Sunday, July 31, 2011

Studio Sunday/Circles for the Seasons

Most of the time the big table is a workspace but occasionally it is where I place things that are leaving the studio. The two Circles for the Seasons, printed on metal, are going off to the Photography Interest Group exhibit at the Newburyport Art Association. They can hang on the wall but do not conform to the NAA's system so they'll be displayed on pedestals instead. I like them both ways. The one on the left started from a photograph of a pussy willow; the one on the right, a lilac.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer/Winter Opposite Book

There are summer days when I wake up and walk outside and glory in the beauty of the season. And then there are days like the ones last week when I throw myself into a snowbank if one materialized. And so was born the idea for a book about winter and summer that celebrates each season. Summer can be read on the glory days of summer and the bitter days of winter and vice versa.

This book is based on the form called dos à dos meaning back to back in French. I used copy paper with writing on one side and had the writing on the inside when I made the first hot dog fold. Two hot dog booklets are glued into a cover that has been folded like a Z. If you've been following the blog, you may already know how to make a hot dog booklet. If not, there are written directions in English and Spanish and a video tutorial.

For the cover, you'll need the front or back panel of a cereal box. The length should be at least 3 times the width of the books.


1. Place the cereal box panel so that it is wider than tall. Leaving a small border at the side edge and the bottom, place a booklet at one edge of the panel. If you are doing it with a group, choose right or left so that everyone is doing the same thing.

2. Fold the panel over the booklet and flatten.

3. Turn the cover over so that the booklet is underneath.

4. Flip the panel back so that the fold likes up with the edge of the previously folded section.

5. Trim off any excess cover.

6. Hold the booklet in place, open the folds and trim off the top leaving a small border between the booklet and the cover.

In my Summer Winter Book, I decorated the cover with collage papers before attaching the booklets.

1. Open the top page of the booklet and insert a piece of scrap paper. Cover the surface with a thin coat of glue. Remove the scrap paper and fold it in half.

2. Place the booklet in the cover so that the spine (the side with the single fold) is along the fold of the cover.

3. Open the booklet and smooth to help the glue adhere.

4. Turn the book over and repeat on the other side.

This book has a lot of curriculum applications—contrasting points of view such as the Union and the Confederacy in the Civil War or characters in a book and any debate topic.

View my book on flickr.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Studio Sunday/Blocks of Wood

One section of the studio is storage for workshop materials. I use blocks of wood when I do Japanese bindings—one block goes under the book to protect the table and the other is used as a hammer. It works well and I think it is a little safer than a hammer. It doesn't hurt quite as much if you miss and hit your finger.

In a workshop, the sets of blocks are shared by two or three kids. Each one gets a sewing kit.

* 1 size 16 tapestry needle (These have a very large eye. They're bigger than one would usually use for bookbinding but they're easier to thread. I purchase them at JoAnn Fabrics in packs of 5.)

* 1 small pencil (for marking the holes)

* 1 nail (to make holes for Japanese bindings)

* 1 push pin (to make holes for pamphlet binding)

* 1 small piece of cardboard about 2"x 3" (to protect the table when making holes for a pamphlet binding)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Celebrate Maudslay/Outdoor Sculpture 2011

I'm so excited about my piece for this year's Outdoor Sculpture at Maudslay. I will be doing a collaborative, community piece and I hope that you will be part of that community.

The spreading branches of a maple tree along Hedge Drive will be decked with handmade books made by those who love the park and find enjoyment and inspiration there.

How to participate:
Come to Maudslay on Saturday, September 10 from 10 AM to 2 PM. Make a small handmade book and share your memories, thoughts, and feelings about the park. I'll help you make the book (it’s super simple) and there will be waterproof markers for writing and drawing.

Saturday, September 10
from 10 AM to 2 PM

From the parking lot, walk past the Park Headquarters. Enter through the stone gate to Hedge Drive. We’ll be a little ways in on the right.

Rain or Shine

pdf flyer

My book is ready and waiting for the September 10 installation.

Check out the event on facebook and RSVP

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Arts Tuesday/Asian Books

Since the beginning of my interest in bookmaking, I have been drawn to the books of Asia. I love the range of materials from paper to palm leaves and the simplicity of the structures. I have a small collection grown from occasional shop purchases and the kindness of traveling friends who have sought out books for me. Although my teaching is very much about books as vehicles for content, I also have a deep love of books as objects. These images are a tribute to that love.

The top image was made from a book that Marie Oedel purchased in Bhutan.

The second from a palm leaf book I purchased in Great Barrington, MA at Barong Imports.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Studio Sunday/Accordion School

Maybe the reason that the accordion is my favorite book form is the family history of accordion playing. Here is a photo of John Roman's Accordion School Class of 1938 in Linden, NJ. My father is in the back row, the eighth in from the left. Here is something I wrote to accompany a photograph at a memorial display I exhibited at the Newburyport Public Library in 2000.

My father wanted desperately to play the accordion, and to play it well. He worked hard, delivering newspapers first and then working for a peddler, to earn the money to take lessons and buy an instrument. Every week he took the bus to Linden with his accordion for a lesson at John Roman’s Accordion School. He got the first part of his dream, but the second eluded him, and eventually he stopped taking lessons. I still have his accordion with Alfred in sparkling letters. In later years, he would sometimes play for his own pleasure.

