Category : Bookbinding

How things are…

I have rewritten this blog post so many times. Things are totally weird right now and at times it’s hard to stay positive. It’s mind-boggling how rapidly the world is changing due to the coronavirus.

I hope that you and those you love are safe and sound. Take care of yourselves and each other.

I think the book below does a good job of expressing how I feel right about now:

Model flag book

It was made at our last Book Arts Guild of Vermont meeting. I imagine we won’t be having meetings any time soon.

So what are my plans for the near future? Since I’m the primary caregiver for my nut child during the day, I’ve decided to try answering the following question: Is it possible to teach a near 3-year-old how to make a book?

I’m thinking pamphlet stitch. I’ll pre-punch the holes and give her a fat, blunt needle to use for sewing. I’m optimistic that this effort will be successful. Stay tuned.

A Bookbinder’s Black Friday

A Bookbinders Black Friday - logo

Welcome to my 9th annual roundup of bookbinding-related Black Friday (and some beyond that) deals!

I did all of my damage during the Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence Seminar last month, so there will be no shopping for me. I also have a craft show this weekend and if I go shopping tomorrow, I won’t have enough time to panic the required amount.

There are several bookbinding-related online sales going on starting tomorrow (and some going on right now). Check ’em out:

On 11/29, Hiromi Paper is offering free domestic shipping on orders $100.00+ (after any discounts) with code kinyoobi2019. The offer is not valid on oversize items. On top of that, they’re having their annual sale from December 1 – 31. The sale is only for specific items, but the selection is pretty great. Discounts go as high as 50%. Subscribe to Hiromi’s newsletter to get the latest on what’s included in the sale.

Now through 12/21, Arnold Grummer is holding their Annual Press Sale. Discount varies depending on the press you choose. Please visit their website for more information. But wait, there’s more! On 11/28 – 11/29, they’re offering free domestic shipping on all orders – this is automatic, no code is needed. And on 11/30 – 12/2, they giving shoppers an additional $10% off any order (including presses). Use code SHOPSMALL before checkout to get the discount.

The Getty Store is offering 25% off sitewide now through 12/3. I’m mentioning this sale because they’re the publishers behind Artists and Their Books: Books and Their Artists by Marcia Reed and Glenn Phillips – a gorgeous book. Another interesting title is Books: A Living History by Martyn Lyons. Use code 25GIFT to get the discount. Now through 12/31, they’re also offering free standard domestic shipping on all orders $100.00+. 

Get 15% off everything at Volcano Arts now through 12/1. No code needed – your cart will take care of the discount for you. They also offer free domestic shipping on orders of $100.00+.

If you need preservation supplies, Gaylord Archival is offering 25% off your order with code BLACKFRIDAY now through 12/2. You can also get free domestic shipping on orders over $100.00.

Brodart is offering varying discounts on your order, depending on when you shop:

  • 11/27 – 11/28: Get a 20% discount on everything with code WT20.
  • 11/29 – 12/1: Get a 15% discount on everything with code F15.
  • 12/2: Get a 40% discount on consumable supplies over $209.00 with code X.

The Paper Mill Store is offering 10% off orders of $250.00+ with code 250SALE and 15% off orders of $500.00+ with code 500SALE. They also offer free shipping on all orders $149.00 and over. This is an ongoing promotion with no expiration date.

Paper Source is offering 50% off all purchases from the Paper Bar, now through 11/30. They’ve got text and cover weight paper in lots of colors and sizes (no code needed).

John Neal Bookseller has three offers:

  • Get free standard domestic shipping on orders of $100.00 or more. Use code BF19FS at checkout for the discount from now through 11:59 p.m. on 12/1.
  • Get up to 50% off Black Friday Sale items from now through 6:00 p.m. on 12/6 (a full week!) – save on books, supplies, and subscriptions to both Bound & Lettered and Letter Arts Review.
  • Now through 12/1, international customers can get $10 off every $100 spent by using code NONUS19 at checkout.

