A Bookbinder’s Black Friday

I used to have more of a stomach for Black Friday shopping. I would totally get up at an entirely unfriendly hour to take advantage of some wacky deal that seemed too good to pass up. Now I’d much rather sleep in.

If you’re at all like me, perhaps you would rather take advantage of the online deals (when not shopping locally). Luckily, there are some sales that may be of interest to you bookbinders out there (no waking up early!):

Arnold Grummer‘s is offering Black Friday discounts on presses and papermaking supplies.  All presses are 20% off! From now through 11/30/14, you can save an additional 13% on your order by using code BFSAVE13.

Paper-Papers is offering 50% off clearance items now through 12/1/14 with code clear121. In addition, they’re offering 10% off everything on their site through end of year – no code is required to get the discount.

Cloth Paper Scissors logo

Cloth Paper Scissors is offering 50% storewide from now until Wednesday, December 3rd until 11:59 p.m. Mountain time. This sale includes books, DVDs, and magazines. No need for a code – just go directly to their website and shop!

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I learned how to make books while working at Paper Source during my grad school days. I have lots of love for this store and what’s not to love about free shipping on online orders over $50.00? Now through December 1st, use code THANKS50 at checkout to get the discount.

Paper Mojo is one of my favorite paper sources – they have a great selection and the prices are reasonable. From now until 12:00 midnight EST on December 1st, Paper Mojo is letting you choose your own deal. You can either take 20% off your entire purchase with code BLACK2014 or you can get free domestic ground shipping on your $60+ order and get a free scrap pack with code FRIDAY2014.

Happy shopping!

Celebrate at Studio Place Arts

Over the weekend I attended the opening reception for Celebrate, Studio Place Arts‘ annual member show. There are more than 75 member artists participating and I am thrilled to count myself among them.

The reception was full of folks admiring out the local artwork.

Studio Place Arts opening reception

Artwork at Studio Place Arts opening reception

Artwork at Studio Place Arts opening reception

Studio Place Arts opening reception

My hubby was kind enough to take some pictures of my work on display while I was busy yakking and cramming cheese in my face.

Handmade books on display by Blue Roof Designs

Handmade books on display by Blue Roof Designs

Handmade books on display by Blue Roof Designs

Handmade books on display by Blue Roof Designs

Handmade books on display by Blue Roof Designs

The show is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the Barre area. The show is on all 3 floors of the SPA gallery and includes a wide variety of one-of-a-kind gifts. I bought a handmade something that will be a holiday gift for someone I won’t mention.

The show is open now through December 27th – gallery hours vary by day, so visit the SPA website to see the open hours.

Worktable Wednesday

I started my day off by addressing and stamping around 300 postcards as part of my holiday mailing. I am sooo thankful that stamps are self-adhesive!

bundles of postcards

This is the front of my postcard:

Holiday 2014 postcard mailing for Blue Roof Designs

I love the image – my hubby took the picture. He’s a fantastic photographer. If you’re not already on my snail mail list and would like to be, just let me know and I’ll hook you up. As of now, I have about 3-4 mailings a year.

And in case you’re wondering, Wiggum was of no help with the mailing.

Standard poodle, sleeping

I spent the rest of my day working on photo album covers. I’ve gotten back into high gear as I prepare for two upcoming craft shows – the Women’s Festival of Crafts and the Touch of Vermont Holiday Gift Market. I’m very excited to be exhibiting at both of these venues again this year.

Handmade photo album in progress

Handmade photo album in progress

I can’t believe we’re almost through November – how did that happen? I hope you’re staying warm in your neck of the woods – we have snow on the ground already!

Book Arts at Penland – Spring 2015

The Penland School of Crafts has a bookbinding/letterpress offering during its spring eight-week concentration from March 8 – May 1, 2015 – Letterpress Books: Guts to Glory with Lauren Faulkenberry of Firebrand Press.

letterpress type in chase

The workshop offers a taste of everything, as you can see in the description below:

In this workshop students will produce letterpress-printed books from start to finish. We’ll make handmade paper from natural fibers, explore book design, and learn the fundamentals of letterpress printing. Image-making processes will include multi-color linoleum prints, woodcut, collagraph, pressure printing, monoprinting, photopolymer, pulp painting, paper inclusions, and other techniques. Through layers of words and images, we’ll create compelling narratives that invite multiple readings. We’ll put it all together using traditional and experimental binding structures.

If I could only put my life on hold for eight weeks – I would be all over this workshop. Pressure printing, letterpress, and linoleum prints…droooool…

Paste Paper Gift Wrap workshop at SPA

Yesterday I taught a paste paper workshop at Studio Place Arts and it was wonderful! I had a hard-working group of 9 women, crowded around tables and cranking out vibrant papers.


