Spring Virtual Open Studio Weekend

Normally during Memorial Day weekend, I participate in the Vermont Crafts Council‘s Open Studio Weekend. It’s wonderful to have people in the studio, getting to know them and chatting about my work.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 changed the course of the event. The VCC is now presenting (as best we can) an online studio tour where you can check out artist studios and their work via video. I’m in slideshow #1.

If you’re interested in seeing me live, I’m going to be broadcasting from my studio on Facebook at 11:00 a.m. EST today, so be sure to visit my page for a real time tour. You can ask me questions and/or lurk quietly. I’m just happy to share my studio and work with you.

Virtual Open Studio Weekend - Blue Roof Designs studio

If you can’t make it to the live tour, never fear! I created some videos in an effort to approximate the experience of visiting my studio. You check those out on Vimeo.

Sincere thanks to the Vermont Arts Council

Vermont Arts Council logoI’m happy to announce that I was recently chosen by the Vermont Arts Council to receive a Vermont Rapid Response Artist Relief grant. The program offers grants up to $500.00 to artists who have lost income due to coronavirus-related job and/or gig cancellations.

I had a number of workshops and classes cancelled through the summer, including a return to the Morgan Conservatory.

The loss of these engagements is heartbreaking to me as I’m someone who not only enjoys teaching, but also loves interacting with and learning from students.

And I know I’m not alone in feeling the loss. This is happening not just in Vermont, but all over the world. If you’re an artist, do check with your local/state arts council to see if there are opportunities for emergency funding.

The Arts Council received 183 applications in the week after the fund opened, granting $64,435.00 to Vermont-based artists. A second round is now in the works thanks to funding from the New England Foundation for the Arts.

Once again, my heartfelt thanks go to the Vermont Arts Council for their financial assistance. If you’d like to donate to Vermont Rapid Response Artist Relief, you can do so on the Council’s website.

Happy National Library Week!

National Library Week banner 2020

Welcome to National Library Week!, a celebration of all that is the awesomeness of libraries. This year the event takes place April 19-25, 2020 and the theme is Find Your Place at the LibraryMaia and Alex Shibutani are Honorary Chairs for this year’s event. Maia and Alex, a.k.a. the ShibSibs, are two-time Olympic bronze medalists, three-time world medalists, Four Continents Figure Skating Champions, and two-time U.S. National Champions.

From the American Library Association‘s website:

National Library Week is an annual celebration highlighting the valuable role libraries, librarians, and library workers play in transforming lives and strengthening our communities. In 1957, the (National Book) Committee developed a plan for National Library Week based on the idea that once people were motivated to read, they would support and use libraries. With the cooperation of ALA and with help from the Advertising Council, the first National Library Week was observed in 1958 with the theme “Wake Up and Read!” The 2018 celebration marked the 60th anniversary of the first event.

Official celebrations during National Library Week include:

Due to COVID-19, this year is a obviously, and sadly, a tough one for making visits to your library. However, there are other ways that you celebrate from the safety of your home:

  • Visit your local library’s website! My library has several online offerings – story time, lectures, and access to free classes. Who knows what awesome resources your own library has available.
  • Let folks on social media know that you support libraries by using hashtags #NationalLibraryWeek and #LibrariesTransform. You can also share social media graphics on the ALA website (scroll down).
  • Follow your library, the American Library Association and I Love Libraries on social media:

Want more ideas? Check out the suggestions on the I Love Libraries website.

How things are…

I have rewritten this blog post so many times. Things are totally weird right now and at times it’s hard to stay positive. It’s mind-boggling how rapidly the world is changing due to the coronavirus.

I hope that you and those you love are safe and sound. Take care of yourselves and each other.

I think the book below does a good job of expressing how I feel right about now:

Model flag book

It was made at our last Book Arts Guild of Vermont meeting. I imagine we won’t be having meetings any time soon.

