Book arts workshop at Dartmouth

To put it mildly, Dartmouth College has a rocking Book Arts Program. I attended one of their workshops back in February and made a box in a workshop led by Collections Conservator Deborah Howe. The program has both a bindery and a letterpress studio.

As I’ve mentioned before, there’s no charge to use the studios or to attend their workshops. Members of the Dartmouth community are given priority, but if there are open spots, anyone can make use of their facilities.

This past Tuesday, I drove over to Vermont’s next-door neighbor to attend another workshop with Deborah – Exposed Spine Sewn Boards Binding. At the start of my drive, I decided to call my sister. My six year-old niece answered the phone.

Here’s how the conversation went:

Niece: Hello!

Me: Hi sweetie!

Niece: Where are you?

Me: In my van driving.

Niece: Are you coming here? (insert Elissa’s heart breaking)

Me: No sweetie, I’m going to a class.

Niece: A book class?

Me: Yes! I am going to a book class.

Niece: Because you want to get better, right?

My niece is brilliant. I love the fact that she knows I make books. We’ve made several books together and once she told me that she wanted to be an artist like me. I’m sure that she’s changed her mind since then, but that’s okay. She’s six.

The workshop was packed, as you can see in the photo below. What you can also see is the back of my head – the curly, brown, hoodie-wearing head. And would you believe that the back of my head made it on to the front page of the November 10th edition of the Dartmouth College newspaper?

Book Arts Workshop at Dartmouth College

Photo credit: Nik Medrano/The Dartmouth

The back of my head is having a good year. Remember when it was included in the Vermont Open Studio map?

The workshop focused on the single needle coptic stitch. I’ve been using the double needle coptic stitch on an exclusive basis for a few years now, so it was nice to go back in time.

I loved Deborah’s use of the white board to show the sewing process. I’m thinking of getting a small one to use in my workshops.

Coptic stitch diagram on a white board

I was quickly reminded of my main problem with single needle coptic – tension. I pull my stitches too tight. If I were to use this stitch again, I’d definitely have to work on that.

Coptic stitch - handmade book

Hello. My name is Tighty McTight.

My days have been crazy because I’ve been preparing for my first big craft show of the season (in three days!). When I get so close to a show, I become machine-like as I spend more hours in the studio. Efficiency is great, but sometimes I forget the fun.

Even though I was worried about losing several hours of production time, it was wonderful to have an out-of-studio experience at Dartmouth. It helped to short circuit my robot brain. I’m thankful to have such a great resource within driving distance.


Many thanks to The Dartmouth for granting permission to use their photo.

One Response to “Book arts workshop at Dartmouth”

By velma - 15 November 2010 Reply

i met deborah at pbi and really liked her. her students were really working hard for her! a good sign, i think.

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

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