Vermont Open Studio Weekend – Central Vermont Artists

Vermont Open Studio Weekend logo

Vermont’s 5th Fall Open Studio Weekend is just a week away (October 3 & 4)! If you’re planning on visiting my studio (and why wouldn’t you?), you can visit other great artists within a 20-ish minute drive of here.

Hopefully the foliage will cooperate and be tour-worthy!

There are 7 studios/galleries participating in the Central Vermont area. Artists are offering exhibits and demonstrations of pottery, ironwork, painting, etching, and more.

I’ll be referring to studios by both name and number – the number refers to a listing in the red 2015 Vermont Studio Tour Guide. There are several ways to get your hands on a map:

Here’s the rundown of who’s who (click on the links to learn more about specific artists):

I created the map below to help you plan your travels. Because the studios are so close to each other, you can visit quite a few of them within a short period of time.

Have fun!

My work is in the Vermont Open Studio Weekend guide!

Next month is the 5th annual Fall Vermont Open Studio Weekend.

Open Studio Weekend takes place on the first weekend in October – Saturday October 3rd and Sunday October 4th, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. I’ll be talking more about the event and my preparations in the coming weeks.

This year’s Open Studio Tour Guide is available for request on the Vermont Crafts Council‘s website or you can download a PDF version. I’m site #89 on the map.

If you look at the back cover of the guide (bottom right-hand corner), you’ll see an image of my leather journals, all pretty in a pile. I love piles.

Vermont Open Studio Weekend Fall 2015 guide

I am so thrilled and honored to have my work pictured in the guide! I hope that this will bring more visitors to my studio during Open Studio Weekend.

If you’d like to be added to my snail mailing list, please contact me and let me know. I send out coupons in my OSW mailing, so this is a good time to join. Please indicate if you’d like to be added to my Email list as well – they include special offers and discounts.

PBI 2016 lineup

Made-up logo for the Paper and Book IntensiveThe Paper and Book Intensive recently announced their instructors for 2016. Workshop descriptions won’t be available until later in the year, but that won’t stop me from drooling over what I know now.

Here’s the list of instructors:

Ses­sion 1:

Ses­sion II:

The Paper and Book Intensive will take place from May 15 – 26, 2016 at Ox-Bow in Saugatuck, Michi­gan.

I’ve been quiet…

As you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t written any blog posts over the last month. Things have been tough lately. I’m a private person and try not to make a habit of talking about my personal problems on my blog, but I’m going to make an exception in this case.

2 1/2 weeks ago, my dad passed away. It’s a big loss and I’m pretty heartbroken.

I’ve been lucky in that my dad was always supportive of my creative work. In fact, I’ve often joked that I was destined to become an artist because my dad’s name was Art.

I’m thankful that I had him in my life as long as I did. He was a good man.

Medieval on the Go: The Girdle Book with Karen Hanmer – Day 3

Today was the third day of Karen’s workshop and we were busy!

We started out by drilling holes in our boards – these would be used later for lacing on our text blocks.

Drilled holes in wood cover boards

Next, we frayed out the ends of the cords on our text blocks to remove lumps.

Frayed text block cords

We used a 1/4″ chisel to carve channels in the front and back of our cover boards – the cords on our text blocks will rest in these after lacing in. I find something very relaxing about chiseling.

Drilled holes and carved channels in wood cover boards

We rubbed paste into the cords and twisted the tips into points to help us lace them into the boards.

Lacing text block into wood cover

After the lacing was completed, we cut little leather triangles and crammed them into the holes with the ends of our cords. This helped to lock the cords into place. The ends of the cords and leather were trimmed flush with the surface of the board. Paste was added to the sunken cords and smushed into the channels with a bone folder. Smushing is fun.

Text block laced into wood cover

We then moved on to covering the book with leather. This bummed me out a bit because I loved the way the stitching looked and hated to cover it up.

We started off by brushing a layer of PVA on the spine. This was followed by a layer of paste on the tail end of the book. A strip of leather (suede side out) was pasted out and adhered to the tail end of the book. We made some cuts in the leather at the spine to allow us to work it around the endbands.

Handmade book with wood covers and partial leather covering

The next step was to cover the remainder of the book. I was really nervous at this point – I was worried about getting paste all over the outside of the book. And screwing up in general.

