Interview in Seven Days is out!

Last week I mentioned that I was interviewed by a reporter from Seven Days, a Vermont independent newspaper. This past Monday, I met with a photographer at my studio to take some inventory and action shots.

Waiting for the newspaper to come out today was unbearable. I went to a local distribution spot several times before I finally snagged myself a pile. The article is also available on the Seven Days website.

If you scroll down to the end of article, you’ll see a picture of me. I didn’t have any work in progress at the time of the photo shoot and the photographer wanted a picture of me working – I had to unbind a book so I had something to work on during the shoot. Let me admit up front that I do NOT like having my picture taken. That said, I really like the picture that accompanies the article. My hair is sufficiently non-wacky. I have a decent smile. I’m not dressed like a shlub.

However, the best thing about this picture is that it looks like my studio is located in a spaceship – and yet somehow, I look normal. I have no idea where that weird glow in the background came from. The photographer did not set up any strange lights or attach bizarro lenses to his camera. I do not work in a microwave. It’s just weird. I want my studio to look like that all the time.

On another note, I’m leaving in 38 minutes for my summer vacation. I should be wrapping up my packing, but I couldn’t resist squeezing in one more post. July 7th will be the first day of my 5-day workshop with Julie Chen at the Garage Annex School, which I talked about in this post. I hope to take lots of pictures during the workshop and will try to write a post every day about the experience. Unless I spend all waking hours making stuff.

See you in July!

Keith Smith books on sale at Oak Knoll Books

Oak Knoll Books logoI am a pathological bargain hunter. When I find a deal, I get all happy inside.

Today I found out that Oak Knoll Books that is having a sale. Saweet! On their homepage, you can see the following sale announcement: “New books on sale in June, free shipping!”

When you click on the link, the next web page says this:

20% Off & Free Shipping on orders of 2 or more! We have chosen over 65 new books (not Oak Knoll Press titles) to offer on sale in June. This is a different selection than the books that were on sale in May. We hope you find something of interest!

Now I have a lot of bookbinding books and I’m pretty picky. I did not expect to find anything that would rock my socks. I was wrong.

The sale list includes the following 3 Keith Smith books:

  • Bookbinding for Book Artists
  • Structure of the Visual Book
  • 200 Books, an Annotated Bibliography

Yes, this is a small selection, but if you’ve ever shopped for Keith Smith books, then you know what a steal this is. It is really hard to find his books used (who would give up one of his books?), much less on sale. 20% off and free shipping is a great deal. Find yourself a bookbinding friend and split the order to get the free shipping. I bought a copy of 200 Books, an Annotated Bibliography, the one book missing from my collection.

I am a happy duck.

Custom order guest book – done deal

Today there was no throwing of things (not even soft things), as I threatened in yesterday’s post. I pulled my guest book out of the press and it was just perfect.

Handmade guest book by Elissa Campbell

I ran upstairs from my studio to my husband like an eight year-old. “Ohhhh…..look at what I made! I like it soooo much! Lookie lookie lookie!”

Handmade guest book by Elissa Campbell

I was especially thankful for the lack of complications because my customer was going to be picking it up in 1 1/2 hours. Then I became sad because I knew that I couldn’t keep the book for myself. Meh. So began the process of letting go of the book that I thought wouldn’t look good but it did and I was wrong.

Handmade guest book by Elissa Campbell

When my customer picked up the book, she really liked it. She gave me a hug. I like hugs more than I like throwing things.

Handmade guest book by Elissa Campbell

Off the guest book goes into the world of party attendees and pen users.

Guest books and gluing drama…

For the past week I have been working on a custom order for a guest book. I have to admit that when my customer picked out her choice of materials, I did not think that the combination was going to work. However, I have been proven wrong throughout the process of making the book – her choices were spot-on.

I really appreciate it when someone can rock my creative world. I get so stuck in doing the things I do. It can be hard for me to accept and try out others’ ideas. That’s why I really appreciate custom orders – the extra work involved can be hard, but it’s so worth it to get a brain stretch along the way.

Another benefit of this process is that it helped me figure out how to approach another custom order that I’ve been avoiding. One solution leads to another.

Handmade guest book by Elissa Campbell

As you can see, the guest book has a copy of a matted wedding invitation on the cover. For some reason, I could not figure out how to get the invitation centered and mark it off for gluing. Part of the difficulty was likely due to the fact that the mat for the invitation was a piece of bookboard wrapped in bookcloth. The extra thickness made it harder to manipulate.

I tried to outline the invitation with post-it notes, hoping that I could glue the back and then position it. The post-its did not want to stick to my very lumpy handmade paper. Then I tried laying out straight edges, hoping that they’d stay still while I glued. Those suckers were so flipping wiggly!

I even asked my husband for suggestions. His response – “I dunno.”

