Bookin’ in Brooklyn

When my hubby pitched the idea of going to New York for New Year’s, I was psyched. However, I didn’t have any interest in going to Times Square – that’s for people much more tolerant (and younger) than me.

My plans were much more specific – Brooklyn, baby. I wanted to get bookcloth at Talas and cross something off my Book Arts Bucket List – visit the Brooklyn Art Library, home of The Sketchbook Project.

With my hubby off at a business meeting, I headed out to Brooklyn on a rainy Tuesday.

It was really icky outside and I was so happy when I arrived and saw the sign outside their door – part of me was worried that I wasn’t going in the right direction.

Talas sign

I headed up the stairs to the shop and I’m telling you, I am so in love with their entry door:

The last time I was in Talas was a few years ago. I took a bunch of pictures back then, but all of them got lost in a computer crash. Well, I definitely made up for the lost images – I took pictures of everything and felt like such a dork doing it. But a happy dork.

So you walk in the front door and bam! Awesome yellow wall.

Sign inside Talas

FYI – The dude in that newspaper article is the one that helped me out.

Back to the tour. After entering, you can check out a cool collection of bookbinding tools and materials:

Bookbinding tools and ephemera

And then you’re totally in a huge, expansive space full of, well, everything. It’s hard to know what to look at first.

Extra Hand Clamps at Talas

At this point, all I’m thinking is, “I’ll have one of that…and that…and that…”

And then I remembered that whole How much money do I have? thing. Boo.

After drooling over all of the merchandise, I spent some time checking out Talas’ impressive collection of cabinets.

Wood storage cabinet at Talas

Metal storage cabinet at Talas

Flat files at Talas

Flat files at Talas

And then I came across this, which made me happy because I have the same exact wire roll holder in my studio. It’s awesome.

Wire roll holder with bookcloth at Talas

The time finally came for me to make some decisions. I started with bookcloth. I bought a yard each of two Iris bookcloths (total workhorses).

Iris bookcloth

I also got a yard of an Asahi bookcloth I have wanted forever – this gold crackle is so lovely.

Asahi bookcloth

And the last bookcloth was a textured grey linen. I have no idea what I’m going to do with this one.

Asahi bookcloth

Then I got a book off my wish list – A Hand Bookbinder’s Guide to Making Photo Albums by Richard Horton.

A Hand Bookbinder's Guide to Making Photo Albums by Richard Horton

My last purchase was an impulse buy, but totally worth it. I got a Casselli spatula.

Casselli spatula

The goal was to replace a lost microspatula with a pointy end. I loved that thing and had been mourning its loss for a while.

When I got home, I discovered that the spatula was super-bendy. I had no idea. This makes it so much better.

Casselli spatula

And check out how thin it is:

Casselli spatula

This thing is so getting used.

I left Talas feeling super-happy and worked my way towards the Brooklyn Art Library. I was heartbroken when I arrived to find this:

Sign at the Brooklyn Art Library

Their website had no mention of it being closed on this day – I checked it several times before my trip. There would be no crossing off things on my Book Arts Bucket List today. Poop.

Oh well. The trip was still totally worth it. I can’t wait to play with my new goodies!

Adios 2016!

Confession time – I get really cranky this time of year. There’s just something about the time between Christmas and New Year’s – why doesn’t it go faster? I’m ready for next year!

This period of time is informally known as Elissa Reflects and Beats Herself up for All the Things She Didn’t Get Done This Year. It’s not as fun as it sounds.

For example, I have 81 half-written draft blog posts (including a bunch about my Japan trip). I’m not exaggerating – here’s the proof:

Draft blog posts screen shot

Just how in the fart does that happen?

And don’t get me started on the piles of unfinished books in my studio. And then there’s this and that, and blah, blah, blah. Crab, crab, crab. My mind can really be an endless source of ick.

Imagine my surprise when I had a magical happy moment earlier this week. I decided to stop moping and instead look at all of the cool stuff that happened this year.

