Category : Book Artists

Worktable Wednesday whoops!

It seems that I completely spaced on my Worktable Wednesday post last week. Ugh.

It turned out that I wasn’t in the studio at all that day as I had a number of appointments to contend with. Ugh.

The best part of that day was attending the monthly meeting of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont. Members were treated to a visit with Ken Leslie and his son, Woody Leslie.

Woody is the mastermind behind One Page Productions, an artist’s book press specializing in books created from only one 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper. He believes strongly in the dissemination of ideas and does so using cheap mass production.

He talked about his work and showed us his collection of miniature books, warning us that some of them were for “mature audiences”. I’m not sure if I fall into that category, but I was immediately drawn to his book entitled Banana Porn. It’s not what it sounds like, so get your mind out of the gutter.

If you come by my studio during Open Studio Weekend, ask me to show the book to you. Or, if you can’t wait and are interested in acquiring one of his books for yourself, you can contact Woody at

Ken started out his artistic career as a painter. He earned his MFA in painting from the University of Pennsylvania, which is where I went as an undergraduate student (hurrah for the red and the blue!).

Ken entered the realm of artist’s books as he explored non-rectangular painting shapes. He was drawn to the circular form because he enjoys thinking about how we experience time.

He’s created a number of books that focus on a particular time cycle – a 24-hour day, the same time of day over the course of a year, the ritual of painting first thing every morning.

He primarily works in watercolors. Many of the circular books he shared with us were big enough for him to sit inside – and they were only made of one piece of paper.

It didn’t take long for someone to ask him what paper was large enough to meet his needs – 50″ rolls of Arches watercolor paper.

Something Ken said really struck a nerve:

When you do a project, do it so you can be a real human.

I think that’s the problem I’ve run into lately – I commit to things without leaving myself any breathing room. I do not respond well to speed bumps – when something goes wrong, my whole system goes kablooey.

I need to do a better job about allowing myself breathing room – be a real human.

I hope it’s okay for real humans to like banana porn.

Peter and Donna Thomas lecture at UVM Special Collections


Peter Thomas lecture at UVM Special CollectionsI first met Peter Thomas in June 2009 at the Focus on Book Arts conference where I attended his workshop The Doweled Flap Book & the Dowel Spine Non-Adhesive Portfolio.

There’s really nothing quite like making books while listening to live ukulele music.

Peter and his wife Donna have been making books together since 1976. Their miniature books are just jaw-droppingly fabulous.

Seriously. When I saw them for the first time, I just wanted to hug them.

When I read about Peter and Donna’s cross-country, book arts pilgrimage in a Gypsy Wagon, I contacted them about teaching a workshop for the Book Arts Guild of Vermont.

As part of their visit to Vermont in late August, Peter and Donna came to UVM Special Collections to present their lecture The Literary Book as a Work of Art.

Peter said a few things that stuck with me (a.k.a. The Gospel According to Peter):

Book arts is the most complex art form that is.

We need a larger vocabulary for artist books.

The book is four-dimensional art.

Peter said that in general, the public doesn’t understand the value of artist books. As a result, now is a great time to invest in artist books – they’re a bargain compared to other art forms.

Once the book arts reach the status of painting or sculpture, prices will increase. He added that when a famous book artist dies, it will be a great day for the book arts.

Note: He included a specific book artist’s name in the previous statement, but I prefer not to mention it here because it’s kinda morbid.

I totally get it and it bums me out. It should not take the loss of an artist to legitimize an art form.

I think that’s why I feel so strongly that teaching classes is my responsibility as an artist – educate the public about the value of the book arts, one person at a time.

Maybe I should get a gypsy wagon…

Jill Timm’s work in artist books

Jill Timm - Miniature Books

During her Amazing Dremel workshop, Jill Timm treated students to a talk about her work in artist books. Many of her books are miniatures and include her photographic work. Jill’s work tends to focus on natural themes, which seems to have evolved, in part, from her love of National Parks. Her work is so beautiful!

One piece that I found particularly amazing was Magical NatureScapes. The book contains six scenes that are presented in 3-D, which one views through the included 3-D glasses. Jill told us that she created the 3-D effect herself by moving images pixel by pixel.

That’s what I call artistic commitment.

When I attend an artist talk, I try to remember to bring my studio journal. I’m often amused by the rather obvious (yet still valuable) things I write down. On occasion, I’ll write down something totally random that I found funny at the time and then later I’ll have no idea what it means.

Here are the quotes I captured from Jill’s talk (and what I learned from them):

“The page needs to grow to fit the photo.”

Translation: Don’t crop your photo to fit the page – preserve your content! I love the idea of pages that expand and fold out, so I need to remember this one.

