Happy National Library Week!

2019 National Library Week logo

Welcome to National Library Week!, a celebration of all that is the awesomeness of libraries. This year the event takes place April 7-13, 2019 and the theme is Libraries = Strong Communities. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-founder Melinda Gates is acting as Honorary Chair for this year’s event. 

From the American Library Association‘s website:

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.

I love libraries. This should be evident in the fact that my daughter’s bedroom is library-themed – check out her awesome book cart:

purple library book cart full of books

Official celebrations during National Library Week include:

Looking for ways to celebrate? Here are some ideas:

  • Visit your local library! Libraries across the country are participating in National Library Week and they may have activities planned to celebrate.
  • 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:

Personally, I’m hoping the stars align for me to get Anna to at least one story time at my local library (her morning nap usually keeps us from going). 

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

Blizzard of Blizzards workshop

This past weekend, a bunch of souls braved a blizzard – not weather-wise, but learning-wise. I held my first Blizzard of Blizzards workshop at Studio Place Arts, where folks completed five structures invented by the fabulous Hedi Kyle.

Just look at the serious faces on these folks:

Bookbinding workshop at Studio Place Arts

Hedi invented her famous folded Blizzard Book structure during a snowstorm. By making modifications to the folded components, you can create other structures – Hedi affectionately refers the collection as the Blizzard Clan.

This workshop was folding-heavy and there was no getting around it. One of my students called the experience the Triangle Wrangle. I love that so much.

Folding a Blizzard Book structure

I love picking out papers for workshops. Japanese Chiyogami is perfect for folding because it doesn’t crack and it’s happy to go in any direction you choose. Printed papers by Debra Glanz (sadly no longer available) have a very pronounced grain, so I’m glad I tested them before including them in the kits.

Blizzard Book structures

One of the structures required paper with a measurement that was beyond usual paper sheet dimensions. For this structure, I used kraft paper from a roll. It’s a very forgiving paper and I’m happy with how well it worked. I got it from Amazon. FYI – This is a genuine recommendation (I don’t get a commission).

If you want to learn these structures yourself, they’re all included in the very awesome book The Art of the Fold. The book was written by Hedi and her daughter Ulla Warchol and was published last year.

If you’re on the fence about getting this book, don’t be – you should totally get it. It now has a permanent home on my list of recommended texts on bookbinding and it’s destined to be a classic.

Are You Book Enough challenge – Family

It’s been a while since I participated in the Are You Book Enough challenge on Instagram (#areyoubookenough). It’s ironic that this month’s theme is family, considering that that’s what made it so hard to join in the fun (21-month-old daughter = very little free time).

Are You Book Enough - Family

Luckily, I recently made something for another purpose that fits with the theme so I’m going to double dip this month.

If you’re new to following me, you may not yet know that my daughter is adopted. We have an open adoption and I feel that by extension, Anna’s biological family is our family. 

We send Anna’s biological parents four written updates annually and being me, I’ve felt like I should do something more than just typing up a letter on my computer. It has been a wonderful to revisit Anna’s life every three months and to memorialize her experiences on paper. On paper! Our most recent update included the most pieces to date. I created the full set in an edition of three – one for each bio parent and one for Anna.

We call our written updates Annagrams. This update was bound with a pamphlet stitch and a handmade paper cover. Our updates include details of trips to the pediatrician (head circumference!), her current favorite songs, and daily activities. Included with the book is a selection of photos wrapped in Unryu and secured with washi tape.

Book and photos in paper enclosure

Both the Annagram and the photos are housed in Hedi Kyle‘s Self-Closing Wrapper from The Art of the Fold: How to Make Innovative Books and Paper Structures. It’s the perfect enclosure for this application.

Accordion book and photos in paper enclosure

Accordion book and photos with book in paper enclosure

I also created an accordion book to hold images that were suited to the square format, collages that my husband put together. Each tells one of Anna’s stories – her first trip to the dentist, visiting with family during the holidays, etc.

