Bindings

One view of the exhibit at BookWorks, with the amazing book-beetle in the foreground.

I fell into time in Asheville, and tried not to come up for air.
Whiling away some hours before my reading at Posana CafĂ©, I visited a few of the galleries and workshops of the RiverArts district and then crossed the French Broad River to West Asheville in search of the “Time Travelers Exhibition” at BookWorks Gallery.
This was an elegant small exhibit featuring handmade book bindings in traditional styles – new bindings of old books, revisited old forms in new materials, a feast for the eyes and the mind of a bibliophile. 
I saw Coptic bindings and Gothic bindings, techniques from the Middle East and the Far East.My favorite was a giant beetle (pictured), a blown-up recreation of the creature whose larvae, tunneling under tree bark, supposedly gave rise to the Coptic alphabet. In the middle of its back was a tiny doorway, and inside that space, a miniature book.
I’m a former newspaper reporter and editor, and before that was fascinated with paper and printing. As enchanting as the gallery was, it was just a tithe of the space devoted to bookbinding, papermaking, and printmaking. I wandered through cases of type, copperplate engravings, presses large and small, and the enchanting aroma of ink and paper. I recommend the experience highly… better yet, sign up for a class and learn to make this magic yourself.
BookWorks is a community resource for print and book arts, offering classes, exhibits, lectures, and annual events like BookOpolis and Edible Book Festival. It’s located at 428 1/2 Haywood Road, West Asheville, NC.  The Time Travelers Exhibition is now on display from 1-5 p.m. weekdays and 1-4 on Saturdays. If you’re not visiting Asheville, you can still drop by the exhibit online. For more information, call 828.255.8444 or email to info@ashevillebookworks.com

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