Category : Education

Book Arts at Haystack 2016

Haystack 2016 catalogI just received the 2016 catalog of workshops from the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Detailed workshop information won’t be posted online until January 1st, so you’re getting an early sneak peek!

There are a couple workshops of note that are bookish:

During session two (June 26 – July 8), Rebecca Goodale is teaching Artist’s Books: The Balancing Act of Concept and Form. Here’s the description:

At every turn you will discover a myriad of choices all leading the way to success. The rich complexity of the artist’s book involves rhythm, pace, and form and is driven by a desire to express an idea and/or narrative over and across the pages. In this workshop participants will develop a vocabulary of book structures and then consider appropriate concepts to use with those forms. Demonstrations, design exercises, and various book arts techniques (including binding) will engage participants at all levels.

Rebecca’s workshop is sure to be wonderful – she’s got skills. She works as the coordinator for the Kate Cheney Chappell ’83 Center for Book Arts at the University of Southern Maine (their programming is fantastic). Her creative work focuses on Maine’s endangered/threatened flora and fauna – check out her collaborative project inspired by leafcutter ants.

Although it’s categorized as a Graphics workshop, there’s another book arts-y offering during session four (July 31 – August 12) – A Letterpress, an Artist’ Book, and some text walk into a bar… (hello, best title ever) with Erin Sweeney

Here are the details on her workshop:

This intensive workshop will focus on the depth and breadth of the artists’ book. Participants will learn a variety of printmaking techniques using a Kelsey platen press and a Showcard proof press, experimenting with alternative materials, as well as type, to create imagery. Using materials we have created, we will construct several artists’ books – these structures will combine traditional techniques (folding, binding) and materials with innovative structures. We will also work with text – generated through several simple prompts – and look to house image, text, and objects in new and surprising ways. Students will also have the opportunity to collaborate, and the emphasis will be on fun and experimentation.

Erin received her MFA in Book Arts and Printmaking from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia (hello, jealous). I met Erin at the Paper and Book Intensive a few years ago. Not only is she an amazing artist, but she’s totally adorable (translate: she must be a fun teacher).

Haystack is accepting applications now through April 1st.

FYI: Workshops aren’t first come, first served – they hold all applications until the deadline, after which they review them and assign students. Be sure to put some serious thought into your application!

Bad news at Mills College

Yesterday I heard terrible, terrible news about the Mills College Book Arts program. Students and alumni were just notified that due to budget cuts, the program is at risk of being eliminated within 30 days. This is heartbreaking.

The book arts program has been in existence for over 35 years, educating undergraduate and graduate students in the disciplines of book arts, letterpress, and printmaking. Interestingly, there has been no difficulty in getting students to enroll in these classes – in fact, they often attract students from outside the department.

The MFA in Book Art and Creative Writing was the first such program in the country. It offers deep creative exploration and encourages artistic development in both written and visual formats.

And if the curriculum isn’t enough for you, the faculty includes Julie Chen and Kathleen Walkup – can you say rock stars? If I had the opportunity, I’d enroll in this program in a heartbeat – it’s fantastic.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m not one to push causes – I’m making an exception in this case. If the book arts mean anything to you, please show your support for the Mills College Book Arts program by signing the petition on

Want to do more? Write to Mills College administrators and let them know what you think!

While you’re at it, check out this Tumblr account that was created for people to share stories and express support for the program.

Let’s rally and help prevent the closure of the Mills College Book Arts program!

It’s Preservation Week!

Preservation Week logo

April 26 – May 2, 2015 marks Preservation Week, a time when institutions work to raise awareness of the importance of protecting and conserving both public and private collections. The event is sponsored by the Association for Library Collections & Technology Services (ALCTS), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).

From the ALA website:

Preservation Week was created in 2010 because some 630 million items in collecting institutions require immediate attention and care. Eighty percent of these institutions have no paid staff assigned responsibility for collections care; 22 percent have no collections care personnel at all. Some 2.6 billion items are not protected by an emergency plan. As natural disasters of recent years have taught us, these resources are in jeopardy should a disaster strike. Personal, family, and community collections are equally at risk.

The hope is that organizations can inspire people to get involved through participation in events in their community. The ALA website has a Google Map of planned events and speakers – check it out. Remember – small actions add up!

Want to get involved? Here are some ideas:

 I’d love to hear about what you’re doing this week – let me know!

Daniel Essig is coming to Vermont!

North Country Studio Workshops logoI was thrilled to discover that from January 26 – 31, 2016, Daniel Essig will be teaching Wooden Books—Greek & Centipede Binding at the North Country Studio Workshops in Bennington, VT.

Dan is an amazing book artist from Asheville, North Carolina who creates hand-bound wooden books and sculptures. According to his website, he primarily uses the Ethiopian-style Coptic stitch in his work – his stitching is impeccable.