One cover, the spine, and the leather were pasted out. The book was then placed centered on the leather. After the leather was smoothed out with our hands, the second cover was pasted out. The leather was pulled over and adhered to the second board. There was finagling of leather for a while, making sure that it was wrinkle-free and formed around the cords.

I don’t use paste in my work, so it took a while to get used to the adhesive. It was wiggly, but I eventually found it very easy to work with – we used Yamoto Sticking Paste, a rice starch adhesive. I need to get my hands on some.

Once the book was covered, we wrapped our books tightly with an ace bandage to help ensure good adhesion. After 20 minutes, we unwrapped our books, placed blotters both inside and outside of our covers, and pressed the book under weight overnight.

Handmade girdle book under a brick

Done for the day! The book is looking good and I’m very happy with my progress.

Here are some more great quotes from Karen:

Is everybody good but me?

Pare, discard, repeat. Pare, discard, repeat.

You don’t wear a tuxedo to go to the gas station.

Medieval on the Go: The Girdle Book with Karen Hanmer – Day 2

I realized that I forgot to show you a picture of Karen’s awesome resource booklet for the girdle book workshop. It’s actually rather insane – check this out:

We started the day off by sewing primary endbands on our textblocks. We stiffened up the core cord with PVA to make it easier to work with. It took a few stitches for me to get the hang of the sewing process, but I really enjoyed it. I could do more of these!

Primary endband sewing

Primary endband sewing

Primary endband sewing

Don’t be fooled by the images – this was not a quick process. It took 2+ hours to complete.

The next step was to add a second spine lining. We used more of the suede that we used yesterday for the first spine lining. This time, we filled in the spaces that had not yet been covered. After the suede was glued down, we rubbed in a layer of paste over the top.

Glued down spine lining

Board shaping came next. We’re using poplar boards for our covers and there were a few areas that needed work:

  1. The inside spine edge of each board needed to be shaped to match the shoulder of the text block.
  2. The outside spine edge of each board needed to be shaped to create a continuous round moving from the spine onto the boards.
  3. On the inside of the boards, the head, tail, and fore-edge needed to be shaped at a 45 degree angle, through half the thickness of the boards.

In a nutshell, there was a whole lotta bezeling going on. Most of the material removal was done with a rasp and finer work was completed with sandpaper.

Elbow grease + dust mask + back pain = completed boards.

Shaped cover boards and text block

The last bit of wood work involved preparing the back cover for the strap closure. We used a Dremel to drill a small series of holes in a row – this created a slot through which we’ll feed our leather straps. Next, we used a 1/4″ chisel to carve out a recess where the end of the strap will rest.

Wood book cover with carved recess

We finished off the day by sizing our cover boards – this is done to help minimize absorption of adhesive in future work. To accomplish this, we applied a layer of diluted paste to all surfaces.

It was a full and fun day – I look forward to tomorrow!

I leave you with today’s gem from Karen:

We are not slaves to the tyranny of the ruler.

Medieval on the Go: The Girdle Book with Karen Hanmer – Day 1

I just finished my first day of Karen Hanmer‘s workshop, Medieval on the Go: The Girdle Book. This is the third workshop I’ve taken with Karen at the Focus on Book Arts conference (not all this time around). I guess I like her!

The girdle book is a bit of an odd duck of a book that makes a lot of sense – the structure has a leather extension off the bottom of it (like a tail) that allows the owner to attach it to his or her belt. Karen told us that there are only 23 known examples of girdle books in existence and those date from 1400 to 1550.

Although the book we’re working on is a medieval structure, we’re also using some modern techniques in its construction. We started out by preparing 24 signatures for sewing.

We used something called Pergamenata for the single leaf hooked endsheets. It feels a lot like vellum – it was very thick and somewhat difficult to fold. And kinda hard to glue.

After that, we punched holes in our signatures and got ready to sew. Since I flew to OR for the conference, I couldn’t bring my own sewing frame with me. Thankfully, Karen had little baby sewing frames available for us travelers.

Sewing frame

The book is sewn on double cords with packed sewing. You wrap the thread around the cords as you work across the spine and ideally, you shouldn’t be able to see any of the cord between your stitches. That didn’t quite work out with my sewing – I had issues with my tension and the cords were loosey-goosey. But it’s my learning book, so I’m okay with that.

Some sewing happened…

Binding a book on double cords

…and more sewing…

Binding a book on double cords

…and then 3+ hours later, it was done! Well, at least the sewing was done.

