Category : Bookbinding

Book Arts Guide to Vermont Open Studio Weekend

Artist book by Elissa Campbell of Blue Roof DesignsWelcome to your Book Arts guide for Spring Open Studio Weekend 2019!

Vermont Open Studio Weekend is coming up this weekend (May 25 & 26)! I like supporting other book artists when I can, so I dedicate a blog post to them during every open studio event. There are four 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. Look at this way – you’ll get a really great tour of Vermont’s gorgeous landscape while on your travels.

I’ll be referring to studios by both name and number – the number refers to a listing in the yellow 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 #128.

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 clockwise. And away we go!

The first studio is #1, 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 is #140, 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.

Stop number three is studio #127 – 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.

Last stop on the tour is studio #48 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.

Here’s the aforementioned Google Map for planning your route:

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…sadly, I don’t get to leave my studio to visit others during the event.

Encyclopedia of Inspiration – Ephemera binding

I was recently tapped to participate in a binding project using unbound copies of Uppercase Magazine‘s Encyclopedia of Inspiration. I was surprised that I was picked – some heavy hitters have been chosen for previous editions.

That said, I accepted the challenge and now an unbound copy of Ephemera sits before me in all it’s naked glory. What have I gotten myself into?

Unbound pages of Ephemera book

Unbound pages of Ephemera book

So, this project I mentioned – what’s that all about? Well, Janine Vangool, publisher, editor and designer for Uppercase Magazine gives sixteen unbound copies of each book to bookbinders who then create covers based on the contents. The resulting bindings are unique in approach, with different covering materials, bookbinding structures and ornamentation techniques. When a new volume of the encyclopedia is published, the most recent binders select sixteen new binders to participate. 

Thankfully, I have an idea of how I might create my binding – if all goes well, it will incorporate things I collected during my 2016 trip to Japan. 

If you’d like to learn more about the different volumes included in the Encyclopedia of Inspiration series, check out these links:

And if you’d like to see the handbound volumes that have been completed to date, check out these links:

You can follow along on my binding journey here on my blog, or you can check out my Instagram feed. While you’re there, follow hashtag #bindephemera to see what all of the project participants are doing.

DIY.org – more books arts patches!

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, then you know how much I love book arts-related badges/patches. It all started with a set of bookbinding merit badges I purchased nine (!) years ago. Since then, I’ve grown my collection to include scout badges from Ireland and New Zealand, along with other non-scout patches.

I recently discovered DIY.org, an online community where kids (16 years and younger) can learn new skills and earn patches for their efforts. If you consider yourself un-scouty, then this program might be right up your family’s alley. And it’s free!

Annnddddd…they’ve got a Bookbinder patch!Bookbinder patch

Here are a few of the 15 challenges one can complete to earn the patch:

  • Fold a book from a single sheet
  • Pamphlet stitch a booklet
  • Bind a flag book
  • Make a pop-up book
  • Make an accordion book

And there’s a Printmaker patch too!Printmaker patch

Here are some of the 12 challenges for that patch:

  • Make a relief print
  • Make a stamp
  • Create a monoprint
  • Use a letterpress
  • Make an etching

Needless to say, these two patches are already on their way to me. I figure I’ve definitely earned them and, well, I just want them. Mine!


Many thanks to DIY.org for granting me permission to use the images of their patches.

Happy 11th Blogiversary!

11 Blogiversary image

It’s that time of year – this little blog of mine is 11 years old!

In keeping with my custom of following the schedule of traditional and modern anniversary gifts, I will be giving myself fashion jewelry or something made of steel. Okay, so that jewelry thing isn’t going to happen – I’m really not a fashion gal.

There are so many options for steel when it comes to bookbinding tools. I already have several in my collection, including spatulas, awls, and dividers. Among my favorites are a stainless steel Kelm folder and awl made by Shanna Leino

Shanna Leino stainless steel Kelm folder with leather sheath

Shanna Leino stainless steel awl

…and a pair of Nigiri Basami, traditional Japanese sewing scissors that I acquired on a trip to Japan.