Now through 12/3, Paper-Papers is offering 50% off the already discounted price of products in their Clearance department. Use coupon code getdeal at checkout to get the discount.

From now through 12/2, Vintage Paper Co. is offering 20% off all weekend deal items with a total over £20 (approximately $26.00 USD). The discount will automatically be applied, no code needed.

Planning a trip to Japan, Paris, Italy, or London? Julie Auzillon is offering 20% off for today only and items include her wonderful series of paper tour guides. Another great option is her book Origata Binding: from Japanese wrapping to bookbinding.

As part of their holiday sale, Oak Knoll Books is offering 20% off all available titles. This sale is going on now through December 2nd and no special code is needed – the discount will be applied automatically.

Helen Hiebert is giving $10.00 off your entire purchase by entering the code turkey10 at checkout, now through 12/2. Among her offerings is her wonderful creative planner and how-to book of paper projects, The Paper Year. She also has a number of books available that should also appeal to the paper lover in your life (if not you).

Head on over to Washi Arts for 10% off all papers, tools, and supplies. Use code BLACK2019 at checkout – code valid only on 11/29.

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

Happy shopping and/or donating!

The Paper Year: Instagram Post Round-up

I hope you’ve enjoyed my journey through The Paper Year: A 2020 Creative Project Planner. I really enjoyed working on each project and playing around with papers that weren’t familiar to me.

If you’re on the fence about getting one, consider this – it allows you to explore many different paper techniques (pop-ups, weaving, origami, bookbinding) with the planner as a bonus. Win-win!

Below you’ll find a roundup of all of my Instagram posts detailing my work on each project in the book.

Projects from The Paper YearJanuary: Cubicard

February: Pop-Up Groundhog

March: Flower Strip Book

April: Plantable Paper




Projects from The Paper YearMay: Woven Notecard

June: Architectural Lantern

July: Paper Leather Book Cover

August: Needle Holder Enclosure




Projects from The Paper YearSeptember: Batik Luminaria

October: Flying Crane Card

November: Criss-Cross Accordion Lanterns

December: One-Sheet Tree




Now that you know you want to get the planner, here’s where to go.

A book arts day in Philly

I arrived in Philadelphia a day early for the Guild of Book Workers Standards Seminar, so I spent the day exhibit hopping. I had hoped to register for one of the official GBW tours, but they sold out before I could register. Bummer.

Nevertheless, my multi-stop tour proved worthy. I even discovered additional exhibits later on that I didn’t have time for – Philadelphia does not disappoint.

First stop was to the Philadelphia Free Library where there were multiple book arts exhibits going on simultaneously.

Philadelphia Free Library

The Once Upon a Book exhibit by the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers featured books where members were to “rebind, alter, restore, or create from scratch, a book intended for children”. It was hard to get good pictures of the books because they were in glass cases and sometimes I caught unfortunate reflections. I did my best to capture the awesomeness.

This design binding of The Secret Garden by Jane Griffith was insane. It was bound in full leather and was decorated with suede and sea snake (sea snake!). You can’t see it in the picture, but it had hand-painted end pages and silk endbands.

Book art by Jane Griffith

And if you’ve read my blog before, then you know that I’m a total Karen Hanmer groupie (hi, Karen!). I loved this book, Bradel, Bradel, Bradel: A Bindery Cat’s Primer, that included pictures of her cat, Bradel.

Book art by Karen Hanmer

This next book was my absolute favorite. I am such a huge fan of Really Rosie and when I saw this binding of Alligators All Around I totally freaked out. I know all the words to the book/song and my daughter is now learning them (it’s on heavy rotation in the car). In case you didn’t know, Really Rosie is a musical based on several books by Maurice Sendak (The Nutshell Library and The Sign on Rosie’s Door) and the music is by Carole King. It’s so good.

Next, I went to the Print and Picture Collection to see Thesaurus: A Book Exchange between Graduates and Faculty of the University of the Arts Book Arts & Printmaking Program and found that a bunch of books had been laid out for the GBW tour that had just left. The awesome librarians asked me if I’d be interested in checking them out before they put them away – that was a hell yeah!

