Category : Education

Happy Preservation Week!

2018 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 28th. The ALA must be very busy this month considering that this event is held just two weeks after National Library Week!

Here’s what they’ve got 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.

So yeah, preserving heirlooms (and what are essentially personal artifacts) is a good and important thing. Just think of all of the stories those items have to say – it’s such a shame when those stories are lost to future generations.

Photographs are an obvious no-brainer when it comes thinking about something that should be protected. Here are some things you can do this week when boarding the Preservation Week Train:

Let me know what you’re doing this week!

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:

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.

Upcoming classes at Studio Place Arts

In the chaos that is new motherhood, I have somehow managed to schedule two bookbinding classes at Studio Place Arts in Barre, VT. Many thanks to my husband for taking on Anna while I teach.

Here’s the scoop:

The Paste Paper Photo Album

Handmade paste paper photo album by Elissa Campbell of Blue Roof Designs

Dates: Saturdays, September 23 & 30, 2017
Hours: 12:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

In this workshop, you will learn how to create an elegant hard-cover photo album using bookcloth and paste paper that you’ll make yourself! This is a wonderful keepsake that can hold 4″ x 6″ photos from your recent vacation or family holiday gathering.

Different methods will be demonstrated to guide you as you create your own paste papers with vibrant colors. We’ll use methyl cellulose in a paste recipe that’s easy to recreate on your own. You’ll choose one or two of the papers to create your stab-bound photo album, but don’t worry – you’ll have plenty of paste paper to take home with you!

Each participant will leave class with a completed photo album, a collection of paste papers, and a basic knowledge of bookbinding and paste paper technique. No previous experience required – this is a great class for a beginner.

  • Cost: SPA Members $55.00 / Non-Members $65.00
  • Materials fee: $15.00
  • Tools (optional): Awl, bone folder, ruler, X-Acto knife or utility knife, cutting mat, scissors, pencil, glue brush, old credit cards or gift cards that can be cut into and used as design tools, plastic utensils, wood grain or other tools to create marks.

Peek-a-Boo Journal

Handmade coptic journal by Elissa Campbell of Blue Roof DesignsDate: Saturday, October 28, 2017
Hours: 12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

In this workshop, participants will create a journal with a double-needle coptic binding, an intricate stitch that will be visible on the spine of the book. Not only is the coptic binding beautiful, but it also allows books to remain flat when opened. The book covers will include a cut-out window, which offers many opportunities for personalization – photos, pressed flowers, theater tickets – if it’s flat, you can use it.

Participants are encouraged to bring small photos, paper ephemera, and/or other flat items to both decorate the covers and include in the windows. Additional materials will be available for use during the workshop.

Each participant will leave class with a completed book and basic knowledge of bookbinding technique. Participants will receive a detailed handout and resource list for all materials used. Some bookbinding or sewing experience is helpful, but not required.

  • Cost: SPA Members $40.00 / Non-Members $50.00
  • Materials fee: $15.00
  • Tools (optional): Awl, bone folder, metal ruler, X-Acto knife and/or utility knife, cutting mat, scissors, pencil, glue brush

Note: Don’t feel obligated to buy any of the tools listed for either class. I’ve got enough tools to cover everyone.

For more information about either class, please feel free to contact me or Studio Place Arts.

I hope to see you in one of my classes!

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!

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!

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.

2017 Focus on Book Arts catalog available

I got this in the mail yesterday:

2017 Focus on Book Arts conference catalog

Oh.my.goodness. It’s really, really happening now.

I’m teaching at the Focus on Book Arts (FOBA) conference in June!

2017 Focus on Book Arts conference catalog

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve announced this before. I’m just so thrilled and excited to be teaching at a conference I’ve attended and loved for years – it just continues to feel unreal.

In case you’ve never heard of FOBA, they put on a 5-day book arts conference every other year in Forest Grove, OR. In addition to workshops, they have a keynote speaker, evening activities, a trade show, an on-site store (Colophon Book Arts), and a faculty/staff exhibit. It really is the whole book arts package.

Check out some of the other instructors – Roberta Lavadour, Shawn Sheehy, Sam Ellenport, Helen Hiebert. I’m in disbelief that I’m teaching alongside these amazing people. And this year’s keynote speaker is Laura Russell, book artist and owner of 23 Sandy Gallery.

Seriously, go to the conference. I’ve been going since 2007 – and I’d go even if I weren’t teaching.

Oh, and take my workshop! Here’s a closer look at what we’ll be making:

Handmade three signature leather journals by Elissa Campbell

Now I just need to figure out what workshops to take on the days I’m not teaching. So many choices…

Conference registration opens on Monday, March 6th, 8:00 a.m. PST. While you’re waiting, you can peruse the conference catalog online.

Introduction to Miniature Books: Including Materials to Make Them Now

Japanese bookbinding book: Introduction to Miniature Books - Including Materials to Make Them Now

Welcome to my fifth post in my series of Japanese bookbinding book reviews.

I bought this book back in at the Kinokuniya in Beaverton, OR (near Portland). I was in town for the Focus on Book Arts conference and thought I’d swing by the store on my way there.