So what are my plans for the near future? Since I’m the primary caregiver for my nut child during the day, I’ve decided to try answering the following question: Is it possible to teach a near 3-year-old how to make a book?

I’m thinking pamphlet stitch. I’ll pre-punch the holes and give her a fat, blunt needle to use for sewing. I’m optimistic that this effort will be successful. Stay tuned.

A Bookbinder’s Black Friday

A Bookbinders Black Friday - logo

Welcome to my 9th annual roundup of bookbinding-related Black Friday (and some beyond that) deals!

I did all of my damage during the Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence Seminar last month, so there will be no shopping for me. I also have a craft show this weekend and if I go shopping tomorrow, I won’t have enough time to panic the required amount.

There are several bookbinding-related online sales going on starting tomorrow (and some going on right now). Check ’em out:

On 11/29, Hiromi Paper is offering free domestic shipping on orders $100.00+ (after any discounts) with code kinyoobi2019. The offer is not valid on oversize items. On top of that, they’re having their annual sale from December 1 – 31. The sale is only for specific items, but the selection is pretty great. Discounts go as high as 50%. Subscribe to Hiromi’s newsletter to get the latest on what’s included in the sale.

Now through 12/21, Arnold Grummer is holding their Annual Press Sale. Discount varies depending on the press you choose. Please visit their website for more information. But wait, there’s more! On 11/28 – 11/29, they’re offering free domestic shipping on all orders – this is automatic, no code is needed. And on 11/30 – 12/2, they giving shoppers an additional $10% off any order (including presses). Use code SHOPSMALL before checkout to get the discount.

The Getty Store is offering 25% off sitewide now through 12/3. I’m mentioning this sale because they’re the publishers behind Artists and Their Books: Books and Their Artists by Marcia Reed and Glenn Phillips – a gorgeous book. Another interesting title is Books: A Living History by Martyn Lyons. Use code 25GIFT to get the discount. Now through 12/31, they’re also offering free standard domestic shipping on all orders $100.00+. 

Get 15% off everything at Volcano Arts now through 12/1. No code needed – your cart will take care of the discount for you. They also offer free domestic shipping on orders of $100.00+.

If you need preservation supplies, Gaylord Archival is offering 25% off your order with code BLACKFRIDAY now through 12/2. You can also get free domestic shipping on orders over $100.00.

Brodart is offering varying discounts on your order, depending on when you shop:

  • 11/27 – 11/28: Get a 20% discount on everything with code WT20.
  • 11/29 – 12/1: Get a 15% discount on everything with code F15.
  • 12/2: Get a 40% discount on consumable supplies over $209.00 with code X.

The Paper Mill Store is offering 10% off orders of $250.00+ with code 250SALE and 15% off orders of $500.00+ with code 500SALE. They also offer free shipping on all orders $149.00 and over. This is an ongoing promotion with no expiration date.

Paper Source is offering 50% off all purchases from the Paper Bar, now through 11/30. They’ve got text and cover weight paper in lots of colors and sizes (no code needed).

John Neal Bookseller has three offers:

  • Get free standard domestic shipping on orders of $100.00 or more. Use code BF19FS at checkout for the discount from now through 11:59 p.m. on 12/1.
  • Get up to 50% off Black Friday Sale items from now through 6:00 p.m. on 12/6 (a full week!) – save on books, supplies, and subscriptions to both Bound & Lettered and Letter Arts Review.
  • Now through 12/1, international customers can get $10 off every $100 spent by using code NONUS19 at checkout.

Now through 12/3, Paper-Papers is offering 50% off the already discounted price of products in their Clearance department. Use coupon code getdeal at checkout to get the discount.

From now through 12/2, Vintage Paper Co. is offering 20% off all weekend deal items with a total over £20 (approximately $26.00 USD). The discount will automatically be applied, no code needed.

Planning a trip to Japan, Paris, Italy, or London? Julie Auzillon is offering 20% off for today only and items include her wonderful series of paper tour guides. Another great option is her book Origata Binding: from Japanese wrapping to bookbinding.

