Book Arts Guild of Vermont workshop: Books and Fiber Art

This past Wednesday I attended the monthly meeting of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont. This month’s program, Books and Fiber Art, was led by Sally Knight.

After attending the meeting, I’m convinced that Sally is some kind of fabric Jedi Master. She showed us a bunch of samples of her work, which was just fabulous. I tried to Google her to see if I could link to any images, but sadly, I couldn’t find any.

Sally worked as a professional fiber artist from 1989 through 2003, creating art quilts, fabric jewelry, and artists’ books. She talked about her adventures in trying to find a method for stiffening fabric without compromising its surface texture.

She said that the magic bullet is (I kid you not) a product called Stiffy. The goo is made by Plaid, the same company that makes those 2 oz. bottles of craft paint. This Stiffy stuff is pretty cool – it doesn’t leave any residue or look like it’s soaked into the fabric. It just makes the fabric look like you did a great job ironing it really, really flat. You can also cut the treated fabric and it won’t unravel AND you can glue it down without the glue soaking through. I think the use of this product has great possibilities for making books.

And lots of inappropriate jokes.

After Sally talked about her fabric experiences, she taught us one of Claire Van Vliet‘s (Janus Press) bindings – an interlocking book structure that Van Vliet used for her artist book Aunt Sallie’s Lament. The structure looks really complicated, but is fairly easy to construct. That is, of course, if you’re paying attention and not busy chatting with your neighbor. That wasn’t me.

Anyway, if you’re interested in learning more about the binding, you can find on pages 13-17 of the book Woven and Interlocking Book Structures, by Claire Van Vliet and Elizabeth Steiner. The book retails for $35.00 and is available at Talas and John Neal Bookseller.

Woven and Interlocking Book Structures by Claire Van Vliet

The bindings presented in the book really push you to think about how form and content must be considered together when planning book design. Van Vliet has a number of limited edition artist books available for purchase as well from Vamp and Tramp, Booksellers. Oh, and lives in Vermont, like me. Yay!

Wednesday’s meeting was also the deadline for our collaborative Vermont Lake Champlain Quadricentennial Book Project (you can read more about that here). I finished my last piece within hours of the meeting. Nothing like waiting until the last minute.

The first image I came up with was for The Lake -I just knew I had to do a straight-on fish image, with the little swimmer looking like, “Dude, what are you looking at? Get that stupid hook out of my face!”

Largemouth Bass collage by Elissa Campbell

The Lake – Largemouth Bass

The next image was for The Land – I wanted to do something unexpected, so I decided to focus on the Lake Champlain wetlands instead of the frequently-shot image of the lake landscape.

Wetlands collage by Elissa Campbell

The Land – Wetlands

Lastly came The People – I’m not very good with representations of people, so I decided to go with logo for the Abenaki Nation.

Abenaki Nation logo collage by Elissa Campbell

The People – Abenaki Nation logo

It was nice to get back to collage work, which I haven’t really done in quite some time. Once I got started, it was like I had never stopped.

All three of the pieces were collaged using primarily Unryu papers. They come in such a fun range of colors and textures – easy to work with.

On a closing note, today is my one-year blogiversary. I’m proud to have become a part of such a wonderful community of book artist-bloggers.

I have learned so much from all of you!

2 Responses to “Book Arts Guild of Vermont workshop: Books and Fiber Art”

By BookGirl - 4 April 2009 Reply

Congrats on your first year “blogiversary” (no doubt a new word for the lexicon). It’s a big achievement, and a gift to those of us who read your blog regularly. Thanks!


By elissa - 4 April 2009 Reply

Thanks so much Clara! I’m a reader of your blog too (thanks for the link in your Gocco post).

I think I might actually finally use my Gocco this week for the first time…maybe…ugh. Why is using this thing so hard?


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