Category : Education

New books on my bookshelf – part 1

I have a book problem. It doesn’t matter if I have 5 other books with the same content, I will buy a new bookbinding book just because I have to have it. Thankfully, some of my most recent book purchases have not duplicated anything else in my library.

Objects/Encounters: Bookworks at Flying Fish Press 1987-2001

Objects/Encounters by Julie Chen of Flying Fish PressBy Connell Gallagher and Cynthia Imperatore
Published by the University of Vermont, © 2002
ISBN: 0940155011

As I’ve mentioned several times before, I am a big fan of book artist Julie Chen. I first experienced her work in person during a visit to the Special Collections Department at the University of Vermont. The Book Arts Guild of Vermont was lucky enough to have Connell Gallagher, the then-director of Special Collections, as a tour guide (he has since retired).

Thankfully, along with Cynthia Imperatore, Gallagher co-wrote Objects/Encounters by Julie Chen of Flying Fish Press. The book provides the reader with an intimate view of Chen’s journey in the book arts, along with background and details of specific pieces. Gallagher has such a vast and informed knowledge of Chen’s work and if you’ve never had the opportunity to see her work in person, then this book is the next best thing.

This book can be purchased for $35 (not including shipping) from Vamp and Tramp, Booksellers.

Limp Bindings from Tallin

Limp Bindings from Tallin by Monica LangweBy Monica Langwe
Published by Langwe Form
ISBN: 9163188589

Another recent acquisition is Limp bindings from Tallinn by Monica Langwe. I first read about the book in this blog post by Rhonda Miller of My Handbound Books.

During her bookbinding studies, Langwe was so drawn to limp bindings that she traveled to the City Archives in Tallinn, Estonia to study them further. She focused on 22 specific bindings, eight of which were the focus for this book (the second book in the series is in production). The last chapter in the book focuses on modern interpretations of the bindings by professional bookbinders in Sweden and Estonia.

Barbara Simler of Moon Bindery documented her journey through several of the bindings on her blog (her photos are fabulous):

I think that the binding names are just delicious! I’m not-so-secretly convinced that Tegumentum cinereum is a kind of cookie. This book can be purchased directly from Langwe for $38 (not including shipping).

To order, please send an Email to:

Upcoming classes at Studio Place Arts

I’d like to start off by thanking everyone for the support I received after my last post. That post was really hard to write. In general, I am not very comfortable with being vulnerable.

However, I’m really glad I took the risk. I never could have imagined the big, warm hug that has enveloped me for the past week.  I am truly touched.

Thank you.

Okay, enough with the mushy. I have two classes coming up in October, both at Studio Place Arts (a.k.a. SPA) in Barre, Vermont. One is for adults and the other for teens, ages 14 – 18. To register for a class, call the SPA office at (802) 479-7069.

Here’s the scoop:


Peek-a-Boo Journal (a two-day workshop)Handmade journal by Blue Roof Designs

Dates: October 1, 2009 & October 8, 2009
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Cost: SPA Members $55/Non-Members $65, $15 materials fee

Description: 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 class. 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.


Strappy Journal (ages 14 – 18)Handmade journal by Blue Roof Designs

Date: October 3, 2009
Time: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Cost: Free! Free! Free!

Description: Journals are great for so many things – exploring our creative selves, recording dreams and feelings, documenting travels, or preserving details of our daily lives. Why not make a journal of your own, just the way you want it – it’s easy!

In this workshop, we will use a binding that allows the book to remain flat when opened, making it perfect for use as a sketchbook or journal.

Participants are encouraged to bring collage materials to decorate the covers of your book. Additional materials will be available for use during the class. Each participant will leave class with a completed book and a basic knowledge of bookbinding technique. You will receive a detailed handout and resource list for all materials we use. No previous experience necessary.

Trip to the American Bookbinders Museum

So I finally sit down to write about my trip to the American Bookbinders Museum in San Francisco back in June – and I can’t find my notes.

