Saturday, July 4, 2020

Fish Skin Bind-O-Rama 2020 - Piscatorial bindings of a different kind

BIND-O-RAMA 2020 IS NOW ONLINE!

Click image to view the Bind-O-Rama.


I've been sharing my love (some may call it an obsession worthy of an intervention) with fish skin, specifically parchment, in bookbinding since 2014, making my own since 2017. The result, curiosity, fascination, but also disgust and revulsion. I get it, sort of, but bookbinders and students of the same, including conservators love to learn about new materials, including making their own. 

Back in early April I was challenged by two colleagues, one asking will I ever host another Bind-O-Rama. Sure, why not. Fish skin it is and the call for entries was posted. I had been sharing the historical literature, and my experiments and uses ad nauseam for years using the "fish leather" tag, also publishing an article on the process in Book Arts arts du livre Canada (Vol 10., Nr. 2, 2019). The other colleague challenged me to host a webinar on the process of making parchment. Due to COVID we were all working from home, looking to keep our skills sharp, and also for things we could do at home. So, 2 weeks later there was the webinar. The rest is history.

I'm deeply impressed by the number of people who rose to my bait of trying to make their own parchment or tanned leather from fish, and then make something using the material. The 21 participants (including one avatar in this Bind-O-Rama come from Australia, Canada, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Their backgrounds vary and include bookbinders, artists, and conservators with lots of overlap between them. Not content to leave it with one skin, many dove in to make more and from a variety of species, and/or tried other methods of processing their skins. These experiments were widely shared by most on social media, even encouraging others to jump in.

"Fips" and his eels
 

Selected Resources

Historical Overview:

Tanning workshops:
  • Janey Chang in Vancouver has also been offering terrific online tanning workshops.
  • Fish Leather: Tanning + Sewing by Lotta Rahme and Dag Hartman. Available in North American from Janey Change and elsewhere.
  • Amber Sandy's Instagram feed: several wonderful posts about tanning fish (among other species). In the Toronto area and happy to give workshops.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

A New, Fishy, Bind-O-Rama


With everyone on lockdown, going stir crazy, worried, and looking for something positive to do, I am inviting all to participate in this rebirth of the Bind-O-Ramas, a regular feature here from 2004 until 2015. View the galleries from all on the Book Arts Web. Below a webinar introduction I recorded to help demystify.



Steps to getting started:
  1. Get some nice fresh fish. Skin it yourself, or ask at your better fish counter or sushi restaurant. Salmon is very forgiving. NO commercially tanned/prepared skins will be accepted. I can smell those a mile away, even if beautiful.
  2. Clean the skin and make parchment or tan some other way. ALWAYS use COLD water otherwise the skin turns gelatinous.
    For more information. watch the video above, see "Fips" and His Eels: Fish Skin in Bookbinding in Book Arts arts du livre Canada (Vol 10., Nr. 2, 2019), and under the “fish leather” tag at the Pressbengel Project blog (23 posts worth at this point). My bindings using fish parchment (and commercial leathers) can be found among my other work here.
  3. When done, use as the primary material on a binding (not just for onlays…), a box, other objet d’art. "Limp" structures are great - parchment is parchment.

Complete the entry form below. You'll also need to upload 1 skin preparation image, 1 of the finished product, and a detail of either. Images should be taken with good lighting, a neutralish background, in focus, and sent at full size (not reduced). Name files with your name and number..., e.g. verheyen1.jpg, verheyen2.jpg, verheyen3.jpg.

In the form you'll be asked to provide name, where you are, species of fish, technique to prepare, impressions, a description of your finished book or object, and a few sentences about yourself.

After submitting the form, email images to verheyen@philobiblon.com. Alternatively, request a link to upload to my Google Drive.



"Fips" and his Eels

I can't wait to see all the entries. Thank you to all those who have been sharing their experiences on social media and elsewhere.

So, what do you all say. Let's have some fun! Questions, just ask. 

Also, check out Amber Sandy's Instagram feed where she has several wonderful posts about tanning fish (among other species). She's in the Toronto area and would be happy to give workshops. Janey Chang in Vancouver has also been offering terrific online tanning workshops. (CBBAG, are you listening 😀 )


Fritz Otto with a box he made from salmon parchment.

Samples of various parchments made from fish.
A sampler of all the fish I've made parchment from.
From top: mackerel, sea bass, lane snapper, haddock, Arctic char, Atlantic salmon.
Underbellies are lighter than tops.
Note: except for the mackerel, the skins are highly translucent.