If you decide to check out the bookstore, please note that it’s located inside the Uwajimaya Asian Food Market – it’s really weird.

Title: Introduction to Miniature Books: Including Materials to Make Them Now (many thanks to Jill for the translation)
Author: Misuzudo Bindery
ISBN: 978-4-7661-2474-3
Publisher:  Graphics, Inc.
Year published: 2013
Paperback: 47 pages

This book reads left-to-right.

Let me start off by saying that this book is way cool for the following reason – it includes all of the project materials you need in a box that’s built into the back cover. This is super-awesome because you don’t have to cut up the pages of the book. Hooray! 

The design of this book is really clever.

Japanese bookbinding manual with built-in box for supplies

The stash of materials even includes mull!

Japanese bookbinding manual with built-in box for supplies

Let’s check out the content of the book. Pages 6-7 show images of which of the included materials you need to complete each project (click on the images to enlarge).

Pages 8-10 cover things such as basic bookbinding tools, the parts of a book, how to glue out paper, and paper grain.

Pages 11-46 focus on four book projects. The images that follow show the progression of content for each project.

Each section starts with an image of a book:

The top of the next page identifies which included materials you need to complete the project (including measurements) and the bottom half includes the beginning of the directions on how to create the book:

Page 47 offers information about the author’s studio, as well as a paper store (TAKEO) that is located in the same building.

Overall impressions:

One of my biggest peeves about bookbinding manuals is when you’re required to cut up the book in order to complete projects. I like my books in one piece, thank you. The design of this book addresses this issue in the most fabulous manner – all the materials you need are housed within the book structure. You get to work on the featured projects without destroying your book in the process – genius!

A beginner shouldn’t have any trouble completing the projects in this book. The photos and diagrams in the directions are clear and easy to follow. The techniques learned from this book can be easily translated into future work. Please note that specific project measurements in provided in millimeters. You can use an online conversion calculator to get the non-metric equivalents. 

Even though this book is more appropriate for those just starting out in the book arts, I’m still glad I purchased it. I’m so impressed with the overall presentation of the material and how all of the supplies are provided to you. The book would make a great gift. For you.

If you’re interested in buying your own copy, you can get it from the following online shops:

Just Little Books

After more than 5 ½ years, I’m finally returning to my Japanese bookbinding book reviews. Since I’m going to Japan this summer (and will likely buy more books when I’m there), I figured that I should present the remaining books in my current collection.

If you’d like to check out my previous reviews, you can do so here.

The book I’m focusing on today is the fourth in my series of reviews, and the second one written by Miyako Akai.

Just Little Books by Akai Miyako

Title: Sonomama Mamehon (Just Little Books)
Author: Miyako Akai
ISBN: 978-4-309-27206-1
Publisher: Kawade Shobo Shinsha, Publishers
Year published: 2010
Paperback: 96 pages

I wrote a brief background on Akai in this post, so I won’t repeat that here. In short, she’s pretty nifty. Like her book ABCs of Making Miniature Books, this book reads left-to-right.

Pages 2-13 show images of 17 miniature book projects (click on the images to enlarge).

Page 14 includes images of basic bookbinding tools and what seems to be a brief explanation of each tool. Pages 15-16 show bookbinding techniques such as scoring with a bone folder, cutting with an X-Acto knife, folding signatures, gluing, sewing, how to knot thread, and how to repair a torn page.

The next pages are what sets this book apart from the others reviewed to date. The pages of the book are printed with mini pages and covers that are to be cut out and then bound into the books featured in pages 2-13. Pages 17-48 contain the inside pages and pages 49-80 contain the exterior covers. The interior pages are printed on a lighter weight, cream-colored paper while the covers are printed on a heavier-weight, white paper.

Pages 82-95 show you how to create the book through photos and diagrams.

Overall impressions: This book is perfect for a beginner. Even though the book is written in Japanese, there’s no doubt in my mind that a beginner should be able to successfully complete all of the bindings in this book. The instructional diagrams and pictures are very clear and easy to follow. The majority of the projects utilize the pamphlet stitch.

There’s no measuring involved (other than thread) because all of them have been done for you with the templates you cut out and bind. Of course, this means that you have to cut up the book. I’m not a big fan of cutting up my books. If you’re a Nervous Nellie like me, you can scan the pages and print them out on a color printer. Once you work through the bindings in this book, you should feel comfortable enough to adapt them to your own work.

At first, I was disappointed because this book is a lot more oriented towards the beginner. There was less room for creativity because the form and content was already done. You don’t get to choose your own paper, which for me was a bit of a bummer. Also, most of the binding structures are fairly basic. A couple of them, however, are pretty cool – they involve complex shapes and folding – these I love.

I came to the realization that I would probably not do the projects in the book as they are presented. However, it still has a use. I can scan the template pages and increase or reduce them in size and use them for my own books. The advantage here is that I just trace around the template and voila! No measurements needed. The cover templates seem to have great possibilities.

Had I known the contents of this book, I probably would not have bought it – it’s too basic for my needs. I do want to emphasize though that it has great value for someone just starting out in the book arts.

If you’re interested in buying your own copy, you can get it from the following online shops:

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