I can’t even express how so very irritated I am. I know I didn’t throw them out and I’ve gone through every inch of my studio. Even though I’m super-bummed, I’ve decided to go ahead with this post.

For the past 20 years, Tim James of Taurus Bookbindery has been the mastermind behind the collection at the American Bookbinders Museum. Tim graciously gave us a tour of the Museum, which surprisingly had no admission fee.

The Museum not only has an impressive array of bookbinding equipment from the 19th century, but also a large library of bookbinding-related ephemera and documentation – binder’s tickets, bindery business records, equipment manuals – just to name a few.

Equipment at the American Bookbinding Museum

Tools at the American Bookbinding Museum

Tools at the American Bookbinding Museum

Press at the American Bookbinding Museum

Bookbinding manuals

Bookbinding ephemera

Bookbinding ephemera

Bookbinding ephemera

During my visit, I learned that unions played in important role in 19th century binderies. There were unions not only for men, but also for women bookbinders – for example, The Bindery Women’s Union Local 125 was organized in 1902. Pins represented the different unions – I was surprised by how many there were.

Bookbinding pins

In the United States in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, women played an increasingly important role in the binderies. By 1900, there were more women working in binderies than men (51.6%). You can read more about women bookbinders in the book, Women in the Bookbinding Trade by Mary Van Kleeck (it’s available as a free download).

Bookbinding ephemera

I loved the Museum and I would say that it was one of my favorite stops during my vacation to California. My pictures don’t do the Museum justice – you just have to go there yourself. You’ll thank me later.

Tim has a wishlist of things he’d like to add to the collection – keep your eyes open at antique shops. If you’re feeling generous and would like to make a donation, checks can be sent to The American Bookbinders Museum, 2736 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.

Paper and Book Intensive 2010

If you’re gaga for bookbinding and paper-related fun, then the Paper and Book Intensive (PBI) is the gig for you. PBI has been in existence for twenty-four years – the founding co-directors include Timothy Barrett, Gary Frost, and Hedi Kyle. This annual event brings in the big dogs.

Here’s a sampler of some of their instructors from over the years:

While I was at the Focus on Book Arts conference, everyone was talking about next year’s PBI. I was thrilled to hear that in 2010, PBI will be held in Maine. I can actually drive there – I am so very happy!

Here are more details from their website:

PBI 2010 will be held at the University of Maine, Machias campus located along one of the last wilderness coastlines in the Eastern United States from July 11-22, 2010. The campus houses the book arts and papermaking facilities directed by Bernie Vinzani, and is near the studios of Gray Parrott, Katie MacGregor, Walter Tisdale and Nancy Leavitt. The area is home to three thousand year old petroglyphs, a large population of bald eagles, black bear and moose, and world famous pies from Helen’s Restaurant. The local populace is kind enough to call you “deah” (dear) after you meet them.

If you want to read personal experiences from people who have gone to PBI, then head on over to Rhonda Miller’s blog – My Handmade Books. Rhonda wrote three blog posts about the specific classes she took at this year’s PBI:

Sara Ringler also attended PBI in 2009. Her blog features a video of Paul Denhoed and Maki Yamashita beating Kozo fiber – it sounds like drumming! Sara’s blog also includes a lovely photo essay that she refers to as the “spirit of the Paper and Book Intensive“.

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to save my pennies now.

Learn Dowel Spine Portfolio with the Book Arts Guild of VT

At August’s meeting of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont, I will teach the Dowel Spine Portfolio, a structure created by Peter Thomas. It’s a non-adhesive structure that requires few tools and materials. I learned this structure in a class I took with Peter at the Focus on Book Arts conference.

The first book we’ll make will be of a size that can accommodate a standard business card. The second book is a version of the structure that I adapted to fit a CD.

Here are the specifics:

Date: Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Time: 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Firehouse Gallery
Address: 135 Church Street, Burlington, VT

Tools to bring with you (I will bring extra tools to the workshop, so don’t worry if you don’t have them):

  • Bonefolder
  • X-acto knife
  • Cutting mat
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

I look forward to seeing you there!

