Category : Education

Leather Pocket Journals – Part 3

For the past two weeks I’ve been teaching the third installment of my leather journals class. We have continued working on three signature bindings from Keith Smith‘s book, Non-Adhesive Binding Volume II: 1-2- & 3-Section Sewings.

 Students in leather journals bookbinding class

I had a great group of six women who completed five bindings, despite my problematic measurements (ugh). Thankfully, they were pretty quick to discover where my errors were (double ugh). I mean, yay!

Students in leather journals bookbinding class

Here are some pictures of the books they completed during class:

Handmade leather journals

Handmade leather journals

Time will tell if I’ll come up with leather journals part 4 – I do love sequels!

Students in leather journals bookbinding class

Worktable Wednesday

Today I worked on preparing for tonight’s leather journal class at Studio Place Arts. These are the three bindings I’ll be teaching:

Handmade leather journals by Elissa Campbell

I have a tendency to forget things if they’re not written down, so I created a checklist to help me remember what to pack for my classes.

Bookbinding workshop checklist

For this particular class, I’m teaching three signature bindings with leather covers. Because the journals are small, it’s hard to teach the stitching to a class so that everyone can see.

To address this issue, I’ve been working with posters that replicate the binding patterns on the spines. The larger size helps folks to understand where the holes are punched. I attach these posters to an easel and use hemp cord to sew the bindings.

Leather journal binding poster model

I think that this method has been very successful and I’ve received positive feedback about it. Obviously, it helps to be able to see what an instructor is doing and it’s great to not have to leave your seat.

I’ve been thinking about using peg board to make more sturdy binding models, but I’m not there yet. I worry that they might be too heavy for travel.

Here’s a shot of my workshop staging area – the hallway outside my studio (my husband tolerates a lot). I like to remove things from my studio when they’re ready to be packed in the van so I don’t forget anything.

Piles of bookbinding workshop materials

I’m looking forward to tonight’s class!

Book Arts Open Studio class at SPA

I just finished a three-session Book Arts Open Studio class at Studio Place Arts. I had six wonderful women in my class and since you can see only the tops of their heads, you know that they are working hard. And it was quiet in there too.

Students working in Book Arts Open Studio class

The class focused mostly on how to create imagery for artist books. We started the first week with paper cutting and collage.

Paper cutting

Then next week we worked on rubber stamp carving and pochoir, which translated from French means stencil.

Hand-carving rubber stamps

In the final week, we worked on image transfer and text generation. We discussed how the way you add text to a page with images can change one’s experience of a book – things as simple as typeface, color, size, and positioning can all have an effect.

Image transfer using packing tape

Stenciled letters in a book

One of the fun things about this class is that everyone creates an accordion book with pockets. When experimenting with different techniques, the students work on cards that can fit into the pockets. That way, they can refer back to the individual techniques and see how they were done.

Here are some of the books that were created in class:

Accordion book with pockets containing imagery creation cards

Accordion book with pockets containing imagery creation cards

Accordion book with pockets containing imagery creation cards

My goal is that my students will use the back of the accordion book to experiment with combining the different techniques and see how they can work together. This should lead to a greater understanding of how different creative elements can be combined in creating an artists’ book.

I hope they continue to develop the work they started!

I’m going to Haystack!

Haystack logoIn a few days I’ll be leaving for Haystack, which will mark the end of my summer of insanely awesome book arts education. Going to Haystack after having been to the Paper and Book Intensive and the Focus on Book Arts conference in the same year makes me feel unworthy.

I definitely feel like I’m living a dream.

There wasn’t really a choice in deciding whether or not to go – I’m attending a session with one of my idols, Julie ChenIt’s All in the Game: The Playful Artist’s Book.

The interactive potential inherent in both artist’s books and board games invites a range of possibilities for combining elements from each to create a new hybrid form. We will begin by doing a series of content and design exercises to help get the process started. Then each participant will create a piece that is part artist’s book and part functioning board game.

Book art techniques will be used to print and assemble the game boards, and to make the rule booklets, spinners and various game pieces that will be part of each set. Participants will create a compartmented box to house all the elements of their artists’ book/game sets.

This class is really relevant – my husband and I are really big fans of game playing. In fact, his whole family is too. We host a Diplomacy tournament at our house every year. I look forward to the possibility of collaborating on a project with my husband – he’s great with strategy.

The best part is that I don’t have to fly there. Deer Isle, ME is so close that I can get there via car in six hours. I can pack my van with as much stuff as I want!

If I can get internet access (and I’m not totally exhausted), I’ll be blogging about the class at the end of each day.

Doors, Drawers & Windows: Making Interactive Books and Boxes with Randi Parkhurst – Day 2

The second day of Randi’s class was much easier. Apparently doors are less complicated than windows. Unless you make a revolving door. Just don’t ever do that.

I came into class early and was able to finish my swiveling window. Hurray!

Mat board window frame covered in colored paper

Mat board window frame covered in colored paper

We started the day by working on a hinged door.

