Another fantastic looking lineup for The Montefiascone Project 2020! I will be teaching there week two, with a workshop titled “Early nineteenth century American and English bookbinding: machines, materials, structures, and tools” Monte is a special experience, everyone should go at least once.
Montefiascone is a small medieval walled city about 100 k (80 miles) north of Rome, on Lake Bolsena. Since 1988, conservators, curators, art historians, book artists, and others interested in books and their history have come together to work, to learn and to enjoy this special place. Participants come to enjoy the medieval architecture, friendly people, a clean accessible lake, books and scholarship. The Montefiascone Project is a non-profit making organisation, set up to fund the restoration of the Library of the Seminario Barbarigo in Montefiascone. Participants may attend one, two, three or all four weeks.
Costs are £550 (or euro equivalent) for each week and include all lectures (which are in English). For more information and to enroll, contact Cheryl Porter: chezzaporter <at> yahoo.com
Week 1: 27th – 31st July
Recreating the colours on the Medieval palette: Western, Hebrew and Islamic.
Course Tutor: Cheryl Porter
This class will study the colours (made from rocks, minerals, metals, insects and plants) that were processed to produce the colours used by artists throughout the medieval era. The focus will be on manuscript art – Islamic, Hebrew and European. Participants will re-create the colours using original recipes. Illustrated lectures will address history, geography, chemistry, iconography and conservation issues. Practical making and painting sessions will follow these lectures. No previous experience is necessary.
Week 2: 3rd – 7th August
Early nineteenth century American and English bookbinding: machines, materials, structures, and tools.
Course Tutor: Jeffrey S. Peachey
In England and America, common book structures changed significantly during the early nineteenth century. A typical inexpensive calf or sheep binding was supplanted by even cheaper, new binding styles, such as paper boards bindings and the three-piece adhesive cloth case. In industrial binderies, the plough was replaced by two quicker machines, the guillotine and the board shear. The way binders worked, and viewed their work, also changed drastically.
We will examine this time period through PowerPoints, readings, discussions, and the hands-on construction of four models: an English common-boards binding, an American extra-boards binding, an American tight-back cloth binding, and an English adhesive cloth case. We will explore methods of replicating plain and textured nineteenth century bookcloth, starting with undyed muslin. Close readings from bookbinding manuals, analysis of bindery images, and the use of historic tools will enhance our understanding of this important time period. Often these binding styles are referred to as “temporary” and we will debate some conflicting evidence and definitions of this term. By the end of the nineteenth century, the cloth case became ubiquitous worldwide. This workshop will equip participants to better understand, interpret, and sympathetically treat nineteenth century books they encounter.
Week 3: 10th – 14th August
Recreating a late sixteenth-century Cambridge bookbinding
Course Tutors: Jim Bloxam and Shaun Thompson, with lectures from David Pearson.
Cambridge, heavily influenced by its university, has always been a place with books at the heart of its activities; a place where they have for many centuries been printed, sold, bound, owned, stored, read and used. Our Montefiascone course, a few years ago, was devoted to making a model of a late 15th century Cambridge binding; this year we will analyse a binding style from a century later and construct a model of a typical late 16th century Cambridge binding. At the end of the 15th century, leather-covered bindings usually had wooden boards and clasps and decoration depended on labour-intensive repetitive tooling using small hand-held tools. A century later, wood had given way to pasteboard or pulpboard, clasps had been replaced by cloth ties and decoration looked very different; gilt tooling, unknown in English binding work before about 1520, had become common.
Week 4: 17th – 21st August
A Chinese Qur’an
Course Tutors: Kristine Rose-Beers & Cécilia Duminuco, with a lecture from Alison Ohta
During this class, participants will make a model of Chester Beatty Is 1602, a 17th or 18th century Chinese Qur’an with its original binding. This small manuscript is distinctly Chinese. It is covered with fine patterned silk, and the pages are made of soft, fibrous, Chinese paper. In keeping with many Islamic bindings, it has an envelope flap, but this is squared off, similar to those seen in some south-east Asian Islamic manuscripts. This Qur’an is an example of how aspects of the Islamic book were combined with local decorative traditions influencing ornament, calligraphy and illumination.
According to the historical accounts of Chinese Muslims, Islam was first brought to China by Sa’d ibn abi Waqqas, in 651. Although scholars have not found any historical evidence that he visited China, they agree that the first Muslims must have arrived in China in the 7th century, and that the major trading cities, such as Guangzhou, Quanzhou probably already had their first mosques built during the Tang Dynasty.
