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?

6 Responses to “Three is a Magic Number at the Morgan!”

By Becky - 19 August 2019 Reply

You are such an amazing teacher! Your students are very fortunate! It’s fun to get a glimpse of what you were up to out there.


By Elissa - 20 August 2019 Reply

Becky –

Thanks! I had a great time out there and really hope I get to go back next year.


By Robin - 19 August 2019 Reply

You are truly amazing! The students are so lucky to have such a wonderful teacher!

By Elissa - 20 August 2019 Reply

Robin –

You’re sweet – thanks! 🙂


By Margaret Beech - 19 August 2019 Reply

Would have been great to see the finished books !

By Elissa - 20 August 2019 Reply

Margaret –

Argh – I know! Things can happen so quickly in a workshop that I forget to take pictures of the final products. Wish I hadn’t – sorry about that!


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