Category : Book Arts Guild of Vermont

Worktable Wednesday

Tonight I’m doing a workshop for the Book Arts Guild of Vermont – folded books. The structures I’m teaching were either invented by Hedi Kyle or were inspired by her work.

Paper models of origami fold books

I wanted to make sure that I had the structures nailed down, so today I worked on making models. I had hoped to get the models done before today, but I’m in week three of the never-ending cough. I am sick of being sick! 🙁

Researching folded books

I am loving Alisa Golden‘s book Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms. It has directions for a number of folded structures, including Hedi’s Crown Binding – I’ll be teaching this binding tonight.

Worktable Wednesday

Today’s worktable was off-site as I attended the monthly meeting of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont (B.A.G.). On the menu – making my first piano hinge book.

I know what you’re thinking – you never made a piano hinge book before? At least 5 people at the meeting asked me that.

Nope, never made one before. I can’t do everything, try as I may. 🙁

I was loving the fluorescent colored paper – it reminded me of the 80’s. The little triangles we cut from the pages looked like teeny paper birds. Brightly colored birds on a Fiskar sky.

Fluorescent pages for piano hinge book

 Here’s the spine of my completed book:

Spine of piano hinge book

And here’s the obligatory wingspan shot:

Completed piano hinge book

 Many thanks to B.A.G. member Jill Abilock for teaching such a fun workshop!

Book Arts Guild of Vermont visit to UVM Special Collections

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a meeting of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont. This month’s meeting was our annual trip to UVM Special Collections at the Bailey/Howe Library. As I’ve mentioned before, Special Collections at UVM has a spectacular artist book collection and is well-regarded by the College Art Association.

I always get a lot out of our visits – Prudence Doherty does a wonderful job of selecting books for us to view. If I remember correctly, the book themes chosen for us included home, food, and animals.

I loved the letterpressed Meatball Math, by Alice Austin. The structure was cool – kind of like a caterpillar. I’m also big fan of math and orange things.

 "Meatball Math" handmade artist book by Alice Austin

I loved this colophon for Out West by Carol Blinn of Warwick Press. It included swatches of two materials used in both the book and its accompanying box – Japanese Sugi Veneer and De Wint handmade paper. I’d love to include swatches in my colophons going forward.

Colophon for "Out West" by Carol Blinn of Warwick Press

I adored Common Threads by Candace Hicks. This book is one of a series of hand-embroidered canvas books created in the style of a composition notebook. Everything is hand-stitched – every single word.

The book is insane. In a good way.

"Common Threads" handmade book by Candace Hicks

Page spread of "Common Threads" handmade book by Candace Hicks

The precision of Laura Davidson‘s Mapping My World was really impressive:

Handmade book by Laura Davidson - "Mapping My World"

I liked the cover technique on The Mexican Dog-Tosser by Lois Morrison. She cut out the letters from a light piece of paper and then layered it over a darker material to make the letters appear.

Handmade book by Lois Morrison - "The Mexican Dog-Tosser"

I usually leave Special Collections feeling both inspired and overwhelmed – I get such a flood of ideas. Thankfully, I take detailed notes and can refer to them in the future when I’m ready.

The Awesomeness of Peter and Donna Thomas

Peter and Donna Thomas are awesome.

There, I said it.

I first met them when I attended the Focus on Book Arts conference in 2009. I was fortunate enough to attend one of their miniature book workshops.

Loved it.

Then they came to Vermont to lecture at UVM Special Collections and to teach a workshop for the Book Arts Guild of Vermont. It was then that I fell in love with one of their editioned books, but stupidly didn’t buy it.

I thought about that book for a year. It conveyed a message that was so perfect for the time in my life when I saw it. I missed it.

So I did something about it. Now mine.

Miniature book by Peter & Donna Thomas

Miniature book by Peter & Donna Thomas

Miniature book by Peter & Donna Thomas

Miniature book by Peter & Donna Thomas

The book measures 1 5/16″ x 1″ x 1/4″. It’s bound in leather and all of the pages are letterpressed. The copyright date makes me laugh – the book’s sentiment was probably appropriate back then too.

I love it.

There was a post on the Book Arts listserv today that mentioned that Peter and Donna had taped an interview with Park City Television. You can watch it below.

Did I mention how awesome they are?

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…

Oh yeah, I’ve been on cable tv

This past Wednesday I was part of an interview on a local cable channel – “Positively Vermont: Vermont Crafts Council“.

My friend Nancy Stone (and fellow bookbinder) & I talked about the Vermont Crafts Council, Open Studio Weekend, the Book Arts Guild of Vermont, and the State of Craft project. Oh yeah, and we got to talk about our own work too.

If you’ve got 45 minutes to spare and have a fondness for curly hair and/or odd facial expressions, enjoy the video below.

Note: That’s me on the right.

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 Arts Guild of Vermont meeting – Edible Books

Last week I attended the monthly meeting for the Book Arts Guild of Vermont. We went with an Edible Books theme, even though we couldn’t have our meeting on April 1st – the official date for the International Edible Book Festival.

The meeting was great fun and folks came up with some great books. Being who I am, I felt compelled to do a cheese-based book. My entry was inspired by the children’s book series Choose Your Own Adventure.

My book’s title – Cheese Your Own Adventure.

Edible book - Cheese Your Own Adventure

I kept thinking of elaborate ways to express my concept but ultimately I went with a simple approach because I ran out of time. I’m quite pleased with the results. I’d like to give a big thanks to the employee at Michaels in South Burlington, VT who didn’t laugh at me when I ran up to her and asked, “Do you have a squeeze bottle with a really tiny tip that I can fill up with mustard and write with?”

Welcome to Crazy Town

Handmade books order from Vermont Butcher Block & BoardI’m thrilled with all of the submissions for my Hedi Kyle Festschrift giveaway! I am feeling in sync with many of your responses to “You know you’re a bookbinder when…”

I have been busy! I just finished packing up a wholesale order for a new client, Vermont Butcher Block & Board. Their new store in Burlington, Vermont will be opening in the next few months. They sell a line of wood-turned pens and wanted to have handmade journals as companions.

Yes, pens get lonely.

After dropping off the order later today, I’ll be attending the monthly meeting of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont. Today’s theme is Edible Books, which was inspired by the International Edible Book Festival. I have a concept in mind, but have yet to execute it. I really hope I can get it done in between the appointments I have today. If I do get it done, I’ll be sure to take pictures.

Lastly, I managed to volunteer myself for two presentations at tomorrow’s Spring Arts Marketing Conference, hosted by the Vermont Crafts Council. Hello, my name is Elissa and I don’t know how to say no. The workshops are Social Media for Artists and Etsy for Beginners. I am so worried about doing a good job that I’ve been working on these presentations for over a week. And I’m not done yet. It’s gonna be a late night.

If you haven’t entered the Hedi Kyle Festschrift giveaway yet, you still have time. I’m accepting entries until midnight E.S.T. on April 9th (that’s this Friday).

Good luck!

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