Category : Bookbinding

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 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!

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.

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:

Book Arts enamel pins

The Paper Carnival just released a collection of book art-related enamel pins. The six-pack includes assorted book tools, a nipping press, a Vandercook proof press, a letterpress composing stick, and a small pica pole.

Just look at them – they are so very cool!

Book Artists' Bookbinding and Letterpress Enamel Pins

The Paper Carnival is the brainchild of Julie Chen (Flying Fish Press) and Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder (Coyote Bones Press). The partnership was established in 2017 with the goal of creating book artsy collectibles. These pins are just the beginning. Yay!

You can buy each pin individually for $12.00 or the full set for $70.00 on Etsy. Obviously, I had to have the full set. I think it will look awesome on my not-yet-assembled book arts sash (along with my merit badges).

I’m looking forward to seeing what other designs they come up with – perhaps a sewing frame or Kutrimmer?

Note: Many thanks to Keri for allowing me to use her image for this blog post.

Cut sheets calculator

I just discovered the most awesome resource!

I was checking out the newest papers at Paper Mojo when I noticed this little icon beneath one of the paper swatches:

Paper Mojo Cut Sheet Calculator icon

So I click on it and I’m brought to the following page:

Paper Mojo's Cut Sheet Calculator

It’s a Cut Sheet Calculator!

I’m totally nerding out over this (and it’s probably been there forever). When trying to figure out how much paper to buy for a project, I usually do these calculations by hand but now I don’t have to. No more thinking – just plug in the numbers and whhheeeee!!!

One caveat: The calculator automatically takes into account a 0.5″ trim off all edges of the paper. This is because many handmade papers have deckled edges and if you want your final pieces to be clean-cut, you have to address the inconsistency.

Thanks Paper Mojo!

Many thanks to Paper Mojo for granting permission for me to take screenshots of their website.

2018 Book Artsy Deadlines

As 2017 draws to a close, one’s mind begins to think about the opportunities that 2018 brings. And if you’re anything like me, you get obsessed with all of the new book arts classes and workshops that are offered.

So much to learn, so little time. 🙁

Some workshops are easier to get into than others. When I enrolled in Hedi Kyle’s workshop at North Country Studio Workshops, I had to be on my computer at midnight when the application went up. The workshop sold out within a few hours.

And different institutions have different acceptance policies, so simply registering early isn’t always the answer. Groan.

In an effort to make things easier for you, I hereby present a brief roundup of some of the more renowned programs and their deadlines. Oh yes, there are deadlines.

Book Arts Deadlines 2018 -  logo

The Paper and Book Intensive, an annual 10-day retreat of book arts and papermaking classes, will open its general application period on January 1st. The earlier you apply, the better the chances that you’ll get the classes you want. Keep an eye on this page of their website for the posting of their application.

By the way, if you’re interested in applying for the Nell Meldahl Work-Study Scholarship (half-tuition), time’s running out. You’ve only got until December 31st to get your application in.

Registration for Summer 2018 workshops at the Penland School of Crafts opens on January 8th at 9:00 a.m. Although they have used a lottery system in the past, this year they’ll be accepting applications on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you’d like to work alongside one of Penland’s talented instructors, you can apply to be a studio assistant. You’d be responsible for assisting with the workshop and maintaining the studio and in return, you’d receive housing and meals. The application period opens on January 1st and closes on February 17th.

Here’s the list of workshops/instructors looking for assistants:

Registration for the third annual Mills College Summer Institute for Book and Print Technologies is already underway. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until a workshop is full so if you want in on one of the workshops, you best get moving!

By the way, these workshops are not for beginners – they are taught at a master class level and you’re expected to have prior experience in bookmaking, letterpress, or printmaking.

The Wells College Book Arts Center Summer Institute has also opened their registration for 2018. They offer two week-long classes in bookmaking, letterpress, papermaking, type casting, and more. If you sign up for a class before January 15th, you’ll get $100.00 off tuition. 

For those with financial limitations, Wells offers both need-based scholarships and non-paying internships to college/graduate students in the book arts. Interns can participate as a student in one class and work as a studio assistant in another. 

For more information about scholarships and/or internships, download the application (pdf). Applications are due on March 15th.

Are you taking any interesting classes next year? I’d love to hear about it!

Share the details in the comments below or send me an email.

Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair

This past weekend I attended the third annual Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair at Smith College in Northampton, MA. It was awesome to be able to attend again, having missed it last year. Many thanks go to my hubby for watching Anna!

Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair 2017 poster

This year was a different experience for me in that I was an exhibitor representing the Book Arts Guild of Vermont. I think our booth looked rather spiffy. We had a nice selection of pieces on display that represented the wide range of our members’ work.