I started by giving a little spiel about paste paper, including the history of the stuff (the technique has been used for over 450 years). Someone in the workshop mentioned that she had heard a story about the development of paste paper. The gist of it was that it came out of a fight between bookbinders and marblers. If you know anything about this story, I’d love to hear more about it.


The women in the workshop really dove right in without fear. I love being witness to this type of work.



The floor of the room was quickly covered with painted sheets of paper. Here’s the math: 9 women x 13 sheets of paper each = a room smothered in paper. After a while, it was challenging to get from one side of the room to the other. Floor space was precious.



The papers had to stay at SPA overnight to dry, so folks couldn’t bring their papers home that night. That meant that after the workshop was over, I got to walk around the room and drool over the papers. Droool….


People are going to get some fabulously wrapped presents this year!

Paper and Book Intensive 2015

Made-up logo for the Paper and Book Intensive

The Paper and Book Intensive recently announced their lineup for 2015. Unfortunately, I can’t attend because it overlaps with Memorial Day Weekend, which is when I participate in Open Studio Weekend. Sadness.

Luckily, there is nothing to stop me from drooling over the offerings. Seriously, I’m going to need a sponge.

Here are the workshops that caught my eye:

96 Con­nec­tions in 96 Hours: A Con­cep­tual Bind­ing Work­shop with Tate Shaw

This intensive workshop will explore creating books as a means of expression, communication, and for the exploration of ideas. Participants will investigate conceptual binding by forming connections between images, texts, and materials. Using the digital page layout software InDesign, each person will create a thoughtful first draft of a book they have creatively authored.


Over the course of the four days, participants will explore the book form through creative exercises, studying examples of artists’ books, photobooks, writing, music, and cinema structures, and thoroughly investigating a codex book’s discrete parts: the page, the opening, turnings, and development.

Box­mak­ing for Book Artists with Mary Uthup­puru

Students will learn how to construct professional enclosures for artist books using materials and techniques creatively. We will discuss ways that the boxes can reference the nature of the item or items inside while maintaining a cohesive design. We will explore a range of materials, both traditional and uncommon, as they can be applied to enclosures and books. Through the creation of a variety of plaquettes, we will also explore decorative techniques such as raised and recessed surfaces, stenciling, and wrapping curved board edges. The project made in class will house the practice plaquettes, contain a secret compartment held closed with magnets, and have a divided tray within the secret compartment with inset options, giving students more practice with unusual interiors. This workshop will be perfect for book artists and anyone interested in box making.

From Block to Book: Color Wood­cuts for Book Con­tent with Karen Kunc

This hands-on workshop works with printing color reduction woodcut images that become the pages of a hand bound book. Quantities of pages will be generated using the woodblocks for an edition or with a monotype approach that steer the book structure and presentation. Low tech methods for text printing will be introduced, and can include rubber stamping, carving in reverse onto wood, pasting type down onto a collagraph plate, using old wood type and a portable proof press. All will be brought together for a bound or accordion folded book. Oil-base and water-base inks will be used. Concepts for invention, multi-level sensory experience and good fun will be directed in a collaborative atmosphere. The book as an edition and as a unique object will both be explored, while image making and found sources will be translated into efficient – and meaningful — sequences.

Of course, all of the workshops offered look amazing. I highly recommend going to PBI if you’ve never gone before – it’s a fabulous experience.

Scholarship applications will be accepted starting on December 1st and the general application will be available on January 1, 2015. Workshops fill up quickly, so move fast if you want to go. You can view the full roster of workshops on the PBI website.

Weston Craft Show tenure – woohoo!

Handmade book by Elissa CampbellI am thrilled to announce that I was chosen for tenure for the Weston Craft Show class of 2018!

What that means is that I’m guaranteed a spot in the show for the next four years (no jurying). Wondering what to do on Columbus Day weekend 2016? Come to the Weston Craft Show – I’ll be there!

Many thanks to the Tenure Committee for selecting me and for having faith in me and my work.

My niece, the bookbinder

This weekend my niece and nephew came over for a visit. I was thrilled when my nearly 10 year-old niece asked me if we could make a book.

I had an extra kit from when I taught my leather journal workshop at the Vermont Art Teachers Association conference, so I decided to give it a whirl with the kiddo.

It didn’t take long for her to get the hang of the binding pattern and soon she didn’t need much of my help at all.

Leather journal

The best part of the process was that she immediately started writing in the journal. It was so satisfying to see someone just jump right in.

I noticed that she started writing on the second page of her journal, leaving the first one blank. I asked her why she did that and she said that could use the first page for writing the title of her book.