Japanese sewing scissors

I think what I’ve settled on is investing in more screw punches – the bits are made of steel. I want to get the punches so students can use them in my classes.

Japanese screw punch

If you have any other steely suggestions, I’m all ears!

Blizzard of Blizzards workshop

This past weekend, a bunch of souls braved a blizzard – not weather-wise, but learning-wise. I held my first Blizzard of Blizzards workshop at Studio Place Arts, where folks completed five structures invented by the fabulous Hedi Kyle.

Just look at the serious faces on these folks:

Bookbinding workshop at Studio Place Arts

Hedi invented her famous folded Blizzard Book structure during a snowstorm. By making modifications to the folded components, you can create other structures – Hedi affectionately refers the collection as the Blizzard Clan.

This workshop was folding-heavy and there was no getting around it. One of my students called the experience the Triangle Wrangle. I love that so much.

Folding a Blizzard Book structure

I love picking out papers for workshops. Japanese Chiyogami is perfect for folding because it doesn’t crack and it’s happy to go in any direction you choose. Printed papers by Debra Glanz (sadly no longer available) have a very pronounced grain, so I’m glad I tested them before including them in the kits.

Blizzard Book structures

One of the structures required paper with a measurement that was beyond usual paper sheet dimensions. For this structure, I used kraft paper from a roll. It’s a very forgiving paper and I’m happy with how well it worked. I got it from Amazon. FYI – This is a genuine recommendation (I don’t get a commission).

If you want to learn these structures yourself, they’re all included in the very awesome book The Art of the Fold. The book was written by Hedi and her daughter Ulla Warchol and was published last year.

If you’re on the fence about getting this book, don’t be – you should totally get it. It now has a permanent home on my list of recommended texts on bookbinding and it’s destined to be a classic.

Are You Book Enough challenge – Family

It’s been a while since I participated in the Are You Book Enough challenge on Instagram (#areyoubookenough). It’s ironic that this month’s theme is family, considering that that’s what made it so hard to join in the fun (21-month-old daughter = very little free time).

Are You Book Enough - Family

Luckily, I recently made something for another purpose that fits with the theme so I’m going to double dip this month.

If you’re new to following me, you may not yet know that my daughter is adopted. We have an open adoption and I feel that by extension, Anna’s biological family is our family. 

We send Anna’s biological parents four written updates annually and being me, I’ve felt like I should do something more than just typing up a letter on my computer. It has been a wonderful to revisit Anna’s life every three months and to memorialize her experiences on paper. On paper! Our most recent update included the most pieces to date. I created the full set in an edition of three – one for each bio parent and one for Anna.

We call our written updates Annagrams. This update was bound with a pamphlet stitch and a handmade paper cover. Our updates include details of trips to the pediatrician (head circumference!), her current favorite songs, and daily activities. Included with the book is a selection of photos wrapped in Unryu and secured with washi tape.

Book and photos in paper enclosure

Both the Annagram and the photos are housed in Hedi Kyle‘s Self-Closing Wrapper from The Art of the Fold: How to Make Innovative Books and Paper Structures. It’s the perfect enclosure for this application.

Accordion book and photos in paper enclosure

Accordion book and photos with book in paper enclosure

I also created an accordion book to hold images that were suited to the square format, collages that my husband put together. Each tells one of Anna’s stories – her first trip to the dentist, visiting with family during the holidays, etc.

Accordion book with photos

I hope that the updates we send are successful in conveying the deep love and gratitude we feel. We have truly been given a gift beyond measure.

Weird letters project

A group of my Book Arts Guild of Vermont friends and I have two challenges going on at the moment, the first of which I just started to tackle.

The project involves a bunch of sign letters and grid paper that one of my friends found at a flea market. Letters and grids were batched up for everyone and we were given free rein on what we decided to do with them.

Self adhesive sign letters

Each letter comes in three sizes, as you can see below.

Self adhesive sign letters

My friend Marcia (@marciavogler) already finished her book – you can see it on Instagram and it is so cool. And another friend, Becky (@boardbecky) finished hers, but it’s not up on Instagram yet. I am feeling the pressure.

