Category : Letterpress

Penland 2017 spring session

Trees with Penland School of Crafts text

If you’re itching to do some learning next year, check out Penland – they’ve got an amazing lineup of book arts workshops and instructors for their 2017 spring session. Look and drool:

During Session 2 (April 9 – 15), Erin Keane is teaching Encaustic Books: Wax, Paper, Thread:

Wax nostalgic, wax poetic, wax philosophical, and wax creative. We’ll explore the use of encaustic painting in the creation of books and journals. Thin wood panels will be transformed into richly-layered and textured book covers. Papers infused with beeswax, imagery, and words will become journal pages, and these pages will be bound into tactile, tantalizing books. Daily demonstrations in encaustic, journaling, and bookbinding (Coptic/longstitch) will guide experimentation. Your books can be thematic, conceptual, or simply full of creative meanderings.

Dang, encaustic is cool – the depth you can create on a 2-dimensional surface is insane. This workshop would be a creative departure for me.

During Session 3 (April 23 – 29), Bhavna Mehta is teaching Cut, Fold, Sculpt:

The flatness of paper will serve as an inviting platform for the transformation of ideas. Students will explore cutting, folding, sewing, and manipulating paper. We will begin with simple exercises that will start to expand the medium of paper into objects and stories. Paying attention to color, shape, pattern, and texture, students will learn to take an idea, drawing, or story and translate it into paper using various cutting techniques, with an emphasis on the personal and the collaborative. We’ll discuss contemporary works and paper as a hot design medium.

I am totally in love with papercutting and this workshop would be a dream. Just look at Bhavna’s work – holy crap.

For the Spring Concentration (March 12 – May 5), Anne Covell is teaching Image as Narrative: Letterpress & the Artist’s Book:

This workshop will examine the material connection between image and narrative. Through experimenting with alternative print techniques on the Vandercook, we’ll investigate how mood and tone can be expressed through image and the sequencing of images. We’ll cover printing from found objects, collographs, carved surfaces, pressure print templates, and plates made from handmade negatives, just to name a few. Our experiments will be editioned and traded. Then we’ll move from two dimensions to three as we explore the interplay between image and structure through the creation of handprinted artists’ books. Binding options will include traditional book structures as well as movable and sculptural books.

Anne’s got skills. I wouldn’t mind hanging with her for eight weeks. Check out her beautiful artist book, Raking Light – it makes me nostalgic for Japan.

Registration is open now. Applications are processed on a first-come/first-served basis.

Penland 2016 fall session

Trees with Penland School of Crafts text

I visited the Penland School of Crafts for a CERF board meeting, back when I worked there a million years ago. The place is gorgeous. The fact that I was there and it wasn’t for a workshop haunts me to this day.

I’ve got Penland on my Book Arts Bucket List – one day I’ll get back there. This I vow.

They’ve got an amazing lineup of book arts workshops and instructors for their 2016 fall session. Check ’em out:

During Session 2 (October 23 – 29), Mary Uthuppuru is teaching Box Making for Book Artists:

Students in this workshop will create modified clamshell boxes. We’ll discuss how boxes can reflect the nature of the items stored inside while maintaining a cohesive design. Decorative techniques will include raised and recessed surfaces, stenciling, and wrapping curved board edges. While the goal is to learn how to build a specific structure, students will be encouraged to experiment and create components of the project according to their own ideas and inspirations.

I could so use a box making class – I’ve dabbled in it, but my skill set needs work.

During Session 3 (November 6 – 12), Bryce McCloud is teaching Analogue Social Media:

This workshop will tap into the power of printmaking as a handmade social medium. Working with relief printing’s ability to create multiple images, our mission will be to find novel ways to work together and interact with a community. Like playful scientists we’ll create socially-driven printmaking experiments, imagine ways to involve people outside of our studio, and then use the community at Penland as our testing ground. We’ll brainstorm and refine ideas that may be realized during the session or at other times and places. We’ll cover relief printmaking skills and discuss other tactics for engaging the public with your work when you head home.

Check out Bryce’s website – you can feel the spirit in his work. I’m particularly fond of the print he created for the Southern Artisan Cheese Festival. Hooray for cheese!

For the Fall Concentration (September 25 – November 18), Daniel Essig is teaching Books, Relics, Curiosities:

This workshop will use wood to explore and honor elements of the book. After learning the basics of woodshop safety and tool use, we’ll investigate the infinite possibilities of book-based sculpture. Techniques will include carving, turning, burning, sanding, altering, distressing, painting, and bookbinding. Students will be encouraged to collaborate and to explore alternative materials. They can expect to complete a series of book sculptures. We’ll have daily demonstrations as well as discussions of historic and contemporary book forms. Everyone is welcome: book artists, woodworkers, curious beginners, etc.

If I just could get to Penland this fall, I’d be able to cross both that and Dan Essig off my bucket list. Can someone stop time for me so I won’t miss work while I take this workshop?

Registration is open now. Applications are processed on a first-come/first-served basis.

