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Philly happenings during Standards

City Hall in PhiladelphiaI’m so excited to say that I’ll be attending this year’s Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence Seminar! I’m especially excited because the event will bring me to my old stomping grounds, Philadelphia. I went to the University of Pennsylvania for my undergraduate education and I love love love the area.

I’m hoping to make it to two of my favorite food spots – Kamal’s at the Reading Terminal Market and Koch’s Deli, home of the world’s greatest chicken salad sandwich.

Besides eating and attending the seminar, I’ll be checking out some book artsy happenings that are going on during my time in Philly.

Here’s what’s up:

At the Brodsky Gallery at Kelly Writers House, 3805 Locust Walk on the University of Pennsylvania campus, is The Word Made Manifest: Text in Handmade Paper. The exhibit was curated by Mary Tasillo of the Common Press and is open now through October 27, 2019. Featured artists include Kerri Cushman, Helen Hiebert, Takeshi Honda, Steven Kostell, Suzanne McLelland, Melanie Mowinski, Christy Rupp, and Mary Tasillo.

The exhibit brings together artists who work with handmade paper as an explicit art form. The pieces in this exhibition feature text, wherein the text is physically part of the piece of paper. Techniques range from watermarking to shaped pages to an array of approaches to stenciling pigmented paper pulp into the sheet of paper while it’s still wet and freshly formed. Experience the word and the page becoming one.


Now through November 30th, the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers is presenting Once Upon a Book at the Free Library in Philadelphia. The exhibit is located on the 2nd floor outside the Art Department.

Who doesn’t love children’s books? We all have a favorite book that was read to us as a child or one that we read to our own children, or even grandchildren. For some of us, it was the start of a passion for all things book-related. The Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers wanted to display their love of children’s books by having chapter members rebind, alter, restore, or create from scratch a book intended for children.

Also on view at the Free Library is The Book as Art: Highlights from the Book Arts Collection. The exhibit is located at the Print and Picture Collection and is open now through December 1st.

While artists have illustrated books for centuries, an artists’ books is a medium unto itself. Artists’ books draw inspiration from the form or the function of a book to create a piece of artwork. Depending on the artist’s intent, the book may be limited to one copy or could be editioned to make many. These books are often constructed by hand, but may feature mass-produced components. The books on view represent a selection of artists’ books housed in the Print and Picture Collection.


The Philadelphia Center for the Book‘s current exhibit, Variations of the Artist Book: Philadelphia Center for the Book Member Exhibition is open how through November 29, 2019. The show is located downtown on the 2nd floor of City Hall.


The Guild of Book Workers‘ exhibit Formation ends its tour at the University of the Arts‘ Hamilton/Arronson Gallery. The exhibit is open now through October 30th. Here’s the curator’s statement:

The theme of “formation” was prompted when I was in Charleston for the 2016 Standards conference, browsing in Blue Bicycle Books. I came across a memoir by the writer Eudora Welty called One Writer’s Beginnings. A portion of the summary on the dust jacket reads, “she sketches her autobiography and tells us how her family and her surroundings contributed to the shaping not only of her personality but of her writing.” Having recently worked on a fine binding that was more autobiographical than I am used to, I had this subject on the brain. And so I started thinking about the formation of personal narratives and histories, how our histories help to inform the work we make as artists.

 

As I began to talk more openly about the idea of “formation” as a theme, it was clear that this was a word that could be taken in many different directions: biology (the formation of plants), craftsmanship (forming pieces, how we make things), forming ideas, geographies – these are some of the interpretations I have come across. The possibilities really seemed endless, and as entries began rolling in, I saw that members had thought about the theme from angles I hadn’t yet considered. It was a hugely gratifying experience to come up with a concept and then see the many ways that the idea inspired others to create.

The University of the Arts is located at 320 S. Broad Street (NW corner of Broad and Pine Streets).


My agenda’s looking pretty full!

