Mindell Dubansky

Paper Talk
Paper Talk
Mindell Dubansky

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Mindell Dubansky is head of the Sherman Fairchild Center for Book Conservation, Watson Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she is Preservation Librarian and book conservator. She writes on the book arts, particularly in the areas of 19th century publisher’s bindings, hand papermaking, bookbinding, the history of book-shaped objects and American decorative paper arts. In 2016, Mindell had the first exhibition of her personal collection of 250 book-shaped objects at the Grolier Club in New York. She is currently working on another Grolier Club exhibition, to open in January 2023, about American decorative paper art from the 1960s through 2010, based on the Paper Legacy Project and collection that she recently created for the Watson Library.


Dubansky discovered Alice Cordelia Morse in 1997 in a storage room of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Department of Drawings and Prints. She went on to write a book, The Proper Decoration of Book Covers: The Life and Work of Alice C. Morse, which was published by the Grolier Club in conjunction with an exhibition of her own collection of Morse’s book covers and related materials. She also kept a blog about Morse and her work.

Blooks is the first book published on the subject of book-shaped objects. It is a catalog of an exhibition that took place at the Grolier Club in New York from January 28 through March 12, 2016. Dubansky wrote a blog highlighting stories and images of many of the her blooks.

We also talk about the Paper Legacy Project, an initiative to document the work of the most prominent modern American artists of decorative paper. You’ll find several interesting videos on this page, too.


Mindell Dubanksy’s recommendations:

  • For paper, the most important tool is the Teflon folder as it doesn’t mar the paper when rubbing like a bone folder does. Dubansky makes her own – she orders bar Teflon from a plastic store online and shapes it.
  • There are some handy scrapbooking tools: magnetic cutting mat.
  • Cropadile hand held corner rounders.
  • Dubansky’s other favorite little tool is repurposed old ash trays. She uses them as paste or glue dishes for small amounts of glue, as they are shallow, and you don’t waste adhesive and the grooves in the ash trays hold your brushes and keep them from rolling off the dish and onto the table or floor. They are really cheap in thrift shops.

Visit the Watson Library Website to learn more about Mindell Dubansky’s work.


Music featuring excerpts of Makin’ Paper folk song by Peter Thomas. Listen to the full song and find out about other paper and book arts folk songs.

Gary A. Hanson did the sound editing for this episode. He practices and refines his skills in audio production while making his own podcast I’ll Have a Beer and Talk, a show about tech news, culture, weird animal stories and of course, beer. Gary is also the Deckle in Pulp & Deckle, a Portland-based community hand papermaking studio.


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