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The Montefiascone Conservation Project- Summer Programme 2015

When: 27th July- 31st August 2015
Where: Montefiascone, Italy
Cost: £445 GBP p/week

2015 is the 500th anniversary of the death of Aldus Manutius, an Italian humanist scholar and printer who founded the Aldine Press in Venice. This also coincides with 25 years of the conservation project in Montefiascone.

To mark both of these events two courses this year focus on this period. As well, we plan to host an exhibition and evening seminar on the Wednesday of week 3, 12th August. More information will be posted on Facebook closer to the time.

For those in the area at the time, current and past participants, please come and join the fun and festivities. However, please do let us know if you do plan to come, so we have the right amount of Prosecco!

The Courses

Re-creating the Medieval Palette

Course Tutor: Cheryl Porter

This class will study the colours (made from rocks, minerals, metals, insects and plants) that were processed to produce the colours used by artists throughout the medieval era. The focus will mostly (though not exclusively) be on manuscript art (Islamic and European) and participants will re-create the colours using original recipes. Illustrated lectures will address the history, geography, chemistry, iconography and conservation issues. Practical making and painting sessions will follow these lectures.

3-7 August 2015

Italian Stiff-Board Vellum Binding with Slotted Spine

Course Tutors: Scott W. Devine and Tonia Grafakos

This course will explore the use of parchment as a covering material for stiff-board bindings. Participants will recreate a vellum over boards binding of Hesiod’s Works and Days printed by Bartolomeo Zanetti in Venice in 1537. This style of binding was used in Venice c. 1490 – 1670 and often characterized by the use of recycled vellum manuscripts applied flesh side out. The binding features sewing supports covered with alum tawed patches; the vellum over the patches is cut away, creating small slots which allow for greater flexibility in opening. Additional structural features, including transverse spine linings and a wide fore edge turn-in, help to balance the tension of the vellum on the boards and limit warping.

Drawing on their recent study of similar bindings at the New York Public Library, the Newberry Library and the University of Chicago, course tutors will discuss how this binding style evolved and eventually fell out of use, providing an interesting case study of the economics and aesthetics of 16th and early 17th century Venetian book production.

Some knowledge and experience of bookbinding or book history would be useful, but is not essential. All materials will be supplied at a nominal cost. Participants will need to bring basic bookbinding tools. The tutors will contact prospective students well in advance of the class with suggested readings and a list of recommended tools.

10-14 August 2015

The Rylands Fountainebleau Aldine

Course Tutors:  Caroline Checkley-Scott, Stefania Signorello and Julianne Simpson

The publishing legacy of the Aldine press includes scholarly editions of classical authors, the introduction of italic type, and the development of books in small formats that were read much like modern paperbacks. The smaller pocket books may have been less expensive, but they could still be made luxurious with decoration added by hand and bindings embellished with gold. They quickly became popular and were collected throughout Europe by scholars, aristocrats and kings. Special copies were also produced, printed on parchment instead of paper.

This class will focus on a copy of an edition of the Greek poet Oppian, published in 1517, bound by the Royal Binder for Henri II King of France and part of the Royal Library at Fontainebleau. Bound in full leather in the alla Greca style, a wooden boarded, Western /Greek style binding with claps and bosses, with gold finishing and hand painting, it is a complex book that would ordinarily take many weeks and a high level of binding skill to complete. We will complete a beautiful book with many of the features, in the 5 half days (some may be longer!), with full explanations, through a series of talks, of how the original would have been made. *Please note on this occasion due to time restraints it will not be a complete replica.

Those with more advanced skills may achieve results closer to the replica. All materials can be supplied at cost.Some previous binding skill is advantageous, but even those without, will finish with a wonderful book. Follow our blog

The book  is currently on display at the John Rylands Manchester in the Merchants of Print exhibition.

17th – 21st August 2015

An early Islamic binding

Course Tutor: Kristine Rose and Alison Ohta

This course will focus on a small 9th century Abbasid Qurʼan from Cambridge University Library in an early historic binding.

There are relatively few early Islamic bindings extant, fewer still that remain intact and attached to their textblock. This manuscript provides the evidence and opportunity to explore the structure and materials of a codex which is probably from the third century A.H. / ninth century C.E.

Participants will make a model of the structure, paying particular attention to the significant properties of the spine lining, board attachment and endbands, before undertaking the raised cord work decoration. This technique is found in contemporary binding examples across both North Africa and northern Europe.

The influence of Coptic binding traditions and the transmission of binding techniques during this period will be discussed.


The cost of the classes are £445 ( sterling) per week. Participants may sign up for 1,2 3 or all four weeks. All classes are in English and prices include tuition and many of the materials. To enrol, or for further information, please contact Cheryl Porter on More information can be found on the Montefiascone Facebook page.

For further information visit the project website here

The above content was sourced from
The cover image used (as appears on Heritage Portal's homepage) was sourced via Flickr and can be viewed here


SUBMITTED BY: admin admin AUTHOR: The Montefiacone Conservation ProjectORIGINAL PUBLISHED DATE: 2/16/2015


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