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6646 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA, 90028
United States

(213) 223-6921

Stephanie Gibbs, a bookbinder in Los Angeles, CA, offers edition and fine binding, book conservation, custom boxes, and paper repair for contemporary and historic books, manuscripts, and documents to clients throughout California.

current studio projects

Calvino / Six Memos

Stephanie Gibbs

Six Memos For The Next Millennium
Italo Calvino

. . .  When the human realm seems doomed to heaviness, I feel the need to fly like Perseus into some other space. I am not talking about escaping into dreams or into the irrational. I mean that I feel the need to change my approach, to look at the world from a different angle, with different logic, different methods of knowing and proving. The images of lightness I’m looking for shouldn’t let themselves dissolve as dreams do in the reality of the present and future . . .

In the infinite universe of literature there are always other avenues to explore, some brand-new and some exceedingly ancient, styles and forms that can change our image of the world. And when literature fails to assure me that I’m not merely chasing dreams, I look to science to sustain my visions in which all heaviness dissolves . . .

The New Year's / Memorial Day Extravaganza

Stephanie Gibbs

Happy New Year!

This is quite the latest that my holiday edition has ever been completed. There are events a-plenty, on the world stage, and in the studio, that caused the delay. The files were designed and printed back in December — I picked up the completed stack on the same day that the pages for Family Style were ready.

Then the Family Style edition construction began, and it had some slowdowns related to margins and covering material, then I needed to finish the Amissa Anima ouiji boards, because I had postponed figuring out how to make the plinth-and-planchette window, then there were the deluxe versions.

And there was politics, which resulted in a certain amount of hiding under the bed.

Also there was / is making a living. Conserving books, binding some editions. That’s pretty much ongoing, which makes my landlord happy.

Many people advised me to simply postpone or cancel the 2016 / 2017 holiday edition.

I knew I wouldn’t make my traditional January 1 mailing date; and the Chinese New Year came and went; then Valentine’s Day, then President’s Day, and I swore, oh, I swore, that I’d get them finished for the first day of Spring, or, at the latest, Easter. Then May Day came and went.

Oh, and I moved my studio down the hall. Pallet jacks being fit into the trunks of Honda Civics happened.

You know what, though? I BEAT my last deadline, which was the summer solstice. Perhaps this is the first time that Memorial Day can be considered “close” to New Year’s Day. Whatever. I’ll take it.


Announcing the 2016-2017 Holiday Edition!

Kites!

Last autumn, I was working on a vintage copy of Mary Poppins, which always makes various show tunes lodge themselves inside my head. “Let’s go fly a kite / Up to the highest height / Up where the air is clear / And send it soaring ..”

Also last autumn, Hiromi Paper held an afternoon kite making workshop, which I didn’t attend, but I wanted to attend, and I should have attended, and I still kind of hate myself for not attending. But I was already taking the Tim Ely workshop at the Getty, and so the learning-calendar was full.

My first website results provided kite templates that were definitely simple, but also, well, uninspired:
http://rhythmofthehome.com/homemade-kite/
http://www.redtedart.com/how-to-make-a-beautiful-kite/
http://www.handmadecharlotte.com/lets-go-fly-a-kite-2/

So then I went to the library, and found some lovely books, but they didn’t really have instructions, and a lot of the text was in Japanese. The best of these was Kites: paper wings over Japan by Scott Skinner and Ali Fujino, but, once again, there wasn’t much on How To.

What this book did provide was (a) the Italo Calvino quote that made it onto the wrapper; (b) proof that miniature kites were completely legitimate; (c) good outlines for the different shapes of kites. So many shapes! It also provided insight into the content that appears on the face of kites, and information about kites being particularly associated with the New Year celebrations (concept confirmation!).

Thinking about visual metaphors in Japan associated with the New Year, the Rabbit and the Wave most closely aligned with my own aesthetic interests, and combined two of my experiences from the previous summer: bunny tiles (bunny tiles!!!) at the Hearst Castle, and the beach. The wave itself I shamelessly stole and tweaked from a maybe famous woodcut series.

