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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.

studio news

experiments in fur and molded leather

Stephanie Gibbs

In ongoing research and development news, the studio has been experimenting with a range of new materials for custom bookbinding. The most recent materials that are being worked with are real and artificial furs; and molded leather.

Artificial fur needs to be backed, and then treated like bookcloth.
Real fur requires additional stretching, consolidating, and shaping, but can then be mostly treated like leather. Skins from several different tanneries have been tested.

Both model bindings have inset eyes; the real fur binding uses garment and fur-working textile techniques to incorporate a leather nose, suede-lined fur ears, and a sewn tail. The artificial fur binding has silver color on the outside of textblock.

In the test bindings, an underlayer of a paper-case cover has then subsequently been covered with real or artificial fur, which has been trimmed along the edges. Owing to the woven nature of the artificial fur, and the growth direction of the natural fur, experiments with turn-ins and edge finishing will be undertaken to examine possibilities for finished edges. Several experiments have resulted in a surface treatment that allows both types of material to take foil stamping.

For the molded leather test, papier mâché has been formed using Japanese paper and wheat starch paste, working over a core of hemp cord. The eye recesses have been established, and the leather worked over the shapes and allowed to dry. Further experiments with using tooling to create texture are next…

white leather now available

Stephanie Gibbs

Several clients have requested work in white leather, which is not a material that the studio has historically been able to source.

This is due to the fact that the leather used in bookbinding is calfskin or goatskin, both processed with vegetable tanning, which results in a tan, tea-stained appearance in the natural state. The resulting leather cannot be successfully overdyed white.

For the purposes of props, photography shoots, commercials, and the like, a source for white leather is now available:

Top image: white lambskin, garment quality, slight buttery undertones. Smooth surface. Thinner leather. Sourced in Los Angeles.

Lower image: white buckskin, craft quality, slight blue undertone. Grained surface. Thicker leather. Tannery in Maine.

For any project of an archival nature, white vellum or alum tawed pigskin remain the leather options for a white binding, if cloth or paper are not appropriate materials.


Stephanie Gibbs

In 2015, a road trip resulted in an artist's book ... and a relocation across the country.

The artist's book, The Meter Was Out Of Order, formed the structural underpinning for a 2019 artist's book, Enumerations.

Edition size, 16, of which 8 are deluxe copies.

I have an established interest in creating standard book structures out of nonstandard pages, and I'm fascinated with different language systems and different number systems. As an undergraduate student, given the opportunity to choose between math and computer science coursework, I chose computer science -- after all, programming is just another language, and syntax and vocabulary are skills that I, as an English major, understood quite well.

Over the past few years, the history of women in computer science and mathematics has been explored across a range of resources in popular culture, from the "computers" in "Hidden Figures" to the explorations of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage in a graphic novel by Sydney Padua, to the inventions of Hedy Lamarr, an actress who decamped to technology.

One of my favorite podcasts is "In Our Time," a BBC program wherein academics discuss the history of ideas. Their math presentations are particularly engaging, and, when this project was germinating, three programs in particular were of special interest: Maths in the Early Islamic World | Pauli's Exclusion Principle | Carl Friedrich Gauss .

What we have from all of the above is a fascination with math, language, and numbers, as developed through history and explored in the fields of philosophy and culture. This project developed over the course of a year, as I examined different aspects of combining ideas of memory, craft, and technology into one book project.

I knew that I wanted to print the book on computer punch cards; my father found a batch of unpunched cards from Los Alamos via ebay, and then I purchased an additional batch of punched cards from a programmer's personal archive via Craigslist -- he had punched all the cards for graduate school projects, and held onto them for all these years.

For the text, the obvious choice was the writings of Ada Lovelace. Anyone who is taught mathematics as a child in order to prevent the dangers of becoming a poet is someone worth paying attention to; that her poetic lineage was the very well-known Lord Byron was especially fun. Originally, I wanted to print all of her equations -- she is credited with writing the first computer algorithm -- but then ran against a basic problem: my own math skills, and my own programming skills, couldn't follow her writings. So I focused on what I could understand, the Note that was specifically about the functioning of the Analytical Engine being based on Jacquard looms.

In this note she specifically references a contemporary article about how Jacquard looms operate, and I was able to locate the text of this article, which had phenomenal drawn images illustrating the parts of the loom. The text of the book was coming together: the interwoven story of the loom and the computer.

From my reading about math history, I knew that the use of the slide rule was a means of making trigonometry tables portable during any calculation, rather than having to reference printed guides; and that the early computers were designed to calculate trigonometry in order to successfully land the Apollo space craft on the moon. Therefore, additional components of Enumerations: the trigonometry drawings, the slide rule, and the cope rope memory, were also included as ways of providing mathematical memory and making it accessible.

