Extreme Production Adventure with Carol Barton

So today I finally get to talk about my weekend workshop with Carol Barton. As I mentioned in this post and this post, Carol came to Vermont as part of a collaboration with the Craft Emergency Relief Fund, where I work. Even though a lot of work was accomplished, I still had a really fun time.

Carol Barton workshop - Craft Emergency Relief Fund

No slacking here

Members of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont volunteered their labor in exchange for time with Carol. I have to tell you, these women are worker bees! There’s no way we would have finished as much as we did without their help. I love you guys! Carol taught us a very basic truth:

Repeating a single production step…is more efficient than moving through several actions at once.

I have learned this over the years in my work. I usually work on three books at a time, completing the same step on all three before moving on to the next. The time it takes to produce each book is reduced when I work this way.

Carol Barton workshop - Craft Emergency Relief Fund

Carol hard at work with a jig

We also learned about using jigs and templates to help speed up production – that alone was worth the price of admission (yeah, the workshop was free, but still). I plan to devote a post to the jigs and templates to show you exactly what she showed us.

The simple tips she taught us were invaluable. For example, if you want to test the archival quality of an adhesive, you can simulate extreme conditions (time/aging, heat, & moisture) at home:

  • Glue your item.
  • Put your oven on a low setting.
  • Put a pan of water in the oven.
  • Place your glued item on a tray and leave it in the oven for 2 days.

Carol advised us that commercial pop-up books are priced by the number of glue spots included. You can reduce your production costs by eliminating as many glue spots as possible – adapt your design/engineering to accomplish this. This is applicable to the production of handmade editions too – reduce the number of glue spots and you reduce the amount of time it takes to finish a piece.

Carol Barton workshop - Craft Emergency Relief Fund

The Book Arts Guild of Vermont represents

Somehow we managed to finish 100 prototypes of the Studio Protector – the exact number we needed. Yeehaw!

Carol Barton workshop - Craft Emergency Relief Fund

Pile of Studio Protectors – and I love piles!

If you’re interested in reading Carol’s view of her experience in Vermont, you can read about it in her blog. That’s me in the second picture on the right – gray t-shirt, curly hair.

4 Responses to “Extreme Production Adventure with Carol Barton”

By Judy Grubbs - 19 September 2008 Reply

I’m very excited to see the posts about the jigs and templates. I found your blog by googling Julie Chen. I took a workshop from her this summer, and like you, felt it was an incredible experience.

By elissa - 19 September 2008 Reply

Hi Judy,

Where did you take the workshop? I think Julie was at Penland before our class. I would take another class with her in a heartbeat.

The jigs and templates are very cool. I have lots of pictures to take for that post.


By Judy Grubbs - 22 September 2008 Reply


I took the class from Julie at the Oregon College of Arts and Crafts in Portland, OR. It was her class on Boxes: Container and Content. I walked away with some beautiful boxes and a lot of great inspiration. I really hope to take another class from her someday.

By elissa - 23 September 2008 Reply

Ooohh…she talked about the box class she did at Penland. We saw her book “View” which had the coolest box structure – the one with the lids that flipped up to hide and reveal different things. I can’t remember the name of it (grrrrr…). I did take pictures though, in an attempt to remember how to put it together.

So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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