Book Arts Guild of Vermont booth at the Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair 2017

I brought my hybrid artist book/board game, You Can’t Take it with You:

Artist book/game hybrid - You Can't Take it with You

The fair mostly consisted of a vendor fair that included a mix of book artists, papermakers, binders, letterpress printers, and antiquarian booksellers. Chena River Marblers didn’t attend this year, which bummed me out. Their papers are so yummy! Their annual open studio is coming up this weekend and sadly I can’t make it. Maybe next year.

The keynote presentation was given by Nicholas A. Basbanes, which was titled Among the Gently Mad. Here’s the description of his lecture:

His talk is a reflection drawn on thirty years of in-the-field research conducted among a variety of book people: collectors, booksellers, librarians, conservators, and readers — people he affectionately refers to as the gently mad.

While browsing at the fair, I bought a copy of his book On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History

On Paper by Nicholas Basbanes

I casually checked it out and saw that there was a chapter titled, Goddess by the Stream. I just knew that it had to be about Echizen! I turned to the chapter and discovered that it was correct. There was an image of Okamoto Otaki Shrine on one of the pages and I freaked out – I WAS THERE.

Hello sir, please take my money for this book!

I really enjoyed talking to folks at the fair and hanging out with my B.A.G. buddies. However, I think that the fair would really benefit from more programming, perhaps adding in demonstrations and/or hand-on activities. It was a bit disappointing to only have the keynote to look forward to, other than the vendor fair.

Of course, it’s easy for me to say that, considering that I’m not on the planning committee. Putting together events like this is hard work! The fair has a lot of potential and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

A Bookbinder’s Black Friday

A Bookbinders Black Friday - logo

Yeah, so it’s Black Friday.

In Montpelier, where I live, they’ve dubbed it Flannel Friday – much more appropriate to the Vermont lifestyle. You show up to local shops wearing flannel and kablammo! You get a discount on your purchase. There’s also a Cider Monday, which is supposed to be the Cyber Monday alternative. Love.

We hosted Thanksgiving this year with a total of 23 people and 3 dogs – it was nuts. A happy and awesome kind of nuts, but nuts nonetheless.

Even though I am totally exhausted, there’s no time for rest – I have a craft show that opens tomorrow, the fabulous Women’s Festival of Crafts. If you happen to be in the vicinity of Burlington, VT tomorrow or Sunday, come on by my booth and say hi!

That said, there are quite a few bookbinding-related online sales going on today (and some beyond that). Check ’em out:

From now through 11/27 at midnight GMT, Vintage Paper Co. is offering 25% off all products listed on this page of their website. Use code bf at checkout to get the discount.

John Neal Bookseller is going bananas with all the deals.

  • Get free standard shipping (within the U.S.) on orders of $100.00 or more. Use code BF17FS at checkout for the discount from now through 11:59 p.m. on 11/25.
  • Get 10% to 50% off Black Friday Sale items from now through 6:00 p.m. on 12/1 (a full week!) – save on some of their most popular books and supplies.
  • All Londonderry thread is 20% off, including individual spools, sets, and lacing thread.
  • Two great bookbinding books by Don Etherington are on sale. Bookbinding & Conservation: A Sixty-year Odyssey of Art and Craft is priced at $24.95 and Don Etherington: Design Bindings, A Retrospective is priced at $19.95.

Pergamena, producer of stunning fine leathers and parchment, is offering free UPS Ground shipping on all orders over $100.00 Use coupon code FR33SHIPPING at checkout to get the discount.

As part of their holiday sale, Oak Knoll Books is offering 40% off select titles from their website. This sale is going on now through November 27th and no special code is needed – the discount will automatically be applied to the cost of these books.

Arnold Grummer is offering a 10% discount on all paper essentials, such as supplies, fibers, and presses. Use code DIYPAPER (not to be confused with DIAPER) at checkout to get the discount.

Now through midnight EST, Paper Mojo is offering 25% off storewide. Use code use code BF2017X at checkout to get the discount. Time to stock up on handmade and decorative papers!

Paper Source is offering free shipping on all orders over $50.00 – no code is needed.

From now through 11/30, The Paper Mill Store is offering 10% off orders of $250.00 or more with code 250SALE and 15% off orders of $500.00 or more with code 500SALE.

Paper-Papers is offering 60% off the already discounted price of products in their Sale and Clearance categories. Use coupon code floor at checkout to get the discount.

If you’ve got a bookbinding book on your wish list, you’re in luck! Amazon (yep, that Amazon) is offering $5.00 off print book purchases of $20.00 or more. From now until 11/26 at 2:59 a.m. EST, use code GIFTBOOK17 at checkout to get the discount. Note: Offer only applies to products sold and shipped by

And if Cyber Monday is more your thing:

On 11/27 Mechling Bookbindery is offering 40% off all instructional DVD series and 40% off your choice of leather. Free shipping is available for orders over $250.00.

By the way, don’t forget Giving Tuesday! There are tons of worthy organizations out there that would love your support. Here are some of my favorites:

Happy shopping and/or donating!

Pin It on Pinterest