I’m teaching at FOBA!

I am very excited to finally announce that I’ll be teaching a workshop at the 2017 Focus on Book Arts conference! I would have written about it sooner, but honestly, I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening.

I tossed ideas around for weeks and agonized over my proposal before submitting it. And then I waited. And waited. And waited.

Then the envelope came. It was like applying to college all over again – the envelope was thick, so I figured that was a good sign, right? Yep, it was.

So, what am I teaching?

Well, I’ll be taking folks on a journey through nine of Keith Smith‘s three-section bindings. With each binding, you’ll work on paper templates first, then move on to sewing books with soft leather covers. In addition to learning various stitches, you’ll also try out different closure methods for each book.

These are the actual bindings you’ll be completing in the workshop (leather colors might change):

Handmade three signature leather journals by Elissa CampbellWhile all of the bindings include three sections, the last book will include nine – you’ll learn how to adapt a three-section binding to create a larger book by repeating the pattern. You’ll be binding all of your sewing templates into your final book – this will be a great reference for future work.

Handmade nine signature leather journal by Elissa Campbell

Handmade nine signature leather journal by Elissa Campbell

So I guess it’s really real now. I hope to see some of you in Oregon in June!

If you’re curious what other workshops are being offered at FOBA 2017, you can get a sneak peek on their website.

Paper and Book Intensive 2017

PBI logo 2017The Paper and Book Intensive just published their course descriptions for 2017 and the classes look amazing.

The three that interest me most are all taking place during the second session, which means that they’re all running at the same time. Which means that if I go, I can only pick one of them. Which means that…sadness.

Here’s what causing my current state of drool:

Artists’ Housing: The Box as Story with Barbara Mauriello:

This workshop is as much about content as it is about construction. The goal is for each participant to make a series of house-like boxes honoring favorite literary or visual artists. Basic box components will be translated into architectural forms, reflecting the spirit, ideas, and materials of the subjects. As we think beyond the notion of box as container, we’ll also consider the many forms of “house”: house as camera, for example.


We will begin with an exercise in the basics of boxmaking with some interesting twists. Building outwards from a tray, we’ll make doors that slide or pivot, construct a roof, insert windows, design moveable walls, add curves. We’ll discuss your heroes and by the end of the day have a pretty good idea as to how each of you will begin your series. The delight of this project is that no two boxes will be alike; the terror is that this workshop requires homework!

Wooden Board Binding, 13th-15th century with Renate Mesmer:

Wooden board bindings show various board shapes, attachments and covering styles. This model will be based on traditional binding styles from the 13th-15th centuries; representative of the period rather than one particular binding.


Participants will learn to sew a herringbone stitch on double-raised cords, how to prepare (file, chisel, and sand) and attach the wooden boards, and to add a primary (and possibly a secondary colored) endband. The model will be bound in full alum-tawed skin with metal clasps. Paring, making leather corners, covering and simple blind tooling on the spine will also be part of the class. To take full advantage, it is beneficial to have knowledge in bookbinding, especially in paring leather. The book will be approximately 16cm wide x 23 cm high x 5cm thick. Most importantly, we will have great fun working with these awesome materials: wood, leather and metal!

Further Innovations in Pressure Printing with Barb Tetenbaum:

“Pressure Printing” is a letterpress image-making technique that combines low-relief collage with relief-rolled surfaces to create quick and editionable prints. This class covers the basics of both pressure printing and the operation of the Vandercook Proof Press, and then expands to include techniques that use new materials and processes.


Participants begin with creating three-tone pressure prints from layers of sticker paper, then learn to print color separations within a single photo engraving. We will work with Speedball Flexible Printing Plates to create moveable discrete pressure printed shapes, and the Glaze Pen from Sakura, which facilitates the creation of fluid line work. Examples of the use of laser- and vinyl cut imagery, as well as strategies for using pressure printing as an animation process, supplement this class.

Oh man, that pressure printing class is calling to me. I attended Sarah Bryant’s pressure printing class at PBI in 2013 and really enjoyed it. She recommended a book by Barb Tetenbaum, A Guide to Experimental Letterpress Techniques, which includes a section on pressure printing.

The fact that I own this book is a sign from the universe telling me to take Barb’s class.

And there’s another thing – if I go, this would be my fourth year attending PBI. It turns out that the traditional fourth anniversary gift from 1900 – 1940’s was linen or silk. Obviously they’re referring to linen and silk thread, which is used in bookbinding. Another sign that I need to go to Michigan.

