Peter Waters: His Work as a Designer-Binder Before the 1966 Florence Flood
professional calligrapher and wife of Peter Waters
May 9, 2006
About the Lecture:
This presentation will describe the early work of Peter Waters, who was Chief of Conservation at the Library of Congress from 1971-1995. Waters began his career as an English bookbinder and conservator studying under William Matthews at the Guildford College of Art, Surrey, UK, and earned his masters degree from the Royal College of Art, London, studying under Roger Powell. In 1953, Waters became a partner in the bindery firm of Powell and Waters, making bindings commissioned by collectors and working on the restoration of historical manuscripts. The Florence flood changed his life completely and gave birth to modern library conservation. The techniques that Waters innovated for the restoration of the National Library in Florence became the basis of the Library of Congress’s conservation program. There will be a hands-on display of Waters’s student bindings and camera-ready drawings designed by Sheila for the zinc blocks used in printing on the leather bindings.
About the Speaker:
Sheila Waters (nee Salt), professional calligrapher, was Peter Waters's wife of 50 years and is his widow of three years. She graduated from the Medway College of Art in Kent and later earned her masters degree from the Royal College of Art, London, where she studied calligraphy and lettering design under the tutelage of Dorothy Mahoney, assistant to the great pioneer of calligraphy, Edward Johnson. Sheila was Peter's fellow student at the Royal College of Art, and while there, Sheila and Peter began their life-long collaboration, helping each other design projects and commissions. They married in 1953, and Sheila made decorative designs for the Powell and Waters bindery, performed her own calligraphic commissions for royalty, collectors, museums, libraries and publishers, and raised their three sons. Sheila is an elected Fellow of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators and a gifted teacher who, since moving to the USA, inaugurated the program of calligraphy courses at the Smithsonian and became the first President and founding member of the Washington Calligraphers Guild. Sheila is a teacher of wide influence and her work is recognized worldwide, being reproduced in most of the important calligraphic literature.