If you know of anything else going on in the Philadelphia area this month, please let me know. I’m always up for cramming another clown in the car. 🙂

Open Studio Weekend – central Vermont artisans

Vermont Open Studio Weekend logo

Vermont’s Fall Open Studio Weekend is coming up this weekend, October 5 & 6! Artists across the state are madly cleaning their studios just for your visit. That’s right – they want to see you!

Most Vermont craftspeople work in studios located in or close to their residences. These are places of production and inspiration located in downtowns as well as at the ends of dirt roads. They are exciting places to visit because they reflect the dynamic yet organized process that is used to produce the finished work of art.

The studio itself is enormously informative because you can see at a glance how the artist works. Buying or ordering work during an Open Studio sale is a unique experience because you have the opportunity to speak to the artist directly.

Here’s the postcard I sent out to invite folks to my studio (if you’d like to be added to my snail mail list, just let me know):

Handmade book necklaces by Elissa Campbell of Blue Roof Designs

There are more than 20 studios and exhibits you can visit in Washington County alone, but you should stop at my studio first. Yes, I’m bossy like that. I would love nothing more than to share my work with you so come on over!

I’ll have super-yummy Cabot cheese (nope, not getting paid to say that) and maple kettle corn for your snacking pleasure. How could that not motivate you?

There are eight studios/exhibits within a short-ish drive of me and each is well worth a visit. I’ve listed these local studios below, where I’m referring to them by both name and number – the number refers to a listing in the gold 2019 Fall Event & Resource Guide. There are several ways to get your hands on a guide:

Here’s the rundown of who’s who (click on the links to learn more about specific artists/exhibits):

Note: If you’re wondering why the 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’d be happy to recommend some local restaurants for your dining pleasure.

I hope to see you at the studio!

Ephemera website is up!

I mentioned in this post that I’d let you know when the online exhibition for Ephemera: Forever, Always, & Now went live, so here goes – it’s live!

I can’t help but totally geek out over the fact that my entry is right next to Jim Croft‘s.

Ephemera binding website screenshot

You have got to check out these other bindings – they are really something special. I’m truly honored to have my work included in this collection of rock stars.

Here’s a rundown of who participated, along with where to find them online:

The next volume in Uppercase Magazine‘s Encyclopedia of Inspiration is Vintage Life and I chose someone perfect to bind a copy. I can’t wait to see what she does with it!

If you’d like your own copy of Ephemera (and who wouldn’t – it’s awesome), you can get it here.

UNBOUND IX exhibit at ArtisTree Gallery

For the past 9 years, the ArtisTree Gallery in South Pomfret, VT has had an exhibit of book art and this was the first year that I submitted work for the jury. I have no good reason for having not done so sooner. It’s a book art exhibit in Vermont for goodness’ sake – what took me so long?

Here’s what the gallery has to say about their exhibit:

The broad theme of “UNBOUND VOL. IX” encompasses all of the possibilities of what we may think or may not think a “book” is. Is it story? An entry to another world? An exploration? What does it indicate? This juried show looks to explore this idea of “the book” and all the ways artists use that format as a stepping-off point or as material to explore new ideas.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when my piece Fine Art was accepted to UNBOUND vol. IX. Here it is on display:

Unfortunately, I missed the opening reception because it was held the day before I left for vacation. Upon my return from my trip, I had a surprise waiting for me in the mail – a certificate stating that my piece had won Honorable Mention! When I finally visited the gallery, I saw that there was a lovely gold sticker next to my piece (I’m a sucker for a gold star):

Gallery artwork label

And then another pleasant surprise, as you can see above – I sold my piece! Woohoo!

I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked to explore the other work in the exhibit – as you can see on my daughter’s face below, Anna was less than pleased that she had been dragged to the gallery at all. There was no cheese there. And yes, she specifically mentioned that.