That’s my logic and I’m sticking to it.

If you’ve never been to PBI, then get thee to a computer on January 1, 2017 – that’s when the general application goes live. You have to get in there super-duper fast – classes fill up quickly. Alternatively, you could go for a scholarship – applications will be accepted starting on December 1st.

PBI will be held May 14-25, 2017 at Ox-Bow in Saugatuck, MI. You can view the full roster of workshops on the PBI website.

Teflon bone folder question

For whatever reason, I was recently staring at my teflon bone folder and I noticed something interesting – it has an imprint of a star on it!

Teflon bone folder

Teflon bone folder

I’m sorry the pictures aren’t better, but I hope you can see it – it’s really there. I wonder what it means?

Does anyone else out there have a star on their teflon bone folder? I bought mine at Colophon Book Arts Supply, if that information helps.

Weston Craft Show recap

This year marked my 4th with the Weston Craft Show. The show is held at the super-funky Weston Playhouse.

Weston Playhouse, Weston, Vermont

All three floors of the building are used by artists to present their work – every nook and cranny is used. Most of the aforementioned crannies are bedrooms used by the playhouse’s resident actors during the summer months. 

After the last three years, it seems I have earned the title of Last One to Set Up. I always try to get there earlier in the day, but it just never seems to happen. I was happy that I had the same booth as last year – I figured that this would make set up go faster.

Mmm, no. The fact is that I’m just slow with set up when it’s late. Boo.

Welcome to Elissa’s booth set up in three pictures.

Yeah, I was up until 1:00 a.m. setting up. I was one tired monkey, but I got ‘er done.

I was so psyched to be reunited with my roomie from last year, Julia Emilo (she makes gourd ornaments). She is I would like to put her in my pocket and take her to all of my shows to be my booth neighbor. It would be awesome. For me, at least.

Here I present evidence of Julia’s coolness. On the first day of the show, she offered me a silver standard poodle ornament, an homage to my sweet Wiggum.

I mentioned how cool it would be if the ornament were missing a leg (Wiggum is a tripawd). Well, Julia took the ornament home with her and the next day, gave me this:

Custom silver standard tripawd poodle gourd ornament by Julia Emilo

What?!? A silver tripawd standard poodle ornament! This woman is just beyond cool. That’s totally Wiggum in gourd form. I adore it.

I love the Weston show so much. Everyone is super-friendly – it’s like being in a hug for three days. And I know I mentioned it last year, but I have to say it again – Cookie Time. Every day at 2:00 p.m. The only thing that would make it better is if they had a nap room.

And then next thing you know, it’s all over. Sadness.

Thankfully, breaking down and packing up goes much faster than setting up.

Breaking down the Blue Roof Designs craft show booth at Weston Craft Show

In 2.5 hours, the room looks like this (Julia is long gone at this point):

Empty room at the Weston Craft Show

Thanks Weston for another great show – see you next year!

Happy American Cheese Month!

American Cheese Month logoHappy American Cheese Month!

Perhaps you’re new to my blog and aren’t aware of my oh-so-deep love for cheese. Well, I love cheese.

By the way, do not for one moment believe that this is a celebration of American cheese.

NO. This is a month-long party for cheese made in the United States.

The event, presented by the American Cheese Society (yes, that’s a thing), is in its sixth year.

So why cheese? Well, here’s the word direct from the event website:

Everyone who loves cheese! American Cheese Month is your chance to spread the word, experience great American cheeses, and help support and promote great cheese, local communities, and passionate producers.

Want to participate? Here are some ideas, besides chowing down:

  • Play the always-fun Cheese or Font.
  • Generate dummy text for your next project by using Cheese Ipsum (Mascarpone red leicester fromage…).
  • If you’re in Vermont, hit the Cheese Trail.
  • Get your state to adopt a resolution declaring October as American Cheese Month. Colorado did it.

You can also do what I did, which is join the Cheese Party. In considering the upcoming presidential election, I decided to support the cheesy candidate. Together we can build a cheddar future and make American grate again!

Cheese Party poster

Countdown to Open Studio Weekend…

Yep, it’s that time of year again! In just a few days, I’ll be participating in Vermont’s Fall Open Studio Weekend…and you’re invited!

