23. Book Illustration to 1880 (Session I)

Terry Belanger
(The course was offered twice in RBS 1994; this is the evaluation of the first 1994 session)

The identification of illustration processes and techniques, including woodcut, etching, engraving, stipple, aquatint, mezzotint, lithography, wood engraving, steel engraving, process relief, collotype, and photogravure. The course will be taught from the extensive Book Arts Press files of examples of illustration processes. As part of the course, students will make their own etchings, drypoints, and relief cuts in supervised laboratory sessions. Offered again in Week 3.

I. How useful were the pre-course readings?

1: The readings were very useful. The books were tough to locate -- I had to special order them plus pay a service charge. BG cost nearly $60. The other was $40. 2: Very useful. The Mayor text was a bit tedious, but apparently no superior history of illustration exists. 3: They were helpful and should be continued. Yes, it helps to get them on time. My own acceptance into the course took two weeks from the date of the letter to its receipt. There were eight days between typing and postmark. 4: I read half of one book and all of Gascoigne. I had trouble visualizing processes in Gascoigne. Now I want to read it again, because that will not be a problem. Gascoigne was immediately useful; the other at least helped me a bit with names. 5: Very useful. None of the terminology was totally new and the course used the same organization as the text. 6: I think Gascoigne will be a revelation after this course instead of the more bewildering book I found it to be before being exposed to the materials here. I found what I read of Mayor to be very interesting and useful in conjunction with Gascoigne. 7: Gascoigne will make far more sense after the course, but I'm very glad I read in it before -- it provided an initial framework to support course work. 8: Gascoigne was excellent at providing background for the course. 10: Not necessary to read the book in its entirety. 11: Very good. 12: Gascoigne was very useful. Mayor is less useful as a preparatory text, but I'll go back to it now. 13: Useful as an introduction, although they did not prepare me for the intensity of the course. 14: Excellent.

II.Was your faculty member well-prepared to teach THIS course?

1: Yes -- he was wonderful! A superb source of knowledge and experience. 2: Absolutely. 3-4: Yes. 5: It certainly seemed so. 6: Incredibly so. 7: Absolutely -- both in terms of knowing the material and knowing how to manage the presentation of a daunting amount of material -- intellectual and physical (ideas and prints). 8: Yes, very well prepared, highly detailed knowledge of the topic. 9: Yes! Very much so! 10: Very. 11: Exceptionally well. 12: Exceptionally so. 13: Yes! 14: Too well prepared.

III. Was the intellectual level of the course content appropriate?

1-6: Yes. 7: Yes -- no unwarranted assumptions, and no oversimplifications -- challenging but manageable. 8-10: Yes. 11: Yes -- terrific introduction to the subject. 12: Yes. 13: Yes! 14: Yes.

IV. Did the actual course content correspond to its RBS brochure description and Expanded Course Description? Did the course in general meet your expectations?

1: Yes. The course went beyond my expectations. I cannot wait to conduct more outside research and bring my new-found knowledge home to the work place. 2: Yes. I was pleased that it concentrated on process and identification, but historical aspects were by no means ignored. I found the balance very satisfactory. 3: Yes -- absolutely. 4: Yes. Surpassed my expectations. I certainly did not expect it to be such fun! 5: The course more than met my expectations. I had not expected hands-on sessions nor labs, but was thoroughly pleased with both. This balance helped focus my attention and left no time for drowsiness or inattention. 6: This course went beyond my expectations, so much so that I wish it could've been several days longer. 7: Yes -- and expectations exceeded. 8: The course matched the course descriptions. It surpassed my expectations as to what could actually be examined and worked with in only one week. 9: Yes -- absolutely -- plus enjoyable! 10: Yes. Yes. 11-12: Yes. 13: More than met my expectations. 14: Yes. Yes.

