3/01/2015

Galanthus and other Gallivantings


Earlier in February we visited The John Rylands Library in Manchester to see The Tregaskis Collection- a unique collection of beautiful bindings. The collection forms two parts - the first comprises of 73 copies of the Kelmscott Press’s Tale of King Florus and the Fair Jehane (1893). The books were bound by the most important binders of the day from all around the world and were commissioned by the booksellers James and Mary Lee Tregaskis. We were shown around the library by John Hodgson who is the keeper of manuscripts and archives at the library. We were allowed to pick up the books and inspect the contents and to take photographs.


With so many exquisite bindings to choose from, it is hard to know where to start. I was immediately drawn to the embroidered bindings. Walter Crane designed one of the bindings, which was embroidered by his wife. 


We marveled at the tiny stitches in this silk embroidery on the Japanese binding.



The second part of the collection was a centenary celebration of bookbindings commissioned by The Designer Bookbinders. This time over eighty copies of The Folio Society edition of Andrew Marvell’s The Garden and Other Poems illustrated by Harry Brockway was the chosen book. I particularly loved the tiny wood engravings and marveled at the artistry of both the illustrator and the binders.



Some of our party are fellows of The Designer Bookbinders and had bound some of the books on display. The photograph shows Paul Delrue holding the copy he bound; he had incorporated small strips of marbled paper in the binding in order to allow the book to open flat, see above. Paul has a website here- 


It was also very poignant to see the work of David Sellars on show. David had been a member of our group and had recently died. He left an amazing legacy of work and so his spirit will live on in his bindings. You can see more of his work here-

We also had the opportunity to see The Anthony Dowd Collection of modern British bookbinding’s. A book of patterned papers fascinated me, especially the decorative papers by Ravilious.


Later in the month I had a special little helper join my “studio” (a.k.a. dining room)
Our grandson was on half term and came for a visit. We enjoyed showing him nearby Little Moreton Hall, I think he enjoyed running around the garden best of all.

We also celebrated the first birthday of our granddaughter, how time flies.


I managed to do a little work in the midst of all this gallivanting, some Christmas themed commissions for greeting cards and also I made a start on some new prints.
The tiny wood engraving has yet to be printed. I am frustrated by my lack of engraving skills and can never manage to achieve what is in my head.



 The green vinyl is an alternative to lino, it cuts nicely; this is my first attempt which was inspired by one of the illustrations I did for “Can it be True?” I am still waiting for the opportunity to print it.


  Later in the month a very dear friend came to visit and we went to Rode Hall to see the Snowdrop Walk. This private house was once host to Walter Crane who often stayed as a guest. Whilst there he painted the family pets and the lake. Rode Hall is close to the potteries and I believe Walter Crane was introduced to important ceramic manufacturers resulting in his designs being used in their decoration. Apart from the wonderful gardens Rode Hall has an important collection of art, books and ceramics.


Before we returned home we bought some snowdrops to plant and some kitchen garden produce - six new laid eggs in such pretty colours it was a shame to eat them. The sky blue one was a treat!


17 comments:

  1. Such a fascinating post. Looked up Little Moreton Hall and found it all most interesting.
    Loved your tiny block print.
    The grandchildren seem to be growing apace which is lovely.
    All best wishes from snowy NY.

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    1. I am sure you would love Little Moreton Hall, it is full of atmosphere. Grandchildren do grow at an alarming pace don't they? I hope the snow soon departs, I am sure you must be weary of it by now. x

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  2. The books are beautiful, Valerie what a wonderful visit you had. Lovely to see Little Moreton and Rode Hall - so glad you saw plenty of snowdrops. I didn't know about the Walter Crane connection so I've learned something new today:)

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    1. Thanks Rosie, yes the snowdrops lasted and I think we picked a good day.

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  3. It always works wonder, a paintbrush, paints and a pot of water. I was looking at all the crayons too, a lucky boy spending time with you.
    Beautiful books, we can only imagine the time spent stitching the amazing decoration for the cover.
    I did a little wood engraving at college, brought it back seeing the tools. i am sure they will both make lovely prints.

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    1. Milly, your book of drawings would not be out of place in that collection.

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  4. so many treasures abound in this post...i love your little bee skep engraving and the little bunny. That building looks so intriguing as well! We used to have Auracana hens whom laid all colours of eggs like the ones you brought home...we called them the Easter Bunny chickens.

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    1. Lovely to see you back Kerry! Yes, the eggs must have been laid by the same Easter bunny! x

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  5. I'm loving your pictures of Rode ... one of my favourite gardens. I didn't know about the Walter Crane connection though.

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    1. I only know about the Walter Crane collection from my friend Julie who wrote a book about the ceramic collection.

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  6. Val, this post has interested me on so, so many levels.

    Your reportins on the bookbinding visit intrigued me with the treasures you all were able to see, the wonderfully talented folks in your group, your tribute to your late colleague. And more. When I read posts like this, I truly do feel the trivial nature of what occupies much of my waking hours in this very commercially driven city.

    Moving on.

    How marvelous for your little grandchild to learn from you. Precious hours now, invaluable memories created.

    It is so interesting to see your use of this new printing medium. Please do give us a follow up. I know that you are also quite fluent in pixils etc., but it's really wonderful to see what your hand and eyes are making.

    xo

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  7. Frances, I am sure there is nothing trivial about your life in NYC. I envy your location and the proximity to central Park and The Met. x

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  8. These bindings are exquisite Valerie - I can imagine that with your interest and expertise the whole thing was a joy to you. The other visit with all those galanthus is also a joy - there is nothing more beautiful than a great mass of snowdrops. I think that planting them and then allowing them to wander at will does eventually produce such a show.

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  9. The library visit was a joy indeed. The snowdrops were amazing, great drifts of them. I planted six so have something of a wait.!

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  10. Valerie, It would be so exciting to study and handle such incredible books. Our Museum once had an exhibit of Illuminated books and manuscripts; we could not touch them, but they were quite amazing to see. I was lucky to find another of your books on Amazon " A book Of Days". The date written inside was 1988. Valerie, I am always so humbled by your marvelous sense of design and the beauty of your paintings. I am so happy to have found this little book! Jeri

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    1. Jeri, that little book was painted when my first born was having his afternoon naps, he is now 33!
      Thank you for your kind words, I too am humbled by your amazing accomplishments.

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  11. Wow, wow and wow about those beautiful books.

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