His work has been published in a number of books, including The Penland Book of Handmade Books and 1000 Artist Books, Exploring the book as Art. I highly encourage you to visit his website to check out his drool-worthy portfolio.

The upcoming workshop looks fantastic – here’s the blurb about it:

Easily master the centipede stitch by first understanding the structure and workings of this ornate 7th century Greek binding. Using simple hand tools to begin, we will drill, shape, and smooth our wooden book covers. Sealing the covers with milk paint will create a leathery appearance. We will adorn our books with the centipede stitch using two different colors of thread. This elegant sewing structure, combined with wooden covers, opens a wide range of possibilities for both the beginner and the advanced bookbinder.

Registration is open now and the application review process begins June 1st. Start saving your pennies now, ladies and gents – this workshop is going to be awesome!

Mini Mixed Media Cards workshop at Studio Place Arts

Mixed Media Cards workshop supplies

This past weekend I taught a Mini Mixed Media Cards workshop at Studio Place Arts in Barre, VT. This workshop was a condensed version of a workshop I’ve taught before. My students had to keep up with a faster pace and they did a great job!

Mini Mixed Media Cards workshop

We started with a discussion of different methods of attachment – eyelets, roller adhesive, ribbon, etc. Next, we worked on a simple method of image transfer – the trusted blender pen. It may be stinky, but it works so well.

Handmade cards

We moved on to carving rubber stamps by hand. It takes some time to get the hang of carving technique (you don’t want to direct the carving tools towards your hand while you work). One of my class rules is that no one bleeds – thankfully, this is a rule that folks seem eager to follow.

Student hand carving a rubber stamp

I shared some stamping tips, such as coloring directly on a stamp with water-based markers. We also talked about the properties of dye and pigment-based stamp pads.

We then worked on three different pop-up techniques. My favorite of the three is the spiral – it’s so easy to execute, yet it looks complex.

Handmade pop-up card

Lastly, there was a brief discussion of collage – how to work with color, pattern, texture, and shape. I brought a ton of materials and tools for the students to play with – fibers, handmade papers, laser vellum, recycled papers, embossing powders, and decorative scissors.

At the end of the workshop, there was some free time for people to experiment with the different techniques they had learned. I appreciate having the opportunity to see how folks progress at this point. It’s the art therapist in me that loves it – process work is so fascinating.

Rustic Leather Journal workshop at Studio Place Arts

I recently taught a new workshop at Studio Place Arts – the Rustic Leather Journal. I had an industrious group of seven women in the workshop.

Bookbinding class at Studio Place Arts

The workshop offered a twist on the coptic stitch binding – instead of using hard covers, we used thick pieces of leather lined with lokta. Another new thing I added was that folks wrapped each signature in a strip of lokta.

Sewing the coptic binding stitch

The double-needle coptic stitch is one that takes a while to get the hang of – once you get it though, it can progress pretty quickly. Participants did a great job of mastering the technique.

Coptic binding in progress

There was a running joke throughout the workshop – anything that came out in an unexpected way (for example, a mistake in stitching) was immediately dubbed “rustic”.

Rustic leather coptic journal

The workshop went by much more quickly than I had anticipated and people finished their books early on in the second day. I added another project to fill the time – punching cradles, which are used to punch holes in signatures. The project filled the time nicely and everyone left with a great tool for making future books.

Book Arts at Haystack 2015

The Haystack Mountain School of Crafts has a bookbinding offering during its fifth summer session from August 16 – 28, 2015 – Paper Engineering: Making Pop-Ups and Sculptural Books with Carol Barton.

The workshop seems fantastic, as you can see in the description below:

Discover the magic of the sculptural book through explorations of three-dimensional and pop-up forms. Participants will learn a variety of pop-up structures, beginning with simple cut-and-fold pop-ups and progressing through a series of more complex glued constructions. The workshop will also explore sculptural bindings, the carousel, and tunnel book formats. A lesson on adding lights to pop-ups will be included. Slide shows of historical and artist-made books will be presented. An ideal session for anyone who likes to play with paper.

I’ve taken a workshop with Carol before and I highly recommend working with her if you have the chance.

By the way, Carol has a new book, Land Forms and Air Currents. The accordion book stretches over 150 inches when fully opened and incorporates scans of her original watercolors with floating pop-up additions. It’s really lovely.

Many thanks to Carol who granted permission for use of her photos!

Focus on Book Arts Conference 2015

Focus on Book Arts logoThe Focus on Book Arts conference just published their workshop schedule for next year. Hopefully, I will be attending the conference for my fifth time (must save pennies).

This conference gets amazing instructors and this year’s batch includes Karen Hanmer, Jim Croft, and Barbara Tetenbaum. Now I just need to figure out which workshops to take. Registration doesn’t open until March 1, 2015, so I have lots of time to figure it out.