Toddler in stroller at art gallery

For the brief time I was in the gallery, I did find a few pieces that caught my interest (they’re all so different!):

Even though I didn’t have a lot of time in the gallery, I’m glad I made the trip. Many of my cohorts from the Book Arts Guild of Vermont had pieces in the show and I knew some of the other artists from the online book arts world (I’m looking at you @grimmbooks and @passionatobooks).

It’s nice to be among friends.

Book arts exhibit at ArtisTree Gallery

Three is a Magic Number at the Morgan!

I recently had the privilege of teaching a workshop at the Morgan Conservatory. During the Three is a Magic Number Experience, students got to create nine leather books, each with one of Keith Smith‘s 3-signature bindings.

This is not an easy workshop. The pace is fast and furious. Both students and Japanese screw punches get a workout – exercise for all!

If you don’t know this about me already, then you should know that I totally geek out over making workshop kits. Here you can see the bags of supplies needed to make each of the nine books.

Kits with bookbinding materials

Let’s do some math: 9 books x 8 students = 72 books. Yes, I cut paper, leather, and thread for 72 books. Oh, and some more just in case folks made mistakes. So.much.cutting.

Below you can see the fully assembled kits. I Gocco‘ed the bags with the number 3 because, well, it’s a magic number. If you’re wondering why folks have CDs, it’s so they can trim around them with an X-Acto knife to make curved cuts.

Classroom tables in the Morgan Conservatory classroom

And then there’s my (initially) insanely organized (at least to me) table. I start off knowing where everything is, but during a workshop, I tend to not put things back in their place. Have I mentioned that I’m a well-organized slob?

Instructor table in the Morgan Conservatory classroom

Hey look! It’s my workshop resource booklet! I love making these too. I try to include all of the information one would need to repeat the bindings in the future – measurements, materials suppliers, etc.

Instructor manual for bookbinding workshop

My students were the best. They showed so much kindness and courtesy to each other, which as a teacher is the most you could ask for. And they worked hard. I was impressed with their enthusiasm and perseverance. Basically they rocked on all levels.

Students at tables working on handmade books

Check it out:Hands working on a handbound leather journal

Then the workshop is over and everyone goes home and the tables are bare and everything’s clean. Both relief and a bit of sadness kick in. So much leads up to a workshop like this and the energy really builds during that time. When the workshop ends, it’s such a quick and clean break. It’s a strange loss and I feel it.

Classroom tables in the Morgan Conservatory classroom

I’m hoping to teach at the Morgan again next summer. My students indicated that they were in favor of that, so yay!

Now I just need to think of what to teach. Any suggestions?

Block Printed Journal workshop

Earlier this week, I taught a two-day workshop at Studio Place ArtsThe Block Printed Journal. Students carved their own stamps, block printed papers, and then used those papers in creating handbound journals. I had a wonderful group of students who created equally wonderful work.

Bookbinding workshop at Studio Place Arts

I love love love carving stamps. I’ve been following @3dottedpenguins, @inkycatprints, and @flygurl_designs on Instagram (go follow them!) and have been very inspired by their work – it was their prints that sparked the idea for this workshop.

On the first day, folks carved simple geometric shapes and then layered and repeated prints to create rich and complex patterns.

Hand carving rubber stamp

The student work did not disappoint! It doesn’t take a lot to make a beautiful printed paper – the pattern and color combinations were lovely.

Block printed paper

Block printed paper

Block printed papers

Block printed paper

Block printed papers

Students bound journals on the next day, selecting one of their printed papers for the cover. The binding involved sewing over leather straps and the resulting book remains flat when opened.

Hand sewing journal

Hand sewing journal

I love how the journals turned out!

Block printed handbound journal

Block printed handbound journal

Block printed handbound journal

Block printed handbound journal

This was my first time teaching this workshop and I think it’s a keeper! I’m adding it to my roster and looking forward to teaching it again.

Yay! The Ephemera binding is done!

It’s done, it’s done, it’s done!