I’ve never been good at this, so I decided to start by making myself a motivational poster:

Shut up brain - motivational poster

Well that did the trick! Here’s my top ten list:

  1. I went to Japan. And bought a whole mess of paper. And saw it being made. And got forced into karaoke.
  2. I attended the Movable Book Society conference in Boston (that was on my bucket list)
  3. I attended the Wells Book Arts Summer Institute (also on my bucket list – 2017 registration open now)
  4. I took a class with Karen Hanmer (this woman is a master of everything)
  5. I went to Chena River Marblers for their end-of-year sale
  6. I visited with Vamp and Tramp Booksellers at the University of Vermont
  7. I exhibited work at the Burlington Book Festival
  8. I presented at the T.W. Wood Art Camp
  9. I learned how to make the Chinese Sewing Box in a workshop with Erin Sweeney
  10. I WENT TO JAPAN (okay, maybe that’s cheating, but it was such a wonderful trip)

I have to admit that 2016 was a damn cool year. I guess I shouldn’t be in such a rush to end it. Perhaps this end-of-year reflection should become a yearly thing…

Do any of you do an annual self audit? If so, I’d love to hear what you’ve done this year! Show me your list in the comments below.

Awesome resources – IU Libraries Book Repair Manual and the Studio Protector

Elise Calvi, the Head of General Collections Conservation and Conservation Services at Indiana University Libraries recently posted on the Book Arts Listserv that their online book repair manual had been updated.

Indiana University Libraries Book Repair Manual

From their website:

This manual documents many of the treatment procedures used in the General Collections Conservation (GCC) Lab of the Indiana University Libraries, Bloomington. It is a resource for staff who are responsible for the remedial care of the Libraries’ research book collections. We share it on the Web for others who are, or wish to become, responsible for the preservation of library or personal collections.

I really appreciate it when institutions generously share their knowledge with the world – the information shared in this manual is amazing.

The Indiana University Libraries Book Repair Manual has several chapters:

  • Repair treatments
  • Enclosure treatments
  • Equipment/hand tools and how they’re used (with images)
  • Supplies and materials and how they’re used (with images)
  • Glossary (ex. what exactly is a square?)

The repair and enclosure sections give you tools and materials lists for each treatment, along with step-by-step instructions with images. The directions for constructing a cloth-covered clamshell box are just fantastic. In general, I have box-making fear, but I could totally do it by using the manual. 

Studio Protector - CERF+Something else that caught my eye was the section on disaster supplies. As a former employee of CERF+, I know that most find the topic of disaster preparation and response to be both dry and stressful. The fact is that preventative measures can make a huge difference in how one can survive an unexpected event.

If you don’t know about CERF+, you really should get to know them – they’ve got an amazing collection of resources on their website, including the following:

And there’s so much more – you should really check it out.

One more thing – CERF+’s Studio Protector is a great tool for helping you navigate disaster planning in the studio. I know this not only because I own one, but also because I worked on its development during my years at CERF+.

And for you book folks out there, here’s a bit of trivia – book artist Carol Barton helped with the design.

Visit to Chena River Marblers

This weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to do something I’ve wanted to do for a while – attend Chena River Marblers‘ open studio.

In the past, I always had something else going on during the event, but it worked out well this time around. I had to be in MA to see my niece and nephew in a performance of The Nutcracker and Amherst was just a shortish drive from there.

The studio is located in a residential area, so I got to experience what some folks must go through when they visit my studio – even though there was a sign outside the door, I felt a bit strange going into someone’s home.

Chena River Marblers studio

I peeked in the window to confirm that I was in the right place, which of course I was. I opened the doors and was immediately met by so.much.paper…

Hand-marbled papers by Chena River Marblers

…and silk scarves and neckties…Hand-marbled scarves by Chena River Marblers

…and handmade books.

Handmade books by Chena River Marblers

Handmade books by Chena River Marblers

As I walked through the hall with what I can only assume was a gaping-wide mouth, I finally made it to the main part of the studio. I was greeted by the very sweet Regina St. John, one half of the marbling dynamic duo.

Inside of Chena River Marblers studio

She and her husband Dan have been marbling for over 30 years and they’ve got the stash to prove it. Holy crap, those flat files. Regina told me that they built those themselves.

Custom built paper flat files

Custom built paper flat files

I love being able to see the equipment that artists use to create their work. Tools = cool.

Paper marbling combs

Paper marbling whisks

I vowed after returning from my vacation to Japan that I would not buy any more paper this year. After all, I came back with over 50 sheets.

Yeah, that didn’t stick.

I started a pile, which changed rapidly as I made my way around the studio. Ooohhh…this paper is the best one! No, this one is! I can’t leave this one here!