Wells Book Arts Summer Institute 2016

Wells College Book Arts logo

The Wells Book Arts Center recently announced their 2016 Summer Institute

Here’s their fantastic lineup:

Week 1 – July 17-23:

Week 2 – July 24-30:

I’ve decided to forgo PBI this year, so going to Wells would be a nice alternative. Not only are the courses drool-worthy and the instructors top-notch, but I also wouldn’t have to fly to get there (only 6ish hours of driving). And if I go to Wells, I’d be able to finally cross something off my Book Arts Bucket List.

I’m very tempted to take Karen’s leather course. Not only because I desperately need to work on my leather skills, but also because Karen is a really fun instructor. Here’s the full description:

The basic structure of a fine leather binding has changed little over the past 300 years. The text block is sewn onto supports, the spine carefully shaped, and the boards laced on. The book is covered in leather that has been precision-pared for protection, flexibility, and a sumptuous presentation. Students will build a solid foundation in fundamental binding and leather-working skills including sewing, rounding, backing, paring, and covering and will also develop the connoisseurship required to evaluate their own work for continued independent study. The course is also a valuable refresher for more advanced students who would like feedback on their technique. Students will complete one leather binding with sewn endbands, and experiment with tooling and multiple onlay techniques. Additional luxury features will be discussed, along with the evolution of the craft from Medieval to contemporary methods.

I could go the letterpress route instead – it would be great for me to increase my comfort level enough to actually use my Kelsey. Besides, who can resist something called Daredevil Letterpress?

Students will focus on typesetting and printing techniques that move beyond straight lines and right angles to set type that curves, angles and bounces. We’ll begin by exploring historic methods and tools for handset typographic composition including circular and angle quads. Because these tools have become increasingly difficult to find, we’ll adapt materials from art supply and hardware stores for manipulating type and creating dynamic lock ups on both platen and cylinder presses. We will also experiment with Daredevil Furniture, sets of lasercut furniture designed for type composition. While our focus is daredevil typesetting, we’ll cover innovative approaches to ink, paper, and production too. Students will create a collaborative book and a set of editioned prints to exchange. This workshop is appropriate for those with some letterpress printing experience who want to expand their approach to typesetting and printing.

So I’ve got some thinking to do.

Registration is open now – maybe I’ll see you in New York!

Many thanks to the Wells Book Arts Summer Institute for granting permission for use of their lovely logo!

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!

Cottage Street Studios open house

The day after I visited the Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair, I headed out to the Montague Book Mill, a fantastic book store that I frequented when I was in graduate school.

My route took me through Easthampton, MA and I came across the Cottage Street Studios. It took me a while to realize the fact that I had been there before. The building houses the Garage Annex School, founded by Daniel Kelm. I attended two workshops there, one with Hedi Kyle (Stationery Departures) in 2005 and another with Julie Chen (Artists’ Books: Ideas, Actions, & Transformations) in 2008.

Cottage Street Studios in Easthampton, MA

A sign out front announced that there was an open studio event that day. I wasn’t planning on stopping until I saw Peter Geraty’s (Praxis Bindery) name on the building. I finally decided to pull over and check it out.

The building has an interesting history. It was built in 1859 and operated as a water-powered mill until the mid-seventies. In 1976, the building was sold to Riverside Industries for $1.00. Riverside offers a range of services to adults with developmental disabilities. More than 80 artists now have studios in the building, with Riverside as their landlord.

It turns out that there are quite a few bookbinders with studios in the building, including Sarah Creighton, Stephanie Gibbs, and Mark Tomlinson. None of them were open for the tour.

And sadly, Peter Geraty’s studio was not open either. I decided to explore the building anyway. The tour had awesome letterpress signage to help guide you through the building (which was massive).

Letterpress sign by Big Wheel Press

You walk through long hallways to get to the various studios. It was an adventure!

Hallway in Cottage Street Studios in Easthampton, MA

I came across Daniel’s studio, which was also closed. No bookbinders for me today. 🙁

Sign on Daniel Kelm studio door

I made my way up to the fifth floor and discovered the letterpress studio of Bill Muller – Big Wheel Press.

It.was.huge. And clean! His studio could eat my studio many times over. I have no idea how he got all of the heavy equipment up there. I’m not sure what all of those machines do, but I want them.

Big Wheel Press - letterpress shop

Big Wheel Press - letterpress shop

I bought this awesome broadside – it was in a pile of seconds. It was trimmed funky (the others didn’t look like this one). It had to be mine.

Letterpress broadside by Big Wheel Press

I’m looking forward to getting it framed and hanging in my studio!

Botanical Inklings – An awesome Kickstarter project

Sarah 1

Experienced letterpress printer and fellow book artist Sarah Mottaghinejad of Ink and Awl has launched a nifty Kickstarter project. Botanical Inklings will be a be a coloring book like no other – it’s going to be letterpress printed on watercolor paper.

This is just brilliant.

If you’re into coloring books, now you can use any media you want – watercolors, ink, über markers – oh yeah, this paper can take it.