Binding a book on double cords

The next step was to use a bone folder to flatten down the spine edge of the signatures. This was to eliminate some of the extra space between the folds where glue likes to sink in. We worked a PVA/paste mixture into the spine with our fingers.

We didn’t round the spine using a hammer. Instead, we started the process by pushing down on the edges of the spine with our hands. After that, we put the text blocks in between boards and into a finishing press. We added more paste to the spine to soften it – the PVA mixture was drying too fast. Then we worked the spine some more using a bone folder.

I freely admit that I am not good at rounding. My book is roundish and that’s good enough for me.

Text block in finishing press

The final step of the day was to add the first spine lining, a thin suede. We cut out slots in the suede so that the lining rested in between the stitching/cords – it did not extend over the kettle stitches at the head and tail. We applied the PVA/paste mixture to the spine and glued down the lining.

Text block and spine lining

The ends of the cords were pulled through the slots to the outside of the lining. We finished off the lining with a layer of paste on top.

Text block with glued-down spine lining

It was a full day! I’ll leave you with some awesome Karen quotes:

In general, don’t be like me.

Yakkity, yakkity, yakkity…spine lining, spine lining, spine lining.

GBW Standards of Excellence Seminar

GBW Seminar 2015 logoThe Guild of Book Workers recently opened up registration for their annual Seminar on Standards of Excellence in Hand Bookbinding. The conference is held in a different location every year and offers presentations by masters in the field of book and paper arts. In addition, the event includes tours of nearby binderies, libraries, and other book arts-related businesses.

This year the seminar is being held in Cleveland, Ohio (U.S.) on October 15 – 17.

This year’s presentations look great – here’s the lineup (from the GBW website):

The Devil is in the Details with Christina Amato:

Creating miniature books, which are generally defined as being under three inches in any dimension, presents a number of challenges as well as creative opportunities. For this presentation, Christina will be demonstrating and discussing making miniature books, with a focus on edition work and dealing with content. Choosing an appropriate binding structure, materials, and tools will be discussed, as well as general tips and tricks.

The Meeting Guard: Its Use Historically and Its Use in Fine Binding, Conservation and Artist Books with Bill Minter:

The binding of certain books can be a challenge: in some cases, the text paper might be too thick or stiff for the book to function properly; in diaries and record books, the writer wants the pages to lay perfectly flat; and in scrapbooks or albums, mounted materials might hinder the opening. These and other challenges can be addressed with a “meeting guard” binding structure.

In this presentation, we will be looking at historical bindings that use the meeting guard and explore its place in artist books and conservation binding. The demonstration will include making meeting guards and sewing them for use on a number of books. The emphasis will be to produce a fully functional book that meets our standards and provides the reader with a book that is user-friendly.

The Paper Has Been Shipped! with Andrea Peterson:

Andrea would like to take you behind the scenes as papermaker and designer by leading you through the process of creating speciality papers for bookbinders. We will be entertaining the possibilties of handmade papers and why a binder would be of any interest. You will see the process of stenciled and watermarked papers as well as more simple paper styles. Andrea will be presenting the components that are most important to handmade paper and binder as they move forward to create amazing works.

Registration is open now through September 29th and they only have space for 150 people. I attended the seminar in 2011 when they held it in Boston – it was fantastic and I highly recommend that you attend if you have the opportunity.

Can’t make it? Live vicariously through handouts from previous year’s presentations.

Book arts bucket list

I’ve been visiting a lot of travel blogs lately and I found that most of them have something in common – bucket lists. For those of you who don’t know, a bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you die.

I find the concept of a bucket list to be both hopeful and morbid at the same time. However, I realized that I’ve been keeping a list in my head for a while – a list of book arts-related things.

I decided that it was time to write it all down. It’s a bit overwhelming to see all of these items in one place and I wonder how much of it is actually possible to accomplish (some of it is crazy-dreaming). I guess I should be focusing on the hopeful aspect of it all – I have a lot of years left in me!

Here it is, in no particular order:

Take a workshop at:

Take a workshop with:



  • Secret Belgian Binding
  • Woodblock carving & printing
  • Reduction printmaking
  • Print an edition using my Gocco


I imagine that this list will change over time. I look forward to crossing things off of it!

What’s on your bucket list? I’d love to hear about it!

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