The envelope please…

Results of Polldaddy pollWell I feel silly because I can’t figure out how to close the PollDaddy poll within WordPress. Poop.

I officially declare that the poll is closed. I mean it. Don’t even try to vote now, even though I can’t stop you.

You have spoken and I will obey. Here’s the order of my posts starting next week:

  1. Dremel bits and what they do
  2. Paper and Book Intensive 2010
  3. Trip to the American Bookbinding Museum
  4. Book artists on Twitter – part 2
  5. New books on my bookshelf
  6. Peggy Skycraft and why she rocks
  7. Trip to the Taurus Bookbindery

I had to make a judgment call when there was a tie between two topics, so I put them in alphabetical order.

If anyone objects, I’d be happy to figure out some kind of blog post deathmatch.

For blog's sake, what do I do next?

I have a backlog of blog posts that has accumulated over the past 2 months.

Sometimes I get an idea for a post and start a draft, then something distracts me and I move on to a new topic. I need help figuring out where to start and I’m interested in hearing about what grabs your attention.

Here are the blog posts I have in my queue (these are working titles):

  1. Book artists on Twitter – part 2
  2. Dremel bits and what they do
  3. New books on my bookshelf
  4. Paper and Book Intensive 2010
  5. Peggy Skycraft and why she rocks
  6. Trip to the American Bookbinding Museum
  7. Trip to the Taurus Bookbindery

I plan to publish my posts based on the feedback I receive – most popular topic comes first.

Voting will be open until Friday, at which I point I will announce the post schedule.

If you have suggestions for any other blog topics, please let me know – I’m open to any comments you may have.

Note: The poll is now closed.

Stick Painting with Andie Thrams

There’s more to the Focus on Book Arts conference than the daily workshops – there’s an opening reception, a keynote speech, an artist marketplace, a vendor fair, a faculty-staff exhibit, and Hospitality Night – a time for conference attendees to share their work.

In addition to all of that goodness, at lunchtime there were informal demonstrations on three of the conference days. On Friday, I attended a stick painting demonstration with Andie Thrams.

Andie Thrams

No, we did not paint sticks. Instead of paintbrushes, we used sticks to apply paint. It sounds strange, but was actually quite an elegant process. Andie explained that the longer the stick, the “grander the gesture”.

Don’t use brittle sticks because they tend to crumble. When you paint, move from the shoulder – treat the stick like an extension of your arm. Sticks absorb ink the longer you work with them, which can help improve the flow.

When you use this technique, you are creating somewhat uncontrolled work that will be similar to the chaotic patterns in nature. You use this technique on watercolor paper. If you work dry on wet, you get more definition and precision. If you work wet on wet, you get freer and blurrier lines. You can either brush the water on your paper or use a spray bottle.

For variety, you can also apply layers of methyl cellulose paste mixed with dry pigment or acrylic paint to your paper.

You can use any type of ink for this process, just add ox gall to your ink to help it flow better. Always pour your ink into a separate container so that you don’t contaminate your main source.

You don’t want stick bits floating in your bottle, now do you?

Stick painting with Andie Thrams

Stick painting with Andie Thrams

As soon as Andie asked for volunteers, I jumped at the chance. Here’s my piece:

Stick painting

Oh yeah, I’m a beginner. Super-blobby-blurriness going on in the middle there. But I’m actually pretty psyched about some of the dry work. Painting with the stick was awkward at first, but then started to feel more natural. If I were to do this again, I would use a spray bottle instead of brushing water on.

I’ll leave you with this great comment from Andie:

If you think about a pencil or a brush – we’re all just working with sticks.

Suminagashi on Paper & Silk with Diane Maurer

Sadly, Sunday was my last workshop at the Focus on Book Arts conference.

I was pretty bummed when I left campus to catch my plane home. Just to give you a taste of my red eye experience:

“I’m awake! I’m awake! I’m home!” THUD!

