.


  1. Hmmmm...

    What happenend to the spine? On the picture about 60% of the original is left so why not (re)integrated in this binding ?

    I wouldn't have choosen this concept...!


  2. Given that the front board was missing too, I could easily see myself choosing to treat that items in the same way. It can be a tough call to make though and factors such as value of the book in general, condition of what's left, and other variables should always play a role.

  3. Did you consider putting the part of the original spine back over the new spine? I would have wanted to include the title label at least.

  4. This book was re-bound for a Tomorrow's Past exhibition where we make modern conservation bindings for antiquarian books which function properly and are fully reversible.
    When I found this book, the front board was missing and the back cover and spine were detached from the text-block; the book had been bound too tightly at the joints with poor sewing supports, which had caused its demise. There was also leather 'burn' visible on the endpapers. To incorporate the original elements into the new binding, I feel would just look odd – neither fish nor fowl.
    The original spine and back board are preserved in a phase box and are kept with the book, so its historical journey can easily be traced.

    Kathy Abbott , Tommorrow's Past

  5. part of the original spine over the new spine... the title label at least... integrating 60, no, this is a lovely, marvelous, bright and simple answer. I love the book it looks now.