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The April display at Heterick Memorial Library features work from the A&D book arts course

April—This month, the Heterick Memorial Library at Ohio Northern University displayed several beautiful handmade books created in an extradisciplinary course offered by the department of art & design.

Taught by Prof. Melissa Eddings, the Archaeology of the Book course began with a brief survey of book history and how it evolved over time to the structure we are familiar with today. “Students were asked to think about what makes a book a book?,” explained Prof. Eddings. “What is the function of a book? Does the structure/binding define the book or vice versa?

“Students then made their own paper which they folded into signatures for their text block. The historic model we focused on was a 14th century gothic-style Medieval book. After the paper was made, they began work on the wood (oak) covers. Sewing holes were drilled and the boards were shaped in the same manner as gothic-style Medieval books were shaped: rounded edges along the head, tail, and spine, and chamfered toward the fore edge of the book. Students then had the option of painting and distressing their covers to artificially “age” the books. Several layers of milk paint were applied and then burnished with steel wool. Once the desired effects were achieved, the covers were coated with wax (shoe polish) and buffed.”

The sewing was a Coptic variation which involved attaching the boards to the text block as the spine is sewn. “A link chain stitch was used which created a beautiful braided chain across the spine,” said Prof. Eddings. “Historically, the spine would have been covered with leather, hiding the intricate sewing. The spine was left exposed to showcase the sewing pattern.

“Once both covers were attached, the end bands were sewn. End bands were found at the head and tail of the spine of books. Many contemporary hardcover books have end bands, but these are applied as decoration and don’t act as a structural component the way hand sewn end bands did centuries earlier.”

The books and the materials used to make them are on display in the Heterick Library on the first floor through April 24, 2014. In addition, library books related to book art and bookbinding are also on display next to the exhibit and are available for checkout.

Originally designated as the School of Fine Arts and later the College of Fine Arts, the art & design program was first established as an independent academic unit at Ohio Northern in 1878, largely as an outgrowth of course work in engineering and architectural drawing. Today, Ohio Northern offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts with concentrations in two-dimensional, three-dimensional and pre-art therapy. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education, AIGA: The Professional Association for Design, and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the second and third editions of “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design or the University’s 2013–14 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.