Accordion book with photos

I hope that the updates we send are successful in conveying the deep love and gratitude we feel. We have truly been given a gift beyond measure.

Weird letters project

A group of my Book Arts Guild of Vermont friends and I have two challenges going on at the moment, the first of which I just started to tackle.

The project involves a bunch of sign letters and grid paper that one of my friends found at a flea market. Letters and grids were batched up for everyone and we were given free rein on what we decided to do with them.

Self adhesive sign letters

Each letter comes in three sizes, as you can see below.

Self adhesive sign letters

My friend Marcia (@marciavogler) already finished her book – you can see it on Instagram and it is so cool. And another friend, Becky (@boardbecky) finished hers, but it’s not up on Instagram yet. I am feeling the pressure.

My process was jump-started by thinking about how I might use tombstone rubbing wax to create text. I bought a batch after having used them during Hedi Kyle’s workshop at North Country Studio Workshops last year.

3 cakes tombstone rubbing wax

I wanted to get the full rainbow rubbing wax assortment like Hedi’s, but couldn’t find it online. I called the manufacturer and was told that the sets are no longer being made. In addition, the silver and gold waxes are no longer being produced because lead is one of the ingredients. Bummer.

I laid out some letters, put a piece of silk bookcloth over it, and rubbed away.

Rubbing on bookcloth with tombstone rubbing wax

I thought it came out great – and the best part is that the wax doesn’t seem to rub off much if something comes in contact with it (I rubbed a piece of paper on it to test). I also tried rubbing the wax on both sides of a sheet of paper to see if there would be any weirdness – nope. It was all good.

I have a vague idea of my book’s overall concept, but it needs work. Stay tuned to see where this goes!

Focus on Book Arts conference brochure available too!

Yep, it’s another blog post about the Focus on Book Arts conference! I can’t help it – I’m just so excited!

I recently received a batch of FOBA brochures in the mail – they offer an overview of the conference, along with a listing of this year’s workshops.

Focus on Book Arts conference brochure

When I opened up one of the brochures, I was excited to see a close-up of one of the books that folks will be making in my workshop:

Focus on Book Arts conference brochure

Then I noticed the photo to the left of it – it was taken during my workshop in 2017!

You can see me in the center of the picture at the back of the table, looking all teacher-like:

Focus on Book Arts conference brochure

Two pictures – not too shabby! 

If you’d like your own copy of the FOBA brochure, just send me an email with your address and I’ll pop one in the mail for you. Don’t forget – registration opens on Monday, March 4th, 8:00 a.m. PST.

2019 Focus on Book Arts catalog available

The 2019 Focus on Book Arts conference catalog was just published – woot! They won’t be mailing them this year, but you can download a copy at your leisure.

2019 Focus on Book Arts conference catalog cover

Seeing my workshop in print makes my teaching there all the more real.

Page in 2019 FOBA catalog

This is so happening!

I love this conference so much. The first time I attended was in 2007, which was P.B. (pre-blog). Here’s a refresher about FOBA – they put on a 5-day book arts conference every other year in Forest Grove, OR. In addition to workshops, they have evening activities, a trade show, an on-site store (Colophon Book Arts), a themed book arts challenge, and a faculty/staff exhibit. It’s a book arts bonanza.

Check out some of the other instructors – Karen Hanmer (yay!), Pietro AccardiSam EllenportBonnie Stahlecker, and Steph Rue, just to name a few. These are some heavy hitters!

Hey, you should take my workshop! Here’s a closer look at what we’ll be making – two full-size journals that will be excellent references for your future work:

Handmade leather journals with multiple closures - closed Handmade leather journals with multiple closures - open

Handmade leather long stitch journals - spine view

In 2017, I was all set to take three days of workshops and then my workshop filled up – a second session was added and I ended up taking only a one-day workshop. I’m not sure what I want to happen this time around. I love teaching, so I’d welcome teaching twice but I still want to learn from others. I guess I shouldn’t complain, considering that I like both outcomes!

Conference registration opens on Monday, March 4th, 8:00 a.m. PST and workshops fill up quickly so don’t dawdle! Until then, you can drool over the offerings online.

