Category : Education

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


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…

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!

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