The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 7, Number 5
Nov 1983

Museum Holds Book Festival

The Fourth Annual Book Arts Festival, September 28- October 3, was held at the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe and funded by a grant from the Museum of New Mexico Foundation as well as contributions from about 40 other individuals and organizations. It included about 15 events, some of which went on for days, and was followed by lectures, exhibits and workshops that are still going

on. The events included juried shows, demonstrations, films, lectures, displays, book swaps, a juggling company and an early music ensemble. The people involved with the bookbinding part of it and appearing on the program are Alfredo de la Rosa, Priscilla Spitler, and (as a donor only) Virginia Gannon.

Priscilla A. Spitler responded to a request for information about the binding work that goes on at the Museum in the following letter:

"Thank you for your inquiry about our bindery and my position as binder of the Press of the Palace of the Governors, part of the Museum of New Mexico's History Bureau.... The press is a working exhibit of historic 19th century New Mexico presses reflecting the territorial period of the state when it became U.S. territory from Mexico in 1850. It was not until this time that printing was really developed in this area.

"Gathered together 12 years ago, the hand and foot operated presses at the shop have since been operated by printer Pamela S. Smith. First materials produced were historical reprints from the museum collection: newspapers, broadsides, notices and cards. Later Ms. Smith began printing numbered edition prints and, in 1981, her first limited edition book.

"The bindery was established in April of 1982 in response to the limited edition work then being produced at the press. It occupies a small corner of the print shop and too reflects 19th century techniques in the manner in which I was trained by Alfred J. Brazier and J. R. Mitchell at the London College of Printing, where I received my certificate in 1981. The primary function of the bindery is to do edition binding by hand of portfolios, pamphlets and books printed here.

"Binding styles used thus far on our editions have been case bindings with cloth and folding box portfolios in cloth. Upcoming will be an edition of 200 casebound books on 'Tales of the Mountainmen' in the vernacular with another small edition in quarter leather which will be proper bound. Archival papers are almost always used for our books. Binding adhesives are primarily hide glues, in some cases PVA adhesive, and paste for leather. The bindery is not set up for conservation work nor is it yet equipped for gold finishing.

"I am employed full time as binder but due, to the nature of printing a book by hand, there is a lapse in time between the actual binding executed here. During these periods, I assist the printer in typesetting, design, and some printing as well as lectures and demonstrations on printing history, since my original training has been in printmaking, including letterpress printing, from the California College of Arts and Crafts (BFA, 197S). In addition to the work produced here, for the past four years the press has been responsible for organizing the annual Book Arts Festival based at the Museum each fall."

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