Category : Education

Strappy Journal workshop at Beth Jacob Synagogue

I have been in a total workshop-o-rama lately – it has been chaotic, but I’m loving it!

This past weekend, I taught my Strappy Journal workshop at Beth Jacob Synagogue in Montpelier, VT.

Strappy Journal workshop at Beth Jacob Synagogue - February 2012

I got to work with a lovely group of 10 women. We were a cozy bunch!

The Synagogue is taking part in a community-wide book read which includes People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. I have meant to read this book for a while now. It’s about a woman tasked to work on conserving a Sarajevo Haggadah. Embarrassingly, I usually only read books about bookbinding (the non-fiction kind).

Student sewing a text block over leather straps

I really enjoy watching people sew. This particular binding, once you get the hang of it, offers a meditative sewing experience. Folks in the workshop seemed to pick up on it pretty quickly.

Strappy Journal workshop at Beth Jacob Synagogue - February 2012

I love that the Synagogue chose a craft workshop that related to their book club reading. There’s so much potential in teaching workshops in nontraditional settings. I hope I have the opportunity to do more of it!

Mixed Media Cards Marathon workshop at Studio Place Arts

I recently taught a Mixed Media Cards Marathon at Studio Place Arts – perfect timing for Valentine’s Day!

Mixed Media Cards Marathon workshop at Studio Place Arts - February 2012

I taught a number of techniques in the workshop, including image transfer, rubber stamp carving, and pop-ups. Although the focus of the workshop was card-making, all the techniques taught in the class are applicable to book arts.

Mixed Media Cards Marathon workshop at Studio Place Arts - February 2012

If you couldn’t make it to this workshop, but were interested in doing so, please let me know. I can make a better case for scheduling the workshop in the future if I know that people are interested in it.

Plus I just like punching out big fat hearts.

Mixed Media Cards class at Studio Place Arts

A couple of weeks ago, I taught my Mixed Media Cards class at Studio Place Arts for the first time.

I have to admit, the first session was a bit rocky. It was just one of those days. Thankfully, the second session went much better.

When I teach, I’m a bit of a “more is more” person.

I had a wonderful group of women in the class. They fearlessly dove into everything, which is just how I like it.

Students in Mixed Media Cards workshop at Studio Place Arts

They seemed to enjoy the rubber carving technique the best. I gave everyone Speedball Speedy-Cut carving blocks to create images using linoleum cutters.

Student working on a handmade card

They also did some image transfer using Chartpak blender pens. The markers have xylene in them, which makes them über-stinky. I gave everyone sheets of clip art that had been printed on my laser printer – the print outs work great with the blender pens.

Although the focus of the workshop was card-making, all the techniques taught in the class are applicable to book arts.

I’m working on planning workshops for 2012. If you’d like to get updates about upcoming classes and other events via Email, you can sign up for my newsletter. You can also check out the Events page on my website.

Scratching the Surface: Disguising and Embellishing Wood with Daniel Essig

This blog post is the first in a series of four posts detailing the presentations I attended at the Guild of Book Workers 2011 Seminar on Standards of Excellence in Hand Bookbinding.

It isn’t my intention to describe these presentations blow-by-blow (although I’ll probably do it anyway). Instead, I hope to give you the flavor of each presentation, along with highlighting interesting tips and/or techniques.

I was late to the first seminar because I experienced some travel confusion (stupid Boston traffic…grumble, grumble). Thankfully, I had a wonderful travel companion to help keep my spirits up – thanks Jill!

First up – Daniel Essig‘s Scratching the Surface: Disguising and Embellishing Wood. Since I arrived late, I ended up in the back row. Here’s the view:

Daniel Essig presentation from the back of the room

It’s just like you were there…isn’t it?

Dan said that when he researches wood finishes, he looks to African sculpture for inspiration. Among his techniques for distressing wood: burning, scoring, scraping, scratching, hammering, gouging, and carving. He likes to create no more than five marks with any one tool.

Dan Essig's tools

Quartersawn boards are more stable and are therefore, preferable for book covers. In a nutshell, they warp less. One of the funniest things Dan said was how if you carve wood with your hands in front of your chisel, then you are working in the “ER Position”. (I’m probably the last to hear that one.)

When burning wood, you’ll get a more dramatic effect if you use wood with an open grain. You should always burn wood on both sides to help avoid warping (the technique dries out the wood).

Wood demo pieces

 Among his other tips:

  • Use oil-free steel wool.
  • “You can’t steel wool too much.”
  • Use a Dremel to outline the wood grain.
  • Cloth-backed sandpaper holds up better.
  • Carve with the grain of the wood to prevent splintering.

Daniel Essig presentation on a video monitor

Among Dan’s finishing products – milk paint, paste wax, and Kiwi shoe polish.

You can buy milk paint in powder form and mix it yourself. If you keep the paint powder in an airtight container, it will last longer. Extra-Bond can be used as a base for creating your own milk paint colors.

