A book is the result of decisions made by the bookbinder:
- Who is the intended audience?
- How will it be used?
- How durable does it need to be?
The answers to these questions will determine what materials should be used to make the book, and how it will be constructed.
Traditionally, books were made from animal materials (leather, vellum, parchment) and plant materials (cotton fibers, wood). Religious and devotional books, when commissioned by wealthy patrons, were often small in size and lavishly decorated with expensive materials. Books intended for university or church libraries could be more utilitarian in appearance, with an emphasis on durable materials rather than aesthetics.
Contemporary book artists need to make the same decisions that bookbinders of the past made. In addition to traditional materials they have a variety of modern materials to choose from. Tyvek, a plastic material that is used to wrap houses during construction, can be used to create a spine that is sturdy and won’t tear. It can also be colored with acrylic paint, another type of plastic, to resemble leather or fabric.
Whether they use traditional materials or more modern ones, book artists thoughtfully consider the physical experience of reading the book when making their design decisions.
Form Follows Function will be in the front gallery from February 27 – May 7, 2017.