Hand-marbled papers by Chena River Marblers

I finally settled on 8 sheets, which exceeded my budget by just a smidge (a miracle). It was totally worth it.

Here’s what I bought:

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Right? Right? This paper is so flipping gorgeous! I want to put it on the floor and roll around on it. I want to write it love letters. I want to hug it and squeeze it and call it George.

Obviously, the visit was amazing.

FYI – They hold their open studio every December, so you’ve got a year to make arrangements to attend the next one. 🙂

Snow Farm 2017

Snow Farm logo

Many moons ago, when I worked at the Craft Emergency Relief Fund (now CERF+), I attended a board meeting that was held at Snow Farm. Located in Williamsburg, MA, Snow Farm offers craft and fine art workshops.

I don’t know why, but they’ve never stayed on my radar – and this is unfortunate. I recently visited their website and discovered that they have an amazing selection of workshops coming up this year – and the instructors are seriously fantastic. I can only imagine how many awesome workshops I’ve missed over the years.

From June 9 – 11, Béatrice Coron is teaching A Cut Above: An Exploration in Papercutting:

Both beginners and advanced students alike will delight in learning about the long multi-cultural history of papercutting as well as the world of paper-cutters today. Explore the unique possibilities of papercutting techniques while making black and white, and color artwork. Demonstrations will include stenciling and working in 3D. Tips, tricks, and resources will be provided. To take a workshop with Béatrice Coron – she’s on my Book Arts Bucket List. She’s just beyond amazing. I would love to learn from her.

From October 1 – 7, Natalie Stopka is teaching Fiber Techniques for Book Artists:

Add fiber arts techniques to bookmaking and bring a world of color, pattern, and texture to your work! Learn to prepare and fix natural dyes to fabric and paper for accessible, sustainable color. Use these fibers to create a bound book exploring the synergy of fiber arts, book arts, embroidery, and needle weaving. Bring materials to test in the dye pot or incorporate into your binding.

Natalie is also on my Book Arts Bucket List. She’s a master at marbling and manipulating textiles. Just look at her books. Drooool…

And lastly, from October 7 – 9, Colette Fu is teaching Demystifying the Pop-up Book:

Pop-up book structures can be used to make engaging works of art for any age, from greeting cards to animations to kinetic sculptures. Learn some of the many basic structures of pop-up paper engineering including angle folds, parallel and angle lifting platforms, and 3 dimensional shapes, and how to incorporate them into unique pop-up books, cards, and works of art.

Ever since I attended the Movable Book Society conference in September, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about pop-ups. I could just go on and on about Colette’s work. The way she gets the layers of imagery to work together – damn.

I’m glad that I’ve been reacquainted with Snow Farm. In addition to offering wonderful classes, they’re located just a 2.5 hour drive away from my house. I can take classes there without flying. Bonus!

If you’re interested in learning more about the classes at Snow Farm, you can view the full 2017 schedule on their website.

Many thanks to Snow Farm for giving me permission to use their logo.

The oh-so-awesome Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday 2016 logo

Oh baby, today is the sixth annual Small Business Saturday! Started in 2011 by American Express, the celebration encourages people to shop local and support their communities.

I’m going to take a moment to focus on the word small. A business doesn’t get any smaller than a one person operation – and that describes the majority of working artists.

The connection is easy enough to make – if you want to shop in a way that will have a significant impact on a small business, then buy art for the holidays. Even if you shop on Etsy, you’re still supporting a community – the creative community.

There are lots of Small Business Saturday craft shows being held around the country – visit one and not only will you find wonderful handmade gifts, but you’ll also get to make a personal connection with the artist. It’s an experience you just can’t get from a big box store.

And if you’d like to visit me at a craft show (there had to be a plug in here somewhere), it just so happens that today and tomorrow I’ll be selling my work at the super-awesome Women’s Festival of Crafts. At the show, you’ll find over 80 booths (all small businesses) filled with handmade jewelry, pottery, recycled art, greeting cards, clothing, and more. Oh yeah, and handmade books. 🙂

I’m in booth #37, located in the former Gap space (Google map).

Women's Festival of Craft 2016 poster

Can’t make it to the show? You can also buy my work on my website or on Etsy.

And if you’re interested in buying something closer to where you live, check out Etsy Local – it can help you find Etsy sellers participating in events in your neck of the woods.

A Bookbinder’s Black Friday

Ah, the splendor of Black Friday.