V. What did you like best about the course?

1: 1) The instructor. He is a great teacher. I was so fortunate to attend this class, the best RBS course I have been to yet. 2) The examples shown in class were perfect and clarified the techniques described in the texts and lectures. 2: The incredibly rich collection of prints [in the BAP collection], particularly the files keyed to Gascoigne numbers. The opportunity to make and print linocuts, drypoints and etchings. The enthusiasm and knowledge of the instructor. I always felt that we were being given an abundance of everything -- course materials, opportunities to examine prints and to make them. 3: Well structured, well controlled. We covered a lot of territory in a short time. Good mix of hands-on stuff -- handling actual prints, trying out techniques, and theory. 4: The labs were excellent and enjoyable. They provided a good break from looking at prints. My eyes were rather tired, but the labs gave them a rest and were most useful in understanding processes. Could we do a lithograph (on zinc, of course) next time? 5: Very hard to say, but I guess it was all the well-prepared examples. Working with actual prints is very effective. 6: I was especially pleased with the actual production of images. I always like to know how a thing is accomplished. I liked having so many examples of images to pore over. I was especially impressed when our instructor clearly stated that he didn't know something and then recommended a source where I could find the information myself -- such an occurrence lowers the intimidation level. I am extremely happy with this course and I hope I'll be able to take Part 2 next year and other courses in years to come. 7: The stuff -- readings and lectures are necessary and useful things, but the opportunity to learn from actual examples held in hand is unbeatable. 8: The hands-on experience with equipment and processes which I had only been able to read about before taking the course. 9: Opportunity to do hands-on evaluation of various types of prints. 10: Immersion in prints -- all types. Hands-on experiences. ``Study'' time. 11: Using actual printed examples. Doing the actual processes greatly increased my understanding. 12: 1) The labs were very well organized, fun, useful, and illuminating. 2) We were able to look closely at hundreds of prints. TB's system of distribution works beautifully. 3) TB explains things clearly, stays on the subject, stays on schedule, and communicates a wealth of information. 13: The large number of examples to view and the quick hands-on printing techniques; the latter were particularly helpful in giving me a good feeling for processes which I had only understood intellectually. 14: The multitude of physical examples. Comparison and contrast of different processes.

VI. How could the course have been improved?

1: Perhaps have a practicing engraver visit. The course truly is wonderful. A bit more room would be nice, but space is a precious commodity. 2: Some of the illustrations we were given to copy were a bit too complex. I would have been happier with a simpler image. 3: Not easily. 4: As in 5, above, if we could have done a planographic print, it would have been great. But there are likely technical problems I am unaware of. 5: With great difficulty. As an introductory course it attacks the subject vigorously and never lets up. I wish I could make some meaningful comments here, but the instructor has spent ten years polishing it and in five days the flaws are hard to see. 6: I like the studio space, but it is a bit cramped. 7: Since when a particular technique was common can be a useful clue in identifying a print, I would have appreciated a handout with an outline or time line of those dates. TB gave them, but I'm not sure they all made it into my notes. 8: Sometimes the room seemed cramped or difficult to work in. 9: No comments. 10: Slightly slower pace at beginning? Time in class for review of material covered in previous session. Possibly some team work in identifying prints -- eg, groups of two or three, with reports back to the group as a whole. 11: I wouldn't mind a quiz at the end to see how much was actually learned (I suspect quite a bit). Sacrifice one study period for a paper overview. One-page crib sheet of differences -- white dots/black sea, etc. 12: I'm not sure the diagnostic test was useful to me. I already knew I didn't know enough when I started the course -- that's why I took it. 13: Could have used two weeks in order to begin digesting all the information. Can we take the course again? It might be nice to have a checklist of the prints shown, with enough room for notes. 14: Proportionately more hours given to photo processes and to comparison and contrast of different processes.

VII. Any final thoughts?

1: If you have the chance to attend -- please do it. The experience and instruction is so worthwhile. RBS is a must for those in the profession and any individual who loves books. 2: Don't fail to read Gascoigne. 4: Bring your lamp, especially if you stay on The Lawn! 5: Don't hesitate to enroll. 7: This is a terrific experience -- take the course! I can't imagine this course without the practical experience of making blocks and plates and then printing them -- you gain a much deeper understanding of why a print looks as it does when you know from experience how it was made. 8: Read the text book (Gascoigne), even if your obligations give you ``no time'' to prepare for the course. The preparation for understanding all you cover in the week is well worth the extra effort. 9: Professional level of students is very high. I found that after hours and luncheon periods were excellent for networking, but more important, for the exchange of thoughts about the material being discussed. EXCELLENT EXPERIENCE. Hope to return in '95. 12: Take it. 13: An unbelievably valuable experience and good fun. Come well rested. I would certainly recommend this course to anyone who asked. 14: Memorize the text before coming to Charlottesville.