Yet more internet research provided a wealth of information about the shapes and patterns of different kites, but quite a few of the articles were in German. This didn’t matter, too much. I knew the name of the kite (rokkaku) would be the same regardless of language, and I didn’t need the text: just some decent diagrams!

http://www.drachen.org/teach/lessons?level=All
http://www.kiteplans.org/planos/rokkaku12/rokkaku12.html
http://www.kiteplans.org/cat_1/sub_17/
http://www.my-best-kite.com/make-a-rokkaku-kite.html

These answered my basic layout, proportions, and materials questions — originally, I was going to use bamboo skewers, but, after realizing how large a 1/8” diameter skewer was in relation to a very small kite, I decided to find something thinner and less bulky, and bought polyester boning, as used in textiles and costuming. I knew that it was specifically designed to be sewn through, and wouldn’t need to be notched or drilled like the dowels.

However, I was still having problems with the bridle — these are the strings that connect the spool of thread one holds on the ground, to the piece of paper flying up there in the sky. Where does one tie the cords? What knots does one use? How much slack or tension?

There are lots of online resources for rokkaku kites, but by far the best is Larry Green’s PDF from 2004. I wish I could find the page where I originally downloaded the file, but here’s the closest I can get:
http://www.johndobson.info/John's%20Kite%20Site/pdf%20files/Rok%20Bridle%20Guide.pdf
also at: http://arch.ced.berkeley.edu/kap/discuss/index.php?p=/discussion/2651/rokkaku-tipping-and-diving (this is probably where I found it)

However, even this compendium of information left me somewhat baffled. I took a field trip to visit Dave at the Kite Connection on Huntington Beach Pier, and he gave me confirmation about how to balance a kite so that it would actually take flight, and not just spin on the ground.

It was back to Larry Green’s knot diagrams (neither a Boy Scout nor a sailor am I), but they finally worked.

Lift off! We have lift off!

How to Get One

Stephanie Gibbs

Last week, I realized that the four artist's book editions that I completed this past winter were representative of the four elements: earth (Natural Philosophies), air (Amissa Anima), fire (Family Style), and water (Between, Among, Within). I wish I could say that I planned things that way.

Nope. The subconscious mind is the only part of me that can take credit.

However, the active mind has created several venues for purchase, in case you weren't at Codex.

 

Option 1. Email me! Checks and credit cards are fine. stephaniegibbs@gmail.com In no time at all, you'll get a spiffy package in the mail.

Option 2. Use etsy! The shop name is BookbindingLA, and you'll find books for sale, as well as greeting cards.

Option 3. Visit Abecedarian Artists Books in Denver! They also have a handy-dandy website.

Option 4. Maybe you prefer the South, or East Coast. Vamp and Tramp has you covered. Currently, my work is featured in new arrivals.

now with more words

Stephanie Gibbs

Please see these PDF downloads for further explanations and context for the artist's books editions currently for sale. Full prospectus here.

Amissa Anima

Between, Among, Within

Family Style

Natural Philosophies

Lost Souls, Some Closure

Stephanie Gibbs

After a year of the creepy eye project marinating -- as an artist's book for the California Guild of Bookworker's "Look A Book!" exhibition, then as an edition of fifty created for the Codex book fair, the fifteen deluxe editions are finally completed. Two of them have been acquired by institutional libraries; two are not for sale; eleven are available for purchase.

Amissa Anima: the book of the dead

Two volumes in clamshell box.

Eye engraving, Dioptrique oculaire, Chérubin d’Orléans, 1671. The Spirit Photographs of William Hope, the National Media Museum. The Ouija, Kennard Novelty Co., Museum of Talking Boards. Printed on Asuka on an Indigo printer with Joss paper endpapers. Bound in laminated Asuka paper over marbled paper.

The deluxe edition contains a bell (Hearts (fractured)), book, and candle (Life (spark of)), three essential tools used in summoning of the spirit world; and a set of bottled emotions, as strong emotional memories link the spirit world to the corporeal. The bottled emotions contain metaphorical representations of human experience:

Animal magnetism: Felis catus vibrissae; Anticipation (concentrate): coastal sand; Disbelief (suspension): rosehips from Rosa multiflora Thunb.; Hope (kindling of): phosphorus sesquisulfide and potassium chlorate on a balsa wood base; Memories (suppressed): Buddhist incense; Misdirection: antique key; Promises: seeds from Symphyotrichum lanceolatum; Rage (bottled): seeds from Asclepias syriaca L.; Resentment (shards): shattered family china.

