Category : Bookbinding

Worktable Wednesday

Wow. I have not done one of these Worktable Wednesday posts in quite a while! I wish I had some work in progress to show you, but my table has been used for a different reason lately.

The Focus on Book Arts conference is a month away. My original session of Three is a Magic Number filled up in two days and another one was added. Just to be safe, I’m preparing kits for a potential 24 students.

[start bookbinding workshop math here]

24 students x 9 books each = 216 kits. So.many.kits. Plus I’m preparing extra materials in case mistakes are made (and they do happen). Yowza.

[end math]

As you may have guessed at this point, my worktable has been the stage for many workshop prep activities.

I started out with approximately 17 pounds of leather. For whatever reason, it didn’t look like a lot after it was cut down. I will say that I loves me some piles, so watching the leather accumulate was very satisfying.

Then I decided to make one big pile out of it. Just because. It’s 15 inches tall.

One of my hides was hair on, so it shed a bunch as I cut it. It was like some dude visited my studio and shaved over my table. I had to use packing tape to get all of it off my cutting mat. This really is as gross as it looks.

Pieces of hair from cut pieces of leather

Next I cut and sanded sticks for one of the book closures. These were gathered on walks with Wiggum in the woods behind my house. Yes future students, you’re getting genuine Vermont sticks!

Sanding cut birch sticks

Supplies for each binding are being organized in separate bags and I ended the day inserting leather into them.

Bags with bookbinding supplies

Oh, and a few embellishments went in as well. Hello black suede cord!

Bags with bookbinding supplies

This is what a crate full of 216 kits looks like:

Crate full of bags with bookbinding supplies

And that’s as exciting as it got today. I’m hoping to get the kits completed by the end of this week so I can ship them out to FOBA. I want to make sure that everything gets to Oregon well in advance of the conference.

I will have to carry some stuff with me on the plane and that stresses me out. This would be the worst time for luggage to get lost!

Book Arts Guide to Vermont Open Studio Weekend

Handmade leather journal by Elissa CampbellWelcome to the Spring 2017 Book Arts Guide to Vermont Open Studio Weekend

It’s time for my biannual rundown of the book artists participating in Vermont Open Studio Weekend (May 27 & 28). Some of these talented folks are also members of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont (B.A.G.), an organization of which I am a member.

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 they’re not. Boo.

I’ll be referring to studios by both name and number – the number refers to a listing in the green Vermont Studio Tour Guide. The colors of the studio numbers in this post match the colored markers in the Google map. By the way, I’m studio #57.

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 #30, Meta Strick – she is a Jackie of all trades. 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 – in fact, she recently presented at a B.A.G. meeting focusing on junk box books. It was sooo much fun.

Next stop is studio #2, Shelburne Pond Studios, where you’ll find Jill Abilock of Six Loons Studio. She creates one-of-a-kind work that is really inspirational. Her compelling storytelling and creative voice are enhanced by her innovative combinations of materials and structure. And the woman is a fantastic folder. In addition, she’s my partner in crime – we’re currently acting as the co-chairs of the Book Arts Guild Vermont.

#153 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.

When you visit studio #58Kelly McMahon of May Day Studio, you get double the awesome – she’s both a letterpress printer and a bookbinder. I’ve seen her space and let me tell you – I have serious studio envy. 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 and packs a one-two punch, also being a bookbinder. Kelly’s studio is about 1.6 miles from mine.

Last stop on the tour is #48 – Ken Leslie. Ken often creates books in a circular format – a practice that developed out of his dissatisfaction with rectangular painting shapes. His themes frequently focus on natural cycles, such as day/night and the seasons. The size of his work ranges from miniature to really ginormous – you can walk through some of his books when they’re open.

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!

Happy National Notebook Day!

National Notebook Day image with handmade book by Blue Roof Designs

That’s right folks, today marks the second annual National Notebook Day. This event takes place on the third Thursday of May each year.

I love blank books – there’s such a world of possibility that lives within those pages. I believe that books are a great vehicle for telling your story, whether with words, images, or a combination of both.

So you like journals but don’t know what to do once you get your hands on one? Well, just head on over to my Pinterest board Whaddaya do with a blank book? There are tons of ideas there to help you get started.

And another thing – if you have first page anxiety (most people do), I recommend that you start writing on the second page of your book. That way, you won’t have to deal with the pressure of making that first page look “right”. You can simply begin. The first page can easily be filled in later with a title or dates.