I told her that I use a related response when people tell me that my books are too pretty to write in. I tell them to start on the second page and then the first page can stay blank as long as they like – then the book will always look new. If they choose, they can use the first page for a title or to write the dates of use.

I love that my niece could come to that understanding on her own. She’s a genius!

Mixed Media Cards Marathon

Yesterday I taught a Mixed Media Cards Marathon class at Studio Place Arts in Barre, VT. I had a wonderfully enthusiastic group of five women who joined me on an adventure through a number of mixed media techniques. I don’t think we had room at the table for more than that – you should have seen the fabulous mess we made!

Mixed Media Cards Marathon class at Studio Place Arts

I consider cards to be folios made out of card stock – just a few steps away from becoming a book. When I teach this class, I like to emphasize that all of the techniques can be applied to bookmaking.

We started with collage and made mini quilts using security patterns from the inside of business envelopes. After that we moved on to a quick and dirty image transfer using Chartpak blender pens (stinky, but awesome). I’m getting dizzy just thinking about that room full of xylene.

We then jumped into hand-carved stamps, one of my most favorite things to do. I shared my stash of stamp inks, both dye and pigment varieties, and taught everyone how to use embossing powder on stamped images.

stamping with a hand-carved stamp

The last thing I showed them was a number of pop-up techniques. I managed to get through three of the techniques without incident, but the fourth one kicked my butt – that darn floating platform. I still don’t know what I was doing wrong, but I couldn’t get the card to fold up properly – I was so embarrassed!

Handmade cards

After all of my yakking, there was free time for everyone to play with the piles of materials and tools that I had brought with me. I find it fascinating to see which processes folks find most interesting. I have to admit, the amount off stuff I offered was probably a bit overwhelming – rubbers stamps, collage materials, recycled papers, handmade papers, fibers, decorative scissors and punches. I can’t help it, I like to share.

I’m looking forward to my next class – paste paper, here I come!

NEGBW Geographies exhibit

The most recent meeting of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont took place at the University of Vermont. We had a dual purpose for the visit – our annual trip to Special Collections and the viewing of the New England Guild of Book Workers‘ exhibit Geographies.

I really enjoyed the NEGBW exhibit. Here’s how the curators summed it up:

With the only restraint that the work must relate to the theme of New England or the individual New England states, the 26 exhibitors were free to explore and express their creativity in a finished product of their choice, ranging from fine leather bindings to artist books and calligraphic productions.

Stephanie Wolff (NEGBW Exhibitions Coordinator) and Deborah Howe came up from Dartmouth to show us the pieces up close. They removed several books from the glass cases and gave us background on the work or the creator of the pieces. It makes such a difference to see work out of the display.

My favorite piece was Stones by Vermont artist Susan Bonthron. The work is based on a poem that Susan wrote about her daily walk up the hill behind her house. In addition to the illustrated book, there’s a stone wall landscape (with a wire-edge binding) that opens up to surround the piece when on display. The stones in the wall were collaged from an assortment of assorted paste and marbled papers.

A design binding by Patty Bruce also caught my eye. I loved the variety of patterns and textures used. Here’s what she had to say about her piece:

Life along the river’s edge is conjured up by this interpretation of the river painted on fabric using this primitive style, the symbolism of grass rooted in textured leather representing the river embankment and combined with a variegated leather that creates imagery of the horizon during a seasonal snowy mix.

The design binding of Little Women by Elizabeth Curran was insane (in a good way). The Orchard House is embroidered on the cover with amazing attention to detail.

Plant Corridors by Nancy Leavitt had an interesting focus – the evolution of plant life as it spreads via hitching rides with vehicles. In particular, Nancy’s book looked at vegetation along the Maine Interstate-95 corridor.

The miniature books by Todd Pattison, My Maine, had lovely textures. I just wanted to pop them in my mouth.

The five books are Maine products, as the text blocks are comprised of paper made by Katie MacGregor and the covering materials were all gathered from our land in Maine. The books combine the two things that make Maine special to me, the beauty of the natural environment and the wonderful people.

I think it would be fun to create a Vermont series of books in response to Todd’s work.

Grahem Patten’s book Call Me Trimtab is a fantastic sculptural piece and watching it being opened was fascinating. The way the book panels balance with the tension of the linen thread is mind boggling. The piece was inspired by R. Buckminster Fuller, an architect and inventor who grew up in New England.

There are many more pieces that are equally wonderful and I highly recommend checking out the exhibit if you can. You can read a post about the exhibit on the New England Guild of Book Workers blog – it lists upcoming exhibition dates throughout New England. You can also download the exhibition catalog for your reading pleasure.

The exhibit will be at the Bailey/Howe Library at the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT through December 12, 2014.