Saturday, 26 September 2009

Don Antolín Palomino Olalla centenary.


This September we celebrate the centenary of the birth of the great bookbinder

Don Antolín Palomino Olalla.

He was one of the best bookbinders of our most recent past,
it will be enough with one of his works to be able to appreciate his virtuosity.

Book of hours or "Missale"

I met Don Antolín in his last years, which he spent in the security of his flaming workshop in the Handmade Printing of the Town hall of Madrid.

In a visit to him he presented to me his autobiography with a dedication that I have
recorded in my brain for more than twenty years,
hoping that some day should be fulfilled.

"To Antonio Vélez, great lover of the book and of the bookbinding, that with his firmness will become a great master. With affection of his good friend… Antolín Palomino"

The master enjoyed showing his irons and his works to anyone who asked for it.

Don Antolín enjoyed.
Enjoyed his work and enjoyed life.
He did not stop doing it for one moment.

I have preferred to include here this caricature rather than any photo,
because it is a portrait of his soul more faithful than any camera might take.

His cigarets, his works
and his satisfaction for living,
for living as a bookbinder.…
or simply for breathing.


Don Antolín painted papers.
Double reason to celebrate.
But, curious thing, he did not like exhibiting him in the making.
He hid himself behind a door that was carefully closed
and worked almost in darkness without allowing anybody to discover his secret.

Platero and Me

He painted paste papers.
According to what dictated to him his heart...
or the angels
as was believed by another great bookbinder, Don Emilio Brugalla, his friend.


¡Wow! A great bookbinder, one of the best, being a painter.
He could not do any more than art works,
without remedy,
his expert hand would not consent any less.


They say that Don Antolín was presenting his papers,
that he was presenting them without hesitation,
I wasn’t one of the lucky ones.

I cannot even realize how finished the request of one of
the more well-known international collectors, Tatiana Schmoller,
who wrote to him !in spanish! on February 24, 1973:

"Distinguido señor: soy coleccionista de papeles y estoy admirada de uno suyo.
(...) Espero su envío y Ud. pone el precio que quiera.

Salúdale con mucho agradecimiento...
Tatiana Schmoller"

"Distinguished Sir: I am a paper collector and I admire one of yours. (...) I wait for your mailing and you put the price that you want. I greet you with very much gratitude. Tatiana Schmoller"


When I read the titles with which he baptized them
I know that Don Antolín was very proud of them,
that they were a very special present which he was giving to his most close friends.


Contemplate them carefully.
Am I right or not?

The scholars to the violet

Each one is a work of art.

Valencian garden

Sea froth

The jungle’s book

The Greco


Lands of Castile


He was painting also marbled papers,
in his book “My painted papers”
he calls them “under the water”,
and although he does not describe his technique
he attributes to himself a special procedure that only he knows …

another one of his jokes.


A wonder of binding,
an artist of decorated papers and…
a great pleasure seeker.

All this was Don Antolín. And he continues being.
Because if life is a dream, how does not be death a dream?
The person who is remembered is still alive.
This centenary of the birth of Don Antolín
it’s a good occasion to know more of his work
and of his personality full of joviality and delight.

And to be with him another moment and to drink for life.
This way he will always continue with us.

¡To your health, master!


His books:
-Autobiografía, conocimientos y recuerdos sobre el arte de la encuadernación. Madrid,1986, Imprenta Artesanal del Ayuntamiento de Madrid.
- Mis papeles pintados. Madrid, 1990, Artes Gráficas Municipales.

To know more:
Aitor Quinney: Antolín Palomino Olalla, en el centenario de su nacimiento. Una semblanza biográfica al desuso. Encuadernación de Arte, Núm. 33, Madrid, 2009, AFEDA.

All the images proceed from the
Town hall of Madrid. Government Area of The Arts. Handmade printing.

The Missale, the dedication and the caricature belong to the book "Autobiography..." just as the letter of Mrs. Schmoller; the papers to "My painted papers"; and the photos of the irons belong to the records of the Handmade Printing, that conserve complete the collection of the master.
My gratitude to the Town hall of Madrid for giving permission for the publication on this page.


Thursday, 24 September 2009

Biennial world cup of art bookbinding at Saint-Rémy-lès-Chreveuses. 1: The spanish participation.


The tenth biennial world cup of binding of Art at Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse has had an excellent Spanish participation. 33 books, these are my accounts, of a whole of 353, almost 10 % of the presented bindings. But also they have gathered two awards, which speak by themselves of the quality of our representation.