The most fun piece I saw was Dress Hedi Up! A Print Exchange. The project was organized by a graduate student at the University of the Arts and included work by 27 friends, colleagues, students, and former students of Hedi Kyle‘s. It included a paper doll of Hedi along with a bunch of outfits and accessories you could use to dress her up. 

Here’s the box that contained all of the prints:

Box for prints from Dress Hedi Up!: A Print Exchange

Look! It’s paper doll Hedi!

Prints and box from Dress Hedi Up!: A Print Exchange

I couldn’t take pictures of all 27 outfits, but here’s a taste of what was in that fabulous box:

Inside the box was a key to the artists behind the prints. I thought that it was a very clever way to deal with identifying prints that might not have had names on them.

Key of artist prints from Dress Hedi Up!: A Print Exchange

After drooling over the books on the table, I moved on to Thesaurus. This project took place in 2004. Students and faculty at the University of the Arts (I should have gone to school there!) created an edition of books with a uniform height and width. All other criteria used were at the discretion of each artist.

Here are some of the books that were on display:

The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg by James Engelbart was my favorite. At a specific point in the book you have to use the knife to cut open a signature. This is meant to represent the cutting open of the goose. I found the execution (ha, ha) very clever.

Book art by James Engelbart

Here’s the portfolio box that contained all of the books in the edition – it was designed by Hedi Kyle. This woman must never sleep!

Thesaurus Portfolio Box by Hedi Kyle

I finally moved on to the hallway exhibit, The Book as Art: Highlights from the Book Arts Collection. This was when I got to see my very first Keith Smith book in person – hello Ladies First!

Book art by Keith Smith

The Coupon Chronometer by Amee Pollack caught my eye, mostly because I’m a self-confessed coupon nerd. The collection of coupons that comprise the book includes printed text, a poem that spans multiple pages.

Art book by Amee Pollack

I love Paul Johnson‘s work, so seeing one of his pieces in person is always a treat:

I had reached the halfway point of my tour. I headed up to the University of Pennsylvania, my alma mater, for the next exhibit – but first, lunch! I walked to Koch’s Deli for the World’s Greatest Chicken Salad Sandwich and a Dr. Brown’s cream soda. HEAVEN.

Now that I had refueled, I walked to Penn’s Kelly Writers House to view The Word Made Manifest: Text in Handmade Paper.

Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania

The exhibit was curated by Mary Tasillo of the Common Press, Penn’s book arts and letterpress studio. Work included pieces that featured handmade paper as its primary art form.

I loved these two paper pieces by Helen Hiebert that included watermarks, lit from behind:

I was also taken with this piece by Melanie Mowinski. It’s funny how much of her work I encountered during my tour.

These last pieces by Steve Kostell and Drew Matott caught my eye. They are part of an artist book edition that includes pigmented pulp printing.

I’ll admit that at this point in the day, my feet were really starting to hurt. Nevertheless, I pressed onward. Last stop, City Hall, where long, creepy hallways are their specialty.

Philadelphia City Hall

It was in City Hall that I ran into a former co-worker from my Paper Source days. What a pleasant surprise! She was the manager that hired me and started me on my bookmaking journey. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. Thanks Lisa!

This exhibit Variations of the Artist Book: Philadelphia Center for the Book Member Exhibition was really wonderful. It had an educational component where each case focused on a specific quality of artist books – structure, content, text, images, and materials.

Display case with artist books

Display case with artist books

Here are some of my favorite pieces in the exhibition – they really vary in form and technique:

So there you have it – a glimpse into my day of speed-exhibiting. Blisters = worth it.

Philly happenings during Standards

City Hall in PhiladelphiaI’m so excited to say that I’ll be attending this year’s Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence Seminar! I’m especially excited because the event will bring me to my old stomping grounds, Philadelphia. I went to the University of Pennsylvania for my undergraduate education and I love love love the area.

