Category : Education

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?

Happy Preservation Week!

Guess what – it’s Preservation Week! This annual event, presented by the American Library Association (ALA), is going on now through April 27th and is hot on the heels of National Library Week.

Preservation Week 2019 logo

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.

Preserving the artifacts of your own history is an important effort. Photographs, documents, heirlooms – they’re not just things, they’re a collection of precious, personal stories and they shouldn’t be lost to future generations.

Here are some things you can do this week to join in the movement:

Let me know what you’re doing this week!

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.

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.

I’m teaching at the Morgan next year!

Morgan Conservatory logoI am so, so very thrilled to announce that I will be teaching a summer workshop at the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland next year! I am seriously beside myself with happiness!

The dates for my workshop have not yet been chosen, so stay tuned to the Events page of my website for the most up-to-date information.

I’ll be teaching my Three is a Magic Number workshop, the same one I taught twice at the 2017 Focus on Book Arts conference. If you were interested in my workshop then but couldn’t travel to the West Coast, Ohio might be perfect for you.

Here are the details:

Three is a Magic Number

Have you always wanted to give Keith Smith‘s bindings a try, but the diagrams make your head spin? Then this workshop’s for you! In this two-day workshop, you’re going to work through nine three-section bindings, based on the work of Keith Smith, using only leather, paper, and thread – no glue needed!

Each binding involves sewing pages directly through a leather cover and each creates a different decorative pattern on the spine. These bindings are very flexible and allow the books to open completely flat. You’ll ease into each binding by practicing on a paper template first, then you’ll use what you’ve learned to sew the book. In addition to learning various stitches, you’ll also try out different closure methods for each book.

While all of the bindings include three sections, the last book will include nine – you’ll learn how to adapt a 3-section binding to create a larger book by repeating the pattern. You’ll be binding all of your sewing templates into your final book, and this will be a great reference for future work.

You’ll leave this workshop with a basic knowledge of bookbinding technique and nine completed books. You will receive a detailed handout and resource list for all materials used.

Here are pictures of the finished books (colors will vary in the workshop kits):

9 handmade leather journals

Handmade leather journal - spine view

Handmade leather journal - open pages view

I’m not sure when registration for Morgan’s summer workshops will open, so keep an eye on their Workshops page for more information.

I hope to see you there!

I’m teaching at FOBA next year!

I am thrilled to announce that I will be teaching a class at the 2019 Focus on Book Arts conference! Now that they’ve posted sneak peeks on their website and I see myself there (!!!), I finally feel comfortable giving the scoop.

Here’s the announcement (I just had to take a screenshot):

Focus on Book Arts conference workshop sneak peek

This will be my second time teaching at FOBA. The idea for this workshop actually came out of a discussion that happened in my 2017 workshop.

Here are the details:

Find Closure

Need that finishing touch for your journal? I’ve got you covered!

 

Consider this workshop the equivalent of a Closure Dressy Bessy. First you’ll complete a set of two soft cover, leather books each with a different variation of the long stitch binding. Then comes the fun part – you’ll experiment with a variety of ways to secure those books. You’ll explore ways to use buttons, leather straps, sticks, and metal hardware to create up to 5 closures per book (as time allows).

 

Bring your own embellishments (buttons, ribbons, etc.) that you’d like to use for closures – there will be time for discussion and problem-solving as a group.

 

You’ll leave this workshop with two books measuring 9.5″ x 6.5″, along with a detailed handout and resource list for all materials used.

Here are pictures of the finished books (colors will vary in the workshop kits):

Handmade leather journals with multiple closures - closed

Handmade leather long stitch journals - spine viewHandmade leather journals with multiple closures - open

Registration for the conference will open in March 2019. Keep your eyes glued on the FOBA website for more details as they become available.

I hope to see you there!

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:

Paper Structures with Hedi Kyle – Day 1

I was so thrilled to get into Hedi Kyle‘s Paper Structures workshop at North Country Studio Workshops – and then I almost didn’t get to go. I had a child care issue with Anna that took some serious eleventh hour finagling to resolve. Thankfully, my awesome neighbor Maureen offered to hang with my nut baby and I was off to Bennington!

Here’s the workshop description:

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.

Yummy! The fact is that I’d take any workshop with Hedi. She could teach laundry folding and I’d be all over it.

After the three-ish hour drive to Bennington (no flying necessary!), I was greeted by this awesome name tag at registration. I am such a name tag nerd.

Name tag for North Country Studio Workshops

Bennington College‘s Visual and Performing Arts Center is insane. It’s 120,000 square of gorgeous. All of the NCSW workshops were held here.

Visual and Performing Arts building at Bennington College

FYI – this is when you know it’s real…

Book Arts workshop sign

Hedi gave us packets with directions for all the structures we were going to make.

And then there were the models…holy crap!

Folded models by Hedi Kyle

Must.touch.everything.

Folded models by Hedi Kyle

I love to see how other teachers organize their classrooms and Hedi had all of the book components in labeled boxes.

Supplies and models for Hedi Kyle's Folded Structures workshop at North Country Studio Workshops

The first day we only worked for two hours, but they were a solid two hours. We completed five paper folds and started one more. Here’s Hedi doing a demonstration (I could watch her fold for hours):

Demonstration with Hedi Kyle

We started off by learning a traditional Japanese letter fold (tutorial can be found here):

Traditional Japanese Letterfold

Then we made a Japanese Menko, a.k.a. the Victorian Puzzle Purse (tutorial can be found here):

Traditional Japanese Menko - closed

This was one of the components of the Chinese Sewing Box I made in Erin Sweeney‘s workshop. Oh, and wouldn’t you know – Hedi’s studio assistant at NCSW was Erin!

Traditional Japanese Menko - open

The next one was new to me – the Portland Envelope, a.k.a. the Bar Envelope (tutorial can be found here):

Portland Envelope - closed

The paper we used was funky – it reminded me of Pringles. Kinda crispy. The top flap tucks into this nifty horizontal bar that’s created when you fold the paper. Love.

Portland Envelope - open

Then came the Tato fold. This one made my brain ache. I don’t remember what was going on with my fingers but it was just.not.happening. As a result, you see folds where they shouldn’t be on the final product. I call do-over.

Tato fold

The Bamboo Folder was not a problem, thankfully (tutorial can be found here – stop after step 8). I loved the paper we used.

Bamboo folder

We started one more piece, which originally didn’t have a name – we collectively called it the North Country Star Fold. It was very complicated and as it was late in the day and most people were struggling, we decided to call it quits and resume tomorrow.

I can’t wait to learn more! Off to ice my fingers…

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