Book Arts Guide to Vermont Open Studio Weekend

Pile of handmade leather journals by Elissa Campbell of Blue Roof DesignsWelcome to the 2016 Book Arts Guide to Vermont Open Studio Weekend

It’s time for my annual rundown of the book artists participating in Vermont Open Studio Weekend (coming up on May 28 & 29). Some of these talented folks are also members of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont, an organization I hold near and dear to my heart.

I created the Google map at the bottom of this post, which includes all of the studios to help you plan your travels. I wish I could say that the book arts studios are close to each other, but they’re not. Sad face.

I’ll be referring to studios by both name and number – the number refers to a listing in the green Vermont Studio Tour Guide. The colors of the studio numbers in this post match the colored markers in the Google map. By the way, I’m studio #83.

There are several ways to get your hands on a map:

On to the studios!

First stop on the tour is #1, Nancy Stone. Nancy is one of the founders of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont and has mastered the integration of her painting and book-making skills. Not only is Nancy an amazing book artist, she is also a well-known teacher in the book arts throughout Vermont and has inspired many students. 

Next stop is #2, Shelburne Pond Studios, which is where you’ll find Jill Abilock of Six Loons Studio. She creates one-of-a-kind work that is really inspirational. Her compelling storytelling and creative voice are enhanced by her innovative combinations of materials and structure. And the woman is a fantastic folder. In addition, she’s my partner in crime – we’re currently acting as the co-chairs of the Book Arts Guild Vermont.

Studio #31 belongs to Meta Strick – she is a Jackie of all trades. She does wonderful mixed media work, including dolls that have a book component. It’s quite wonderful to read the “history” of each doll. She has a great philosophy that you can make anything into a book (is it any surprise that she’s a teacher?).

New to Open Studio Weekend this year is Marcie Scudder, studio #35. According to her website, Marcie creates “handmade books that yoke together…words and images into sculptural art.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any images of her work online and I haven’t seen her work for myself. So, if you like surprises, this is the studio for you. Go visit her studio and report back on what you saw – I’m dying to know more.

Next on the tour is #149 – Ken Leslie. Ken often creates books in a circular format – a practice that developed out of his dissatisfaction with rectangular painting shapes. His themes frequently focus on natural cycles, such as day and night. The size of his work ranges from miniature to really ginormous – you can walk through some of his books when they’re open.

Last, but not least, is #166 Carolyn Shattuck. A seasoned printmaker, Carolyn cuts up scrap monotypes and uses the pieces in her handmade books. For her, the book arts have been the focus of a body of work combining drawing and print assemblage techniques in three dimensional form. Many of her books include pop-up elements to set the scene for her deeply personal storytelling.

If you do go to any of the studios, share your experiences here and I will live vicariously through you. If you have any pictures, I’d love to see them…you can even do a guest post on my blog!

Happy National Notebook Day!

National Notebook Day written on a handmade journalI just discovered that today is National Notebook Day. This is the inaugural year for the event – it will take place on the third Thursday of May each year.

I couldn’t find much information about the holiday. I’m assuming that the organizers would like for everyone to just grab a journal and get writing. Wouldn’t one of my journals be perfect for that?

If you’re doing something special today, let folks know about it by using the hashtag nationalnotebookday when posting to social media.

I started wondering how new holidays happen, so I did some poking. In general, it seems that you just declare that something is a holiday and then get others to recognize it.

Apparently, the King of Holidays is Chase’s Calendar of Events. If you get in there, you’re golden. It doesn’t cost anything – just fill out this form and you too can create the holiday of your dreams (and get it in print). The deadline for 2016 submissions has passed, but get thinking for next year!

You can also choose to register your holiday with National Day Calendar. They are less generous with their holiday declarations – you have to be a company or organization to be able to submit.