Visit to Claire Maziarczyk’s Studio

This past Sunday, I had the good fortune of making a return trip to paste paper artisan Claire Maziarczyk‘s studio. My last visit was nearly ten years ago! Claire posted on the Book Arts Listserv that she was downsizing and was looking to sell not only her fabulous paste papers, but also supplies and equipment.

I made the journey with a few of my Book Arts Guild of Vermont cohorts so the trip didn’t seem as long as the 3.5+ hours it took for us to get there. Claire fed us lunch, which was awesome and extremely generous. By the end of our meal, I was itching to get downstairs to her studio to start the paper shopping.

To select which of her papers you like best must be like choosing your favorite child. I wanted all the things. It seemed wrong to leave any design behind, but I had a budget. Poop.

Here’s the pile of papers that made the final cut (it was a paper cut, so painful):

Pile of Japanese and paste papers

Let’s visit with them, shall we? Here are my paste paper purchases:

Claire once worked as a representative for the Japanese Paper Place and carried an inventory of their papers. After they both parted ways, the inventory remained. Lucky me! Here are my paper purchases from that gold mine:

Japanese papers

There was a sign by the paper on the left that labeled it as Kirogami, a hand-printed paper with a small design.

The paper on the right was double couched (two layers) – first a watermarked red sheet is made, then that sheet is couched on top of a white sheet. I have no idea what the text says. One day I’ll go over the whole sheet with Google Translate to satisfy my curiosity. It’s probably a grocery list.

The paper in the middle was also double couched and has a wonderful reflective quality (it’s stunning in person). Here’s a close up shot:

Japanese paper

I’m fairly certain that this paper is from Echizen, Japan, a papermaking village I visited 2.5 years ago. The technique used is known as hikkake, which means “to catch” or “to snag”. A metal screen is used to capture fibers that eventually create the pattern in the finished product. You can see an example of the screen on the Echizen Washi website.

My last purchase was serendipitous – I wasn’t looking for small sheets, but this pad of paper somehow caught my eye. The back of the pad was marked as Chigiri-e paper. I opened it up and encountered a gorgeous batch of 25 papers.

Pad of Chigiri-e paper

Oh, the Shiboris!

Japanese Shibori paper

Japanese Shibori paper

Japanese Shibori paper

These appear to be a variation of Unryu I’ve never seen before:

Japanese paper

So back to the Chigiri-e. I had no idea what it was, so I looked it up. This collage-based art form originated during the Heian period, the last division of classical Japanese history, taking place from 794 to 1185 (thanks Wikipedia). Handmade paper was the primary material used for these collages and pieces often incorporated calligraphy.

I now understand why this pad has 25 different kinds of paper in it – it’s kinda like a box of crayons, but with paper.

Claire showed us how to use her wood graining tool and then let us play with it. I probably could have left more open space between those knot holes. This is why it’s best to leave this work to the professionals.

Colored paste combed with a wood graining tool

After emptying our wallets, it was time to return home. We made it most of the way without incident until the weather. Oh geez, it was bad. The roads were icy and we were slipping around, which freaked me out. We decided to leave the interstate and take local roads in hopes of avoiding speed demons.

Unfortunately, this didn’t help us avoid other problems. We ended up getting stuck behind a car that couldn’t make it up a hill either because they didn’t have enough momentum and/or didn’t have the right tires on their car. Oh, and I really had to pee.

Long story short (and it’s a long story), it took 2.5+ hours for us to get moving again. Let’s hear it for Vermont’s emergency crews! Seriously though, the whole thing was terrifying. I’m so thankful for my companions, Judy and Becky, who kept me focused and calm. As much as I can ever be calm.

Claire told me that I should come back again with more people. If I do go back, it sure as hell won’t be during the winter!

Happy National Handwriting Day!

Pen and handwriting

I love funky holidays. Today we are blessed with National Handwriting Day

The holiday was created by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association in 1977 to promote the use of pens, pencils, and paper. Perhaps they saw the internet coming? The date of January 23rd was selected because it’s John Hancock’s birthday.

