Spring Open Studio Weekend Recap

Open Studio Weekend has become a lot more complicated with the addition of Anna to our family. While I might have been able to put off my preparations until the last minute before, I don’t have that luxury now. I have to grab every free minute I can in between hanging with the nut baby and running errands.

Here’s what my studio looked like at 12:10 p.m. on Friday:

Blue Roof Designs bookbinding studio

Not too bad, right? Well, then this:

Hey, you! It looks like you barely did anything in the last NINE HOURS. Oh yeah, Anna. Okay, it’s still not too late. Just keep moving and you’ll be fine.

I am so screwed.

It’s pretty much a given that no matter how much I accomplish earlier in the week, I’ll still get little sleep the night before Open Studio. It’s all worth it though – I always get a warm and fuzzy feeling after putting out my yellow sign at the end of the driveway.

Vermont Open Studio Weekend sign

Let me give you a tour! When you walked in my front door, you would have seen this immediately on your left:

Bookshelf full of handmade books by Blue Roof Designs

Then walking towards the studio, this bookshelf would be right in front of you. It’s a bit of a lighting dead zone, but the clip lights help (sorry the pics are so blechy).

Bookshelf full of handmade books by Blue Roof Designs

After entering the door you see in the image below…

Blue Roof Designs bookbinding studio

…you’re in the studio!

Blue Roof Designs bookbinding studio

It doesn’t look like that 1:49 a.m. shot from Friday night, does it? Clean floors! Nothing to trip on! Books, books, books!

On the left wall is another bookshelf, this one filled with my artist’s books – some are one-of-a-kind and some are editions.

Bookshelf full of handmade books by Blue Roof Designs

Right next to the bookshelf is a desk with bookbinding supplies and small books. That metal triangle display thingie (to the left of the Kelsey) is an ornament tree. I started making ornaments last year that include three small leather long-stitch books, strung on wires with beads and they come in a bunch of colors. I plan to have them for sale on Etsy soon.

Blue Roof Designs display for Vermont Open Studio Weekend

Across-ish from the desk is my stack of flat files, topped with a selection of photo albums, accordion books, and collaged cards. And behind those is the ever-watchful, inflatable Jerry French (get your own here).

Blue Roof Designs display for Vermont Open Studio Weekend

Thus ends the studio tour. I’m fairly certain that my studio is smaller than most others on the circuit.

It feels awesome to have a clean studio when folks visit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last for long once the event is over. I’m very talented at both throwing things on and piling things on the floor. But before the mess commences, I get to break it all down.

Thanks so much to all of the wonderful folks who visited me during the weekend – it meant a lot to me to be able to talk about the book arts and share my work with you.

If you couldn’t visit me during the event, just contact me and we can set up a private tour (please, oh please, let me clean first).

The next Open Studio Weekend will be October 13 -14, 2018, so save the date!

Beyond Words: Artworks by the Book Arts Guild of Vermont

Yesterday I attended the opening for the first of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont‘s annual exhibits – Beyond Words. That’s right – we have more than one exhibit this year.

The first (and currently open) show is at Studio Place Arts in the Second Floor Gallery. Here’s how the gallery describes the show:

Books can take on a language of their own, as shown in the multimedia work of this group of artists that use shape, structure, and materials to get their message across.

It’s a sweet little show with lots of wonderful member work.

Book Arts Guild of Vermont exhibit at Studio Place Arts

Sign for Book Arts Guild of Vermont exhibit at Studio Place Arts

Here are a few of my favorite pieces (I seem to be drawn to red, orange, and black work):

And this is my piece for the show – Fine Art:Fine Art - Handmade book by Elissa Campbell

I’ll be sharing the story behind this piece in another post. It’s part of an edition of five books and each comes with a protective box.

I’m really proud of the work I did and it’s a miracle that I could squeeze in its production during Anna’s naps. Well, and I stayed up late working for several days. It was hard.

Studio Place Arts is located at 201 North Main Street in Barre, VT. The exhibit runs now through June 30th.

It’s well worth the visit. And if you make it to Barre, my studio is about 15 minutes away – give me a call and we can schedule a studio visit. You’ll get two book arts experiences for the price of one!

Gallery hours: 

  • Tuesday – Friday: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

For more information about the exhibit, please visit or call (802) 479-7069.

Note: If you can’t make it to the exhibit, you can view all of the included pieces on the Book Arts Guild of Vermont website.