I completed my binding of a copy of Ephemera, a volume from Uppercase Magazine‘s Encyclopedia of Inspiration. It’s a miracle that I was able to get it done, considering that I’ve also been preparing to teach a workshop at the Focus on Book Arts conference in less than a week.

Just to refresh your memory, I was chosen (along with 15 other bookbinders) to bind an unbound copy of Ephemera and create a cover based on the contents. 

We submitted an artist statement to accompany images of our work for a future online exhibition. Here’s what I had to say:

When thinking about the theme of ephemera, the concept of collections immediately came to mind and then strangely, baseball card holders. These plastic pages are useful for storing all kinds of flat things – for example, I use them to store samples of the papers I’ve used during my years as a bookbinder.

 

The design of my book is meant to evoke this storage solution used by so many youngsters (and some adults) wishing to protect their precious collections. To accomplish this, I decided to make the cover out of clear vinyl purchased at the hardware store. The cover pockets were sewn using fishing line due to its invisible nature and inherent strength.

Ephemera book pages by Uppercase Magazine, handbound by Elissa Campbell.

I bound the book using the Crossed Structure Binding, linked variation. You normally wouldn’t see the stitching on the spine of this binding because a traditional covering material would conceal it. By using the clear vinyl, the stitching became a feature.

Ephemera book pages by Uppercase Magazine, handbound by Elissa Campbell.

The pockets contain memorabilia from a 2016 trip to Japan. These treasures had been tucked away in a shoebox but now, they play a featured role. The straps of the binding made the perfect sized pockets for my ¥ 1 coins. Among the ephemera are a fortune I got from a vending machine, a map of Echizen (a papermaking village), and a paper doll that came with a purchase.

Ephemera book pages by Uppercase Magazine, handbound by Elissa Campbell.

Ephemera book pages by Uppercase Magazine, handbound by Elissa Campbell.

Ephemera book pages by Uppercase Magazine, handbound by Elissa Campbell.

Ephemera book pages by Uppercase Magazine, handbound by Elissa Campbell.

Each signature in the book was wrapped in a red sugarcane bagasse paper from Thailand. It has a wonderful texture and deep color.

Ephemera book pages by Uppercase Magazine, handbound by Elissa Campbell.

While I was a bit terrified of this project at first (I wanted to do the book justice), I really enjoyed the process. Experimenting with vinyl and fishing line was so much fun. I think both materials have a lot of potential and I can see using them again in the future.

Once the online exhibition is live, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, you can check out the other binders’ progress on Instagram – just search for the tag #bindephemera.

Ephemera binding, in process

Back in this post, I mentioned that I had been tapped to participate in the binding of a volume from Uppercase Magazine‘s Encyclopedia of InspirationEphemera. I decided to attempt my concept of incorporating ephemera from my 2016 trip to Japan. 

The book pages arrived untrimmed and I was so afraid of messing up during trimming. Finally, I found enough courage to just go for it. Check it out – all done!

Trimmed book pages

Below you can see the cover – clear vinyl that I got at the hardware store. The reason behind the vinyl? When thinking about the theme of ephemera, the concept of collections immediately came to mind and then strangely, baseball card holders. The design of my book is meant to evoke this storage solution used by those wishing to protect their collections.

Two pieces were woven together for the base of a Crossed Structure Binding, linked variation.

Clear vinyl book cover

It’s not easy to see, but you sew this binding on a sewing frame. It was hard to keep the vinyl straps taut – they were slippery and wiggly. With a lot of finessing, I managed to snug up my stitches.

Sewing handbound book

Here it is, all sewn up:

Handbound book with clear vinyl cover and red paper

To create the storage pockets, I used my Japanese screw punch to make holes in the vinyl and then completed the sewing using fishing line (it was strong and clear like the vinyl). Before punching the holes, I created a whole mess of templates so I wouldn’t mess up. Ignore the labeling on the template for the Yen pocket – it is a template, not a jig. Bad labeling.

