Daniel E. Kelm. American, 1951–
Text by Stanley Morison. Cast, molded, and onlaid goatskin leather, cast silicone rubber, torn and onlaid Moriki paper, silk and linen thread, and leather binding. Collection of Shelagh Smith. Photographs by Daniel E. Kelm.

Four Centuries of Fine Printing

When Kelm moved to the Pioneer Valley in 1982, he first worked for David Bourbeau at the Thistle Bindery on Union Street in Easthampton. The first binding project he participated in at the Thistle Bindery was the portfolio Cetacea for the Cheloniidae Press. The portfolio case for Cetacea featured low-relief sculptural elements cast in resin and covered with tooled leather.

During the 1980s there was disagreement among book artists as to the appropriateness of sculptural bindings on fine press books. Some artists were against the inclusion of three-dimensional elements because they felt that such a treatment created a hybrid that was neither a book nor sculpture. Kelm believed otherwise. Four Centuries of Fine Printing is one of the earliest examples of Kelm’s desire to create bindings with a strong sculptural presence. This binding was commissioned by Shelagh Smith, founder of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild and her husband, Franklin, a book publisher, who were early supporters of Kelm’s work.

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