The first award inter-schools, was granted to six bindings of the school of Beatriz Moreno.

And the second award of the General Council of Yvelines, granted toFrancisca Consuegra Ortega.

Perhaps the authors of these bookbindings might like to see how they were exhibited, in the center of the room, in upholstered tables, along with the rest of prize-winning bookbindings, which are shown in:

The rest of the Spanish participation was exhibited in two shelves that I show next, an exhibition of good taste and exceptional technical details.

Checking the catalog and comparing it with the pictures that I took I saw that five bookbindings were missed, they undoubtedly were exhibited very close, but my chronic absent-mindedness prevented me from photographing them. With the help of photoshop I completed the collection of the Spanish participation, and added entire a bookbinding that only by half I took with my camera.

We must understand this competition as a bookbinding’s feast, as says Mrs. Périssaguet, head of the biennial, in the catalog, nothing we know of the technical capacities or merely economic ones of every participant, of his possibilities. That's why each one of these bookbindings is a pleasure for the person who realized it, for having taken part; and a pleasure for the person who contemplates it, that verifies every day the absence of limits in bookbinding.

My congratulations to all the participants, and my best desires for this feast to be reproduced each time with better success.

Biennial world cup of art bookbinding at Saint-Rémy-lès-Chreveuses. 2: Dulce María Luna and her beginners.


Dulce María Luna is a well-known Mexican binder rewarded in one of the previous editions of the biennial. This year she also presented her work, a decoration based on the masks of the Greek theater, that one which smiles and the one that frowns, although she only exhibits, always, the first one of these faces.

She takes time developing a fantastic project to bring the binding over to the young people. In only one hour she is capable of achieving than up to fifty! 50¡, young people to complete a small agenda: their first bookbinding. At this tenth biennial she has been working with several groups of pleased youngsters.

When they come they will find everything prepared, a little "kit" will lead Dulce, always with her smile, to help them up to turning it into a beautiful book.

The first thing is to paint a few endleaves to adorn the interior. It is the first thing, because while they bind the book it passes the precise time to dry these papers.

The bookbinding "really" begins soon, with Dulce stand in a chair giving the explanations that must be followed with attention by the beginners.

It is necessary to be applied in the work.

Both girls and boys.

To arrive at the end to be all able to pose happy with their completed works.

There is not only a beautiful project what realizes Dulce with her children, because in addition to a few first basic bookbinding notions, she teaches them the love of working with their hands and the love for a well made work. Then it will come the time to begin the work so that they could open their books and read what it is written inside. It is the first step, complementary to many other first steps that must happen, to get that these children turn into intelligent persons and lovers of their fellows.

The love to the book is the love to many loves. The one who teaches this deserves everything our respect, admiration and help.

With a sweet smile, Dulce teaches bookbinding; a thousand smiles would I wish that bookbinding returns to her.

Biennial world cup of art bookbinding at Saint-Rémy-lès-Chreveuses. 3: Paper decorators.


When we open an ancient book the most frequent thing is that find it adorned with decorated papers as endleaves. Several different techniques were used to realize them, but there is something common to all of them: we do not know who his makers were, except in any exceptional cases.

Today everything changes quickly. We know the name of every artist who makes also decorated papers for bookbinding...

and we can even know them personally.

In the list of links on the left you can meet many of them, less than I should want, because I would like to have a link of all of them. But you must look up to find his photo, and some of them do not have it.
In the biennial, I could take these photos of the paper decorators who embellished the exhibitors' lounge that was celebrated owing to this occasion.

Brigitte Chardome,

you can admire her work in

Brigitte has developed a new technique for paper decoration, her turpentine papers have the whole delight that she possesses herself.

Marie-Anne Hamaide,

one of the marbled paper decorators more acquaintances in France,

Katalyn Perry, established in France and married with a Frenchman but Hungarian from Budapest, as my much loved Josef Halfer.

The silk work of Katalyn is...

! there are no words to describe it¡

And Marie Pignon, the newest face, because she has just begin her journey.

! Good luck, Marie¡

They are some visible faces of paper decoration at present. With luck I will be able to add more, I hope that I could add all.

I already said that it is a miracle to know only the name of the ancient paper decorators, and simply impossibly to meet them. But, with these photos, my admiration and respect goes for all of them. Without his work there might not be paper decoration at present. And without the work of people shown in this comment, as well as all other who devote themselves to this work, these techniques would not have any future as they are displaced today by the industrial production.

Fortunately we have the art work.

! Because we will always be able to hang on our home one of these wonderful papers¡