I'm reminded as I work today of the many courses I took there during the five years
I called Toronto home.
I recall at the core, CBBAG was a very serious group. I often sat with librarians, who were there to learn book structure, not really the craft. Sometimes I found it tedious to sit through the lessons, which were detailed and academic. At the time there were a prescribed set of courses a student had to take in order to advance through the levels. At the outset of my instruction, I remember that all I really ever wanted to do was learn to make a 'box', best covered in leather. If I remember correctly, back then, a student had to advance to level 3 before they could enroll in the 'box' class. What I learned by eventually taking the class, was that it was really was a book 'enclosure' class. I learned a lot as I progressed. I'm not sure how much I retained about book structure, but the discipline, patience and appreciation for precision I gained in those courses has stayed with me.
What I learned about the tools and process used in bookbinding has been invaluable. I duplicated the provided tool kit and developed expertise using them over the years. I found the principles that were taught, not only apply to bookbinding, but to many other creative disciplines.
Today I was thinking of one final class I took with Betsy Palmer Eldridge, in the basement of her grand old home in downtown Toronto. I had finally accrued enough credit to enroll in her Leather Bindings course just before I moved back to Michigan. Betsy is an esteemed Master Bookbinder, in the German Tradition, and VERY serious about teaching her craft.
I felt, once again, over my head, as I was just there to learn a few things about working with leather…….
and was more than a bit intimidated by her VERY thorough and academic approach to tooling leather for bookbinding.
But the one thing I learned from Betsy that I recall today as I set about hand stitching the second of two drapery panels for my front window…….