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I spent the last two days teaching bookbinding at the Springfield High School Arts Academy in Springfield, Vermont. Over the course of those days, I taught a total of 123 students in eight classes.
This was my fourth year teaching at this school and I had a great time. As I’ve mentioned before (here and here), the Springfield Arts Academy is based on the premise that integrating the arts into all subjects helps to reinforce concepts that students are learning. The classes I visited included German, American Studies, and Supernatural Literature (who wouldn’t want to take that class?).
I love the fact that the arts are integrated into so many different subject areas. The timing of my residency was perfect – it came on the heels of a training I recently took through the Vermont Arts Council and Saint Michaels College (among other organizations). We learned about integrated arts learning through readings and observation of classes at the Integrated Arts Academy in Burlington, Vermont.
If you’d like to learn more about arts integration, visit the Kennedy Center’s ArtsEdge website – it’s a wonderful resource.
I taught three different book structures – the flag book, woven flexagon, and star book. Each class had a different structure, so I was constantly on my toes with the directions.
As in years past, I had 100% participation in all of the classes and the students worked really hard. It still amazes me how engaged students get in the process of creating. All of the students were friendly and welcoming to me.
I am amused by the inevitable snickers that come from my talking about the bone folder. Heh, heh…bone. They are teenagers, after all.
Sadly, I didn’t have an assistant this year. This meant that I had a run around a lot more and my feet were on fire by the end of the day (totally worth it). Luckily, I had students to escort me from class to class. There are so many elevators in weird places in that school and I never know where I’m going.
All of the classes were working on the theme of icons and it was approached in different ways. Some classes were focused on cultural icons, while others worked with those in popular culture. The work will culminate in the school’s Annual Arts Festival, where all the books will be on display.
I started today gluing covers for some coptic journals. I used marbled papers by Nancy Morains that I picked up at last year’s Paper and Book Intensive.
I’ve been thinking a lot about why I glue in a way that’s against tradition – I put glue on the board and not on the paper. I tried brushing glue on the paper today and it was really difficult to control. I find that gluing the board gives me greater control.
It’s weird – my brain tells me this is wrong but my hands tell me it’s right.
I also sewed a couple of my space travel journals with a double needle coptic stitch. Each journal requires four needles to complete the sewing.
I love how the black and red threads look together. Three space travel journals down, nine more in the edition to go!
Last week I attended the opening for Ken Leslie‘s Gold Dome Cycle at the Vermont Supreme Court. I was particularly interested in seeing the exhibit because I’m taking a workshop with Ken at the Paper and Book Intensive in May – he’ll be teaching how to make his toroidal (a.k.a. doughnut-shaped) book structures.
For Gold Dome Cycle, Ken painted the view from the top of the Vermont State House every two weeks over the course of one year. One of the cool things about the shape of his books is that it allows him to depict things in a panoramic view. As a resident of Montpelier, I loved seeing his rendering of buildings I pass every day and take for granted (the DMV!).
The piece is really stunning. The person who created the frame is a genius.
In addition to Gold Dome Cycle, there were more than a dozen pieces on display – all stunning.
The exhibit runs now through March 28th at the Vermont Supreme Court in Montpelier, Vermont. If you’d like to learn more about Ken’s work, check out the wonderful video below, produced by Stuck in Vermont.
Today I worked on completing covers for more of my space travel journals. I started off by carving out the insets for the spaceship badges.
Next, I covered the boards in bookcloth…
…which was followed by gluing in the end pages. Luckily, I was able to find another copy of Stars by Isaac Asimov. This means that the journal will be produced in an edition of twelve. I guess I would call it a variable edition because the end pages are all different.
Here’s what the journal looks like when it’s finished:
It has both white and black pages. The black pages are for those who feel that they need to take space notes. Doesn’t everyone have space notes?
One of my favorite suppliers of bookbinding goodies is Nancy Morains, owner of Colophon Book Arts Supply. She attends the Paper and Book Intensive, as well as the Focus on Book Arts conferences. It’s really hard to resist her selection of bookbinding supplies.
I buy my Duo and Dubletta bookcloths from her – I don’t know of any other supplier that has it. I also buy hand-dyed linen thread and tools. She makes wonderful marbled papers. You can see some of the papers I purchased from her below.
Nancy also teaches workshops. She’s awesome. And a sweetie.
If you know she’ll be at an event you’re attending, you can place an order with her in advance and she’ll have it ready for you to pick up. Not only does this save you shipping costs, but it also allows you to purchase items in larger quantities than she might ordinarily have on hand.
If you’d like to learn more about Nancy, you can listen to a podcast interview on the Book Artists and Poets podcast.
Last week I found out that I was awarded a grant from the Vermont Arts Council to attend the Paper and Book Intensive – the grant covers a chunk of the tuition. Since it’s official, I can now proudly make the following statement:
This project is supported in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – it never hurts to ask. If you want something, go for it. I certainly didn’t think I’d get a third grant from the Arts Council, but I did. I’m so glad I completed that application!
I’ll be attending the following classes at PBI:
Designing Toroidal Books: Follow the Fold and Stray No More! with Ken Leslie
A torus is any shape with a hole in it—a bagel, for instance. Toroidal books have the advantage of being viewed in two ways—folded as page-by-page accordion book variants that return to their starting point, and fully opened, fully seen artworks. Fully opened they’re more like a painting, drawing or print and can be exhibited as such.
We’ll explore a variety of circular and rectilinear toroidal structures. Then each participant will design and produce an artist book that merges form with content. And because these structures start with just a single flat surface, the leap from one-of-a-kind book to printed multiple is an easy one.
