Book art – the manipulation, recycling, up-cycling, embellishing, cutting, folding, sculpting, stitching, or myriad-other-things done to books (especially to old books) in the quest of creativity – is pretty popular today.
While some of the things paper artists do with old books are amazing, enchanting, and incredibly artistic – like these book-cut sculptures by Sue Blackwell – most of the creative approaches that require the destruction of a book don’t thrill me all that much. I chalk it up to years of teaching literature and an almost fanatical fondness for books as books.
So although stitching on pages of books is not something I’d normally consider enticing, there are definitely exceptions. This particular exception is fascinating – especially because it is a work of restoration.
Stitching on the pages of a book is apparently not a new thing.
At the Uppsala (Sweden) University Library webpage, you can find an article about a medieval manuscript (14th century) that was repaired with colored silks and embroidery stitches, specifically buttonhole stitch.
If you haven’t read the article yet or seen images of the book with its parchment pages repaired with embroidery, do go look and have a read!
There’s some interesting information in the article about the way the book was repaired and how the manuscript has been recently restored to avoid further deterioration of the black silk thread, which has rotted away. Most interesting to me was the discussion of why the black silk didn’t stand the test of time although the other colors – many quite vibrant – did.
It’s not a long article, but it’s an interesting article. Definitely worth visiting the Uppsala University website to read, especially for those interested in medieval art, manuscripts, historical embroidery, silk, thread dyeing techniques, and the like.