After some grumbling, my brain decided to join in. I created a template out of cardstock that was the same size as the cover paper. I cut out a hole that was slightly larger than the size of the matted invitation. I then clipped the template to the cover so it wouldn’t wiggle (take that!).

Handmade guest book by Elissa Campbell

Victory was mine!

I was successfully able to get the invitation glued into the perfect position. I unclipped the template and the cover went into the press.

I’m really hoping that my happiness isn’t short-lived. If I take the cover out of the press tomorrow and find that some stray glue made it on to my cover, I’m going to throw things.

Soft things.

Another part of the guest book involved mounting envelopes containing the save-the-date and response cards. I added them to the inside of the back cover. This was a much easier process because I used an acid-free roller adhesive (the envelopes were lightweight and didn’t require PVA). They are stuck on good.

Inside guest book back cover

After pressing the front cover overnight, I’ll complete the binding – I’m using a stab binding with 1 1/2″ green ribbon to match the invitation.

I’ll try to get some shots in before my customer comes by to pick it up.

Garage Annex School – not a place for cars to learn stuff

I realized that I mentioned the Garage Annex School in my post about Julie Chen and didn’t elaborate.

At all. My bad.

Just what exactly is the Garage Annex School? Well, it’s a bookbinding school located in Easthampton, MA. I’m not sure how they came up with the name because they’re not located in a garage, but in a converted mill (which is way cool and kinda creepy).

I am so thankful to have a bookbinding school located within driving distance of my home. The co-directors of the school, Daniel Kelm and Greta Sibley, get the most amazing roster of instructors.

Take a look at their class listing for this year: Julie Chen, Hedi Kyle, and Shanna Leino, to name a few. How fun would it be to make your own bone folders with Shanna?

I took a weekend workshop there about 1 1/2 years ago with Hedi Kyle – was that a dream and a half! We learned how to make a bunch of binding structures using materials that one could easily find in a stationery store. I would have taken a class in pickle binding if Hedi was teaching it – to have the opportunity to learn from her was priceless.

Yes, I get star struck. I believe I’ve mentioned that before.

And the studio where the classes are held…oh boy. It is HUGE. And it has really tall ceilings.

And there are all kinds of boxes crammed in places and you just wanna go in every one and see what’s in there because whatever it is you know it’s really cool.

And he has these big pieces of equipment and I have no idea what they do, but I want one of each.

So here I am, only 21 days away from my class with Julie Chen.

Best. Vacation. Ever.

If the classes look interesting to you, sign up for their Email list. They give you a teaser of the upcoming classes before registration begins, just so you can torture yourself over which one you’re going to take.

And these classes fill up fast. The Julie Chen class filled up in 6 hours and I only got in because some people dropped out (I was #2 on the wait list). In anticipation of next year’s schedule, I will continue my practice of searching the Sunday want ads for a job where you get paid to take bookbinding classes.

Newspaper interview with Seven Days

Yesterday I was interviewed by reporter Amy Lilly from Seven Days. Seven Days is a weekly independent newspaper, sort of like Vermont’s answer to the Boston Phoenix.

Amy had seen my work in a gallery a couple of years ago and was recently reintroduced to my work via the Vermont Crafts Council website. She asked me if she could come to my studio and use me as a subject for her column Handmade Tales. Handmade Tales features a different Vermont artist each week. Amy does a great job of painting a portrait of the artist with her words. It was a pleasant surprise when she contacted me (although I had to clean my studio).

She arrived at my studio yesterday afternoon. I have been interviewed a couple of times before and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I’m probably more enthusiastic during conversation than one might expect. I talk fast and say embarrassing things. But these things are just classic me. I can hear my voice when I read the words that I can’t believe I’ve said.

I told Amy that if I started talking too fast, that she should feel free to tell me to slow down. Start me talking about bookbinding and I’m off at the races.

We talked about how I started in bookbinding, how I ended up in Vermont, where I look for supplies (and inspiration). I talked a lot. And fast. She took a lot of notes.

I suspect that she will write something that makes me sound a bit less wackadoodle, but if not, that’s okay. That’s just who I am.

A photographer will be contacting me next week to arrange an appointment to take my picture. This was a bummer because yesterday was a really good hair day. I’m praying for low humidity next week.

The article is scheduled for publication on June 25th. Luckily, this is the day before I leave for vacation so I can grab a bunch of copies. The column is also published on the Seven Days website, so I’ll publish a link to it when it becomes available.

Craftcast (a.k.a. get your butt in the chair…)

When I work in my studio, I usually have iTunes playing one of the following five things:

  1. 80’s music. I am a total new wave freak. My favorite station is Radio Nigel (note: no longer exists).
  2. If it’s Saturday or Sunday and between the hours of 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., I listen to The Playground on WERS. What can I say, I am a fan of children’s music – it’s just so darn cheery. Love love love Disney musicals.
  3. If it’s Saturday or Sunday and between the hours of 8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m., I listen to The Secret Spot, also on WERS. Gimme some Aretha and I’m a happy duck.
  4. My “100 Songs”. After a song ended once on the radio, the deejay remarked that he’d put the song on his list of 100 songs for a desert island. Ever since, I’ve been obsessed with compiling the soundtrack of me. I’m almost done – I have 91 songs selected to date (I’m actually listening to this right now).
  5. Last, but not least, I listen to Craftcast.