I guess I have some more thinking to do about Eat Chocolate Twizzlers Until You Start Feeling Sick Day



Vermont Open Studio Weekend – Central Vermont Artists

Vermont Open Studio Weekend logo

Vermont’s 24th Spring Open Studio Weekend is on the horizon – this coming Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 & 29. 

Open Studio Weekend is a statewide celebration of the visual arts and creative process, offering a unique opportunity for visitors to meet a wide variety of artists and craftspeople in their studios, some of which are only open to the public during this event. 

I can’t believe that this is my 11th year participating in the event! In honor of the occasion, perhaps I should treat myself to the traditional 11th anniversary gift of steel – this stainless steel Kelm folder by Shanna Leino would be so heavenly!

If you’re planning on visiting my studio (oh, yeah!), you can add on visits to other great artists within a 1/2 hour drive of here.

The central region of Vermont, including Washington and Caledonia counties, is offering twenty-one locations this year, including galleries and artists working with a variety of media. 

In the lists below, I’ll be referring to studios by both name and number – the number refers to a listing in the green 2016 Spring Event & Resource 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):

Caledonia County

Washington County

If you’re wondering why the studio numbers are different colors, that’s because they correspond with the marker colors on the map I created to help you plan your travels. Behold – the Google Map!

If you plan on coming to the Montpelier area, let me know and I can recommend some local restaurants for your munching pleasure.

I hope to see you!

Pages in The Book of Craig

This is the last post in my series documenting The Book of Craig: A Creative Festschrift, a book I recently completed commemorating the decade that Craig Nutt worked as Director of Programs at CERF+. The project was three months in the making and includes contributions from over 40 people. If you haven’t yet read about the binding of this book, you can do so here.

When you turn the book’s pages, you get to know Craig through the eyes of those who know him – artists, CERF+ staff and board members, colleagues, and other FOCN (Friends of Craig Nutt). You can tell that not only are people deeply grateful for Craig’s work, but they also see him as a person of great character, creativity, and most of all, humor. It is no coincidence that the man’s last name is Nutt.

In the images below, you can see all of the pages included in the book. I indicated the creator when I knew it (for some pages, it’s hard to tell). In the photos where you see multiple pages by the same person, you’re actually seeing both sides of one page or a close-up.

The Book of Craig - page by Henry ?

The Book of Craig - page by ?

The Book of Craig - page by ?

The Book of Craig - page by Meg & Tom

The Book of Craig - page by ?

The Book of Craig - page by ?

The Book of Craig - page by ?

The Book of Craig - page by Julie

The Book of Craig - page by Julie

The Book of Craig - page by Lois

The Book of Craig - page by Michelle

The Book of Craig - page by Terri

The Book of Craig - page by ?

If you’d like to see the book from Craig’s perspective, you can read about it on his website. You should definitely check it out – if you do, you’ll be rewarded by images of the Nutt-o-Rama Volvelle and Craig Nutt Paper Doll Set created by book artist and paper engineer Carol Barton.

The Book of Craig

In my last post, you saw the page that I created for The Book of Craig: A Creative Festschrift (yep, that’s the name). Now I can show you the finished book.

Before I do that, here are some book-related numbers:

  • Total pages: 40
  • Thread length used: 10 yards
  • Binding time: 296 minutes (4.93 hours)
  • Total production time: 595 minutes (9.92 hours)
  • Number of times I wrote the word “dammit” in my work journal: 1

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my friend Jill for making me an awesome set of weights – they were indispensable during sewing. Those signatures really liked to wiggle!

As you can see in the image below, there are blue post-its on the last page of the book. Whenever I use the Coptic stitch, I always put post-its on the outside of the first and last signatures so that the wax from the linen thread doesn’t rub off on the pages while sewing.

Coptic binding inprocess

Some of the signatures only had one page in them, due to the thickness of added materials. Negotiating the collaged items while sewing was sometimes tricky, but I love a challenge.

Here you can see the book right after I finished sewing it – the second time. I actually had finished it more than an hour earlier than this, but after I trimmed the threads, I noticed that I missed a stitch. That’s where the aforementioned dammit came into play.