Feel free to satisfy your book pic cravings today by heading on over to Instagram – you can check out the event account or images tagged with #nationalnotebookday. Or you could just head on over to Etsy to do a bit of shopping…

Go forth and write and/or doodle!

Book Arts at North Country Studio Workshops 2018

North Country Studio Workshops logo

Omigod omigod omigod omigod.

Hedi Kyle is coming to Vermont! Yep. That Hedi Kyle. This is pretty much the best thing ever.

From January 23-28, 2018, she’ll be teaching at North Country Studio Workshops (NCSW) in Bennington, VT. Every other year, NCSW offers five-day intensive workshops for those seeking a collaborative and creative learning experience. The event is held at Bennington College.

I took a workshop with Hedi at the Garage Annex School back in 2005. It.was.amazing. That was pre-blog, so I have no pictures. Sadness.

Seriously, I would take any workshop with her, no matter what the subject. If she were teaching how to alphabetize North Atlantic sea life, I’d be there. A deep study of the health benefits of liver and onions? I’m there. And I hate liver.

Here’s the description of her workshop Paper Structures:

Learn to fold a generous variety of books, folders, and boxes – mostly from one large piece of paper. The structures you create will not remain blank, in other words, bare of content. With techniques such as stenciling, rubbing, and blotter printing, you will apply patterns, text, and images to pages, pockets and spines.

Registration opens June 1, 2017. But don’t sign up until after I do.

Focus on Book Arts Faculty-Staff Exhibit

Now through June 10th, the Focus on Book Arts conference has a Faculty-Staff Exhibit at the Collins Gallery of the Central Library in downtown Portland, Oregon. My artist’s book/game hybrid, You Can’t Take it with You, will be part of the exhibition.

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

I’m so honored to have my work shown alongside such a spectacular group of artists. Exhibitors include Pietro AccardiAnne CovellSam EllenportHelen HiebertAndrew HuotRoberta LavadourJana PullmanShawn SheehyBonnie StahleckerBarbara Tetenbaum, and Shu-Ju Wang.

The opening reception will be on May 3rd from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. There will be live music and refreshments – since I won’t be there, be sure to eat some cheese for me if you go.

In conjunction with the exhibit, there will be an artist panel discussion, Structure and Influence, on May 7th from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. It’s sure to be an interesting event, well worth a visit.

When the exhibit closes in Portland, it will move to the Pacific University Library in Forest Grove, Oregon. It will reopen on June 13th and close on the last day of the Focus on Book Arts conference.

If you want to see the exhibit, here’s the scoop on gallery hours at each location:

Collins Gallery Hours:

  • Monday: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday – Wednesday: 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
  • Thursday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Pacific University Library Hours:

  • Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Sunday: Closed

If you can’t make it to the exhibit, you’re in luck – you can view the work online.

I’m looking forward to seeing the exhibit when I get to the conference in June!

Happy Preservation Week!

2017 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 29th.

Here’s what the ALA has 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.

I think that we’re so focused on the digital world right now that it’s too easy to forget about the valuable, tangible items that document a life.

It’s so important for people to be able to tell their stories and share them with future generations. That’s why I love making blank books – they’re just waiting to be filled with stories.

So what can you do this week? Here are five suggestions to get you started:

  1. How about taking your photos out of those evil sticky photo albums and getting them into acid-free books? Preserve Your Treasures: How To Remove Photos from a Sticky Album (Smithsonian Institution Archives)
  2. Get tips on photo preservation from the Library of CongressCare, Handling, and Storage of Photographs (they don’t like sticky photo albums either)
  3. Once you’ve picked out an archival photo album, how about making your own photo corners? The National Park Service can teach you how to do that!
  4. Got curly photos? Learn how to flatten them.
  5. Do the terms acid-free, lignin-free, and photo-safe all sound like gibberish to you? Learn how they’re different in this article by Scrapbook Retailer.

Let me know what you’re up to!

The Book as Art exhibit

I’m so excited to have work on display as part of The Book as Art exhibit at Axel’s Gallery & Frame Shop in Waterbury, VT. The exhibit was co-curated by Axel’s owner Whitney Aldrich and visual artist Marilyn Gillis and is open now through April 8, 2017.

Window display of altered books

Here’s what the gallery has to say about the exhibit:

In the exhibit Book as Art, nine women artists explore the limitless artistic possibilities of the book. Each work challenges our ideas of what a book can be with innovative structures, content, materials and creativity. Artist books will delight and fascinate as they move you beyond the page.

