Sunday, May 20, 2012
To cast your vote visit https://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/. Near the bottom of the page, you will see a blue button that says "Log In & Support." Click that button and login using your facebook account login information (or, if you are already logged into facebook, the website will do this for you automatically). On the next page, enter "The Abbey Studio" as the business name, Massachusetts as the state, and Hingham as the town. Then click the blue button that says "search." The Abbey Studio should appear below. Then, simply click the blue button that says "vote" to the right. Voilà! Thank you so much for your time support!
Please keep checking in for more updates and information about this project as it blossoms. We would love to hear your feedback and ideas--feel free to e-mail us or leave a comment!
Friday, August 5, 2011
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
I stumbled upon this book quite randomly at my local soon-to-be-closed borders, and snatched up the last copy. People of the Book is a historical fiction novel that tells the story of book conservationist, Hannah Heath, as she restores the Sarajevo Haggadah, a priceless Jewish illuminated text. In alternating sections, it also describes the complex history of that manuscript. The Sarajevo Haggadah is as much a character in this work as Heath is herself. Brooks is a masterful writer, and she manages to capture what it is I (and I suspect a lot of you) love about books: the unusual surprises of antiquity, uncovering buried history, participating in the continuation of that history through craft, the stories objects have to tell about their origins and the people who created them.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury has been one of my favorite writers since my early teen years, and I love Fahrenheit 451 especially. This dystopian, science fiction masterwork takes place in a world where books are forbidden. Intellectuals must hide their collections from firefighters who no longer fight fire, but burn books. Fahrenheit 451 is haunting and poignant, especially in this technological age. It is also deeply hopeful about the enduring importance of books and the written work.
Books, Friends, and Bibliophilia: Reminiscences of an Antiquarian Bookseller by Anton Gerits
This book is, unfortunately, out of print. However, used copies are available on Amazon. As its title implies, it is a charming and lively series of anecdotes by Dutch bookseller Anton Gerits. More widely, however, it provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of prominent book collectors and the history of books and bibliophilia.
Bibliophile Mysteries series by Kate Carlisle
On a considerably lighter note, romance and mystery novelist Kate Carlisle has created a series of books that follow bookbinder and conservationist Brooklyn Wainwright as she stumbles from crime scene to crime scene solving mysteries and waxing poetic about Jeff Peachey knives (from The Lies That Bind, "I particularly coveted a leather-handled set of Jeff Peachey knives. The brilliant bookbinder and craftsman had created a set of cryogenic steel-bladed knives that were hand-honed to surgical percision and beautifully beveled to work with the thinnest calfskin…’Peachey is a genius,’ I murmured, nodding."). There are currently four novels in the series, and with titles like If Books Could Kill, they promise to be entertaining (at the very least) for any bookish gentleman or lady.
This Is Not a Book by Keri Smith
This book and its cousin books, Wreck This Journal and Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes, are favorites of my lovely friend Lacey. These books ask the reader/writer to engage with their content in unconventional ways. Lacey says these books are "a set of pages with instructions on how to deconstruct, reconstruct traditional journaling. [They are] full of rules that are made to be broken or to be followed to create a challenge for yourself."
Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
My roommate, Carsen, wisely suggested this labyrinthine novel. Nabokov was never one for simplicity... Carsen describes the narrative as "a book about a book about a poem which pretends to be (or is?) the book it is about." That's just about right.
A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books by Nicholas A. Basbanes
My tumblr friend iamwrappedupinbooks recommends this book, adding, "I was a research assistant for a rare book collector and he gave me a copy to initiate me into the world of bibliophiles. It helped."
P.S. Due to camera ailments, my forthcoming Mansueto Library post is on temporary hold.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I stumbled upon this image on tumblr a couple of months ago (unfortunately, the artist wasn’t noted in the post--if any of you know who made it, please let me know), and I fell in love with it for a few reasons.
I really enjoy seeing pieces of artwork that use traditional media in non-traditional ways; I enjoy pieces that manage to pay homage to the past while creating something new and different. I certainly aspire to this in my own work. What I really love about this piece, however, is how unusual and expressive it is, and how suits the subject matter perfectly... like Kerouac's words set to the perfect score.
Great calligraphy, above all other things in my opinion, is exuberant. It breathes life into the words on the page in a way mechanized typefaces simply cannot. Why is this the case? Well, that's a tricky question to answer (but I'm going to take a stab at it anyway).
Ok, I’m going to take a slight digression, but there is method to my madness, I swear. The French philosopher and semiotician Roland Barthes wrote an essay called The Grain of the Voice in which he argues that the reason people respond favorably to vocal performances is because they can hear the physicality of the performer, with all the corporeal imperfection that entails. It is this physicality that conveys emotion, that moves us. So, in a sense, it is the very lack of mechanization that allows us to enjoy music. I realize this argument may be flawed: people do, afterall, listen to instrumental (which, however, has its own, less overt type of physicality) and electronic music. Some people don't even care about the emotional content of music. But I do think there is a grain (no pun intended) of truth in Barthes’s argument.
I remember during my time at the North Bennet Street School, Jeff Altepeter (the primary bookbinding teacher) often expressed a distaste for guillotines which give text blocks crisp, regular edges… but also leave little dents in the edge of the book where there are dings in the blade. As a result, the text block looks very much like it was made by a machine—a characteristic which isn’t very desirable in a handbound book. So maybe Barthes notion of the importance of physical presence in performance applies not only to music. Afterall, there’s something magical about hearing the crackle of a vinyl record (which, I would argue, has a physical presence in a way digital music does not), seeing the dance of an artist's arm in a brushstroke, and, indeed, the distinctly human cadence of hand-lettering. These things, with their flaws and occasional rough edges, can move us deeply.
Something about imperfection draws us in. There is beauty in it--perhaps, it reminds us of ourselves. And that is why I believe wholly that the handmade object will never fall wayside to trivial (albeit useful) inventions like the e-vite.