Book Arts Guide to Vermont Open Studio Weekend

Handmade journal by Elissa CampbellWelcome to your Book Arts cheat sheet for Spring Open Studio Weekend 2018!

As I mentioned in my previous postVermont Open Studio Weekend (May 26 & 27) is rapidly approaching. As a book artist, it’s important to me to support other folks working in the field and that’s why I dedicate a blog post just to them. There are five book artsy studios participating (besides mine) this spring.

I created the Google map at the bottom of this post which includes all of the studios to help you plan your travels. I wish I could say that the book arts studios are close to each other, but sadly, they’re not.

I’ll be referring to studios by both name and number – the number refers to a listing in the gold Spring Event and Resource Guide. The colors of the studio numbers in this post match the colored markers in the Google map. By the way, I’m studio #160.

There are several ways to get your hands on a map:

I tried to find the most direct route between the studios so you could avoid backtracking. This route starts at the northernmost studio and travels counterclockwise. Here we go!

The first studio is #5, Meta Strick – she does it all. Oh my goodness, her calligraphy! She does wonderful mixed media work, including dolls that have a book component. She has a great philosophy that you can make anything into a book – it should come as no surprise to you that she’s a teacher.

Next stop is studio #37, Shelburne Pond Studios, where you’ll find Jill Abilock of Six Loons Studio. She creates one-of-a-kind work that is really inspirational. And really structurally complex (I don’t know how she does how she does). Her compelling storytelling and creative voice are enhanced by her innovative combinations of materials and structure.

#66 is Carolyn Shattuck, a seasoned printmaker and bookmaker. She often cuts up scrap monotypes and uses the pieces in her handmade books. For her, the book arts have been the focus of a body of work combining drawing and print assemblage techniques in three dimensional form. Many of her books include pop-up elements to set the scene for her deeply personal storytelling.

Last stop on the tour is studio #159 – Kelly McMahon of May Day Studio. Kelly is both a letterpress printer and a bookbinder. She carves many of her designs in linoleum for her beautiful gift wraps (which are totally frame-able). She was lucky enough to intern at the San Francisco Center for the Book, so you know she’s got skills. Kelly’s studio is about 1.6 miles from mine.

If you make it to central Vermont this weekend (if you visit me, you’ll be in the right place), you’ll get a bonus – head over to Studio Place Arts (#161) in Barre, VT to view the exhibit Beyond Words: Artworks by the Book Arts Guild of Vermont. Yep, it’s a whole collection of book work in one place! I have a piece in the exhibit, so you definitely should check it out.

If you go to any of the studios, please share your experiences in the comments below. And if you have pictures, I’d love to see them…you can even do a guest post on my blog!

Vermont Open Studio Weekend – Montpelier/Worcester/Berlin Artists

Vermont Open Studio Weekend logo

Spring may have come late to Vermont this year, but Spring Open Studio Weekend hasn’t – it really snuck up on me this time!

Open Studio Weekend is pretty nifty – it’s a statewide celebration of the visual arts and creative process, offering a unique opportunity for visitors to meet a wide variety of artists and craftspeople in their studios, some of which are only open to the public during this event. The spring event takes place during Memorial Day Weekend, May 26 & 27. 

The event is a part of Vermont Arts 2018, a year-long celebration highlighting the wide variety of arts events taking place throughout the state. You can join the party by following #VTarts2018 on social media (Instagram, Twitter).

Obviously, you’re planning on visiting my studio, right? Good call. 🙂

When you’re done letting me chat you up, you can visit eight other artist studios and arts-related spots in the Montpelier/Worcester/Berlin area, all within a 1/2 hour drive of my studio.

The list below includes everyone in our little cluster of arts happiness. I’ve referred to studios by both name and number – the number refers to a listing in the gold 2018 Spring Event & Resource Guide. FYI – There are several ways to get your hands on a map:

Here’s the rundown of who’s who (click on the links to learn more about specific artists):

Note: If you’re wondering why the studio numbers are different colors, that’s because they correspond with the marker colors on a Google map I created to help you plan your travels. All hail the Google Map!

If you plan on coming to the Montpelier area, let me know and I can recommend restaurants that are great for experiencing local deliciousness.

I hope to see you at the studio!

Happy Preservation Week!