Craftcast is a weekly podcast hosted by jeweler Alison Lee. Alison interviews professional artists, authors, television personalities, among others. She has interviewed artists working in a wide variety of media including polymer clay, jewelry, and fiber. I find her interviews to be so inspirational – you are given the opportunity to hear about another artist’s creative process – their struggles, triumphs, and their quirks.

Why artists do what they do.

After each podcast I feel so…understood.

Her podcast from June 2nd was particularly enjoyable. Alison interviewed Diane Maurer-Mathison, a fabulous paper artisan from Spring Mills, Pennsylvania. Diane has written a number of books, including Art of the Scrapbook and The Art of Making Paste Papers (I have both of them). She talked with Alison about her newest book, Collage, Assemblage, and Altered Art.

I could so identify with her as she talked about having to save every single scrap of paper because you never know when you’re going to need it (hey hubby, are you listening?). Or when she talked about her paper problem (it’s not a problem if it doesn’t bother me, right?). So all you paper junkies out there (who, me?) – if you’re looking for validation, this podcast is for you.

You can subscribe to Craftcast for free through iTunes and each new podcast will be automatically downloaded for you each week.

Cool Gocco-related find #1: color charts

So now that I have a Gocco printer, I have been engaging in what must be a long-honored tradition of becoming obsessed with finding out every little detail about the little devil. I started making a list of all the cool web resources I found until my search came to a screeching halt after doing a search on Etsy.

What I found was shop blue22, a.k.a Jamie from New York City. So Jamie has gone and done a genius thing – he gathered all of the official Gocco inks he could find (59 to be exact) and printed them on different colors of paper so you can see how they print before you use them or even buy them.

Gocco ink color chart - black, white, grey

With each set of cards you receive a transparent overlay so you can identify each ink – Jamie calls it a “Color Matrix”. In my opinion, anything called a matrix can’t be bad. Unless it’s a sequel.

The first set of charts I saw was what you see in the image at right – inks printed on black, gray, and white cardstocks. But that was just the beginning.

Then I saw his super happiness set (my name, not his) – the 28 card set.

Gocco ink color charts

Hmmm… which one do you think I want? With a set of these charts, there’s nothing to stop me from buying every color ink in existence. I no longer have to worry about something not working out. I can proceed in all my Gocco rainbow bliss. I am so screwed.

** Many thanks go to Jamie who graciously allowed me to use images from his Etsy shop so you can directly witness the coolness of his Gocco charts.

My Favorite Book Artists, Chapter 1: Julie Chen

A couple of years ago, the Book Arts Guild of Vermont took a field trip to the Special Collections department at the Bailey/Howe Library at the University of Vermont. Connell Gallagher, then director of Special Collections, organized an amazing array of artist books for us to view. They were laid out on tables and we were given white cotton gloves to wear as we explored the work.

If you don’t know who Julie Chen is, you should. Julie is the amazing artist behind Flying Fish Press in Berkeley CA. I lost my breath when I saw Julie’s work. Her craftsmanship is just beyond description. Visit her website and check out her portfolio pages if you want to see it for yourself.

And if you think the images are amazing, you really should see them in person. I consider myself very fortunate for having had the opportunity to actually hold several of her pieces in my hands. If you have a university library near you with a special collections department, find out if they have any of Julie’s work. If they do, get yourself over there!

A print catalog of Julie’s work is also available – the book Objects/Encounters: Bookworks at Flying Fish Press 1987-2001 was written by Connell Gallagher & Cynthia Imperatore and was published by the University of Vermont. The book retails for $35.00.

As if seeing her work in person wasn’t enough of an experience for me, I have an even bigger opportunity over the horizon. In about a month, I’ll be taking a class with Julie at the Garage Annex School in Easthampton, MA. She’s teaching a course called Artists’ Books: Ideas, Actions, & Transformations.

I almost didn’t get into the class. The Garage Annex School announced their 2008 class lineup a couple of months before opening registration. When registration opened up, I wasn’t fast enough – the class sold out in 6 hours. I was so upset. I sent in an Email and asked to be put on the waiting list – I was #2 (like 2 people would be crazy enough to give up their spots). Well, apparently there are 2 people that crazy – thank you crazy people!

I plan to take lots of pictures during the workshop so I can share my experience with you. So think of me on July 7th – I’ll be the curly-haired bookbinder in Easthampton, MA trying hard not to look like a star struck doof.

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