Handmade custom coptic book by ELissa Campbell of Blue Roof Designs

I had to cut the stitches open, add more thread, and re-sew the last couple of signatures (sections) and cover.

Handmade custom coptic book by ELissa Campbell of Blue Roof Designs

The thickness of the book’s spine came in at a bit under two inches.

Coptic binding closeup

The inset was created by Kelly McMahon, letterpress proprietress of May Day Studio.

Sakes alive, Kelly is wonderful. I walked into her studio with nothing but paper and text and she gave me not one, but three different options for the inset (all of them were amazing). I really had no idea what I wanted it to look like and somehow, she managed to design the perfect piece. Thanks Kelly!

Handmade custom coptic book by ELissa Campbell of Blue Roof Designs

In my next post, I’ll show you all of the pages that went into the book – they are fabulous!

Tyvek Craig

Many moons ago, I worked at CERF+ (it was called CERF back then). During my time there, Craig Nutt came on board as the director of programs. After nearly ten years with the organization, Craig recently retired from his position to return to work in his furniture studio. By the way, you must click on his name and check out his furniture – it’s fabulous.

I was contacted by Cornelia Carey, CERF+’s executive director, to create a commemorative book for Craig. As I mentioned in this post, individual pages were sent to 100 people to create a piece for inclusion in the book. Participants had two months to complete their work, after which the pages were collected and given to me for binding.

Now that the book has been presented to Craig, I can show you what I’ve been up to! Today’s post focuses my page – yep, I got to make one too!

For my design, I posterized a photo of Craig in Photoshop Elements to reduce it to three shades. I created a rectangular border around his head, adding text to it in white.

As I mentioned in this post, I painted three sheets of Tyvek for the project. I started with the medium shade of grey, which was the base of my piece. I attached a sheet of CODA cold-mount double release adhesive to the Tyvek and scored the back liner with an X-Acto knife. I then taped the Tyvek to the back of my template.

White Tyvek with double-sided adhesive sheet mounted on the back, taped to a sheet of paper

My first task was to cut out all of the light grey areas.

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

Once that was done, I peeled off the adhesive liner on the back.

Cut Tyvek with adhesive on the back

I took the light grey sheet of Tyvek and stuck it to the back of the medium grey sheet.

Layers of colored Tyvek stuck together

I then cut out the areas around Craig’s head, leaving tabs at the top and bottom. When assembled, the text border would overlap the tabs.

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

On to the next layer!

I attached a sheet of adhesive to the black piece of Tyvek and scored the back liner with an X-Acto knife. I taped the Tyvek to the back of another copy of my template. I started work on the letters.

Cutting letters out of Tyvek

Cutting through the layers of paper, Tyvek, and adhesive was tough when it came to the letters. I really, really hate the letter S now. It’s EVIL. Thankfully, the Tyvek didn’t come out all chewed up like the paper template.

Cutting letters out of Tyvek

Once all of the letters were cut (it took a lloonnngggg time), I trimmed the edges of the border.

Cutting letters out of Tyvek

At this point, all I had left were the details – the dark areas on Craig’s face. I slapped adhesive on more black Tyvek and got to work.

The small bits really made the portrait come to life. This piece…

Cut Tyvek hair

…was hair.

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

Then more hair…

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

…and a mustache.

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

Don’t forget the eyebrows…

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

…and eyeballs.

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

Finally, it was time to assemble the pieces. I trimmed the tabs on Craig’s head and peeled off the adhesive liner. I used another copy of the template to help me place his head in the right spot.

Cut Tyvek portrait adhered to a piece of paper

Once the head was in place, I slowly attached the border, making sure that it was straight and overlapped the tabs in the right places.

Adding cut text border to cut Tyvek portrait

And then BAM! It was done.

Cut Tyvek portrait of Craig Nutt

Then I stared at it for a long time. I couldn’t believe it was finished!