We made teeny little hinges out of paper and Tyvek, then slid them onto a bamboo skewer (so clever!). The hinge flaps were glued in between 2 layers of mat board.

Completed hinged door on mat board house

Completed hinged door on mat board house

The sliding door used some of the same techniques as the first, in that we created a Tyvek hinge that was sandwiched between pieces of mat board. The loop slid onto a bamboo skewer, as you can see in the bottom right of the photo below.

Pieces of mat board house

We made a cornice that hid the bamboo rail with stops to help control how far the door would move. As this is a Vermont house, there are big gaps around the door. In fact, both of my windows aren’t airtight.

Definitely a Vermont house.

Completed sliding door on mat board house

Next, we added 3 interior walls. These helped to stabilize the structure and created little nooks where would could add drawers or little books.

Interior walls of mat board house

Hey – I raised a house!

Partially completed mat board house

Partially completed mat board house

Partially completed mat board house

At this point, we were free to experiment with adding drawers and shelves. I made a cool drawer, but I put the shelf in too high. 🙁

Partially completed mat board house

I’m going to put some feet on the drawer so it looks like I did it on purpose. Don’t tell. Oh, and I’ll also add a drawer pull of some kind and a little book to live on the shelf.

You may be thinking to yourself, “Wait a second, where’s the roof?” Well, I did make a roof, but forgot to take pictures. And it’s not finished.

We ran out of time in class to complete the roof, but I have the directions. Once it’s complete, I’ll write a follow-up post so you can see the completed house.

Doors, Drawers & Windows: Making Interactive Books and Boxes with Randi Parkhurst – Day 1

The first day of Randi Parkhurst‘s workshop, Doors, Drawers & Windows: Making Interactive Books and Boxes really made my brain stretch and took me out of my comfort zone multiple times. I never worked on this type of project before and that’s why I took the class – to push my creative self.


We worked toward completing an adorable little house with doors that opened…

Handmade house by Randi Parkhurst

…windows that slid…

Handmade house by Randi Parkhurst

…doors that slid and windows that swiveled. Seeing all of these mechanisms was intimidating at first.

Handmade house by Randi Parkhurst

Thankfully, our very first task was easy. Take brown paper, crumple it up, open it up and then and paint it with watercolors. That I could do.

Watercolor painted papers

Once that was done, we started to work on our house parts. Randi uses mat board for her structures. A great tip she gave us – if you get mat board with fabric on it, it’s really just bookcloth. Peel it off and you can use it for another project. GENIUS.

Bookcloth peeled off of mat board

Each window was made of layers of foam core, mat board, and clear plastic to simulate glass. We covered our pieces with the painted papers to give them interest.

Mat board window frame covered in colored paper

Mat board window frame covered in colored paper

We even trimmed out our windows, just like real windows. Which of course, they were.

Completed sliding window frame

There’s no way I could describe the steps to you – there was meticulous work done here and thankfully, Randi had cut many of the pieces in advance. If you’re interested in making one of these fabulous houses, definitely take the class. You have to see it done in person.

I’ll admit that I turned into one of those people:

“Wait. What did you say?”

“What are we doing?”

“Where am I gluing this thingie?”

It was sad.

But I soldiered on. The swivel window was a bit easier. It was composed of an outer frame and in inner frame that spun on a dowel. The mechanism was pretty cool.

Mat board window frame covered in colored paper

Unfortunately, I made my hole too big and my window flopped around instead of turning smoothly. I did my best to fill in the hole to tighten up the dowel, which improved things a bit.

I didn’t get to finish my swivel window today, so I’ll have to go in early tomorrow and complete it.

Randi’s quote of the day:

“Triangles suck.”

Focus on Book Arts Conference 2013

Focus on Book Arts logoIn a week I’ll be leaving for the biennial Focus on Book Arts conference, held at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. This will be my fourth time attending the conference. This conference gets amazing instructors and this year’s batch is no exception – Jeff Peachey, Carol Barton, Sam Ellenport, and Emily Marks. Not surprisingly, the majority of workshops are already full. The keynote lecture is by Phillip PiragesLooking Sensational in Leather: A Superficial but Diverting Look at the Beautiful, Curious, and Amazing History of Bookbinding, with Illustrative Examples.

The first owners of early decorative codex bindings were churches and monasteries, followed by the wealthy elite. While bindings have always been utilitarian, providing protection for written content, adorned books from the medieval period onwards have also been considered as pleasing and often precious physical objects, sometimes even viewed as symbols of status.

Phillip will be presenting a consideration of the general evolution of bookbinding styles in the West, featuring examples of historically interesting and esthetically pleasing bindings from the 15th century until today. In addition, there’s a lecture on Wednesday night too – Critique, Collaboration and Commerce for the Book Artist with gallery owners and studio artists Alicia Bailey and Laura Russell. They’ll be talking about the value and methods of criticism and an introduction to the business of being an artist.