The Suminagashi workshop with Diane Maurer was the perfect workshop for my last day. I was pretty wiped out by then and the process was very mellow – a nice way to wind down from the fast pace of the conference.

Diane taught us how to use the Suminagashi method on both paper and silk. I made 15 sheets of paper during the workshop.

I’ve decided that the Suminagashi process is deceptively simple.

Using one brush per color, you add inks (we used Boku Undo inks) to the water tray by touching the paintbrush tip to the water. You use something called photo wetting solution to add clear rings to the pattern. You alternate between ink and photo wetting solution until you get the number of rings you desire. You can then gently blow or fan the inks to create more dramatic patterns.

The complexity comes from making intentional designs with the sometimes uncontrollable inks.

Method is easy, technique is hard.

Once you have achieved your final pattern, you gently lay a piece of paper on top of the floating inks. Oriental papers or those with a high cotton content work well for this process. Lift the paper out of the tray and you’re done! Colors don’t run once they’ve made contact with the paper.

What follows is a pictorial of the process:

Suminagashi marbling in process

Suminagashi marbling in process

Suminagashi marbling in process

Suminagashi marbling in process

Suminagashi marbling in process

Suminagashi marbling in process

Suminagashi marbling in process

What follows are some images of my papers. Please note that I am not Diane.

I went through a bit of a progression:

We had so much time to experiment that I actually evolved – I rarely have the opportunity to evolve in a day. I could totally spend more time exploring this Cat in the Hat thing more. The shapes in those papers seem to moving and evolving with me.

As I mentioned earlier, not only did we learn how to use the Suminagashi technique on paper, but also on silk. We dyed small silk squares, let them dry, then ironed them.

After stretching the silk taut on foam core with stick pins, we used Cello Mount to create what was essentially bookcloth. We then adhered the silk to the mat board to make the frame. It was pretty easy.

Suminagashi-covered frame

For more information on Suminagashi, check out the following links:

The Amazing Dremel with Jill Timm – Day 2

Day two at the Focus on Book Arts conference is now over. Well, not quite – right now I’m listening to Peter Thomas and Jim Croft doing a duet on a harmonica/ukulele and trombone, respectively.

Today was day 2 of The Amazing Dremel with Jill Timm. The day progressed much like it had yesterday. Jill would do a demonstration, then we would have the opportunity to practice what we had learned. Thankfully, I was much more relaxed with Stan today.

More from the “E Series”:

I think my favorite material from today is the ceramic tile. You can remove the gloss from the tile to reveal the matte color underneath, then you can drill further to access the clay base.

My least favorite – plexiglass. Blech, blech, superblech. Jill told us that plexi gets more interesting when you use a thicker piece. That may be true, but my piece from today looked like I dragged it out in the road.

Working with steel was a wacky experience. It was hea-vy – about 3/8″ thick, which doesn’t sound like much but it was substantial. We put some rust goo on it yesterday and set the pieces outside overnight. Today our steel was covered in rusty goodness. When you use the Dremel on steel, sparks fly.

Seriously, sparks fly. Be careful.

Here’s the “E Series” in it’s entirety:

We made simple books using a Zutter Bind-it-All. We used 2 pieces of bookboard for the covers and CD sleeves for the pages. We could store each of our samples in one of the CD sleeves – pretty cool idea. The last CD sleeve houses a small book we used for recording tips learned while working with each material. The book should prove useful for reference in future projects.

Unfortunately, the book isn’t big enough for all of my samples and I need to do some more work on it.

I’m sad that my workshop is over. Jill Timm is a fabulous teacher – very patient and kind. I would take another class with her in a heartbeat. As a nerdly side note, I had Jill sign my Dremel manual. If it weren’t for her, then Stan would never have come into my life.

Dear Stan, I love you. I’m sorry you have to go home in a UPS box and not on a plane with me. Don’t hate me. Love, Elissa

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