I’m hoping to make it to two of my favorite food spots – Kamal’s at the Reading Terminal Market and Koch’s Deli, home of the world’s greatest chicken salad sandwich.

Besides eating and attending the seminar, I’ll be checking out some book artsy happenings that are going on during my time in Philly.

Here’s what’s up:

At the Brodsky Gallery at Kelly Writers House, 3805 Locust Walk on the University of Pennsylvania campus, is The Word Made Manifest: Text in Handmade Paper. The exhibit was curated by Mary Tasillo of the Common Press and is open now through October 27, 2019. Featured artists include Kerri Cushman, Helen Hiebert, Takeshi Honda, Steven Kostell, Suzanne McLelland, Melanie Mowinski, Christy Rupp, and Mary Tasillo.

The exhibit brings together artists who work with handmade paper as an explicit art form. The pieces in this exhibition feature text, wherein the text is physically part of the piece of paper. Techniques range from watermarking to shaped pages to an array of approaches to stenciling pigmented paper pulp into the sheet of paper while it’s still wet and freshly formed. Experience the word and the page becoming one.

Now through November 30th, the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers is presenting Once Upon a Book at the Free Library in Philadelphia. The exhibit is located at the Parkway Central Library on the 2nd floor outside the Art Department.

Who doesn’t love children’s books? We all have a favorite book that was read to us as a child or one that we read to our own children, or even grandchildren. For some of us, it was the start of a passion for all things book-related. The Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers wanted to display their love of children’s books by having chapter members rebind, alter, restore, or create from scratch a book intended for children.

Also on view at the Parkway Central Library is The Book as Art: Highlights from the Book Arts Collection. The exhibit is located at the Print and Picture Collection (2nd floor) and is open now through November 30th.

While artists have illustrated books for centuries, an artists’ books is a medium unto itself. Artists’ books draw inspiration from the form or the function of a book to create a piece of artwork. Depending on the artist’s intent, the book may be limited to one copy or could be editioned to make many. These books are often constructed by hand, but may feature mass-produced components. The books on view represent a selection of artists’ books housed in the Print and Picture Collection.

And lastly, you can find Thesaurus: A Book Exchange between Graduates and Faculty of the University of the Arts Book Arts & Printmaking Program at the Parkway Central Library now through November 30th. This exhibition can be found inside cases at the Print and Picture Collection (2nd floor).

In 2004, students and faculty of the University of the Arts embarked on an ambitious collaborative project to create a thirty-run edition of books uniformly sized by height and width. The depth, breadth, form, and subject of each book was as diverse as the student or professor who created it. On view is a sampling of work created by these students and faculty.

The Philadelphia Center for the Book‘s current exhibit, Variations of the Artist Book: Philadelphia Center for the Book Member Exhibition is open how through November 29, 2019. The show is located downtown on the 2nd floor of City Hall.

The Guild of Book Workers‘ exhibit Formation ends its tour at the University of the Arts‘ Hamilton/Arronson Gallery. The exhibit is open now through October 30th. Here’s the curator’s statement:

The theme of “formation” was prompted when I was in Charleston for the 2016 Standards conference, browsing in Blue Bicycle Books. I came across a memoir by the writer Eudora Welty called One Writer’s Beginnings. A portion of the summary on the dust jacket reads, “she sketches her autobiography and tells us how her family and her surroundings contributed to the shaping not only of her personality but of her writing.” Having recently worked on a fine binding that was more autobiographical than I am used to, I had this subject on the brain. And so I started thinking about the formation of personal narratives and histories, how our histories help to inform the work we make as artists.


As I began to talk more openly about the idea of “formation” as a theme, it was clear that this was a word that could be taken in many different directions: biology (the formation of plants), craftsmanship (forming pieces, how we make things), forming ideas, geographies – these are some of the interpretations I have come across. The possibilities really seemed endless, and as entries began rolling in, I saw that members had thought about the theme from angles I hadn’t yet considered. It was a hugely gratifying experience to come up with a concept and then see the many ways that the idea inspired others to create.