I have several pieces in the show and I’m thrilled to be joined by the fine company of other Book Arts Guild of Vermont members – Marilyn Gillis, Dorsey Hogg, Penne Tompkins, Ann Joppe-Mercure, Rebecca Boardman, Vera Ryersbach, Judy Sgantas, and Marcia Vogler.

Note: I apologize in advance for the quality of my photos – boo to funky lighting.

You can find one of my favorite Improv books in the exhibit, DOs and DON’Ts for Not Being a Dumbass… 

Handmade artist book by Elissa Campbell - DOs and DON'Ts for Not Being a Dumbass

…as well as one of my most recent pieces, Peace Kannon.

Handmade artist book by Elissa Campbell - Peace Kannon

Rounding out my contributions to the show are Godzilla, Extreme Couponer and a batch of small leather journals with varied stitching.

Handmade books by Elissa Campbell

So enough about my work – I’d like to show you some pieces by my co-exhibitors. First off are two pieces by Marcia Vogler. I have long been envious of her illustrative style. She’s just.so.good.

By the way, check out how Whitney displayed Marcia’s panel book on the wall. She created a backing support and clipped the book to it. I have to admit that I was bad and peeked behind the magic curtain:

Next up is Rebecca Boardman. In America’s Transparent Dichotomy, she cleverly used slide mounts in a Jacob’s Ladder to create a piece in response to our current political climate.

Cochleate utilizes some amazing folding that makes my brain hurt (in a good way). Rebecca created the stand specifically for displaying this piece.

And lastly, here are two pieces by Dorsey Hogg, Vermont’s master of altered books. I can describe her skill as nothing other than insanity death folding.

There are so many wonderful pieces in this show – it’s totally worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Here’s the scoop on gallery hours:

  • Tuesday – Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Axel’s is located at 5 Stowe Street.

New FOBA session added!

As I announced back in November, I’m teaching a workshop at the Focus on Book Arts conference this June. I’m still pinching myself.

Well, imagine my surprise when I found out that my workshop had filled up two days after registration opened! More pinching.

Screen shot of 2017 Focus on Book Arts conference schedule

And then I was contacted about teaching another session of the workshop! Yet more pinching.

Screen shot of 2017 Focus on Book Arts conference schedule

So now I’m all black and blue from the pinching. But it’s all good for you, because if you missed out on the first session, you have another chance. The new session dates are Thursday and Friday, June 22 & 23.

Registration is open now.

Peace Kannon

I recently completed a book as part of the monthly bookbinding challenge on Instagram called Are You Book Enough? Each month, a theme is chosen and participants create a book incorporating that theme. Bookbinders are encouraged to share their process and final books on Instagram using the tag #areyoubookenough. February’s theme was peace.

It didn’t take long for me to find inspiration. Shocker – it was my trip to Japan.

While staying in Yudanaka, my husband and I wanted to buy cherries before leaving our ryokan. The owner generously offered us a ride. After visiting a farmers market, he surprised us by dropping us off at the Heiwa Kannon Statue of World Peace in DaihiDen Temple.

It is said that the statue has the power to grant one a peaceful life. Inside the inner base of the statue are 33 small golden statues – if you pray at all of the statues, it is as if you have visited and prayed at 33 Japanese temples.

Outside of the temple is a large bell that you ring for world peace and the sound can be heard throughout the town. I rang the bell. It was loud.

Something else I found at the temple were strings of knotted fortunes written on strips of paper called O-mikuji. You can get these fortunes at shrines and temples throughout Japan.

If you get a good fortune, the tradition is to take it home with you and carry it in your wallet – this is to keep the good luck close to you. If your fortune is bad, the custom is to fold it up and tie it to a pine tree, or to designated wires or strings. The belief is that by doing so, you can tie your fortune to that location and delay your bad luck.

O-mikuji near the Heiwa Kannon Statue of World Peace in Yudanaka, Japan

Now that you’ve seen what inspired me, I’ll show you my process. Thankfully, making the book was not nearly as complicated as my last book.

For the cover, I monkeyed with a photo of the bell in Photoshop to simplify it. I printed out the edited image on paper and then glued it to a piece of bookboard.

Gluing flag book covers

The reason why I put the image down first was due to an interesting discovery I made – the bookcloth I purchased at Masumi (Tokyo) was sheerer than I had anticipated. When I glued the bookcloth over a printed image, the image would show through. I loved the effect – very subtle.

Flag book covers

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that this was a flag book. The plan was to use O-mikuji for my flags.