Number of respondents: 14


Leave    Tuition        Housing        Travel

Institution     Institution    Institution    Institution
gave me leave   paid tuition   paid housing   paid travel

64%             57%            33%            36%

I took vaca-    I paid tui-    I paid for my  I paid my own
tion time       tion myself    own housing    travel

7%              36%            60%            57%

N/A: self-      N/A: Self-     N/A: stayed    N/A: lived 
employed,       employed,      with friends   nearby
retired, or had retired, or    or lived at
summers off     exchange       home

29%             7%             7%             7%

Four students (29%) were rare book librarians; two students (14%) had a non-professionally-related interest in the subject; and one student (7% each) was an adult school administrator, an antiquarian bookseller, antique appraiser, a general librarian with some rare book duties, a general librarian with unspecified rare book duties, a museum employee, a researcher, and a teacher/professor.

23. Book Illustration to 1880 (Session II)

Terry Belanger
(The course was offered twice in RBS 1994; this is the evaluation of the second 1994 session.)

For a description of this course, see above. The first session of the course is aimed particularly at those whose background in print identification is weak. This session of the course is aimed particularly at those who have some background in print identification, but who would like further exposure to the subject, especially to developments after about 1860.

1. How useful were the pre-course readings?

1: The Gascoigne book was, is, and will continue to be, a superb resource. 2: Gascoigne was a tremendous help. 3: Essential. 4: How about Ivins's book, How prints look -- it's shorter. I did not have the opportunity to look at Gascoigne ahead of time because there were no copies I could check out of my library. The third HUGE book is too HUGE, in my humble opinion -- maybe better to put it on the reading list. 5: I could not find Gascoigne before I came; I would have found the course much easier to understand had I been able to study the book first. The importance of Gascoigne should be stressed in the course description. Further suggestion: could New-comb Hall be induced to keep some copies in stock for residents of this course? 6: They were very useful. 7: They were a good start. 8: Extremely. 9: Very helpful. 10: Useful, but I didn't use. 11: Excellent. You should stress that one should really read Gascoigne before coming (I did -- mostly). 12: The readings were somewhat helpful, but a bit confusing without the many examples we were able to peruse during the course. I look forward to reexamining the readings and will no doubt get more out of them this time. 13: Very (I was familiar with the texts.)

2. Was your faculty member well-prepared to teach THIS course?

1: O, yes! 2: No.1. 3: Absolutely. 4: Yes, formidably so. 5: Magnificently. 6: Yes. 7: Indeed. 8: Yes. Perfectly. 9: Extremely. 10: Yes -- very experienced and a good, practical eye. 11: Awesomely so. His stories of how he acquired prints were instructive -- and a bit nostalgic, considering several places/people are no longer around. 12: Absolutely! 13: Absolutely.

3. Was the intellectual level of the course content appropriate?

1: Though a bit overwhelming in the moment, the course leaves one enthusiastic to study the subject. 2-4: Yes. 5: Yes, certainly. I wish I had had a bit more background, but that is not the fault of the course. 6-7: Yes. 8: For me, yes. Even challenging. 9: Yes. 10: Yes. Perhaps some attention could be given to the fine arts bias some of us will bring to the course -- ie, distinguishing between the pragmatics of book illustration (reproduction) and the envelope-pushing of artists (creation). 11: Yes. 12: Very much so. 13: Yes.

4. Did the actual course content correspond to its RBS brochure description and Expanded Course Description? Did the course in general meet your expectations?

1: Yes. Yes. 2-3: Yes. 4: Yes + yes. 5: Yes, and more. 6: Yes. 7: The content exceeded all my expectations. 8: Yes. Exceeded. 9: Yes, yes, and yes. Exceeded my expectations. I had no idea how in-depth and detailed our examination of actual prints would be. The Lab component was an added plus! 10: Yes -- yes. 11: It exceeded my expectations. I will be able to use what I have learned on Monday morning -- and the visual environment will now overwhelm me for a while as I analyze every thing. 12: The course not only met my ex- pectations, it exceeded them. 13: Yes. Yes.