A couple of days later, I wrote a message to Craig on the bottom of the piece and signed it.

Cut Tyvek portrait of Craig Nutt

I feel like this post is making it sound like this project was easy peasy. It wasn’t. Unfortunately, I didn’t do a good job of tracking my time on this project but trust me – it took hours.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! Cutting Tyvek is really fun and it’s easier to work with than paper – it doesn’t tear as easily.

Some tips for cutting Tyvek:

  • Change that X-Acto blade. Often. It makes a huge difference.
  • Weights can be your best friend. They help keep the paper from slipping while you work.
  • If you find yourself getting frustrated – walk away from it and take a break. You will make more mistakes if you’re agitated when you work.
  • Don’t rush it – slow and steady is the way to go.

My next post will focus on the construction of Craig’s book – stay tuned!

Even more Chinese Sewing Box

My name is Elissa and I can’t stop making the Chinese Sewing Box.

As I mentioned in this post, I wanted to make the structure using reversible Unryu. So that’s what I did.

I have a nice stash of the stuff – the colors are bright and it has a lovely texture. While the paper starts out a bit stiff, it softens as you fold it. I found that rubbing the surface of the paper with a bone folder helped to soften it further.

The main drawback with using this paper is that when you make folds, it’s really hard to see them. Even when I made super-sharp creases, after I opened up the paper it was fairly impossible to see what I had just done. I found that it helped to keep my paper folded (instead of unfolding) when moving on to the next step, just to remind me where my crease was.

In addition to trying a new material this time around, I also wanted to find an alternative to the Victorian Puzzle Purse for the top layer of the structure. I found a photo tutorial on Flickr for a Pop Up Envelope by annekata. There wasn’t any text accompanying the pictures, so when I got stuck, I really got stuck. After some trial and error (and help from a friend), I nailed it.

Pop Up Envelope with printed instructions

The thing is so cool – it has two triangular flaps on the sides that you pull on to open the box. The way it’s folded allows you to showcase both colors of the Unryu.

Pop Up Envelope

It looks great when added to the Chinese Sewing Box.

Chinese sewing box

And were we go on our tour of the structure, layer by layer:

Chinese sewing box

Chinese sewing box

Chinese sewing box

Chinese sewing box

Chinese sewing box

In a nutshell, Chinese Sewing Box + Reversible Unryu = all kinds of awesome.

Chinese sewing box

Now how many more of these am I going to make…

Happy Preservation Week!

Preservation Week logo

Hey everyone – it’s Preservation Week! This annual event, presented by the American Library Association (ALA), is going on now through April 30th.

Here’s what the ALA has to say about the event:

Memories and treasures should last a lifetime and be passed on to future generations. Sponsored by the ALA’s Association of Library Collections and Services and partner organizations, Preservation Week inspires actions to preserve personal, family, and community collections in addition to library, museum, and archive collections. It also raises awareness of the role libraries and other cultural institutions play in providing ongoing preservation education and information.

I have a keen interest in the concept of preservation – it’s one of the reasons why I make books. People should tell their stories and be able share them with future generations.

So what can you do to honor this week? Here are some ideas:

  1. Check out the resources on how to properly care for collections of books and paper.
  2. Watch a webinar about preserving scrapbooks.
  3. Teach a child about the importance of preservation.
  4. Confirm that your photo albums are archival and acid free.
  5. Make a book and share your story!

Tell me what you’re up to this week – I’d love to hear about it!

Top secret custom order in progress…

I just completed the covers for the super-secret custom project that I mentioned back in January. All of the contributor pages are in, so I’m good to go!

I started by determining the placement for an inset book title, which will be letterpressed by the fabulous May Day Studio.

Bookboard with gridlines drawn on it

I used my X-Acto knife to cut the outside lines, taking three passes on each line. It’s easier to do it that way than to try making a deep cut on one pass.