This year I have decided to keep a low profile shopping-wise. After I bought all of that paper in Japan, I have no good reason to buy anything else for the rest of the year.

Instead, I will be spending my day completing a bunch of unfinished books that have been sitting in my studio for the past week. Then I’ll engage in the oh-so-fun tradition of Let’s Pack up the Van for a Craft Show.

For those of you inclined to shop today, there are a bunch of bookbinding-related online sales going on today (and through the weekend).

Rolls of bookcloth

Check ’em out:

Hiromi Paper has moved their famous Annual Sale so that it starts on Black Friday. From 11/25 through 12/31 (yep, the end of the year), you can get paper with discounts between 25% – 80%.

Through 11/29, Paper-Papers is offering 50% off the already discounted price of products in their Clearance section. Use coupon code clearweek at checkout to get the discount.

As part of their holiday sale, Oak Knoll Books is offering free shipping on all domestic orders of $50.00 or more. No special code is needed – shipping will automatically be removed from the total.

From now until midnight on 11/28, Paper Mojo is offering 20% off storewide. Use code BF2016X at checkout to get the discount. Time to stock up on handmade and decorative papers!

John Neal Bookseller is offering free standard shipping within the U.S. on all orders of $100 or more, now through 11:59 p.m. on 11/26. Use code BF16FS at checkout for the discount. In addition, from now through 6:00 p.m. on 12/2, they’re offering 20% to 30% off a selection of items, including spools and sets of Londonderry thread.

From 11/25 through 11/27, Paper Connection International is offering 10% off all internet orders. Use coupon code CYBER10 to get the discount.

Pergamena, producer of stunning fine leathers and parchment, is offering 20% off everything in their online store and free shipping. From 11/25 through 11/28, use code 20%OFF at checkout to get the discount.

From now through 11/28, Arnold Grummer is offering a 10% discount on all regular and sale priced items. Use code CW10 at checkout to get the discount.

On 11/25, Paper Source is offering 50% off seasonal colors (Spruce and Poinsettia) of items in their Paper Bar (including large sheets of text and cover weight papers). All other paper colors are discounted as follows: Buy 5 packs get 10% off; buy 10 packs, get 20% off; buy 25 packs get 30% off.

If you’ve got a bookbinding book on your wish list, you’re in luck! Amazon (yep, that Amazon) is offering $10.00 off book purchases of $25.00 or more. From now until 11/28 at 2:59 a.m. EST, use code HOLIDAYBOOK at checkout to get the discount. Note: Offer only applies to products sold and shipped by

And if you’re more into Cyber Monday:

On 11/28 Mechling Bookbindery is offering 50% off and free standard shipping on all bookbinder’s instructional DVDs. You can also get 50% off both premium goatskin and premium heavy grain black goatskin

The Paper Place is offering all Chiyogami at 20% off. No coupon code is needed – the discount will be applied automatically at checkout.

Happy shopping!

Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair

On December 2-3, the second annual Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair will take place at the Smith College Campus Center in Northampton, MA.

Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair 2015

The event includes exhibits, sales, book signings, demonstrations, lectures and features not only antiquarian booksellers from the region, but also book artists, letterpress printers, papermakers, engravers, and book designers.

It’s a like a book arts smorgasbord. Except you don’t get to eat anything.

The keynote speaker is Ruth R. Rogers, curator of Special Collections in the Wellesley College Library where she develops the collection and lectures on the evolution of the book as material culture, visual communication, and artistic form. Her talk, Layers of Perception: The Unwritten Language of Artists’ Books, will focus on how we “read” artists’ books by deconstructing them to understand how they affect our perception.

I’m super-bummed because I can’t attend the fair this year. Sadness. If you happen to be in the area during that time, you should totally go. And then make me jealous by telling me all about it.

For more information, please visit the event website.

I’m teaching at FOBA!

I am very excited to finally announce that I’ll be teaching a workshop at the 2017 Focus on Book Arts conference! I would have written about it sooner, but honestly, I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening.

I tossed ideas around for weeks and agonized over my proposal before submitting it. And then I waited. And waited. And waited.

Then the envelope came. It was like applying to college all over again – the envelope was thick, so I figured that was a good sign, right? Yep, it was.

So, what am I teaching?