Wood demo pieces

When applying paste wax, use a soft cloth. To polish, use a rough paper towel.

Wood demo pieces

Dan spent some time talking about his use of Cave Paper, which everyone at the conference seemed to love (it was pretty fabulous). He applies the paper to wood and after painting the surface, it looks just like leather.

He crumples up the paper, opens it up, then crumples it up again. Repeating this process breaks up the gelatin sizing and creates random cracks in the paper’s surface.

He advised that using a weatherproof glue is preferable when applying the paper – he likes Titebond II because it has a good initial tack. When attaching the paper, get rid of the air bubbles, but keep the ridges.

The best part of the presentation was when Dan talked about the centipede binding (a.k.a. caterpillar binding). I have had mixed success with this binding and have been desperate to conquer it. He recommended that when plotting out the centipede’s path, keep it in a straight line. I think that this is what has been my downfall, getting too creative and curvy with my centipedes.

Dear Dan, that tip alone was worth the price of admission. 🙂

He said that the centipede binding was developed by Keith Smith in 1988. I’ve also heard references to Betsy Palmer Eldridge with regards to this binding. In order to avoid taking sides, I’m going to claim simultaneous development.

I’m still flabbergasted by the fact that I actually touched his work. My hands were on his books. See the books in these pictures? I touched them.

Handmade books by Dan Essig

Handmade book by Dan Essig

LOVED Dan’s presentation.

I’ve always wanted to take one of his classes and was thisclose to reaching my goal this past summer. Unfortunately, the class was canceled. Poo.

Mark my words, one day it will happen. Oh yes, it will happen.

Upcoming classes at Studio Place Arts

I have two classes coming up in the next two months, both at Studio Place Arts (a.k.a. SPA) in Barre, Vermont. To register for a class, call the SPA office at (802) 479-7069.

Here’s the scoop:

Know When to Fold ‘Em (a three-day workshop)

Dates: May 19, 23, & 26
Time: 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Cost: SPA Members $80/Non-Members $90, $10 materials fee

Description: The accordion book is a deceptively simple book structure. While the basic folded form is easy and quick to produce, it can be adapted into more complex and creative books. In this workshop, participants will create several books based on the accordion structure – the basic accordion, panel book, the flexagon, and the flag book. In addition, the structures will incorporate artist trading cards that will be created during the workshop.

Participants are encouraged to bring materials/tools for both decorating the book covers and creating the artist trading cards. Additional materials will be available for use during the class.

In this two-day workshop, each participant will leave class with four completed books and a basic knowledge of bookbinding technique. You will receive a detailed handout and resource list for all materials we use. No previous experience required – this is a great class for a beginner.

____________________

Know When to Fold MORE of ‘Em

Date: June 13, 2011
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Cost: SPA Members $65/Non-Members $75, $10 materials fee

Description: In this “sequel” to the Know When to Fold ‘Em workshop, participants will create several books based on the accordion structure – the nested accordion, the star book, and the tunnel book. Participants are encouraged to bring materials/tools for both decorating the book covers and pages. Additional materials will be available for use during the class.

In this intensive, one-day workshop, each participant will leave class with three completed books and a basic knowledge of bookbinding technique. You will receive a detailed handout and resource list for all materials we use. No previous experience required (and you don’t need to take the first class in the series) – this is a great class for a beginner.

Recycled Accordion Book class at Studio Place Arts

Last Wednesday I taught my Recycled Accordion Book class at Studio Place Arts.

Recycled Accordion Book class at Studio Place Arts

I had a lovely group of three women in the class. The most time-intensive part of the process is weaving strips of envelope security patterns for the covers. It’s not hard to do, but choosing which patterns to use sure is!

If you’d like to see security patterns up close, check out Joseph King’s Flickr set – it’s amazing! I just know that you’re going to start going through your recycling now…

Weaving strips of envelope security pattern papers

Pages get bound into the valley folds of the accordion book.

Binding pages into the accordion book

The structure has pockets built in to the body of the accordion, so students make mini books to put inside of them.

Here’s one of the completed books:

Completed recycled accordion book

I’ve taught this class three times and every time I’ve suggested that someone use their woven security patterns on a diagonal – I finally got a taker! I think that the cover looks more quilted when you orient the paper that way.

Book cover made from recycled envelope security pattern papers

I have one more class scheduled this spring at SPA: Design Invitations and Announcements. If you’re interested in the class, you can register by contacting SPA at (802) 479-7069 or by Email.

If you’d like to get updates about upcoming classes and other events via Email, you can sign up for my newsletter. You can also check out the Events page on my website.

Worktable Wednesday

Today was all about workshop prep – this evening I had taught my Recycled Accordion Book workshop at Studio Place Arts.

This has become my favorite workshop and I think it’s because of the crazy materials I get to dig up. The workshop is also the most time intensive to prepare for – there is a lot of cutting.