Vermont Open Studio Weekend invitation

This year, Open Studio Weekend will take place over two weekends – October 1 & 2 and October 8 & 9. Over ninety sites will be open during this time. You can access maps on the Vermont Crafts Council’s website.

Please note that I’m going to be at the Weston Craft Show during Columbus Day weekend, so my studio will only be open during the first weekend

I love this event. Not only does it give me the opportunity to share my creative work, but I also get educate people about the value of handmade things in general. I especially enjoy it when people bring their kids to my studio – kids ask the best questions!

So what can you expect when you come to my studio?

We can start with a tour of my studio – it’s a petite space, but with lots crammed into it. I’ll have a display of both blank books and artist books set up for you to handle – oh yeah, you can touch them (no white gloves necessary).

And if you love paper, you’ll have to check out my massive paper drawers. I went to Japan this past June and I came back with so much paper. You really have to see this stuff – it’s simply gorgeous. And my new sewing scissors are wicked cool. And so are the Japanese bookbinding books.

Speaking of bookbinding books, my library is super huge (get a preview here). Feel free to camp out and browse to your heart’s content. I’m happy to share my favorite titles with you.

Have I mentioned that I love to talk?

Seriously. Just come on over.

If you’re wondering why Open Studio Weekend is taking place over two weekends, that’s because it’s being held in conjunction with American Craft Week, a national celebration of craft work.

American Craft Week 2016 logo

If you’re not in Vermont (and can’t come to my studio), there are still lots of things you can do to celebrate American Craft Week. To see what events are being held in your area, visit the ACW website – activities include workshops, exhibits, and demonstrations.

If you’ve got any questions about Open Studio Weekend, feel free to contact me. I hope to see you this weekend!

Woven and Interlocking Book Structures

Woven and Interlocking Book Structures by Claire Van Vliet and Elizabeth SteinerIn an amazing act of generosity towards the book arts community, Claire Van Vliet and Elizabeth Steiner have made their book Woven and Interlocking Book Structures available for free at the Internet Archive.

The book was published in 2002 and is sadly out of print. I am so thankful I have a copy (it’s seriously awesome). It contains 16 different book structures, none of which require adhesive or sewing to construct. As the title suggests, these books are held together by the (not-so-simple) weaving together of paper.

So for those of you who are currently without a copy, this download’s for you! Simply go here and choose your desired download from the menu on the right-hand side of the page.

No pressure intended, but you should totally print out the pages and bind them yourself. Report back when you’re done.

Note: Many thanks to Claire for being a fabulous representative of both book arts and Vermont.

Happy National Read A Book Day!

Happy National Read A Book Day!

Yep, it’s a thing. Every year on September 6th, we celebrate the collection of written words on paper, fastened together on one side.

Open book in lap

If you’re looking for something to read in honor of this day, why not check out your local library? In case you don’t know what that is, it’s where books live.

Or for something even more interesting, how about checking out your nearest Little Free Library? These libraries usually contain a dozen or so books, available for anyone to read. Here’s the organization’s mission:

To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.

What’s not to love about that?

You can find your local Little Library by checking out their map – as of June 2016, there were over 40,000 registered libraries worldwide.

Go forth and read!

The Awesomeness of Goshuinchou

Something I discovered during my trip to Japan was an awesome book-related dealie known as goshuincho. It’s kinda like the U.S.’s National Park Passport Program, but for Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.

A goshuincho is a book used to record visits to temples and/or shrines. It’s proof that you’ve made a sacred pilgrimage and it documents your respect and devotion. The word goshuincho translates to honorable stamp or seal book. The goshuincho is used to collect shuin, a collection of bright red stamps and gorgeous sweeping calligraphy. Each location has a different shuin, including the design of the stamps, the style of the calligraphy, and the layout of the page. 

It all starts with an accordion-style book that you can purchase at most shrines and temples throughout Japan. They’re also sold at stationery stores and gift shops. You can expect to spend around ¥800 – ¥1,500 ($7.00 – $13.00). The standard size for a book is 11 cm × 16 cm (4.33″ x 6.3″), which is nice and portable. One book can hold approximately 20 – 30 stamps.

You take your book to a designated area where a monk or priest will work on it while you wait. At busier temples or shrines, you might have to leave your book with an attendant – they’ll give you a ticket for retrieving it later. There’s requested donation of around ¥300 – ¥500 ($3.00 – $5.00) for the shuin.

