Treasures of the Modern Renaissance: A 1471 Girdle Book

A girdle book was a small and portable side1leather bound book that would have been carried in the middle ages and Renaissance by clergymen and nobles. These books are bound in leather and the cover extends below the edge of the book and tapers to a point where it is tied into a knot. This knot could be tucked into the belt or girdle of an individual and would leave the book hanging upside down and backwards. From this position the book could be lifted right side up and opened by the wearer for use. These books often contained liturgy or daily prayers and were popular from the 13th to the 16th century. Although hundreds of these books are represented in art of the time period, only 23 known girdle books survive to the present day.

This particular book is designed after a book dated to 1471 and owned by Hieronymus Kress. The artist, Jill Voss, started with paper and built the book from the inside out. First, pages were gathered and folded bookmaking3over into individual sections called quires. The quires were fastened with waxed linen thread and bound into a group with hemp cord. The cords were then pulled through holes in wooden cover boards and laced tightly together to form a book of pages between two wooden covers.

Once the excess cords were cut, the remaining holes were plugged with wood to create a smooth surface on the outside of the cover boards. The book was then fitted with a leather cover that was finished with a knot at its tapered end. Lastly, brass fittings were attached to hold down the leather at the corners, decorate the cover and create latches for the book to be properly closed. The artist used the technique of sand casting to cast the bronze fittings for the book.

About the Artist: Jill Voss

Jill Voss is a native Floridian. She openbookstudied at various Universities including Savannah College of Art and Design, University of Georgia, Cortona, Italy and graduated from Florida State University with a B.F.A specializing in papermaking and bookbinding. During her travels she has the opportunity to study at the Cartiera Magnani papermill and Istituto Centrale per la Patologia del Libro. This artist has participated in juried shows and museum displays such as Miami Beach Art Festival, Scholastic Art Awards and Diocesan Museum, Cortona. Jill currently teaches and displays medieval papermaking and bookbinding for the Society of Creative Anachronism (S.C.A.) where she has received the accolade of Laurel - Master of the Arts. She is known as Mistress Hyrrokin in the Society for Creative Anachronism.

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