Well, I’ll be taking folks on a journey through nine of Keith Smith‘s three-section bindings. With each binding, you’ll work on paper templates first, then move on to sewing books with soft leather covers. In addition to learning various stitches, you’ll also try out different closure methods for each book.

These are the actual bindings you’ll be completing in the workshop (leather colors might change):

Handmade three signature leather journals by Elissa CampbellWhile all of the bindings include three sections, the last book will include nine – you’ll learn how to adapt a three-section binding to create a larger book by repeating the pattern. You’ll be binding all of your sewing templates into your final book – this will be a great reference for future work.

Handmade nine signature leather journal by Elissa Campbell

Handmade nine signature leather journal by Elissa Campbell

So I guess it’s really real now. I hope to see some of you in Oregon in June!

If you’re curious what other workshops are being offered at FOBA 2017, you can get a sneak peek on their website.

Paper and Book Intensive 2017

PBI logo 2017The Paper and Book Intensive just published their course descriptions for 2017 and the classes look amazing.

The three that interest me most are all taking place during the second session, which means that they’re all running at the same time. Which means that if I go, I can only pick one of them. Which means that…sadness.

Here’s what causing my current state of drool:

Artists’ Housing: The Box as Story with Barbara Mauriello:

This workshop is as much about content as it is about construction. The goal is for each participant to make a series of house-like boxes honoring favorite literary or visual artists. Basic box components will be translated into architectural forms, reflecting the spirit, ideas, and materials of the subjects. As we think beyond the notion of box as container, we’ll also consider the many forms of “house”: house as camera, for example.


We will begin with an exercise in the basics of boxmaking with some interesting twists. Building outwards from a tray, we’ll make doors that slide or pivot, construct a roof, insert windows, design moveable walls, add curves. We’ll discuss your heroes and by the end of the day have a pretty good idea as to how each of you will begin your series. The delight of this project is that no two boxes will be alike; the terror is that this workshop requires homework!

Wooden Board Binding, 13th-15th century with Renate Mesmer:

Wooden board bindings show various board shapes, attachments and covering styles. This model will be based on traditional binding styles from the 13th-15th centuries; representative of the period rather than one particular binding.


Participants will learn to sew a herringbone stitch on double-raised cords, how to prepare (file, chisel, and sand) and attach the wooden boards, and to add a primary (and possibly a secondary colored) endband. The model will be bound in full alum-tawed skin with metal clasps. Paring, making leather corners, covering and simple blind tooling on the spine will also be part of the class. To take full advantage, it is beneficial to have knowledge in bookbinding, especially in paring leather. The book will be approximately 16cm wide x 23 cm high x 5cm thick. Most importantly, we will have great fun working with these awesome materials: wood, leather and metal!

Further Innovations in Pressure Printing with Barb Tetenbaum:

“Pressure Printing” is a letterpress image-making technique that combines low-relief collage with relief-rolled surfaces to create quick and editionable prints. This class covers the basics of both pressure printing and the operation of the Vandercook Proof Press, and then expands to include techniques that use new materials and processes.


Participants begin with creating three-tone pressure prints from layers of sticker paper, then learn to print color separations within a single photo engraving. We will work with Speedball Flexible Printing Plates to create moveable discrete pressure printed shapes, and the Glaze Pen from Sakura, which facilitates the creation of fluid line work. Examples of the use of laser- and vinyl cut imagery, as well as strategies for using pressure printing as an animation process, supplement this class.

Oh man, that pressure printing class is calling to me. I attended Sarah Bryant’s pressure printing class at PBI in 2013 and really enjoyed it. She recommended a book by Barb Tetenbaum, A Guide to Experimental Letterpress Techniques, which includes a section on pressure printing.

The fact that I own this book is a sign from the universe telling me to take Barb’s class.

And there’s another thing – if I go, this would be my fourth year attending PBI. It turns out that the traditional fourth anniversary gift from 1900 – 1940’s was linen or silk. Obviously they’re referring to linen and silk thread, which is used in bookbinding. Another sign that I need to go to Michigan.

That’s my logic and I’m sticking to it.

If you’ve never been to PBI, then get thee to a computer on January 1, 2017 – that’s when the general application goes live. You have to get in there super-duper fast – classes fill up quickly. Alternatively, you could go for a scholarship – applications will be accepted starting on December 1st.

PBI will be held May 14-25, 2017 at Ox-Bow in Saugatuck, MI. You can view the full roster of workshops on the PBI website.

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