“Pages do not always have to be square or rectangle.”

Translation: Hellloooo…shapes! I think I shy away from shapes because cutting the pages can be really time-consuming. It certainly would be easier to make shaped books if my books were smaller. And this doesn’t even mean that the covers have to be shaped – you can just focus on the pages. See Jill’s Talking Rocks for a great example of this.

“A book should not be naked on the back.”

Translation: Put content on the backs of your pages. I am so guilty of this one, especially if I’m working on something accordion-like. I’ll conceptualize the book one side at a time. I hereby commit to no more naked backsides.

I’m still working on my two remaining Dremel posts – the sample books and the printable guide for everything learned in both Dremel classes.

On a personal note, I’d like to thank everyone for their support during these past weeks. Your kindness has been very heartwarming.

Celebration of Handmade Books exhibit

Book Arts Guild of Vermont show at Creative Space GalleryYesterday I attended the opening reception for Celebration of the Handmade Book, an exhibit by the Book Arts Guild of Vermont at the Creative Space Gallery in Vergennes, VT.

The show is really wonderful, with over 50 handmade books by Guild members. It was great to see work by folks who don’t usually make it to our monthly meetings and even better to get to meet them. I’m showing my Dowel Flap Book, which has been titled Knock, Knock. You can read the story behind (and view) this book in this post.

Many members in the Book Arts Guild of Vermont work as teachers, so it’s no surprise that a bookbinding workshop is being held in conjunction with the show. Ann Joppe-Mercure will be teaching Pop-up Books on Saturday, May 8, 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. The cost is $15 per person and the workshop is open to participants ages 6 and older.

Vermont State of Craft logoThis exhibit, running now through May 30th, is the first showcase event selected for participation in the State of Craft, a year-long celebration of the studio crafts movement in Vermont over the last 50 years.

Only 24 Vermont craft galleries, schools, organizations and businesses, museums and historical societies were selected by the Vermont Crafts Council as official hosts of showcase events.

I’m pretty happy about the fact that a book arts event is the showcase opener. Yay books!

If you’re interested in checking out the show (and why wouldn’t you be), here are the details:

Creative Space Gallery
235 Main Street
Vergennes, VT 05491
(802) 877-3850

Gallery Hours:
Thursday: 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Friday: 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday: 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sunday: 12:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Book Artists on Twitter – part 3

Twitter bird iconAlas, this will likely be my third and last post about book artists on Twitter (part one, part two). I have not, however, given up on sharing book-related Twitter peoples.

What is this crazy lady talking about?

I am one of the lucky schmoes chosen to test out Lists, a fabulous new feature in Twitter that allows you to organize the people you follow. Your lists can be public or private. You can subscribe to other folks’ lists. You can come up with silly names for your lists, like “Damn you’re funny”. By the way, that wasn’t me.

Okay, I’m lying. That was me.

Anyway, I’ve also created a list called Bookbinding (duh). Here’s the link:

If you don’t currently have access to Twitter lists, then I’m not sure if you’ll be able to see my list yet, sorry. Hopefully they’ll roll it out to everyone soon.

Note: I’m interested in book artists of all skill levels and the people I follow on Twitter represent that variety.

The first link will take you to the person’s Twitter feed and the second link will take you to his or her website, blog, or Etsy shop.

Another note: Many thanks to kailoon of Loon Design for generously sharing his nifty Twitter icon. Yep, you can follow kailoon on Twitter.

Julie Chen fans – welcome!

I was looking at my blog stats this morning and noticed that a large number of people were doing searches on Julie Chen of Flying Fish Press.

I finally figured out that last night, folks had watched Craft in America, a documentary on PBS on which Chen was featured. Since she’s super-fabulous, of course people are interested in finding out more about her work.

I was lucky enough to take a class with Chen in the summer of 2008. If you ever have the chance to take a workshop with her, you have to do it – it’s so worth it.

Here are the posts documenting my class with Chen:

These are other posts I’ve written that talk about Chen’s work:

Another great resource for learning more about Julie Chen is the Book Artists and Poets Podcast. Steve Miller, professor and program coordinator of the MFA in the Book Arts Program at the University of Alabama, acts as host of a number of interviews with book artists and poets from all walks of life. Chen was interviewed in January 2006 and you can listen to her interview to hear about her work firsthand.

If after reading all of the posts you can’t tell that I think that Chen is a rock star, then I need to try harder. 🙂

Book artists on Twitter, part 2

twitterigamiAs promised, here is a follow-up to my first post about book artists on Twitter. In case you’re wondering how I find these folks, most are via recommendations from others (thank you #followfriday).