2018 Preservation Week logo

Hey everyone – it’s Preservation Week! This annual event, presented by the American Library Association (ALA), is going on now through April 28th. The ALA must be very busy this month considering that this event is held just two weeks after National Library Week!

Here’s what they’ve got to say about the event:

Memories and treasures should last a lifetime and be passed on to future generations. Sponsored by the ALA’s Association of Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS), Preservation Week inspires actions to preserve personal, family, and community collections in addition to library, museum, and archive collections. It also raises awareness of the role libraries and other cultural institutions play in providing ongoing preservation education and information.

So yeah, preserving heirlooms (and what are essentially personal artifacts) is a good and important thing. Just think of all of the stories those items have to say – it’s such a shame when those stories are lost to future generations.

Photographs are an obvious no-brainer when it comes thinking about something that should be protected. Here are some things you can do this week when boarding the Preservation Week Train:

Let me know what you’re doing this week!

My niece and the Chinese Sewing Box

My sister and her family came to visit me this past weekend and as I’ve done in the past, I asked my niece if she’d like to make something in the studio – we’ve been making books together since she was six years old (she’s 13 now).

I offered some ideas and anticipated her asking to make a journal, but that didn’t happen. Instead, she uttered three words that filled me with fear:

Chinese. Sewing. Box.


I don’t remember when I showed her the structure or how she even kept it in her mind, but she wanted to make one. I had never taught it to anyone before, so I was more than a little freaked out.

For those who don’t know about the Chinese Sewing Box, here’s what it is (mine has 13 individual, folded compartments.):

If you’d like to see it opened in all its glory, you can check it out in this blog post.

Anyway, far be it from me to deny my niece the opportunity to make a Chinese Sewing Box. I warned her that it took me two hours to make one, so it would most definitely take her longer. She still wanted to move forward so I accepted the challenge.

Yeah. She got tired of the folding pretty quickly. We took lots of breaks. She wanted to bail a few times, but there was no way I was letting that happen.

First step – square Masu boxes! We used reversible Unryu for the entire structure.

Folding compartment boxes for Chinese Sewing Box

Next came a departure from the original structure I learned – the top boxes are Pop Up Envelopes – I learned how to make these in a Flickr tutorial by Kathrin Achenbach (a.k.a. annekata).

We then completed the remaining compartments, which were all variations of rectangular Masu boxes.

Assembly commenced.

Assembling parts for Chinese Sewing Box

Being that my niece is 13 years old, we took a brief break for the requisite I’m going to put glue on my hand so it can dry and I can peel it off moment.

Chinese Sewing Box

I’m telling you, my niece is impressive – she stuck with all of it. And I was pushy. Well, a pushy cheerleader, anyway. I love her so much!

The last piece she completed was the crazy ass belt. It was designed by Hedi Kyle. She is so damn clever.

Attaching belt to Chinese Sewing Box

FYI – You can find Hedi’s original pictorial directions for the belt on page 14 of the handout from her 2005 Guild of Book Workers Standards presentation. Cathryn Miller of Byopia Press took it one step further and added written directions to Hedi’s pics so the belt is easier to construct – hooray! 

Here’s the final thing of beauty:

Chinese Sewing Box

I loved that she chose different colors of reversible Unryu instead of just sticking to one sheet. I’m so proud of her.

And now I know that I’m capable of teaching the Chinese Sewing Box. Who knew?

Happy National Library Week!

This year’s National Library Week celebration will mark the 60th anniversary of the first event, sponsored in 1958.

2018 National Library Week logo

The event was designed to celebrate the awesomeness of libraries. And awesome they are! This year the event takes place April 8 – 14, 2018 and the theme is Libraries Lead.

From the American Library Association‘s website:

In the mid-1950s, research showed that Americans were spending less on books and more on radios, televisions and musical instruments. Concerned that Americans were reading less, the ALA and the American Book Publishers formed a nonprofit citizens organization called the National Book Committee in 1954. The committee’s goals were ambitious. They ranged from “encouraging people to read in their increasing leisure time” to “improving incomes and health” and “developing strong and happy family life.”


In 1957, the 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!”

I showed this picture to you last year, but here it is again, the wonderful Kellogg Hubbard Library of Montpelier, Vermont:

Celebrations during National Library Week include:

My local library has taken on a new significance to me, now that I have a daughter. Reading to your kids can have such a profound impact on their development and pediatricians recommend that parents should start doing so as soon as possible. My library has a story time twice a week and I hope to attend with Anna on a more regular basis.

