Workshop at Orchard Valley Waldorf School

I’m taking a brief break from my book reviews this week – I taught bookbinding classes for the past three days and my brain is still in the classroom.

Yesterday was day two at the Orchard Valley School in East Montpelier, Vermont. I’m working with nine eighth graders. I know that this is going to sound dorky, but they are seriously adorable. I’m pretty sure that the last thing a teenager wants to be called is adorable, but too bad. They’re adorable.

Bookbinding class at Orchard Valley Waldorf School - Vermont

They’ve all known each other forever and there’s a kind of family vibe that goes on between them. I’m enjoying watching them interact with each other.

I’m teaching 8 classes in total – the work is a combination of my Know When to Fold ‘Em and Recycled Accordion Book workshops. The students will have completed five books by the end of the run – all of the structures are variations on the accordion book.

This week, they learned the basics of gluing, manipulating paper, and covering boards. For the recycled book, they wove together strips of envelope security patterns to create a cover paper.

Bookbinding class at Orchard Valley Waldorf School - Vermont

I love showing others how to appreciate the beauty that can be found in unexpected places. These students are really creative and they just dive into the work without hesitation or self-judgment. I wish I could get that fearless spirit back.

On the second day, a few of them brought in their own papers to use in their projects. I love love love the paper woven together with strips from a 50’s magazine page. I have decided to call her Spooky 50’s Lady Head.

Bookbinding class at Orchard Valley Waldorf School - Vermont

Next week I’ll teach the class how to create the interior page structures of the five books.

12 Responses to “Workshop at Orchard Valley Waldorf School”

By velma - 21 October 2010 Reply

kids love paper weaving and what a great idea to start with the envelope patterns. i have mine do self portraits and weave them… anyway, what great work you’re doing.

By Elissa - 22 October 2010 Reply

Velma –

I love the idea of woven self portraits! Are your students using paper or other materials?


By velma - 22 October 2010 Reply

i have the kids use photo booth on the iMac and take a self portrait. they import it into iPhoto and then print it full size on paper they make (if we have any–i take them to my mill sometimes to make paper). they make two copies. one is cut with vertical cuts, usually fairly wide, the other horizontal. then we weave them together and glue on to a mounting paper, for fractured self portaits. my students are age 15-21 in this alternative ed, ged program, usually emotionally disturbed kids. this project is a great success, and we mount them on the wall for the school year.

By Elissa - 27 October 2010 Reply

Velma –

What a great project!

It seems like it would make a great art therapy exercise, since it touches on the issue of self image. It sounds right on target for that age group too.


By richard norman - 22 October 2010 Reply

I teach bookbinding to a group of paraplegic young adults, If you don’t mind I am going to pinch your idea about weaving paper, was the finished sheet pasted back and front to hold the weave together I wonder?

Thanks, and keep up the very good work.


By Elissa - 22 October 2010 Reply

Richard –

That’s great that you want to use the weaving in your classes, but don’t credit me with the idea! My project was inspired by Dennis Yuen’s Shopping B(ag)ook. I look forward to hearing about how your project develops.


By buechertiger - 22 October 2010 Reply

It made me happy to read that you like your 8th graders. Too many (teachers) commit to teenage bashing, at least here in Germany. I always liked teenagers, but when I said so, everyone just rolled their eyes and told me how horrible they were.

Oh, sometimes I miss teaching at school…

By Elissa - 22 October 2010 Reply

Hilke –

I know what you mean about teenager bashing – it’s like that here too.

I realized when I wrote this post that I was being really gooey about these students, but I couldn’t help it. All of them were intelligent, polite, and kind. They are so generous with each other.

I anticipate more mushiness to come in my future posts about these classes.


By Brea - 22 October 2010 Reply

envelope paper covers = brilliant
I too will be using this in a class. Thanks for passing it on!

By Elissa - 27 October 2010 Reply

Brea –

Hiya – it’s nice to hear from you! 🙂 I’d love to hear how your class goes. If you blog about it, let me know.


By Ellen - 23 October 2010 Reply

These are great projects for any age. I especially like the envelopes. I’ve never taught that age group, but without question, by far, I’ve found that kids around that age ask the most interesting and insightful questions I ever get asked about my own artwork. I like talking art with teenagers.

By Elissa - 27 October 2010 Reply

Ellen –

I have experienced the same thing with kids when they visit me during Vermont’s Open Studio Weekend – they ask the most thoughtful questions. I think it’s because they haven’t yet been conditioned by society to ask the “right” (a.k.a. bland) questions.


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