I also use a service called Twilert to notify me when someone tweets using any of the following words/phrases:

  • bookbinding
  • handmade book
  • handmade journal

I receive a daily report of these tweets via Email (well, I did before Twilert went kablooey). Pre-kablooey, I found the service quite useful and I was able to discover some very interesting folks.

And now – on with the list!

Note: I’m interested in book artists of all skill levels and the people I follow on Twitter represent that variety.

The first link will take you to the person’s Twitter feed and the second link will take you to his or her website, blog, or Etsy shop.

Yet another note: Many thanks to Paddy Donnelly for generously sharing his rocking origami Twitter image, a.k.a. Twittergami. And yes, you can follow Paddy on Twitter.

Book Arts Guild of Vermont visit to UVM Special Collections

Last Wednesday I attended the monthly meeting of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont. Instead of meeting in our usual location, the Firehouse Gallery, we took a field trip to UVM Special Collections at the Bailey/Howe Library.

Special Collections at UVM is well-regarded among members of the College Art Association. According to an article in the Spring 2006 issue of Vermont Quarterly, The Illuminated Word: Special Collections Celebrates Artists’ Books, UVM’s book arts collection has grown to over 2,700 volumes. That number includes both fine press and artists’ books. Amazingly, you don’t need an appointment to view the collection. You can drop by any time during regular library hours and the staff will be happy to assist you.

The Guild visited Special Collections a couple of years ago and since then, the library has changed their policy on glove use. At our first visit, we were required to wear white cotton gloves when handling books. Visitors to Special Collections now no longer need to wear gloves. I asked Prudence Doherty, the Special Collections Librarian, why there was a change in policy and she remarked that there is an industry standard that is now against glove use.

Prudence Doherty, UVM Special Collections

Prudence gave us a wonderful tour of a selection of books with themes of “family” and/or “home”.

I really enjoyed Emily Martin‘s book More Slices of Pie. This piece is based upon an earlier work of Martin’s Eight Slices of Pie, with each slice containing family stories and recipes. I was particularly drawn to the work because it wasn’t complicated in its construction and yet it conveyed such a powerful message. It reminded me that sometimes less is more – you don’t need a lot to create a strong visual statement.

On the other end of the design spectrum is Julie Chen of Flying Fish Press. Her work is so layered and complex. I love love love her work. I was lucky enough to view one of her more recent pieces, Panorama.


Panorama by Julie Chen

I also got my hands on Evidence of Compression, a Chen work from 2001.

I look at Julie Chen’s work through different eyes now that I’ve taken a class with her. Before she was just awesome.

Now she is total awesomesauce.

I blogged during my weeklong class with Julie and you can read all about it in the posts listed below:

When Jim Croft talks…

So I have a partially written post about the workshop I attended yesterday at the Focus on Book Arts conference.

I was sitting in the lobby of the dorm, getting ready to write when Jim Croft came over. Now when Jim Croft wants to talk to you, you listen (just like the E.F. Hutton commercials).

He is so cool.

Anyway, I’ll be (hopefully) finishing up my post later this evening while I wait for my flight home to Vermont.

Red eye! Yay!

The San Francisco Center for the Book

Another stop on my bookbinding-focused trip to San Francisco was The San Francisco Center for the Book. I loved the exterior of the building. It just didn’t want to blend in.

San Francisco Center for the Book - Exterior

When I got inside the building, I realized that I had imagined that the space would be much larger. I think that I’ve been impressed by their programs for so long that I literally built up the place.

Here are some images from the inside of the building:

San Francisco Center for the Book - interior

Book presses all in a row

Lying presses

Sewing frames

Challenge guillotine

During my visit, I was lucky enough to be able to view Once Upon a Book, SFCB’s current exhibit.

Once Upon a Book showcases six acclaimed children’s book illustrators in a new light – through doodles, sketches, mock-ups, all the way through finished art. This exhibition looks into the creative process of six masters of children’s books: Remy Charlip, Maira Kalman, Elisa Kleven, David Macaulay, Chris Raschka, and Brian Selznick.

I really enjoyed seeing the rough sketches and mock-ups of each artist’s work. It brought the work down to a more accessible level – I think that it’s easier for me to relate to artwork when it’s less polished. Here are some images from the exhibit:

I’d like to give a special shout out to David Macaulay – as it turns out, he lives in Vermont (woohoo!). His sketchbooks were just breathtaking – such attention to detail, even in a mode of exploration. Very inspirational. The exhibit runs until August 7, 2009. You can download the Once Upon a Book catalog for $6.00 or purchase a print copy for $12.90 from

And if that isn’t enough for you, exhibit curator Thacher Hurd produced two videos in which participating artists talk about their creative process. You can watch the videos below.

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