Thursday, July 04, 2013

Guest blogger Ann Poe, on paring leather with Jeff Altepeter

Ann Poe is a retired editor who happily continues to explore book and paper arts. This was her fourth time attending PBI and she very kindly offered to do a review of one of her classes for my blog. She had the great fortune of taking a leather class with Jeff Altepeter (I really wanted to be in this class; however, they won't let me take them all!). Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Ann!

This was primarily a technique class about working with leather. We learned the differences among animal skins, how the skins are affected by finishing processes and dyes, why one skin can have different properties, and more. Jeff provided a wide variety of leathers for students to use for practice. Some skins were thin, moist, smooth, and easy to use; others were dense, dry, stretchy, wrinkly, and considerably more challenging to use.

We pared leather with the Schärf-Fix – a must-have tool for every bookbinder. Jeff demonstrated many tips and tricks as we learned to pare a large piece entirely, edge pare German style, back pare, pare onlays, determine thickness with a micrometer, and more.

Jeff and the Schärf-Fix

And then we moved on to paring with knives. He showed us the most useful blade shapes, how to use each one to pare and bevel, and again we were able to practice on a variety of leathers. For those who were interested, Jeff gave an invaluable demo on sharpening knives.

Some of the plaquettes made in this class

We made leather-covered plaquettes. These were excellent models for practicing new techniques with glue and paste, including how to apply paste, how to adhere leather to bookboard, and of course, how to cover corners. We also practiced onlays, including how to make a raised, tooled edge onlay, and how to get a colored, tooled, curved line onto leather.

So that students could concentrate on leather covering techniques, Jeff provided a textblock for each student. (Thirty textblocks later, surely he deserves a medal!)

One of the 30 textblocks,
with covers and leather spine

We added covers, using leather to cover the spine and form a proper headcap over the headband.

I really enjoyed this class. It's always exciting to discover a new lode of information – and this class was a gold mine!

- Ann Poe

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