5. What did you like best about the course?

1: Teaching prints with prints. Handling the examples was invaluable. 2: Hands-on experience in identifying prints. 3: Heavy exposure to original prints. Printmaking workshops. Instructor. 4: The chance to see a large number of prints. That we got through all the material. Printing exercises were fun and instructive. Provision for ``think time.'' 5: Too much of an embarrassment of riches to say. 6: The class discussions of the packets of prints. 7: I really liked the opportunity to examine carefully and closely such a great number and variety of prints with such an experienced instructor. 8: Hands-on approach -- both looking at prints and the labs where we made them (or made attempts at making them). 9: TB's wealth of knowledge; his willingness to answer questions and willingness to reexamine prints based on student suggestions. 10: Handling the prints -- great quantities. Also, the shy, retiring modesty of the instructor, an example for us all. 11: Looking at lots and lots and lots (and lots) of actual examples, instead of photolitho reproductions of them (as in Gascoigne). 12: The ability to see and closely examine examples of the various types of illustrations we discussed. Also, the hands-on aspects of creating dry-points, linoleum cuts, and etchings gave a better understanding of those processes. 13: The opportunity to look at and handle so much original material. The instructor's knowledge and sense of humor. I also enjoyed the print-making. It served pedagogical and amusement ends, as well as relieving what would have otherwise become an overwhelming intake of visual information.

6. How could the course have been improved?

2: While any course could be improved, this is an A1 course taught by the best. Just keep it up. 3: 1) My woodcut, at least, was rather detailed and took a long time to finish. The compassion function would have been performed in an hour or so. I would have preferred spending part of the time looking at more prints, studying, or (during lunch) networking. 2) More copies of certain kinds of prints to decrease the necessity to share. 4: It's just about perfect -- but we didn't cover rubber stamps! 5: For those of us (and I am sure I am not alone) who found all this information difficult to assimilate, it would have been helpful at the outset to have a chronological chart of the development of printing techniques. It is interesting to compare this course with ``Managing the Past,'' of which one wanted to have more hours per day; here it would have been impossible to take in more information. I wonder if the students might not retain more if the course were spread over two weeks. 6: By being a day or two longer. 7: I can't imagine. 8: In no way that I'm able to suggest. 10: A little more attention to technique -- how it's done -- as for many of us, this helps to under- stand the product. In fact, the course teaches technique directly (etching, linocut), so it wouldn't be counter to principle. 11: More time. Possibly an evening lab after one of the lectures? (This will let us test our prowess under the influence of wine, too.) 12: Within the limitations of the one-week format, it could not be improved. 13: Hard to say. I can't see how in the same time period. If there were more time, perhaps greater emphasis on publishing history and illustration processes (to have a firmer idea of which processes were used when and where, typically -- as an identification aid).

7. Any final thoughts?

2: Study before coming. 3: This (referring to RBS) is as near perfect as may be. One addition to the Vade mecum: Amtrak from DC is booked up weeks in advance. 4: Do not wear good clothes, especially to lab sessions. You might put this information in the course description (unless it's already there and I missed it) or in letters to the people accepted into the course. 5: Take it! Read Gascoigne at least twice ahead of time, though. 6: Read Gascoigne in advance, and bring him for your late evening reading. 8: None. 9: No. 10: Very worthwhile; gives a good grounding for further self-study. 11: As Mr Schwarzenegger said in The Terminator -- ``I'll be back.'' 13: Highly recommended.

Number of respondents: 13


Leave         Tuition        Housing        Travel

Institution   Institution    Institution    Institution
gave me leave paid tuition   paid housing   paid travel

62%           33%            38%            39%

I took vaca-  I paid tui-    I paid for my  I paid my own
tion time     tion myself    own housing    travel

23%           45%            55%            39%

N/A: self-    N/A: Self-     N/A: stayed    N/A: lived 
employed, re- employed,      with friends   nearby
tired, or     retired, or    or lived at
summers off   exchange       home

15%           15%            0%             15%

Grant from a Grant from a   Grant from a   
friend of    friend of      friend of
the Library  the Library    the Library

7%          7%             7%

Five students (40%) were rare book librarians; three students (25%) were general librarians with unspecified rare book duties; and one student (7% each) was an antiquarian bookseller, an archivist, an art historian, a library administrator, or a teacher/professor.