I was required to follow the tradition but it didn't go as smoothly. My ability to memorize encouraged my teacher (also in Linden and one of my father's classmates) which led to the requirement of more and more practice. When the expectation grew to an hour and a half a day and my mother got fed up with fighting with me to sit down with the accordion, lessons ended, although not without tears.

I take out my accordion very rarely now (maybe once every ten years) and spend my time with the book version of the instrument.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Book Arts Tuesday/Women Binders in the Late 19th, Early 20th Centuries

A recent conversation on the Book Arts List led to an exploration of some women binders in the late 18th and early 20th Century. A request from Karen Hanmer for information about book arts in Halifax led to Barbara Kretzmann's post about the Prat sisters of Nova Scotia who ran the Primrose Bindery in NYC. Susan Mills connected us to the virtual archives of Nova Scotia which has a section on the Prat sisters. Here is part of the introduction:

Annie, Minnie and May Prat, adventurous sisters from Wolfville, Nova Scotia, embarked on unusual artistic careers in the United States in the late 1890s. In 1896, Annie, 35, enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1897, Minnie, 29, moved to New York City to learn bookbinding with Evelyn Nordhoff, who had herself apprenticed in England with noted Arts and Crafts bookbinder, T.J. Cobden-Sanderson. May Rosina, 26, joined Minnie shortly afterward to study decorative leatherwork and bookbinding with Nordhoff.

The sisters had a fascinating circle of friends, centered around the Prat family home in Wolfville. Chief among them were poets Charles G.D. Roberts and his cousin, Bliss Carman, and Charles G.D.'s younger brother, Goodridge, who was engaged to Minnie. In 1892 tragedy struck the Prat family circle. On February 4, a month before Minnie's 24th birthday, Goodridge, 22, died of influenza at the Prat family home. Her father, Samuel, died of the same illness nine days later.

Five years later, Minnie found the courage to go to New York to apprentice with Nordhoff, in a field in which women were still pioneers. Bliss Carman, then living in New York, had arranged for the apprenticeship. Evelyn Nordhoff died unexpectedly in November 1898, at the age of 33, after a short illness. Minnie, May Rosina, and other former students kept her bindery going after her death.

In addition to an illustrated essay, there are images of their artwork, bindings, letters, and this wonderful photograph of May Rosina Prat and Dorothy Cornell operating the book press at Dorothy's book bindery at 'Forest Park' in Ithaca, New York.

I was so fascinated by the three sisters that I did a little more research on women binders in that era and came across a New York Times article Hand Bookbinding Among Women by Minnie J. Reynolds which was published on March 9, 1902. She concludes by saying:

Hand binding is …a part of that wide, recent movement against the machine which demands opportunity for artistic expression in the crafts as well as the high arts.

From the Princeton University Library, Unseen Hands: Women Printers, Binders, and Book Designers.

From Oak Knoll Press—the book Women Bookbinders, 1880-1920 by Marianne Tidcombe about women binders in Britain.

And then there is this fascinating study of unions among women binders published in 1913 by the Russell Sage Foundation.
The bookbinding trade was chosen first for
study because it is one of the most important
trades for women in New York City, and also in
many respects a typical one. As Miss Van Kleeck
explains, it affords employment to every grade
of woman worker from the skilled craftsman who
does artistic binding by hand to the machine
operator, the hand folder, the wrapper, and the
errand girl. The competition in it between out-
going hand processes and incoming machine proc-
esses is incessant. In some branches work is
regular; in others it is highly irregular, overtime
and free days occurring in the same week. Finally,
there is a union in the trade to which some of the
women employes belong; while most of the women
are unorganized and little impressed by the ad-
vantages of organization. Bookbinding in New
York City thus presents in miniature most of the
important problems which confront women wage-

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Studio Sunday/Chinese Scroll

I'm leaving later this afternoon for New York City so thought I'd take a picture of the scroll I bought at a street stand in Chinatown on a previous trip. It's under the skylight and over the sink at the workshop end of the studio. If anyone can offer a translation, it would be much appreciated.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Virgin Gorda Accordion Book

When I purchased this box of ginger tea in Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands in March, I knew it would be a box for an accordion book. On this July day with temperatures similar to our days on the island, I made this accordion book for a gift. What a joy to experience our trip—the Baths, the Crawl, Savannah Bay, and especially our little vacation home at Guavaberry Spring Bay— again!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Book Arts Tuesday/Amanda Watson-Will

As I have mentioned before, the Book Arts List is a terrific resource that has led me to all kinds of book related discoveries on the web. The most recent is the blog of Australian artist Amanda Watson-Will. She made a post on the list about her recent blog posts about her trip to Paris and book arts there. In addition to describing the places she went, she shared some of the books she added to her collection. It is fascinating reading and viewing. Her blog is titled Sharing Studio Secrets and the thoroughness with which she presents her observations and experiences is impressive. Her post on A Safe, Cheap Set-up for Encaustic/Wax is a good example.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Studio Sunday/Standing Desk

My terrible posture while working on the computer (combined with not enough stretching and exercise) is causing me all sorts of physical problems. One of the recurring ones is shoulder pain. I have knowledge that should help me—Alexander Technique and Qi Gong classes—but once I become engaged with a writing, art or design project, it all goes out the window. My latest attempt is a standing desk which I am optimistic about. Today is Day One and so far it is more comfortable than I expected. I am certainly less stationary and moving more.