Looking for other ways to celebrate? Check out the suggestions on the I Love Libraries website.

You can also follow along on social media using the tags #NationalLibraryWeek and #LibrariesTransform.

Happy 10th Blogiversary!

10th Blogiversary image

Wow. I have been blogging for ten years. How did that even happen?

During this past year, I have been suffering from Blogger’s Guilt. With the addition of Anna to our family, blogging on a regular basis has been hard.

Seriously. How am I supposed to get anything done with this face looking at me?


It’s not that I haven’t had anything to talk about, it’s just that my time has been focused on baby things. Believe it or not, my draft blog post count now stands at 120.


Screenshot of draft blog post count

When things slow down (hah!), I hope to get to that very long list of posts. As if I haven’t said that before. Maybe by the time you’re reading this post, I’ll already have finished those posts.

[insert wishful thinking here]

Regardless of whether or not I have been a recent poster, I have managed to last a decade. Woohoo!

So, it’s time to celebrate. In keeping with my custom of following the schedule of traditional and modern anniversary gifts, I will be giving myself something made of aluminum or tin.

Aside from getting myself some Altoids, the only other thing I could think of is a tin of Italian Coccoina paste – it’s acid-free and made from potato starch. I’ve never worked with it before, but I hear it smells amazing.

Tin of Coccoina paste

The cool thing about getting the paste is that it would pay homage to my book Rabbit Glue.

Meh. Anyone have any other suggestions?

Crossed Structure Binding at SPA

This past weekend I taught a Crossed Structure Binding workshop at Studio Place Arts.

The Crossed Structure Binding (CSB) is intriguing in that the sewing is done directly onto back cover straps that integrate into the front cover. This non-adhesive variation on the long stitch was developed by book artist and conservator Carmencho Arregui after studying pre-16th century bindings.

There are seven variations of the Crossed Structure binding: Basic, Protective, Linked, Expander, Marcopolo, Hidden, and Solo. This workshop focused on the Basic and Linked variations.

The Basic CSB was made with a handmade paper cover.

Crossed Structure Binding in progress

This was a teaching diagram I developed on the spot to help folks know how to cut the cover straps. I think it got the message across.

Diagram for bookbinding workshop

Look at these ladies work! They were a fearless bunch.

Crossed Structure Binding workshop at Studio Place Arts

The Linked CSB was made with a leather cover. 

Crossed Structure Binding in progress

Another one of my teaching tools to aid with cutting the leather:

Diagram for bookbinding workshop

Because the straps were floppy, they needed to be held in place with a sewing frame. Inspired by the hardware store-based sewing frames (scroll down in the post to view) of Karen Hanmer, I decided to make some myself.

They definitely need to be tweaked – the clamps were too long and a bit wiggly, so I need to figure out how to make them more stable. My students made the best of it though and turned out some beautiful work.

Using a sewing frame to bind a book

I’m totally up for teaching the other variations of the Crossed Structure Binding, if y’all are interested. Let me know!

If you’d like to get updates about upcoming classes and other events, there are a few ways you can receive them:

Japanese Bookbinding at SPA

This past weekend I taught the first of two new workshops that are debuting this month at Studio Place Arts – Japanese Bookbinding. It almost didn’t run because early on, there weren’t enough folks signed up. Then next thing you know, it’s full and there’s a wait list. Go figure!

I had a selfish motive for developing this workshop – it gave me the opportunity to blab about my trip to Japan (as if I don’t do it enough already). Oh yeah, and I also wanted to teach the different structures. Yep.

We worked on six different Japanese bindings: Yamato TojiYotsume Toji (Four-hole Binding), Koki Toji/Kangxi (Noble Binding), Asa-No-Ha Toji (Hemp Leaf Binding), Kikko Toji (Tortoise Shell Binding), and Daifuku Cho (Account Book).

It was a lot to get done in just a few hours, but as always, I get the best students. Lucky me!

Just look at these binding warriors:

Japanese Bookbinding workshop at Studio Place Arts

Student sewing at Japanese Bookbinding binding workshop

Handmade Japanese bound books

SPA will be running the class again due to its popularity. Keep an eye on SPA’s website for the date (probably in June 2018). If you’d like to get updates from me about upcoming classes and other doings, there are a few ways you can receive them:

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