Flag book covers and spine

When I was in Kyoto at Kinkaku-ji Temple, I had the opportunity to get my own O-mikuji from a vending machine. I half-expected it to come out in one of those clear plastic ball thingies. It didn’t. Thankfully, I received an “excellent” fortune.

O-mikuji vending machine in Kyoto, Japan

Here’s what it looked like:

O-mikuji

O-mikuji

I searched online for images of bad fortunes so the text in my O-mikuji would be as authentic as possible. I also thought about what personal fortunes I’d like to leave behind to gain inner peace and added in those messages. After gathering twelve different fortunes, I got to work. 

I taped a thin sheet of Unryu to an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper so I could feed it through my laser printer. It worked like a charm.

Printing O-mikuji

Printed and trimmed O-mikuji

After trimming the fortunes, I folded them up and tied them into knots, as if I were tying them to a tree or string at a shrine. 

O-mikuji

After that, I glued them into the book and I was done!

Here’s the finished book – Peace Kannon:

Flag book cover

Back of flag book covers

Flag book with O-mikuji

Flag book with O-mikuji

Flag book with O-mikuji

As this copy of Peace Kannon has deep personal significance for me, it’s not available for purchase. However, I’d love to create a copy of this book just for you!

You can give me up to 12 bad fortunes that you’d like to give away and I’ll create custom O-mikuji for your book’s flags, making your piece one-of-a-kind. Or for a more personalized experience, you can come to my studio in Montpelier to participate in the creation of your book. You’ll fold your own custom O-mikuji and then attach them to the spine of the book – this is intended to replicate the Japanese tradition of attaching O-mikuji to a tree or string.

For more information and/or pricing, please feel free to contact me.

Many thanks to Whitney Aldrich at Axel’s Gallery & Frame Shop for suggesting this idea.

Book Arts at Penland – Summer 2017

Trees with Penland School of Crafts text

I need to find a job where I get paid to take classes. That’s all I want to do – learn stuff. Seriously.

And Penland is killing me with its summer lineup of workshops.

Here are a few highlights (there are many more):

During Session 2 (June 11 – 23), Jessica Spring is teaching Daredevil Ephemera:

For printers and book artists, ephemera offers a sweet spot between mass-produced greeting cards and limited-edition books where form and content work together to elevate both. Inspired by vintage ephemera, we’ll master several folded bindings while also looking at structures designed in response to content. Folded structures offer an ideal surface for daredevil letterpress typesetting: exploring the use of traditional circular and angle quads, adapting existing tools, and experimenting with Daredevil Furniture (lasercut typesetting furniture designed at Springtide Press). Each student will complete a small edition of an artist’s book.

I’ve met Jessica on several occasions and she is wicked cool. And skilled. Taking a workshop with her would definitely be a fun experience.

During Session 4 (July 9 – 21), Matthew Shlian is teaching Paper Sculpture:

Students will explore the medium of paper as they create sculpture using paper engineering, kirigami, and paper craft as starting points. Using a combination of Tyvek and 100-lb text and 10-pt cover-weight stocks, students will learn the elements of paper mechanics and then apply them to books, collapsible structures, interactive kinetic design, and foldable sculpture. Techniques will include curve folding, pleating systems, and modular design. Students are encouraged to bring in their own imagery, photographs, technology, and other materials to work from.

I was lucky enough to handle some of Matthew’s work when he presented the keynote address at the Movable Book Society conference last year. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Any knowledge he’d impart during a workshop would be well worth the price of admission.

During Summer Session 6 (August 13 – 25), Andrea Dezsö is teaching Pop-Up Artists’ Books:

Learn to make artists’ books that pop up, unfold, expand, and reveal; books that become theaters, platforms, movable structures, or interactive experiences. You’ll learn paper engineering to create movable books—first with simple structures and then with more complex ones. Then you’ll experiment with combining them in innovative ways and enhancing them with collage, drawing, or coloring. You’ll be encouraged to treat form and content as an interdependent whole as you create one-of-a-kind pop-up books. 

At the same time I was in Boston for the Movable Book Society conference, I visited the Pucker Gallery to view their show Of Light and Shadow: New Work by Andrea Dezsö (exhibition catalog). Oh.my.goodness. Her tunnel books are insane. The way she cuts paper. Damn.

I’m not surprised that I seem to be drawn to the workshops focusing on pop-ups and movable books. That MBS conference did a number on me.

Penland’s summer registration is open now. Applications are processed on a first-come/first-served basis.

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