Standing at a Vice and Teaching Craft

Jules Amar, The Human Motor;or the Scientific Foundations of Labor and Industry, London: George Routledge & Sons, LTD., 1920 (p. 418)

Amar’s The Human Motor is extraordinarily precise in dictating how a worker should position themselves while working. After all, this was the era of Frederick Winslow Tayler and scientific management. Such dogmatic instruction now seems a little crazy — position your feet at exactly 68 degrees! — and it would certainly put a damper on worker motivation and engagement. However, there are corollaries in teaching and learning craft technique.

Most people hate to be told how to accomplish a task in such excruciating detail, yet several bookbinding teachers I’ve encountered have a dictatorial style which embodied this “one right way” approach. Is our musculature (and ability to manipulate it) so much the same that there is only one right technique to accomplish a specific task? Traditional craft does usually have a very specific end product ideal, so it makes sense to follow exact procedures to achieve exact results. Considered optimistically, traditional techniques have undergone a Darwinian type evolution, resulting in efficient production. The downside of this results in people unthinkingly replicating the techniques they were taught, irrespective of the results.

There is a difference between being told how to do something, and learning how to do something. Learning styles vary: some of us are experiential learners, some didactic learners, and sometimes it varies with the task to be learned. Trying and possibly failing with a variety of techniques can teach us a lot about craft, and often not just the project at hand.

Granted, there are easier and harder ways of doing most craft actions. This is possibly one of the most common reasons for taking a class or workshop: to learn easier ways of accomplishing a craft action. Learning one successful way, then branching out and experimenting with others, is often a good foundation. A constant challenge is balancing the workload in able to continue learning with the pecuniary pressures of working efficiently.

 

Two Awesome Looking New Books From The Legacy Press. Tim Barrett’s European Papermaking and Pablo Alvarez’s Translation of Paredes’ Printing Manual.

Cathy Baker, owner of The Legacy Press, will drop two new books very soon, Tim Barrett’s European Papermaking, and Pablo Alvarez’s translation of Paredes’ Printing Manual, which is the earliest European printing manual. I can’t wait to get both of them! Pre-order here.

Cover of Tim Barrett’s new book. In the background, at the top, are marbles trapped in a wood groove. It lets the papermakers quickly hang and remove a sheet when it is drying. Clever!

European Hand Papermaking: Traditions, Tools, and Techniques

Timothy D. Barrett

In this important and long-awaited book, Timothy Barrett, internationally known authority in hand papermaking and Director of the University of Iowa Center for the Book, offers the first comprehensive “how-to” book about traditional European hand papermaking since Dard Hunter’s renowned reference, Papermaking: The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft.

This book, which includes an appendix on mould and deckle construction by Timothy Moore, is aimed at a variety of audiences: artisans and craftspeople wishing to make paper or to manufacture papermaking tools and equipment, paper and book conservators seeking detailed information about paper-production techniques, and other readers with a desire to understand the intricacies of the craft. European Hand Papermakingis the companion volume to Barrett’s Japanese Papermaking – Traditions, Tools and Techniques. The first 500 hardcover copies include paper specimens.

352 pages • 394 illustrations • hardcover • paper specimens • 2018

ISBN 9781940965116 • $65.00

 

Alonso Víctor de Paredes’ Institution, and Origin of the Art of Printing, and General Rules for Compositors [Madrid: ca. 1680]

Edited and translated by Pablo Alvarez

with a foreword by DonW.Cruickshank

Pablo Alvarez offers the first complete English translation of Alonso Víctor de Paredes’ Institucion, y origen del arte de la imprenta, y reglas generales para los componedores [Institution, and Origin of the Art of Printing, and General Rules for Compositors].

This 96-page printing manual – set and printed by Paredes himself – was issued in Madrid around 1680. It opens with an introductory digression on the origin of writing and printing, followed by ten technical chapters on each of the tasks that are necessary to print a book, including a detailed description of the different kinds of type sizes and their use, the rules of orthography and punctuation, the setting of numeric systems, imposition, casting off, the printing of university dissertations, and the correction of proofs. Some of the chapters are of unique relevance for the understanding of early printing in Europe. Chapter 8, for example, is the first recorded, comprehensive account of the practice of printing by forms/formes.

Alvarez’ transcription, translation, and notes greatly facilitate access to this important historical work, which is in fact the earliest known printing manual published in Europe – Joseph Moxon’s Mechanick Exercises was published in 1683 – and an extraordinary rarity: there are only two extant copies in the world. The book also features a foreword by Don W. Cruickshank and full reproductions of the copies held in rare-book collections at the Providence Public Library and at the University of Valencia, Spain.

Dr. Alvarez is Curator at the Special Collections Research Center, University of Michigan Library.

466 pages • 212 color illustrations • cloth, sewn • 2018

ISBN 9781940965109 • $100.00

Whatsit #4

I’m hoping a reader can identify this unusual tool or jig.

The legs are about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. The inner edge has a 45 degree bevel.  The medallion has a large “Burroughs” in the center,  “Adding, Bookkeeping, Calculating” on the top, and “Machines” on the bottom. The entire medallion is suspended on a bent piece of steel about .75 of an inch above the legs. Burroughs adding machines were quite popular in the early twentieth century, and the company was founded by beat writer William S. Burroughs’s grandfather.

Any guesses what is this device was for?