It starts with my tub o’ recycling – it’s got all the goods. I dig through everything until I get an idea of what materials we’ll be using (they vary each time). I have lots of cool papers that I got at the ReStore – green ledger paper, penmanship paper with dotted lines, green and white dot matrix printer paper, and old science activity cards.

Then the cutting starts.

I’ll admit it – I’m a bad Kutrimmer mommy. It’s on the floor of my studio. I feel like I can get better leverage that way. I have scrawny arms – what else can I do?

Once my floor has been sufficiently trashed, I start putting the workshop kits together. The repetitive cutting of .75″ wide strips of paper can get a bit tedious – it helps to mix it up with other tasks.

I really do love making kits – it’s like giving out loot bags at a birthday party.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m pretty methodical about my workshop prep. I’m always happy to let checklists be the boss of me. I also create a folder with any important papers, such as project directions, time schedule, and mailing list sign up sheets.

Because the workshop was neither on nor in the vicinity of my worktable, I am forced to save that post for another day. Stay tuned!

Handmade Photo Album class at Studio Place Arts

This past Wednesday I taught my Handmade Photo Album class at Studio Place Arts (SPA). I had four students and they were hard workers!

Handmade Photo Album class at Studio Place Arts

I like working with small groups because I’m more able to interact with people one-on-one. Less people also means that students get to spread out as much as they want. Space is good.

Handmade Photo Album class at Studio Place Arts

The cover papers were made by Richard Langdell of Armstrong Handmade Papers. He used to work under the business name of Langdell Paper, but he sold the business to two women who now operate the business under another name – Maple Street Paper.

Got that? Me neither.

You can purchase Richard’s papers on Etsy. I’ve been using them for years and they are really beautiful.

I have two more classes scheduled this spring at SPA: The Recycled Accordion Book and for something a little different, Design Invitations and Announcements. If you’re interested in either (or both) of these classes, you can register by contacting SPA at (802) 479-7069 or by Email.

If you’d like to get updates about upcoming classes and other events via Email, you can sign up for my newsletter. You can also check out the Events page on my website.

Workshop at Springfield H.S. Arts Academy

Last year I taught bookbinding to 136 students at the Springfield High School Arts Academy in Springfield, Vermont. This year I taught 140.

 

Springfield High School Arts Academy students hard at work

No, not all at once. That’s just silly.

As I mentioned in last year’s post, the Springfield Arts Academy is based on the premise that integrating the arts into all subjects helps to reinforce concepts that students are learning. For three days, I taught eight periods in a variety of classes – Science, English, Civics, Math, and Social Studies.

All of the classes were working on a central theme for their books – water. It was interesting to hear teachers talk about the ways the students could approach the project – examining the symmetry of a snowflake or analyzing the mythology of Poseidon.

I had some students in more than one class, so thankfully I had three book structures planned: the panel book (I taught this structure last year),

Handmade book workshop at Springfield High School Arts Academy

Panel book by Springfield High School Arts Academy student

the flag book,

and the star book (I made my first one a few days before teaching it – blush). Thankfully, the star book is pretty straightforward and easy to teach.

Springfield High School Arts Academy students hard at work

Once again (thank goodness!) I had an assistant for all three days, Catherine. Not only did she guide me through the maze of hallways and bizarre-o system of elevators, but she patiently answered my repetitive question, “When does this period end?” Seriously, she’s a saint.

Handmade books by Springfield High School Arts Academy students

I find it fascinating how people engage in the creative process. In general, it seems that teenagers are more comfortable with just diving into a project. While adults seem to be more concerned about doing it “right”, teenagers just want to do it. I wish I had more of that fearlessness in my daily life.

I love the reaction I get when I tell people that a bonefolder is, in fact, made of real bone – that’s why I always make a point of talking about it when I teach. On the second day of classes, a student came up to me and asked me for a cow stick. It took me a few seconds to realize that he was actually asking me for a bonefolder.

A delayed reaction, but still a good one. 🙂

Orchard Valley Waldorf School – Week 5

Bookbinding class at Orchard Valley Waldorf School - Vermont

Since craft show season hit, I’ve unfortunately had to put some blog posts on the back burner.

I can now finally write about my last week at the Orchard Valley Waldorf School. Well, it wasn’t really the last week because they invited me back for two more classes (that will be another blog post).

In the fifth week, my students continued working on content for their five accordion-based structures.

On the last day, I planned for everyone to share their books at the end of class. That went out the window quickly.

I gave them a time by which they had to wrap up their work. They groaned. I gave them five more minutes. They groaned. Five more…you get the idea.

I couldn’t bring myself to stop them – they were enjoying themselves so much. The art therapist in me was having a hard time with bailing on the group process, but the artist in me said to let go. They’re just too darn cute.

I did get them to pose for a group picture at the last minute:

Bookbinding class at Orchard Valley Waldorf School - Vermont

I was glad to hear from their teacher that they had really enjoyed the classes – I know I did. One of the students told me that she’ll be sending me images of her finished work, so I’ll post them when I get them.

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