I received three shuin during my trip. I would have had more had I discovered the goshuincho sooner.

The first was from Ginkaku-ji Temple (a.k.a. Silver Pavilion).

Shuin from Ginkaku-ji Temple

Along with my stamp, I received a piece of paper that explained what the different parts were.

Map of shuin from Ginkaku-ji Temple

My second shuin was from Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion).

Shuin from Kinkaku-ji Temple

It was here that I learned an embarrassing lesson about the proper way to collect shuin.

During my trip, I had a journal with me with pages that were almost exactly the same size as the goshuincho pages – I decided that I preferred to have the stamps in my own journal (rather than buying another book) so that everything was in one place.

When I handed over my journal over at Kinkaku-ji Temple, a woman held up a sign saying that she wouldn’t write it in my notebook because this was a sacred act. She did, however, write the calligraphy on a separate piece of paper for me. This was confusing to me at the time. I hadn’t had any trouble at the last temple I visited. The cynic in me was convinced that they just wanted me to buy a book from the gift shop.

When I got home from my trip, I learned that when collecting stamps, using a “common” notebook instead of a goshuincho is not okay. I wish I could go back in time and redo that experience (and I need to work on my cynicism). It was never my intention to show disrespect.

The last shuin was from Ryoan-ji Temple.

Shuin from Ryoan-ji Temple

They also gave me a shuin map.

Map of shuin from Ryoan-ji Temple

If you’re planning a trip to Japan and goshuincho seems like your thing, you can order a proper book in advance from Holly Hock. Don’t embarrass yourself like I did.

Planning a trip to Japan and want to learn more (or maybe you’re just curious)? Check out these websites for additional information and images of other shuin:

Happy World Photo Day!

World Photo Day logoI just found out that today is World Photo Day and I simply can’t resist a good random holiday. Korske Ara, an adventure and landscape photographer based in Canberra, Australia, started the World Photo Day project in 2009.

He had the following to say about the craft:

Photography has the power to tell stories, freeze memories, inspire generations and initiate change.

That really does sum it all up, doesn’t it?

So why is World Photo Day celebrated on August 19th?

It was on that day in 1839 that the French government announced the development of the daguerreotype process. Not only was this the first publicized photographic process, but it was also considered the first practical photographic process. We have the following to thank for their most awesome invention – Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (for whom the process was named).

Let’s hear it for Joe and Louis!

So what can you do to celebrate today? Here are a few ideas:

Take some pictures

It’s time to share your story. Get up. Go outside. Go back inside when you realize that you forgot your camera. Go outside again. Start snapping and let people see your world.

Actually look at the pictures on your phone

I came across an interesting study commissioned by Shutterfly, a producer of personalized photo books. Researchers found that more than half of new photos aren’t shared after being taken. 

Does this feel familiar? Do you look at your pictures right after taking them and then never visit them again? 

Fairfield University professor Dr. Linda Henkel said the following about this:

Looking back at a photo helps to reactivate and consolidate the memory, making it more accessible later and training the brain to remember the story behind the picture.

You took those pictures for a reason, so hit Memory Lane and relive those warm fuzzies.

Put your photos in an album

The Shutterfly study also found that 50% of survey respondents hadn’t looked at a photo older than 10 years in the past month. Think of it – all of those weddings, graduations, birthdays, vacations, dog parties – it’s like they don’t exist anymore.

You can bring those photos back into your life by putting them into photo albums. They help you tell the story behind the photos, which adds depth and meaning to the experience. And the feel of a book in your hands is just so wonderful – it’s personal and intimate. 

[start shameless self-plug]

Perhaps you didn’t know that I hand-bind photo albums that are great for preserving your memories and stories…yep, it’s true. You can find a selection of my work for sale on both my website and on Etsy. Can’t find what you’re looking for? I love doing custom work – contact me and let’s talk.

Handmade photo album by Elissa Campbell of Blue Roof Designs

[end shameless self-plug]

There’s also a dizzying array of online self-publishing options. Most offer templates to aid you in the design process and you can upload photos right from your phone. While I haven’t tried these myself, here’s a small selection of what’s out there (in no particular order): MixbookBlurbArtifact UprisingPinhole Press, and Snapfish.

Do you have any photo-related stories to share? Have you used any of the photo book services on my list? Taking a stab at the daguerreotype?

Let me know about it – I’m all ears!

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