As part of their holiday sale, Oak Knoll Books is offering 20% off all available titles. This sale is going on now through December 2nd and no special code is needed – the discount will be applied automatically.

Helen Hiebert is giving $10.00 off your entire purchase by entering the code turkey10 at checkout, now through 12/2. Among her offerings is her wonderful creative planner and how-to book of paper projects, The Paper Year. She also has a number of books available that should also appeal to the paper lover in your life (if not you).

Head on over to Washi Arts for 10% off all papers, tools, and supplies. Use code BLACK2019 at checkout – code valid only on 11/29.

By the way, don’t forget Giving Tuesday! There are lots of worthy organizations out there that would love your support. Here are some of my favorites:

Happy shopping and/or donating!

The Paper Year: Instagram Post Round-up

I hope you’ve enjoyed my journey through The Paper Year: A 2020 Creative Project Planner. I really enjoyed working on each project and playing around with papers that weren’t familiar to me.

If you’re on the fence about getting one, consider this – it allows you to explore many different paper techniques (pop-ups, weaving, origami, bookbinding) with the planner as a bonus. Win-win!

Below you’ll find a roundup of all of my Instagram posts detailing my work on each project in the book.

Projects from The Paper YearJanuary: Cubicard

February: Pop-Up Groundhog

March: Flower Strip Book

April: Plantable Paper




Projects from The Paper YearMay: Woven Notecard

June: Architectural Lantern

July: Paper Leather Book Cover

August: Needle Holder Enclosure




Projects from The Paper YearSeptember: Batik Luminaria

October: Flying Crane Card

November: Criss-Cross Accordion Lanterns

December: One-Sheet Tree




Now that you know you want to get the planner, here’s where to go.

Meet the Custom Paper Pack!

So you’ve got a copy of The Paper Year (good for you) and now you need to figure out what papers to use for all of the projects. Let’s be real – if you have to source materials for twelve different projects, you might never actually use the planner.

Enter the Custom Paper Pack. This thing takes care of everything for you – it’s full of scrumptious papers from around the world. And the papers are oversized just a bit so you’ll have some left over. Why does that matter? Well, then you’ve got scraps to put into your planner’s super happy paper swatch place made just for that reason.

Check it out. It’s like when you’re a kid and you get a loot bag at the end of a birthday party:

Custom paper pack for The Paper Year - planner

And when you take out all of the goodies, it’s nothing but pure happiness:

Custom paper pack for The Paper Year - planner

Here’s a closer look at some of those non-paper things:

Items in the custom paper pack for The Paper Year - planner

Paper pulp? Hell yeah! In 2020 you’re going to make your own paper – with seed inclusions! Plantable goodness can be yours.

Truth be told, in my stash of paper I’m sure I have what I’d need to complete the projects. But I will say that the fun of the paper pack for me is that I get to discover new papers I don’t have. And who couldn’t use more paper? There’s some cork paper in there that I’m dying to play with. For each project, I’ll be mentioning other papers that would likely work for each one. 

Stay tuned as I work my way through the paper pack! 

** In the spirit of transparency, I need to mention that I received a Custom Paper Pack from Helen Hiebert to use for her planner projects, but I was not financially compensated in any way. All of the opinions expressed will be my own and will be based on my experiences working on the featured projects. **

Meet The Paper Year!

I am so excited to once again be teaming up with Helen Hiebert to share her latest creative project! I introduce to you – The Paper Year. While last year Helen offered The Twelve Months of Paper calendar, this year she’s upped her game with a planner. 

Cover of The Paper Year - planner

Although I love technology, I’ve never transitioned to using my phone as my planner. Paper planners and I are life partners (sorry phone).

