Atelier Bindery’s Florian Bieschke and apprentice Emily Umentum are one of ten teams statewide awarded the Wisconsin Art Board’s Folk Arts Apprenticeship Grant for Fiscal Year 2014. For a full listing of those awarded, please see the Wisconsin Arts Board website.
Starting August 1, the two will begin working to complete a series of custom restorations and re-bindings in leather, with a focus on honing traditional skills in gold tooling, inlay and onlay leather work. The books featured will be historic volumes, so the apprenticeship will also require attention to higher-level conservation techniques such as corner and edge replacement, resizing and encapsulation.
In the summer of 2014, a special installation of the final work created during the apprenticeship will be on display in a Northern Wisconsin art venue.
“We hope to use the exhibit as an opportunity to educate the public and create dialogue around the preservation of the traditional craft of leather bookbinding. We plan to feature an opening night of the exhibit that includes a lecture and presentation on the apprenticeship as well as a question and answer session for the attendants. We will feature both conservation of pre-existing bindings as well as the creation of new bindings using traditional techniques.” (WAB Folk Arts Apprenticeship FY14 Grant Application).
Binding has received increasing attention in both the contemporary art world and in the more tradition-focused folk schools in the US. Perhaps because of the resurgence in scrap booking , or the simple desire in today’s digital, pre-formatted world to create something solid, functional and truly original, bookbinding as a modern art form has enjoyed a renaissance.
While there are hundreds of individuals teaching and producing basic cloth-bound,non-adhesive or contemporary nonfunctional bindings, however, there are few teaching traditional leather bookbinding. The high cost of binding materials and meticulous and lengthy nature of the work have made leather bookbinding a rare art.
Atelier will be documenting the progress of the apprenticeship; visitors are welcome to follow along as books are diagnosed, repaired and embellished over the course of the following year.
This apprenticeship is supported in part by funding from the Wisconsin Arts Board and the National Endowment for the Arts.