The University of the Arts is located at 320 S. Broad Street (NW corner of Broad and Pine Streets).

My agenda’s looking pretty full!

If you know of anything else going on in the Philadelphia area this month, please let me know. I’m always up for cramming another clown in the car. 🙂

Open Studio Weekend – central Vermont artisans

Vermont Open Studio Weekend logo

Vermont’s Fall Open Studio Weekend is coming up this weekend, October 5 & 6! Artists across the state are madly cleaning their studios just for your visit. That’s right – they want to see you!

Most Vermont craftspeople work in studios located in or close to their residences. These are places of production and inspiration located in downtowns as well as at the ends of dirt roads. They are exciting places to visit because they reflect the dynamic yet organized process that is used to produce the finished work of art.

The studio itself is enormously informative because you can see at a glance how the artist works. Buying or ordering work during an Open Studio sale is a unique experience because you have the opportunity to speak to the artist directly.

Here’s the postcard I sent out to invite folks to my studio (if you’d like to be added to my snail mail list, just let me know):

Handmade book necklaces by Elissa Campbell of Blue Roof Designs

There are more than 20 studios and exhibits you can visit in Washington County alone, but you should stop at my studio first. Yes, I’m bossy like that. I would love nothing more than to share my work with you so come on over!

I’ll have super-yummy Cabot cheese (nope, not getting paid to say that) and maple kettle corn for your snacking pleasure. How could that not motivate you?

There are eight studios/exhibits within a short-ish drive of me and each is well worth a visit. I’ve listed these local studios below, where I’m referring to them by both name and number – the number refers to a listing in the gold 2019 Fall Event & Resource Guide. There are several ways to get your hands on a guide:

Here’s the rundown of who’s who (click on the links to learn more about specific artists/exhibits):

Note: If you’re wondering why the numbers are different colors, that’s because they correspond with the marker colors on the map I created to help you plan your travels. Behold – the Google Map!

If you plan on coming to the Montpelier area, let me know and I’d be happy to recommend some local restaurants for your dining pleasure.

I hope to see you at the studio!

Ephemera website is up!

I mentioned in this post that I’d let you know when the online exhibition for Ephemera: Forever, Always, & Now went live, so here goes – it’s live!

I can’t help but totally geek out over the fact that my entry is right next to Jim Croft‘s.

Ephemera binding website screenshot

You have got to check out these other bindings – they are really something special. I’m truly honored to have my work included in this collection of rock stars.

Here’s a rundown of who participated, along with where to find them online:

The next volume in Uppercase Magazine‘s Encyclopedia of Inspiration is Vintage Life and I chose someone perfect to bind a copy. I can’t wait to see what she does with it!

If you’d like your own copy of Ephemera (and who wouldn’t – it’s awesome), you can get it here.

UNBOUND IX exhibit at ArtisTree Gallery

For the past 9 years, the ArtisTree Gallery in South Pomfret, VT has had an exhibit of book art and this was the first year that I submitted work for the jury. I have no good reason for having not done so sooner. It’s a book art exhibit in Vermont for goodness’ sake – what took me so long?

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

The broad theme of “UNBOUND VOL. IX” encompasses all of the possibilities of what we may think or may not think a “book” is. Is it story? An entry to another world? An exploration? What does it indicate? This juried show looks to explore this idea of “the book” and all the ways artists use that format as a stepping-off point or as material to explore new ideas.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when my piece Fine Art was accepted to UNBOUND vol. IX. Here it is on display:

Unfortunately, I missed the opening reception because it was held the day before I left for vacation. Upon my return from my trip, I had a surprise waiting for me in the mail – a certificate stating that my piece had won Honorable Mention! When I finally visited the gallery, I saw that there was a lovely gold sticker next to my piece (I’m a sucker for a gold star):

Gallery artwork label

And then another pleasant surprise, as you can see above – I sold my piece! Woohoo!