Here’s a description of this little piece of awesomeness:

The Paper Year is a wire bound how-to book & monthly planner featuring 12 paper projects by Hedi Kyle & Ulla Warchol, Marianne Petit, Gina Pisello, Lore Spivey, Arnold Grummer’s and Helen Hiebert. Watch the short video and discover unique paper projects, unusual papers and a way to plan your creative year. The Paper Year makes a great gift for all of the creative people in your life, including you!

As I did last year, I’ll be going all Julie and Julia on this book, completing each project in the planner one at a time. This time around I’ll be presenting the results every other day starting on November 1st. Hey, that’s today!

I’ll post the structure of the day on Instagram (@blueroofdesigns), so be sure to follow me there. I’ll also be using #thepaperyear so it’s easy to find me. If you’re not into Instagram, don’t worry – I’ll also be writing blog posts with three-month roundups about once a week.

Let’s take a tour, shall we? In the front of the planner, you can plot out an overview of your year.

Interior page of The Paper Year - planner

After that are sections for each month that include a project with directions and images to help you along the way. I’m not going to show that to you now because I want each monthly project to be a surprise while I work on it.

Following that is even more room for planning after the project, including a day-by-day area, a notes section, and a design space for exploring the project further. Oh, and it has room for paper swatches!

Interior page of The Paper Year - planner

I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks – stay tuned as I work my way through the planner!

** In the spirit of transparency, I need to mention that I received a copy of The Paper Year from Helen Hiebert to review, but I was not financially compensated in any way. All of the opinions expressed will be my own and will be based on my experiences working on the featured projects. **

A book arts day in Philly

I arrived in Philadelphia a day early for the Guild of Book Workers Standards Seminar, so I spent the day exhibit hopping. I had hoped to register for one of the official GBW tours, but they sold out before I could register. Bummer.

Nevertheless, my multi-stop tour proved worthy. I even discovered additional exhibits later on that I didn’t have time for – Philadelphia does not disappoint.

First stop was to the Philadelphia Free Library where there were multiple book arts exhibits going on simultaneously.

Philadelphia Free Library

The Once Upon a Book exhibit by the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers featured books where members were to “rebind, alter, restore, or create from scratch, a book intended for children”. It was hard to get good pictures of the books because they were in glass cases and sometimes I caught unfortunate reflections. I did my best to capture the awesomeness.

This design binding of The Secret Garden by Jane Griffith was insane. It was bound in full leather and was decorated with suede and sea snake (sea snake!). You can’t see it in the picture, but it had hand-painted end pages and silk endbands.

Book art by Jane Griffith

And if you’ve read my blog before, then you know that I’m a total Karen Hanmer groupie (hi, Karen!). I loved this book, Bradel, Bradel, Bradel: A Bindery Cat’s Primer, that included pictures of her cat, Bradel.

Book art by Karen Hanmer

This next book was my absolute favorite. I am such a huge fan of Really Rosie and when I saw this binding of Alligators All Around I totally freaked out. I know all the words to the book/song and my daughter is now learning them (it’s on heavy rotation in the car). In case you didn’t know, Really Rosie is a musical based on several books by Maurice Sendak (The Nutshell Library and The Sign on Rosie’s Door) and the music is by Carole King. It’s so good.

Next, I went to the Print and Picture Collection to see Thesaurus: A Book Exchange between Graduates and Faculty of the University of the Arts Book Arts & Printmaking Program and found that a bunch of books had been laid out for the GBW tour that had just left. The awesome librarians asked me if I’d be interested in checking them out before they put them away – that was a hell yeah!

The most fun piece I saw was Dress Hedi Up! A Print Exchange. The project was organized by a graduate student at the University of the Arts and included work by 27 friends, colleagues, students, and former students of Hedi Kyle‘s. It included a paper doll of Hedi along with a bunch of outfits and accessories you could use to dress her up. 

Here’s the box that contained all of the prints:

Box for prints from Dress Hedi Up!: A Print Exchange

Look! It’s paper doll Hedi!