Deluxe edition of 15. 2016.

This concludes the creepy eye infestation of the studio.

Codex 2017

Stephanie Gibbs

It's time for Codex 2017, a gathering of book artists, publishers, and collectors in California. Read about the event at the New York Times: https://nyti.ms/1vtplFJ 

I am exhibiting four artist book editions, as described below and available for purchase (email stephanie.gibbs@gmail.com for details):


Between, Among, Within

Indigo pigment pastepapers by Stephanie Gibbs. Photographs of the Catskill water supply system in process of construction, 1918, with A topographical map of Hudsons River, Claude Sauthier, 1898, both from The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Printed on Asuka paper on an Indigo printer. Full cloth binding.

Edition of 22. 2016. $175.


Natural Philosophies

Botanical engravings from A Curious Herbal, Elizabeth Blackwell, 1739, from the New York Public Library Digital Collections. Herbal remedies from historic sources. Monoprints on pages from the Encyclopedia Britannica, volume C, 1969, by Stephanie Gibbs. Printed on Asuka paper on an Indigo printer. Bound in quarter cloth.

Edition of 20. 2016. $175.


Family Style

Recipes collected by Helen Marchese, primarily from the late 1940s through the 1980s. Endpapers from Paul Bercy, Simples Notions de Francais, New York, 1894.

Printed on Mohawk Superfine on an Indigo printer. Bound in a three part binding with stamped linen spine and gingham fabric over boards.

Edition of 50. 2017. $200.


Amissa Anima: a book of the dead

Two volumes. Eye engraving, Dioptrique oculaire, Chérubin d’Orléans, 1671. The Spirit Photographs of William Hope, the National Media Museum. The Ouija, Kennard Novelty Co., Museum of Talking Boards.

Printed on Asuka on an Indigo printer with Joss paper endpapers. Bound in laminated Asuka paper over marbled paper.

Edition of 50.  2016. $250.



written in the heavens

Stephanie Gibbs

There are projects that happen quickly, and there are projects that gestate for years.

In 2009, I started the rebinding process of the 1929 Nonesuch Press edition of A Plurality of Worlds, written Bernard de Fontenelle / trans John Glanvill. 

I've always had an interest in cosmology and early science, and Wikipedia nicely summarizes the text: Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds (French: Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes) is a popular science book by French author Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, published in 1686. It offered an explanation of the heliocentric model of the Universe, suggested by Nicolaus Copernicus in his 1543 work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. The book is Fontenelle's most famous work and is considered to be one of the first major works of the Age of Enlightenment.

The Nonesuch Press edition, from 1929, was limited edition letterpress printed, and housed in a limp vellum binding, in a green paper slipcase with gold stars. The edition was large enough that I purchased a copy sometime in 2002, for not very much money, and felt little hesitation in changing out the binding.

My earliest efforts with a new binding were in 2009, when I disbound the original book, washed the slipcase paper, dyed the white vellum wrapper to indigo blue using Sennelier Tinfix Design Silk Dye, and made a shibori-style crumpled dyed endpaper. After basic preparations, I decided that the effects weren't what I wanted, and left everything in a state of stasis.

Move forward to 2016. With Gibbs Goes West / 2015, the blue vellum wrapper (which was, of course, still stapled to the drying board) was discarded, but the textblock (still unsewn) was transported across the country, and the California Chapter of the Guild of Bookworkers had an open call for entries for an autumn exhibition. It was (a) a deadline and (b) an excuse to finally finish this project.

I knew what the endpapers would be: the exquisite map of the heavens, Planisphærium cœleste, by the Dutch cartographer Frederik de Wit, in the 17th century. It was printed onto a Twinrocker handmade paper; the proportions of the map were slightly longer than the book, so there's a fold-out element to the flyleaf at both the front and the back of the book.

The bookbinding is influenced by star charts and by the binding which I did several years ago for The Confidence Man: goatskin leather in green, gray, navy, and white, pared thin, pastewashed with mica, and punched into eighth-inch circles using a Japanese punch. The dots were laid out on a piece of paper for basic structure, and the design modified slightly as they were transferred to the full royal-blue calfskin binding. I was less concerned with an accurate rendering of the night sky, than with using the colors to create both abstract and actual shapes that the eye sees as it gazes upward in the dark.