Muslims in China have continued to practice their faith sometimes under very difficult circumstances. Today, the Muslim population of China is estimated as representing 0.45% to 2.85% of the total population with 39,000 mosques serving this congregation. This Qur’an represents the Islamic legacy in China and is a unique opportunity to examine this combination of traditions which were carried along the Silk Roads over the centuries.
Cheryl Porter is Director of the Montefiascone Project. She trained as a book conservator in London and has worked as a conservator, collections manager and consultant for libraries and museums in Europe, Australia, USA and Egypt. She was deputy Director of the Dar al-Kutub (National Library) and Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation Manuscript Project in Egypt from 2008-2011. She has published widely and is a Professional Associate in the American Institute for Conservation.
She is currently commissioned by Yale University Press to write a book on the colours used to paint in manuscripts.
Jeff Peachey is an independent book conservator and toolmaker based in New York City. For more than 25 years, he has specialized in the conservation of books for institutions and individuals. He is a Professional Associate in the American Institute for Conservation, has taught book conservation workshops internationally, and has been awarded numerous fellowships to support his book history research, including the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center (Italy) and Rochester Institute of Technology’s Cary Collection (New York). He is a Visiting Instructor for the Library and Archives Conservation Education Consortium (LACE) of Buffalo State University, New York University, and the Winterthur/ University of Delaware. “Ausbund 1564: The History and Conservation of an Anabaptist Icon” is his latest publication.
Shaun Thompson is a traditionally trained bookbinder with over thirty years’ experience and a passionate advocate for the importance of hand bookbinding skills in book conservation. He has worked for Cambridge University Library for the past 17 years and presently holds the position of Collection Care Manager.
Shaun has a research interests in early northern European book structures and has made good use of the Library’s collections to examine the physical aspects and historical techniques used in medieval bindings. He is also an experienced and highly skilled practical teacher, having taught hand bookbinding to conservation students in the UK, at both West Dean College and Camberwell College of Arts. He taught courses at Montefiascone since 2013 and is looking forward to returning to share his ever-widening knowledge and experience.
Jim Bloxam, Head of Conservation and Collection Care, Cambridge University Library, UK. Jim is an Accredited Conservator of the Institute of Conservation. His particular research interests lie mainly in the history of books; their structural qualities and their cultural context. He has taught historical book structures in the UK, Europe and the US, focusing mainly on European book structures.
David Pearson retired in 2017 as Director of Culture, Heritage and Libraries for the City of London Corporation, after a professional career of 35 years or so working in various major research libraries in London and elsewhere. He is now a Research Fellow at the Institute of English Studies in the University of London, and a member of the teaching staff of the London Rare Books School there. He has published extensively on aspects of book history, with a particular interest in aspects of the book as an owned and designed object; his books include Provenance Research in Book History (1994), Oxford Bookbinding 1500-1640 (2000), English Bookbinding Styles 1450-1800 (2005), and Books as History (2008). He has taught and lectured in these fields for numerous audiences and is a Past President of the Bibliographical Society.
Kristine Rose-Beers is Head of Conservation at the Chester Beatty in Dublin and an accredited member of the Institute of Conservation. Her research interests include the conservation of Islamic manuscript material, early binding structures and the use of pigments and dyes in medieval manuscripts.
Before moving to Ireland, Kristine worked at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge as Assistant Keeper (Conservator of Manuscripts and Printed Books); at the Chester Beatty Library with a particular focus on the Turkish manuscript collection; and at Cambridge University Library. She graduated from the Conservation programme at Camberwell College of Arts in 2002 and is a member of the Board of Directors of The Islamic Manuscript Association.
Cécilia Duminuco is a book and paper conservator. She graduated from the École Supérieure des Arts Saint-Luc of Liège with a Masters in Painting Conservation in 2013, before completing a Masters in the Conservation of Books and Library Materials at West Dean College in the UK in 2015. Cécilia joined the Chester Beatty in Dublin as Heritage Council Intern in Conservation 2015-16, before moving to Cambridge University Library to work on Charles Darwin’s Library digitisation project. She then worked at the University of Manchester, before returning to Cambridge University Library in 2019 to work on the digitisation of Greek Manuscripts. Cécilia has now relocated to Belgium where she continues to follow her passion for early bookbinding, non-Western book structures, pigments in illuminated manuscripts and painted surfaces.
Alison Ohta is currently Director of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. She completed her thesis at SOAS (London University) on Mamluk bindings and has published and lectured extensively on the subject.