Prints and box from Dress Hedi Up!: A Print Exchange

I couldn’t take pictures of all 27 outfits, but here’s a taste of what was in that fabulous box:

Inside the box was a key to the artists behind the prints. I thought that it was a very clever way to deal with identifying prints that might not have had names on them.

Key of artist prints from Dress Hedi Up!: A Print Exchange

After drooling over the books on the table, I moved on to Thesaurus. This project took place in 2004. Students and faculty at the University of the Arts (I should have gone to school there!) created an edition of books with a uniform height and width. All other criteria used were at the discretion of each artist.

Here are some of the books that were on display:

The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg by James Engelbart was my favorite. At a specific point in the book you have to use the knife to cut open a signature. This is meant to represent the cutting open of the goose. I found the execution (ha, ha) very clever.

Book art by James Engelbart

Here’s the portfolio box that contained all of the books in the edition – it was designed by Hedi Kyle. This woman must never sleep!

Thesaurus Portfolio Box by Hedi Kyle

I finally moved on to the hallway exhibit, The Book as Art: Highlights from the Book Arts Collection. This was when I got to see my very first Keith Smith book in person – hello Ladies First!

Book art by Keith Smith

The Coupon Chronometer by Amee Pollack caught my eye, mostly because I’m a self-confessed coupon nerd. The collection of coupons that comprise the book includes printed text, a poem that spans multiple pages.

Art book by Amee Pollack

I love Paul Johnson‘s work, so seeing one of his pieces in person is always a treat:

I had reached the halfway point of my tour. I headed up to the University of Pennsylvania, my alma mater, for the next exhibit – but first, lunch! I walked to Koch’s Deli for the World’s Greatest Chicken Salad Sandwich and a Dr. Brown’s cream soda. HEAVEN.

Now that I had refueled, I walked to Penn’s Kelly Writers House to view The Word Made Manifest: Text in Handmade Paper.

Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania

The exhibit was curated by Mary Tasillo of the Common Press, Penn’s book arts and letterpress studio. Work included pieces that featured handmade paper as its primary art form.

I loved these two paper pieces by Helen Hiebert that included watermarks, lit from behind:

I was also taken with this piece by Melanie Mowinski. It’s funny how much of her work I encountered during my tour.

These last pieces by Steve Kostell and Drew Matott caught my eye. They are part of an artist book edition that includes pigmented pulp printing.

I’ll admit that at this point in the day, my feet were really starting to hurt. Nevertheless, I pressed onward. Last stop, City Hall, where long, creepy hallways are their specialty.

Philadelphia City Hall

It was in City Hall that I ran into a former co-worker from my Paper Source days. What a pleasant surprise! She was the manager that hired me and started me on my bookmaking journey. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. Thanks Lisa!

This exhibit Variations of the Artist Book: Philadelphia Center for the Book Member Exhibition was really wonderful. It had an educational component where each case focused on a specific quality of artist books – structure, content, text, images, and materials.

Display case with artist books

Display case with artist books

Here are some of my favorite pieces in the exhibition – they really vary in form and technique:

So there you have it – a glimpse into my day of speed-exhibiting. Blisters = worth it.

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 at the Parkway Central Library 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 Parkway Central Library is The Book as Art: Highlights from the Book Arts Collection. The exhibit is located at the Print and Picture Collection (2nd floor) and is open now through November 30th.

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.

And lastly, you can find Thesaurus: A Book Exchange between Graduates and Faculty of the University of the Arts Book Arts & Printmaking Program at the Parkway Central Library now through November 30th. This exhibition can be found inside cases at the Print and Picture Collection (2nd floor).

In 2004, students and faculty of the University of the Arts embarked on an ambitious collaborative project to create a thirty-run edition of books uniformly sized by height and width. The depth, breadth, form, and subject of each book was as diverse as the student or professor who created it. On view is a sampling of work created by these students and faculty.

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. 🙂

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