Three Case Styles for Three Bookbindings with Priscilla Spitler
Twenty years after the first PBI edition of Three Bookbindings by Gary Frost, Priscilla Spitler returns to oversee the edition binding of a newly revised text bound in a case binding, the most efficient structure for edition work. Students will learn fast yet refined techniques of case binding bound in three styles: quarter, half and full cloth. Beginning with prototype bindings, they will then participate in the production of the actual edition from sewing to casing in, through the use of jigs, set-ups and teamwork, operation by operation.
Impress Me: An Artist’s Approach to Embossing Leather for Books with Bonnie Stahlecker
This workshop will focus on using leather as an expressionistic material for bookbinding by way of embossment. Leather has long since been employed as a covering material for books and its adaptability makes it ideal for this purpose. To take advantage of the tactile nature of the embossment, the instructor designed this elegant book structure, using examples from history like limp leather covers and secondary tackets. Although historical techniques are used, we are not making historical models; rather an emphasis will be placed on artistic and contemporary designs.
This is going to be a great year at PBI!
Ever since I taught my travel journal class at Studio Place Arts, I’ve had this hankering for making a journal for a special kind of travel. I am working on a prototype for my soon-to-be travel journal for those going to outer space!
Yes, I know this is weird. I think that I just want to go to outer space. Yeah, I do.
The covers of the journal are covered in this awesome white pearlized bookcloth (Chromo) that looks like spacesuit material. I have carved an inset in the board to accommodate a badge for space exploration. The badge is a real thing! You can earn it as a scout in Canada.
The end pages of the book are made from pages of Stars by Isaac Asimov. This book was published in 1968 and has awesome vintage illustrations of spacey things.
I sprayed the pages with deacidification spray before gluing them to the covers of the book.
I only have enough book pages to create 7 journals, so this will be a limited edition (unless I can find another copy of the book). I have enough badges to make twelve. The journal will be bound with a coptic stitch.
I’ll post pictures of the book when it’s completed!
Ever since I posted about my Improv flexagon book, I’ve received requests for directions on how to make one. I decided that it was time for me to contribute to the book arts community by making a tutorial.
This is a really cool structure that allows you to present visible and hidden content. You can see how the book works in a video at the end of this post. Trust me – it’s cool!
Many thanks to the mystery teacher!
Warning: This is an image heavy post.
Here’s what you need:
Score the paper strip vertically ½” in from the left side and fold along the score line. Repeat on the right side.
Fold the strip in half.
Fold the left half of the strip by matching up the left folded end to the center fold. Repeat for the right side.
Open it up and fold the 2 ends together, with the center crease oriented towards you.
Cut 3 slits through the 2 center layers, evenly spaced 1.5″ inches apart, from the middle crease to the next fold line.
Cover one side of the board with glue and place it centered on your paper or bookcloth.
Flip it over and smooth out the paper with your hand to help with adhesion. Press the paper down by rubbing the surface with a bone folder.
Miter the corners of your paper. You should have approximately 2 board thicknesses of paper left on each corner. Do not cut it all the way to the edge!
Fold over 2 flaps, on opposite sides of the board, and glue them down.
Pinch in the corners of your paper to neaten – this keeps the excess material from sticking out at your corners. It’s kind of like wrapping a present, except that you’re gluing everything down.
Glue down the remaining 2 flaps. Run your bone folder along all edges of the board to tighten.
Glue the ½” tabbed ends of your strip to each of the boards, slightly brought in from the edge (1/8”). There should be an even margin around all four sides of the cover.
Glue the end pages to the inside of your covers. The edge of each piece should be up against the inside edge of your flap. There should be an even 1/8″ margin around all four sides of the cover.
Lightly smooth out the paper with your hand, from the inside to the outside edges. Go over the paper with your bonefolder, targeting any air bubbles.
At this point, you should put wax paper in between the strip and the covers and press your book under heavy weight overnight. This will help keep your covers from warping due to moisture from the glue.
When your book is dry, it’s time to add the flexagon cards.
Take a card and weave it through the slots of one of the flexagon panels (over, under, over, under).
Take the second card and weave it through the opposite slots of the other flexagon panel (under, over, under, over).
Once both cards are in place, your book will look like this:
To access the hidden section of the flexagon – if you are looking at the back page spread and push the two rear accordion folds toward the center so they meet, you can then peel apart the hidden section from the front.
If that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry – I made a video so you can see the book in action.
If you make a flexagon, take pictures of it and send them to me – I’d love to feature your work on my blog!
Just a little more work and I’ll be totally done! I’ll contact folks soon to send out the prizes from the Improv!
Welcome to the grand prize drawing of the Book Arts Improv!
Just in case you’ve forgotten what the prize is, it’s a set of books that includes one each of the four books created during the Improv:
And now…the envelope, please:
Congrats to my PBI roomie, Citlaly!
This concludes four weeks of bookmaking wackiness.
I’ll be contacting all the Improv winners so that I can make arrangements to get your book(s) to you. For those of you who didn’t win, you’re in luck! Some of the Improv editions are larger than three, which means that I’ll have books available for purchase. I’ll keep you posted on when that happens – they’ll be listed in my Etsy shop.
If you’d like to see the books up close and personal, give me a call and we can set up a studio visit – just give me time to clean. I’ll also have them on display during Open Studio Weekend in May.
Many thanks to everyone who participated in the Improv – it wouldn’t have been possible without your suggestions. I had lots of fun and I’m looking forward to next year!