Forty Hours With Donald Glaister at SF Center for the Book

A guest post by SFCB Instructor, donor and Board Member – Mary Laird.

Five Days with Don Glaister at SFCB 2013
For me, it was a dream come true – any kind of a class with Don Glaister (Master Bookbinder),here in San Francisco, at the Center for the Book, where I have the privilege to teach letterpress printing.

Hand Bookbinders of California

Donald Glaister teaching weeklong workshop at the San Francisco Center for the Book

I could barely believe my good fortune! Seven of us~ Ellen Bauch, Jennifer Chapman, Leanne Bakkemo, Georgette Freeman, Coleen Curry, Daniel  Tucker and me – together for 40 hours, confecting  a leather drop spine (and bass wood at that) box making class in the newly purchased  SFCB building at 375 Rhode Island Street in San Francisco.

SF Center for the Book

Donald Glaister at the San Francisco Center for the Book

The eight leathers I hauled in were a curious range of sheep that we speculated someone may have spray painted – definitely not dyed. Uh oh. I had a lot to learn. Fortunately at least one of them was goat, and looked half way decent. Unfortunately it was not the color I had chosen for my box, nor to go with the ultra suede I had purchased to lay down in the trays. No matter. Don was gentle but firm, this was the skin I would spend my time skiving. Yes, it was too thick. I had received instructions from Deb, but need to learn to read the micrometer with more accuracy.

SF Center for the Book

San Francisco Center for the Book in association with the American Academy of Bookbinding and the Hand Bookbinders of California Workshop

And I had not used my Sharfix in five years. A recipe for patience. I don’t confess these things easily, but more in the interest to laud Don’s patience, skill, humor and interest in everyone in the class. And to thank the rest of the class for my steep learning curve. Georgette Freeman brought her roll of PMA, positionable mounting adhesive from 3 M to use with the ultra suede. Coleen Curry was thrilled because this meant new freedom from PVA .

San Francico Center for the Book

Students learning to make a leather drop spine box at the San Francisco Center for the Book

What was shared for learning possibilities?
How to see
How to hold the leather
How to be gentle with the leather
How to slowly move the leather through the Sharfix
How the evenness of light coming through the Sharfix informs you about the exact position of the blade
How to sharpen the paring knife.
What blades to buy
The possibility of Work Sharp automatic tool sharpening magic machine
How to use the rasp
How to make microwave paste
How to make invisible leather corners with the sheerest of parings pasted over the corner
How to make a bass wood half rounded spine
How to make a box to fit whatever you want to put into it.
The importance of keeping your tools sharp.  And being careful with them for their and your good fortunes.
Tools! People brought amazing tools: Stik-it sandpaper  blocks, plier -handled tweezers, specially shaped bones, hollow aluminum  3 inch long whatsits from Home depot to put in trays for pressing them in the nipping press.
Lest I forget, Don did a slide presentation on his unique book dedicated to his brother in law, about Voyageur, journeying through space and non space, in the most amazing display of line and color and emotion. Truly it brought one to tears just listening to him.
I hated to see the week end.
Xoxoox mary risala laird mary 2013

Post script. I finished the project two weeks later, at home. I am quite sure Don would have had some refining comments to make my journey to the finish line easier, but his guidance in absentia did the trick. I highly recommend you all take this and any class he has to offer, and that SFCB gets him back here in the spring of 2014 for at least two weeks of class!

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The San Francisco Center for the Book

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