Ever wonder if your work as a book artist is ready to exhibit? Is it good enough to sell? And if so, just how do you go about it? Constructive criticism is an important and often extraordinary growth experience for any artist. Once an artist feels confident in their constructs, it may be time to focus on reaching a wider audience and/or selling work.

I’m psyched about this double bill – there’s a lot to learn! On top of that, I’m attending the following workshops: Calligraphic Paste Papers and Tackett Bound Album with Jacqueline Sullivan:

This class will help you learn the proper techniques for making paste papers with a beautiful, smooth velvety finish that is perfect for calligraphic markings and creating a personal album. Students will create paste papers with an emphasis on beautiful calligraphic mark making and use of bright colors. Papers will be made with a methyl cellulose based paste that is easy to use and recreate in your home studio. We will work large in order to have plenty of paper for the album. Then the papers we have designed will be used to create a Tackett Bound Album. Paper assemblage, gluing, and book binding will be covered. There will be a variety of tools on hand for making various patterns and marks in the paste and handouts will be provided. Extra papers made during the workshop will be wonderful for your in-studio projects such as binding books, collages, making boxes, and backgrounds.

I’ve envied those folks who take workshops and walk away with piles of beautiful papers to play with when they get home. I decided to take the plunge and be one of them. Paste papers will be mine! Reverse Engineering Historical and Modern Binding Structures Part Two with Karen Hanmer:

This workshop begins with a brief review of numerous historical and modern binding structures, with a focus on methods of board attachment. Similarities between historical and modern structures will be stressed. Students will create five binding models. These models will remain unfinished so the sewing and board attachment are visible for future reference. Models include Ethiopian, Medieval, Colonial American, Simplified and Non-adhesive Paper Case. This is a fast-paced workshop for students who already have some experience with traditional binding.

I took a workshop with Karen at the last FOBA (Day 1 & Day 2) and really enjoyed it. This workshop is the sequel (as if the part two in the title didn’t make that clear – duh). Doors, Drawers & Windows: Making Interactive Books and Boxes with Randi Parkhurst:

This fun and unique workshop will focus on the mechanics of doors, drawers and windows as an integral part of the interactive book or box structure. Working from excellent models and clear instructions we will explore several techniques for making hinged doors, drawers that slide easily, and windows made from unusual materials. These elements can hide and house words, objects, drawings and more. We will also explore the possibilities when using materials like watercolor paper, linen thread, and other common materials to fashion drawer handles, door pulls, beads, and button closures. Each student will construct and complete several working models that can be used as references for future projects. Students may wish to bring a project or ideas that are in need of a door, drawer, or window.

This workshop really appeals to the more creative side of my bookbinding brain. Randi’s work is insane (in a good way). If you haven’t seen the video of her book Patience, you have to watch it now. It’s insane. If I can get internet access (and I’m not totally exhausted), I’ll be blogging about the conference after each day’s events, just as I did the last time I attended.

Leather Journals class at SPA

Handmade leather journalsI just finished a two-session leather journals class at Studio Place Arts. This was a new class for me and the first time I taught it to actual live human peoples.

It seemed to go well, although we ran out of time for the last binding. Argh. I have promised my students that they can contact me if they’d like to learn the last binding and I’ll make time for them to come by the studio.

I feel so guilty!

I’ve been really lucky – I get the sweetest people in my classes. And they like to work hard. Although you can’t tell that from the picture below. I think I was blabbering about my handouts at this point in the class.

Leather journals class students

Leather journals class students

I came up with a new idea for teaching the bindings.

It’s too hard for people to see what you’re doing when the books are small. I created stitching guides on card stock – they included all of the signatures and sewing stations. I would sew the binding using this larger scale and someone told me that it was the best way to teach this type of class. That made me happy.

Bookbinding stitching sample cards

Unfortunately, the posters wouldn’t stay put on the easel, so I ended up clipping them to my overalls and I did the stitching on myself. I look kinda silly, eh?

Elissa Campbell wearing bookbinding stitching sample cards

In the future, I’ll be recreating these large stitching guides using peg board so they’re sturdier and easier to use.

Worktable Wednesday

I’m teaching a leather journal workshop in February and have almost completed my sample books. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to make up my mind about what types of closures to use.

I spent time today doing research on closure options and created a Pinterest board (Bookbinding Closures) of what I found.

You can get a look at what I found below (click on a thumbnail to view a larger image).

Any preferences?


[prw username=”blueroofdesigns” boardname=”bookbinding-closures” maxfeeds=”16″ divname=”myList” printtext=”0″ target=”newwindow” useenclosures=”no” thumbwidth=”130″ thumbheight=”130″ showfollow=”large”]


Worktable Wednesday

Today I prepped for the second session of my Travel Companion Journal class at Studio Place Arts. Last week my students worked on the covers and today they’ll be learning the double needle Coptic stitch.

Here’s the demo book I’ve been creating in class – I love the brightly colored threads against the dark cover paper.

Travel journal and two spools of waxed linen thread

I worked through the steps of prepping signatures and sewing so that I had my timing right.

Journal ready for binding

I’m looking forward to seeing the completed books!

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