Bookboard is evil in that layers don’t peel off in consistent, large pieces. They like to be all random and, well, evil. When I have to carve a large inset, I usually make a grid of cuts so that I can just peel off small pieces. It’s much more satisfying.

Bookboard with gridlines cut with an X-Acto knife

Hey look – I peeled off a bunch of board!

Carved bookboard

Here’s the pile of peels to prove it!

Pile of bookboard pieces

After the inset is cut as evenly as possible, I burnish it with a bone folder. This helps tame the fuzzies and makes the surface smoother. I love using my Jim Croft bone folder for this task as it has an awesome pointy flatness that’s great for getting into the corners.

Carved bookboard burnished with a bone folder

Time for gluing! For this book, I’m using a beautiful Duo bookcloth I got from Colophon – it’s two colors, with red being the dominant color and green being the secondary color. It’s like a traffic light, with both a red light and a green light in the same cloth. The manufacturer calls the color peperoni, but Colophon calls it chili.

I work the cloth into the inset before I do any burnishing on the rest of the cover. I want to make sure that the bookcloth sinks all the way in there and conforms to the shape of the inset. I use a teflon bone folder for this task – it’s softer and has less risk of tearing through the cloth.

Covering bookboard with red bookcloth

Here’s a close-up of the inset:

Closeup of handmade book cover inset

My customer wanted a pocket on the inside of the back cover, so I created one using the same paper I used for the book pages.

Book cover with pocket end page

These are the completed covers:

Red handmade book covers with inset

The covers are going to sit in the press until I’m ready to start binding the book. The project seems much more real now that the covers are done and the pages are here. I took pictures of all of the pages and I’ll be sharing them in a later post (after the gift is given).

I can’t wait to start binding the pages into the book!

Paper cutting with Tyvek

As I mentioned in this post, I’m working on creating a portrait of someone using painted sheets of Tyvek. 

Have I done a paper cut using Tyvek before? Nope. Do I have a deadline that is forcing me to get really good at it ASAP? Yep.

I decided to do a test run before I started working on the actual piece. My biggest concern was how I was going to mount the piece once it was finished. I did some research by consulting my copy of Cut Up This Book! by Emily Hogarth.

She offers several suggestions for selecting the right adhesive for your project, including glue sticks, double-sided tape, and spray adhesive. I knew that my piece was going to have many teeny cuts so glue stick and tape wouldn’t fit the bill. And spray adhesive is just too darn icky.

I settled on using something that I already had in the studio – CODA cold-mount double release adhesive. It’s basically like a big sheet of pH neutral, double-sided tape. I was first introduced to the product by book artist Randi Parkhurst at the Focus on Book Arts conference.

I started by removing the paper release liner on one side of the CODA sheet. I placed a piece of Tyvek on the adhesive and rubbed it down with a bone folder. Lastly, I trimmed off the excess.

Because the release liners on the adhesive sheets are full-size, I decided to lightly score the back of my piece with an X-Acto knife (not cutting the Tyvek) – I wanted to be able to remove the liner in smaller pieces when dealing with the more delicately-cut pieces of Tyvek.

White Tyvek with double-sided adhesive sheet mounted on the back

I decided to test my ability on the text part of my design. I printed it out and taped it to the Tyvek. Then I cut through all of the layers – paper template, Tyvek, and adhesive sheet. As long as the blade was sharp (changed often), I had little difficulty getting through the layers.

One of the benefits of using the CODA adhesive sheets was that they stiffened and stabilized the Tyvek, making it much easier to cut. 

Cutting letters into Tyvek through paper template

When I finished my first word, I removed the template. I was more or less satisfied with the results (cleaner corners, please).

White Tyvek with the word price cut into it

I removed the liner from the back of the Tyvek and adhered it to a dark piece of paper. It looked pretty good!

White Tyvek with the word price cut into it, mounted on grey paper

So this is the way I’m going to work on my portrait. Hopefully, the smaller details will render well.

Stay tuned for a post about the final piece!

Pin It on Pinterest