Workshop at Springfield H.S. Arts Academy

Last year I taught bookbinding to 136 students at the Springfield High School Arts Academy in Springfield, Vermont. This year I taught 140.


Springfield High School Arts Academy students hard at work

No, not all at once. That’s just silly.

As I mentioned in last year’s post, the Springfield Arts Academy is based on the premise that integrating the arts into all subjects helps to reinforce concepts that students are learning. For three days, I taught eight periods in a variety of classes – Science, English, Civics, Math, and Social Studies.

All of the classes were working on a central theme for their books – water. It was interesting to hear teachers talk about the ways the students could approach the project – examining the symmetry of a snowflake or analyzing the mythology of Poseidon.

I had some students in more than one class, so thankfully I had three book structures planned: the panel book (I taught this structure last year),

Handmade book workshop at Springfield High School Arts Academy

Panel book by Springfield High School Arts Academy student

the flag book,

Paste papers by Springfield High School Arts Academy students

This class made paste papers for their flag books

and the star book (I made my first one a few days before teaching it – blush). Thankfully, the star book is pretty straightforward and easy to teach.

Springfield High School Arts Academy students hard at work

Star book by Springfield High School Arts Academy student

Twinkle twinkle awesome student star book

Once again (thank goodness!) I had an assistant for all three days, Catherine. Not only did she guide me through the maze of hallways and bizarre-o system of elevators, but she patiently answered my repetitive question, “When does this period end?” Seriously, she’s a saint.

Handmade books by Springfield High School Arts Academy students

I find it fascinating how people engage in the creative process. In general, it seems that teenagers are more comfortable with just diving into a project. While adults seem to be more concerned about doing it “right”, teenagers just want to do it. I wish I had more of that fearlessness in my daily life.

I love the reaction I get when I tell people that a bonefolder is, in fact, made of real bone – that’s why I always make a point of talking about it when I teach. On the second day of classes, a student came up to me and asked me for a cow stick. It took me a few seconds to realize that he was actually asking me for a bonefolder.

A delayed reaction, but still a good one. 🙂

5 Responses to “Workshop at Springfield H.S. Arts Academy”

By Maudie - 16 February 2011 Reply

I love the star book, I haven’t quite managed to make one of these yet and keep putting it off – as you say, I should really just leap in and give it a go!

By Elissa - 18 February 2011 Reply

Maudie –

I made a handout for the teachers so they could learn more about the Star Book. Here’s the list of online resources:

I hope you find these helpful.


By Maudie - 18 February 2011 Reply

Ooh! Fantastic – thank you very much!
I will give it a go and post my accomplishments!!

By velma - 16 February 2011 Reply

great and congratulations on surviving! the bonefolder gig is my favorite, i lay it on thick, talk about it, explain it’s a traditional tool, that it IS cow leg bone…i tell them how expensive it is and that it can be shattered, and then i tell them i’ve made some out of elk and deer…they think i’m totally awesome after that!

By Elissa - 18 February 2011 Reply

Velma –

It’s pretty awesome that as bookbinders, we have this tool with such magical powers. And it’s great for scratching a back itch in a pinch. 🙂


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

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