Sarah 6

Sarah 4

Sarah’s illustrations are inspired by her love for plant life and work in macro photography. Even without having colored them in, I think that the prints are totally frameable.

Sarah 8

Sarah 2

The rewards Sarah’s offering are pretty fantastic. I went for the unbound package, which includes 16 different illustrations. You can also choose a handbound copy of the prints. And if that weren’t enough, one of the rewards offers you the opportunity to participate in the design of one of the prints – you choose a word and a few plants and Sarah will create a custom illustration for you.

So very cool.

Sarah 7

Sarah 5

You can follow Sarah’s creative process on Instagram, where she’s been posting images of her sketches (including those custom-designed for backers).

Sarah 9

Sarah 3

The Kickstarter campaign is running now through December 1st (until 2:59 a.m. EST, to be precise), so head on over and check out the project. And support it!

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!

Book Arts at Penland – Spring 2015

The Penland School of Crafts has a bookbinding/letterpress offering during its spring eight-week concentration from March 8 – May 1, 2015 – Letterpress Books: Guts to Glory with Lauren Faulkenberry of Firebrand Press.

letterpress type in chase

The workshop offers a taste of everything, as you can see in the description below:

In this workshop students will produce letterpress-printed books from start to finish. We’ll make handmade paper from natural fibers, explore book design, and learn the fundamentals of letterpress printing. Image-making processes will include multi-color linoleum prints, woodcut, collagraph, pressure printing, monoprinting, photopolymer, pulp painting, paper inclusions, and other techniques. Through layers of words and images, we’ll create compelling narratives that invite multiple readings. We’ll put it all together using traditional and experimental binding structures.

If I could only put my life on hold for eight weeks – I would be all over this workshop. Pressure printing, letterpress, and linoleum prints…droooool…

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here

I recently saw the traveling exhibit Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT. The exhibit commemorates the 2007 bombing that resulted in the loss of a vibrant cultural and literary community in Baghdad. The exhibit has been traveling the world since 2012 and includes artists’ books and broadsides by artists from 26 countries.

The exhibit at Goddard included a small selection of the total works collected for the exhibit, which numbers at approximately 260 artists’ books.

Upon entering the exhibit space, I was immediately taken by the piece My Poem Becomes Theirs by Helga Butzer Felleiseh. It consisted of long hand cut vellum panels that gracefully cascaded down the wall. Her hand work is amazing.

The next piece that caught my eye was a collaborative book created by students at the School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. Witness Al-Mutanabbi contained prints that focused on a variety of themes, including freedom of expression and violence as a method of censorship. The book showed the wide variety of responses to the bombing.

In general, I found myself attracted to the letterpress broadsides, which usually don’t draw my attention as much as artists’ books do. It’s probably due to my use of the Dartmouth letterpress studio – I have an increasing respect for the art form.

Overall, it was a powerful exhibit and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to see it in person. If you’d like to see the exhibit, check out the exhibition schedule and if you’re lucky, maybe it’s coming your way. They have dates set into 2016.

If they’re not going to be in your neck of the woods, you can view pieces from the exhibit online.

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here exhibit

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here exhibit

Book Arts Guide to Vermont Open Studio Weekend

Handmade coptic bound journal by Elissa Campbell of Blue Roof DesignsWelcome to the 2014 Book Arts Guide to Vermont Fall Open Studio Weekend

It’s time for my annual nod to the many book artists participating in Open Studio Weekend. Some of these talented folks are also members of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont, an organization I hold near and dear to my heart.

I created the Google map below, which includes all of the studios to help you plan your travels. Unfortunately, the book arts studios aren’t very close to each other. By the way, I’m studio #91.

I’ll be referring to studios by both name and number – the number refers to a listing in the purple Vermont Studio Tour Guide. The colors of the studio numbers in this post match the colored markers in the Google map below.

There are several ways to get your hands on a map:

First stop is #2 Meta Strick. Meta really is a Jackie of all trades. She does wonderful mixed media work, including dolls that have a book component. It’s quite wonderful to read the “history” of each doll. She has a great philosophy that you can make anything into a book. Meta has lots of fans, so don’t be surprised if you get to her studio and it’s mobbed. Perhaps pick up some coffee and a snack before you head on over?

Next stop is Shelburne Pond Studios, where you’ll see #17, Lyna Lou Nordstrom. She is a wonderful printmaker, focusing her work on the painterly aspects of monoprinting. Her techniques include the silkscreen process, collagraph and solar plate etching.

The last stop is #90 Kelly McMahon of May Day Studio. Kelly is a letterpress master, carving many of her designs in linoleum for her beautiful gift wraps (which are totally frame-able). She was lucky enough to intern at the San Francisco Center for the Book and packs a one-two punch, also being a bookbinder. Kelly’s studio is about 1.6 miles from mine.

If you do go to any of the studios, share your experiences here and I will live vicariously through you. If you have any pictures, I’d love to see them…you can even do a guest post on my blog!

Make that Book Arts Tour map bigger!

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