Karen Hanmer

Glenview, Illinois
Karen Hanmer’s artist-made books are physical manifestations of personal essays intertwining history, culture, politics, science, and technology. She utilizes both traditional and contemporary book structures, and the work is often playful in content or format. Her studio practice is unusually varied, including small editions of artists’ books, larger editions of inexpensive multiples, bookbinding instructional materials, and one-of-a-kind design bindings. Her work is exhibited and collected internationally. Hanmer has studied with Priscilla Spitler, Scott Kellar, Don Etherington, and Monique Lallier, and holds one of only ten diplomas in fine binding awarded by the American Academy of Bookbinding in Telluride, Colorado.

Example Binding: 
Herman Melville. 
Moby-Dick; or, the Whale
.
Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1981.
First printing, trade version.
Facsimile of Arion Press 1979 edition with illustrations by Barry Moser.

Binding based on the non-adhesive “clip-on cover” structure developed by United Kingdom binder Kathy Abbott. Text block disbound, outer folios guarded, sewn long stitch with blue linen thread into calf vellum wrapper, covered in limp calf vellum case, tabbed corners. Hand titling in 22k moon gold, blue acrylic line applied through stencil. Endpapers of handmade Ruscombe Mill pale wove, single folio with hooked flexi endleaf. Graphite head. The pale vellum references the white whale, and the blue line a turbulent sea. The stark contrast between these elements mirrors the horror steadily building in anticipation of the Pequod’s encounter with Moby Dick. Use of blue inside and out also references the color of the initial caps in the Arion Press and Deluxe California editions of this text.

Design Description: 
Binding based on the non-adhesive “clip-on cover” structure developed by United Kingdom binder Kathy Abbott. Text block disbound, outer folios repaired and guarded as needed, sewn long stitch with red linen thread into cream calf vellum wrapper, covered in limp case of cream calf vellum, tabbed corners. Hand titling in 23k gold, red acrylic line applied through stencil. Endpapers of handmade Ruscombe Mill pale wove, single folio with hooked flexi endleaf. The new binding and original case housed in matching clamshell boxes.

The 2018 DeGolyer competition was a particular challenge, as few things are more beautiful than a Doves Press text presented as issued in its original limp vellum case. The proposed binding reflects aspects of the original, and respects both the content and its finely crafted printing. The ultimate goal is to protect the text while making it fully visible, opening completely with no stress to the text block or case. This non-adhesive binding is fully reversible. The wavy line references not only numerous biblical water metaphors of salvation and rebirth, but also the Thames River that flowed adjacent to the Doves Press and became the final resting place of the legendary Doves type. The red of the line and of the sewing thread mirror the color of the initial caps in the text, and echo the Doves Bindery’s use of colored silk thread to sew their text blocks.

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Karen Hanmer example binding

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Karen Hanmer design proposal

Karen Hanmer