Karen Hanmer – The Versatile Simplified Binding (Interview)

Karen Hanmer – The Versatile Simplified Binding

  1. What draws you to historical bindings?

I became interested in studying historical bindings to better understand the engineering aspects of binding: what features are necessary for the structure to function and which are more aesthetic. I’m also interested in the evolution of materials and techniques over time, some because of technological advances in the materials themselves, others to save time (=saving money). Later I began to appreciate that I am working in a craft with a very long tradition and when I make a book I am making the same gestures, and often using the same tools and materials as my colleagues from centuries ago.

  1. What do you especially like about the Simplified binding?

 The Simplified Binding and its German cousin the Bradel Binding have the elegance of a full leather binding, but can be executed in a fraction of the time. Since the book is made of three components that are covered separately (two boards and a spine wrapper), multiple complementary and contrasting materials, textures, colors, patterns can be used to cover one binding. The material used to cover the boards does not need to be as flexible as that covering the spine, also opening up a vast range of possibilities.

  1. Is there anything else you would like to say about this binding style?

Because each component is made separately and attached to the book after all the forwarding (sewing, rounding edge decoration, spine lining) is complete, it is possible to start over with new boards or a new leather spine without having to prepare a new text block. Very handy if you find a way to improve your design or need to correct an error.