My process was jump-started by thinking about how I might use tombstone rubbing wax to create text. I bought a batch after having used them during Hedi Kyle’s workshop at North Country Studio Workshops last year.

3 cakes tombstone rubbing wax

I wanted to get the full rainbow rubbing wax assortment like Hedi’s, but couldn’t find it online. I called the manufacturer and was told that the sets are no longer being made. In addition, the silver and gold waxes are no longer being produced because lead is one of the ingredients. Bummer.

I laid out some letters, put a piece of silk bookcloth over it, and rubbed away.

Rubbing on bookcloth with tombstone rubbing wax

I thought it came out great – and the best part is that the wax doesn’t seem to rub off much if something comes in contact with it (I rubbed a piece of paper on it to test). I also tried rubbing the wax on both sides of a sheet of paper to see if there would be any weirdness – nope. It was all good.

I have a vague idea of my book’s overall concept, but it needs work. Stay tuned to see where this goes!

Focus on Book Arts conference brochure available too!

Yep, it’s another blog post about the Focus on Book Arts conference! I can’t help it – I’m just so excited!

I recently received a batch of FOBA brochures in the mail – they offer an overview of the conference, along with a listing of this year’s workshops.

Focus on Book Arts conference brochure

When I opened up one of the brochures, I was excited to see a close-up of one of the books that folks will be making in my workshop:

Focus on Book Arts conference brochure

Then I noticed the photo to the left of it – it was taken during my workshop in 2017!

You can see me in the center of the picture at the back of the table, looking all teacher-like:

Focus on Book Arts conference brochure

Two pictures – not too shabby! 

If you’d like your own copy of the FOBA brochure, just send me an email with your address and I’ll pop one in the mail for you. Don’t forget – registration opens on Monday, March 4th, 8:00 a.m. PST.

2019 Focus on Book Arts catalog available

The 2019 Focus on Book Arts conference catalog was just published – woot! They won’t be mailing them this year, but you can download a copy at your leisure.

2019 Focus on Book Arts conference catalog cover

Seeing my workshop in print makes my teaching there all the more real.

Page in 2019 FOBA catalog

This is so happening!

I love this conference so much. The first time I attended was in 2007, which was P.B. (pre-blog). Here’s a refresher about FOBA – they put on a 5-day book arts conference every other year in Forest Grove, OR. In addition to workshops, they have evening activities, a trade show, an on-site store (Colophon Book Arts), a themed book arts challenge, and a faculty/staff exhibit. It’s a book arts bonanza.

Check out some of the other instructors – Karen Hanmer (yay!), Pietro AccardiSam EllenportBonnie Stahlecker, and Steph Rue, just to name a few. These are some heavy hitters!

Hey, you should take my workshop! Here’s a closer look at what we’ll be making – two full-size journals that will be excellent references for your future work:

Handmade leather journals with multiple closures - closed Handmade leather journals with multiple closures - open

Handmade leather long stitch journals - spine view

In 2017, I was all set to take three days of workshops and then my workshop filled up – a second session was added and I ended up taking only a one-day workshop. I’m not sure what I want to happen this time around. I love teaching, so I’d welcome teaching twice but I still want to learn from others. I guess I shouldn’t complain, considering that I like both outcomes!

Conference registration opens on Monday, March 4th, 8:00 a.m. PST and workshops fill up quickly so don’t dawdle! Until then, you can drool over the offerings online.

Happy National Handwriting Day!

Pen and handwriting

I love funky holidays. Today we are blessed with National Handwriting Day

The holiday was created by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association in 1977 to promote the use of pens, pencils, and paper. Perhaps they saw the internet coming? The date of January 23rd was selected because it’s John Hancock’s birthday.

People have told me that kids aren’t taught penmanship in school any more…is that true? If so, that’s sad. There’s so much to be said for this beautiful art form. 

What can you do to celebrate today? Well, writing in a journal is the obvious choice (not that I make them). Send a letter to a friend you haven’t contacted for a while. Or even better, when you pay for your groceries, proudly sign your full name – don’t just make an ambiguous scribble.

Spread the [handwritten] word in all of your social media updates by tagging them with #HandwritingDay.


Image from Unsplash

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