I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked to explore the other work in the exhibit – as you can see on my daughter’s face below, Anna was less than pleased that she had been dragged to the gallery at all. There was no cheese there. And yes, she specifically mentioned that.

Toddler in stroller at art gallery

For the brief time I was in the gallery, I did find a few pieces that caught my interest (they’re all so different!):

Even though I didn’t have a lot of time in the gallery, I’m glad I made the trip. Many of my cohorts from the Book Arts Guild of Vermont had pieces in the show and I knew some of the other artists from the online book arts world (I’m looking at you @grimmbooks and @passionatobooks).

It’s nice to be among friends.

Book arts exhibit at ArtisTree Gallery

Three is a Magic Number at the Morgan!

I recently had the privilege of teaching a workshop at the Morgan Conservatory. During the Three is a Magic Number Experience, students got to create nine leather books, each with one of Keith Smith‘s 3-signature bindings.

This is not an easy workshop. The pace is fast and furious. Both students and Japanese screw punches get a workout – exercise for all!

If you don’t know this about me already, then you should know that I totally geek out over making workshop kits. Here you can see the bags of supplies needed to make each of the nine books.

Kits with bookbinding materials

Let’s do some math: 9 books x 8 students = 72 books. Yes, I cut paper, leather, and thread for 72 books. Oh, and some more just in case folks made mistakes. So.much.cutting.

Below you can see the fully assembled kits. I Gocco‘ed the bags with the number 3 because, well, it’s a magic number. If you’re wondering why folks have CDs, it’s so they can trim around them with an X-Acto knife to make curved cuts.

Classroom tables in the Morgan Conservatory classroom

And then there’s my (initially) insanely organized (at least to me) table. I start off knowing where everything is, but during a workshop, I tend to not put things back in their place. Have I mentioned that I’m a well-organized slob?

Instructor table in the Morgan Conservatory classroom

Hey look! It’s my workshop resource booklet! I love making these too. I try to include all of the information one would need to repeat the bindings in the future – measurements, materials suppliers, etc.

Instructor manual for bookbinding workshop

My students were the best. They showed so much kindness and courtesy to each other, which as a teacher is the most you could ask for. And they worked hard. I was impressed with their enthusiasm and perseverance. Basically they rocked on all levels.

Students at tables working on handmade books

Check it out:Hands working on a handbound leather journal

Then the workshop is over and everyone goes home and the tables are bare and everything’s clean. Both relief and a bit of sadness kick in. So much leads up to a workshop like this and the energy really builds during that time. When the workshop ends, it’s such a quick and clean break. It’s a strange loss and I feel it.

Classroom tables in the Morgan Conservatory classroom

I’m hoping to teach at the Morgan again next summer. My students indicated that they were in favor of that, so yay!

Now I just need to think of what to teach. Any suggestions?

Block Printed Journal workshop

Earlier this week, I taught a two-day workshop at Studio Place ArtsThe Block Printed Journal. Students carved their own stamps, block printed papers, and then used those papers in creating handbound journals. I had a wonderful group of students who created equally wonderful work.

Bookbinding workshop at Studio Place Arts

I love love love carving stamps. I’ve been following @3dottedpenguins, @inkycatprints, and @flygurl_designs on Instagram (go follow them!) and have been very inspired by their work – it was their prints that sparked the idea for this workshop.

On the first day, folks carved simple geometric shapes and then layered and repeated prints to create rich and complex patterns.

Hand carving rubber stamp

The student work did not disappoint! It doesn’t take a lot to make a beautiful printed paper – the pattern and color combinations were lovely.

Block printed paper

Block printed paper

Block printed papers

Block printed paper

Block printed papers

Students bound journals on the next day, selecting one of their printed papers for the cover. The binding involved sewing over leather straps and the resulting book remains flat when opened.

Hand sewing journal

Hand sewing journal

I love how the journals turned out!

Block printed handbound journal

Block printed handbound journal

Block printed handbound journal

Block printed handbound journal

This was my first time teaching this workshop and I think it’s a keeper! I’m adding it to my roster and looking forward to teaching it again.

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