Here are some highlights from the roster of workshops:

Color Woodcut Printmaking with Pam Horne:

The connection between woodcut printmaking and the book arts dates to the 15th century. Explore this historic relationship through a hands-on experience of designing, cutting, and printing woodblocks. Utilizing a combination of Japanese carving technique and Western printing methods we will prepare wood blocks, cut imagery, and print three colors reductively with oil-based inks on Japanese paper. We will print the blocks on a small etching press. Hand printing methods and stenciling will be discussed and experienced. The workshop will conclude with making a folded book structure to house the prints.

I love carving rubber stamps and I think that diving into woodcuts would be a fun next step.

Surface Design on Metal Book Covers with Thomas Ashman:

Metals are some of the most enduring and beautiful elements available to book binders and mixed media artists. They add structure, texture, color, and no small amount of pure gravitas to almost any type of art project. In this course, students will receive an overview of several different types of metal and ways to include them in book covers. Students will learn many ways to alter the surface of metals. While making two 6″ x 8″ metal book covers, students embark on an exploration of several processes including torching, chemical and natural patina and rust, painting, stamping, engraving, creating texture, as well as grinding, cutting, bending, drilling, punching, and attaching of copper, brass, tin and more! Instructor will have all sorts of cool tools for you to try out as well.

I’ve worked a bit on metal in Jill Timm’s Amazing Dremel workshop and would love more experience.

Medieval on the Go: The Girdle Book with Karen Hanmer:

The girdle book is a medieval binding featuring a long extension of leather that could be attached to a traveler’s belt. The leather extension terminates in a decorative knot. In this workshop, students will construct a girdle book on the foundation of a typical Medieval binding: text block sewn on double raised supports; wooden boards shaped all around with special attention given to the inside spine edge to match the text block’s natural shoulder, then laced on and pegged; sewn headbands; covered in vividly-colored leather; strap and pin closure, simple bosses at the corners. This is a fast-paced workshop for students who already have some experience with traditional binding.

This workshop is just an undeniable gem. I want in.

The Focus on Book Arts conference is held every other year at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon.

Paste Paper Gift Wrap workshop at SPA

Yesterday I taught a paste paper workshop at Studio Place Arts and it was wonderful! I had a hard-working group of 9 women, crowded around tables and cranking out vibrant papers.


I started by giving a little spiel about paste paper, including the history of the stuff (the technique has been used for over 450 years). Someone in the workshop mentioned that she had heard a story about the development of paste paper. The gist of it was that it came out of a fight between bookbinders and marblers. If you know anything about this story, I’d love to hear more about it.


The women in the workshop really dove right in without fear. I love being witness to this type of work.



The floor of the room was quickly covered with painted sheets of paper. Here’s the math: 9 women x 13 sheets of paper each = a room smothered in paper. After a while, it was challenging to get from one side of the room to the other. Floor space was precious.



The papers had to stay at SPA overnight to dry, so folks couldn’t bring their papers home that night. That meant that after the workshop was over, I got to walk around the room and drool over the papers. Droool….


People are going to get some fabulously wrapped presents this year!

Mixed Media Cards Marathon

Yesterday I taught a Mixed Media Cards Marathon class at Studio Place Arts in Barre, VT. I had a wonderfully enthusiastic group of five women who joined me on an adventure through a number of mixed media techniques. I don’t think we had room at the table for more than that – you should have seen the fabulous mess we made!

Mixed Media Cards Marathon class at Studio Place Arts

I consider cards to be folios made out of card stock – just a few steps away from becoming a book. When I teach this class, I like to emphasize that all of the techniques can be applied to bookmaking.

We started with collage and made mini quilts using security patterns from the inside of business envelopes. After that we moved on to a quick and dirty image transfer using Chartpak blender pens (stinky, but awesome). I’m getting dizzy just thinking about that room full of xylene.

We then jumped into hand-carved stamps, one of my most favorite things to do. I shared my stash of stamp inks, both dye and pigment varieties, and taught everyone how to use embossing powder on stamped images.

stamping with a hand-carved stamp

The last thing I showed them was a number of pop-up techniques. I managed to get through three of the techniques without incident, but the fourth one kicked my butt – that darn floating platform. I still don’t know what I was doing wrong, but I couldn’t get the card to fold up properly – I was so embarrassed!

Handmade cards

After all of my yakking, there was free time for everyone to play with the piles of materials and tools that I had brought with me. I find it fascinating to see which processes folks find most interesting. I have to admit, the amount off stuff I offered was probably a bit overwhelming – rubbers stamps, collage materials, recycled papers, handmade papers, fibers, decorative scissors and punches. I can’t help it, I like to share.

I’m looking forward to my next class – paste paper, here I come!

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