People have told me that kids aren’t taught penmanship in school any more…is that true? If so, that’s sad. There’s so much to be said for this beautiful art form. 

What can you do to celebrate today? Well, writing in a journal is the obvious choice (not that I make them). Send a letter to a friend you haven’t contacted for a while. Or even better, when you pay for your groceries, proudly sign your full name – don’t just make an ambiguous scribble.

Spread the [handwritten] word in all of your social media updates by tagging them with #HandwritingDay.

Image from Unsplash

Touch of Vermont recap

This past weekend I showed my work at the annual Touch of Vermont Holiday Gift Market, which I super love. It’s located just five minutes from my house and I enjoy being able to see folks I know in my community. I always get lots of hugs. 

The show was mobbed. All day long. This was one of the quieter moments when I could actually see outside my booth:

Touch of Vermont Holiday Gift Market

I was lucky to score child care so I could start setting up my booth the day before the show. You can see how things progressed for me from load in until I had to leave at 6:00 p.m.

Here’s how my completed booth looked the next day:

Blue Roof Designs craft show booth

You’d be surprised just how long it takes to put out all of those books!

New this year were single book ornaments that could be opened and used. Many thanks to Sue at Studio Place Arts for pushing me to make them – I’m really happy with how they turned out.

Leather book ornaments

I’m very thankful that I had a good (and fun) show. For the second year in a row, I was lucky enough to trade with Nutty Steph’s (hellllooo chocolate…).

Not surprisingly, I tend to get punchy as the day goes on. Here’s what happens when the person in the booth across from you says, “Would you like me to take a picture of you in your booth?”

Elissa Campbell in her booth

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again – I am the slowest person in the world when it comes to break down of my booth. And I think I’ve gotten slower with age. At this show I’m always the last one to leave.

The show ends at 4:00 p.m. and I almost had my van completely loaded by 6:00 p.m…and then the door to the building locked. Apparently it’s on an automatic timer. Not only was I stuck outside, but the show organizer was as well. We did eventually get back in, but seriously – not a fun 15 minutes.

Thanks to all who came to the show to chat! Your support means so much to me. 🙂

I’m teaching at the Morgan next year!

Morgan Conservatory logoI am so, so very thrilled to announce that I will be teaching a summer workshop at the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland next year! I am seriously beside myself with happiness!

The dates for my workshop have not yet been chosen, so stay tuned to the Events page of my website for the most up-to-date information.

I’ll be teaching my Three is a Magic Number workshop, the same one I taught twice at the 2017 Focus on Book Arts conference. If you were interested in my workshop then but couldn’t travel to the West Coast, Ohio might be perfect for you.

Here are the details:

Three is a Magic Number

Have you always wanted to give Keith Smith‘s bindings a try, but the diagrams make your head spin? Then this workshop’s for you! In this two-day workshop, you’re going to work through nine three-section bindings, based on the work of Keith Smith, using only leather, paper, and thread – no glue needed!

Each binding involves sewing pages directly through a leather cover and each creates a different decorative pattern on the spine. These bindings are very flexible and allow the books to open completely flat. You’ll ease into each binding by practicing on a paper template first, then you’ll use what you’ve learned to sew the book. In addition to learning various stitches, you’ll also try out different closure methods for each book.

While all of the bindings include three sections, the last book will include nine – you’ll learn how to adapt a 3-section binding to create a larger book by repeating the pattern. You’ll be binding all of your sewing templates into your final book, and this will be a great reference for future work.

You’ll leave this workshop with a basic knowledge of bookbinding technique and nine completed books. You will receive a detailed handout and resource list for all materials used.

Here are pictures of the finished books (colors will vary in the workshop kits):

9 handmade leather journals

Handmade leather journal - spine view

Handmade leather journal - open pages view

I’m not sure when registration for Morgan’s summer workshops will open, so keep an eye on their Workshops page for more information.

I hope to see you there!

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