Paper templates for punching holes in vinyl

You can see a couple of the sewn pockets below, along with their contents:

Closeup of handmade book front cover - clear vinyl pockets with coins and paper ephemera

And that’s all you get to see for now. Trust me, there’s a lot more to see.

Stay tuned for the big reveal!

Book Arts Guide to Vermont Open Studio Weekend

Artist book by Elissa Campbell of Blue Roof DesignsWelcome to your Book Arts guide for Spring Open Studio Weekend 2019!

Vermont Open Studio Weekend is coming up this weekend (May 25 & 26)! I like supporting other book artists when I can, so I dedicate a blog post to them during every open studio event. There are four book artsy studios participating (besides mine) this spring.

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 sadly, they’re not. Look at this way – you’ll get a really great tour of Vermont’s gorgeous landscape while on your travels.

I’ll be referring to studios by both name and number – the number refers to a listing in the yellow Spring Event and Resource Guide. The colors of the studio numbers in this post match the colored markers in the Google map. By the way, I’m studio #128.

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

I tried to find the most direct route between the studios so you could avoid backtracking. This route starts at the northernmost studio and travels clockwise. And away we go!

The first studio is #1, Meta Strick – she does it all. Oh my goodness, her calligraphy! She does wonderful mixed media work, including dolls that have a book component. She has a great philosophy that you can make anything into a book – it should come as no surprise to you that she’s a teacher.

Next is #140, 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/night and the seasons. The size of his work ranges from miniature to really ginormous – you can walk through some of his books when they’re open.

Stop number three is studio #127 – Kelly McMahon of May Day Studio. Kelly is both a letterpress printer and a bookbinder. She carves many of her designs in linoleum for her beautiful gift wraps (which are totally frame-able). She was lucky enough to intern at the San Francisco Center for the Book, so you know she’s got skills. Kelly’s studio is about 1.6 miles from mine.

Last stop on the tour is studio #48 is Carolyn Shattuck, a seasoned printmaker and bookmaker. She often 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.

Here’s the aforementioned Google Map for planning your route:

If you go to any of the studios, please share your experiences in the comments below. And if you have pictures, I’d love to see them…sadly, I don’t get to leave my studio to visit others during the event.

Vermont Open Studio Weekend – Montpelier/Worcester Artists

Vermont Open Studio Weekend logo

Vermont’s 27th Spring Open Studio Weekend is coming up this Memorial Day weekend, May 25 & 26! Artists across the state are busy creating work and cleaning their studios just for you.

Most Vermont craftspeople work in studios located in or close to their residences. These are places of production and inspiration located in downtowns as well as at the ends of dirt roads. They are exciting places to visit because they reflect the dynamic yet organized process that is used to produce the finished work of art.

The studio itself is enormously informative because you can see at a glance how the artist works. Buying or ordering work during an Open Studio sale is a unique experience because you have the opportunity to speak to the artist directly.

I send out a postcard every time I participate in Open Studio Weekend (yep, people still use mail). Check out the snazzy postcard that went out this time:

Artist book by Elissa Campbell of Blue Roof Designs

If you’d like to be added to my snail mail list, just let me know. I love stamping postcards!

My studio is an obvious first stop on your tour. Books are my thang and I will talk your ear off if you let me. In a good way, I promise.

Once you’ve had your fill of book talk and Cabot cheese, you can easily visit five other artists within a 15 minute drive of my studio. Montpelier and Worcester offer sweet little gems for your studio hopping pleasure. 

I’ve listed these local studios below, where I’m referring to them by both name and number – the number refers to a listing in the yellow 2019 Spring Event & Resource Guide. There are several ways to get your hands on a guide:

Here’s the rundown of who’s who (click on the links to learn more about specific artists):

Note: 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 do plan on coming to the Montpelier area, let me know and I’d be happy to recommend some local restaurants for your dining pleasure.

I hope to see you at the studio!

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