Early on, I knew that I wanted a slide rule to be a component of the book project; and it was at a dinner party where framed card slide rules were displayed on a wall that I realized this format existed. The hostess very kindly gave me an extra card from her collection, which formed the pattern for this project. The online resources at the Oughtred Society were also invaluable, as was the collection at the Smithsonian Institution. Conversations with my clients (who often collect scientific and mathematical paraphernalia) were also incredibly helpful.

From another In Our Time episode, a passing reference was made to Raytheon and cope rope memory: subsequent research provided the story that this form of memory, which enacts binary code into a hand-woven magentic wire structure, was constructed by textile workers in Massachusetts, as they had the necessary hand skills to create accurate handwoven hard drives.

And then, at the end of the project, I learned that my father had been using core rope memory during his time working in encryption in the Navy. He wanted me to make actual core memory wiring structures: but this is a book about craft and technology in conversation, and so I created embroidery samplers instead.

As a slide rule is a primitive calculator (external memory) and the punch cards are early forms of rendering computer programs, the deluxe edition of the book also includes still-written computer diskettes from the family archive. When I was researching different types of number representations, my brother (a programmer) reminded me that hexadecimal is how colors are represented in web page displays -- and therefore a booklet comparing base 10, binary, hexadecimal, colors, and Roman numerals was included as a small numerical dictionary.

the oracle: holiday edition 2018/2019!

Stephanie Gibbs


The 2018 / 2019 holiday edition was actually mailed out close to a month ago, but things in the studio have been very busy what with Codex 2019 and those affiliated projects (to be updated separately), and so the holiday edition report is slightly delayed.

Happy new year!

January is a month I feel deeply ambivalent about. I absolutely love the metaphor of fresh starts and reconsideration; the opportunity to think deeply and recalibrate. I also deeply hate being cold, or being wet, and definitely am a pathetic beast when I am both cold and wet. I'm a fire element, and it shows. Even in Los Angeles, the weather in January is cold and wet (or "cold" and "wet" if you haven't any sympathy for highs in the sixties and an inch of rain), and so I look outside, and take more cough medicine, and sigh, and think about the meaninglessness of existence.

Which leads to this year's holiday edition, which is an alphabet booklet of forms of divination. When the future seems full of unpredictable randomness, when whether the outcome is a win, lose, or draw doesn't seem related to the efforts put forth, when past performance is absolutely no indicator of future outcomes, where do you turn? The truth is that I consider myself a happy person, that I'm thrilled with the life I've created, that I'm thriving in this surreal landscape of southern California, but also that my life is weirder and less predictable than any horoscope could advise. I love this randomness, but also hate not being in absolute control of my own fate.

Into which vacuum steps divination. While I, personally, don't really believe in anything, that also means that I am tempted to believe in absolutely everything. Why not, if all of life is a metaphor? And the beauty of wikipedia provides all the methods of divination a person could ever require.

The covers for the booklets were the leftovers from the Parenthesis pastepaper project of summer 2018; the text various methods of divining the future as researched on wikipedia; the images from collected imagery from various art projects that I've either thought about doing or actually done.

The format of the booklets is one that has been used in previous ephemera projects, such as the 2013 holiday almanack, a sewn two-signature pamphlet binding with wraparound covers. The internal design is so that each signature is a letter-sized sheet of paper, printed double sided, that is folded, cut, folded, sewn all together, and then cut.

As always, your results from your divination pursuits should be handled with care, but go forth and find your future.

in the news

Stephanie Gibbs

A client of the studio was recently profiled by the New York Times! “The Boswell of Beverly Hills: A Historian of Homes”

“And while the histories have the plain look of school textbooks (he designs them himself), he recently raised his game. For a client who commissioned him to profile 39 Oakmont Drive, or Los Vientos, a Cliff May-designed house in Brentwood, he hired a bookbinder to create a handsome linen box, which he filled with photographs, architectural drawings and aerial photos.”

Both the book photographed for the article and the Los Vientos box were made in the Gibbs Bookbinding studio.

pastepaper edition

Stephanie Gibbs

A commission for Gibbs Bookbinding to make an edition of pastepapers:

Inspiration from old gilt papers from the 18th century, here created as an edition using modern materials and techniques.

Paper: Crane's Lettra. Dye: Rit fuchsia, Gold: Modern Masters Olympic gold. Medium: Wheat starch paste.

See the video of how each page was made:

Client: Parenthesis, a journal of fine printing

Edition size: 100 sheets, 21" x 27"