Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Comment to WIN a 2015 Desk Calendar or Weekly Planner

I have some extra weekly planners and calendars to giveaway!

Just leave a comment here before the end of January. Enter your comment before midnight on January 31st to be eligible.

For a second chance to win, you can also enter your name over at my Facebook page:

Prize details:
There are four prizes. From the entries that I receive here on my blog, I will randomly select two names. The first of those names will win a Leather 2015 Weekly Planner and the winner can pick whichever colour they like from the available stock. The second name will win a 2015 Desk Calendar featuring my marbled papers. From the entries that I receive on Facebook, I will randomly select two names. The first name will win a Leather 2015 Weekly Planner and the winner can pick whatever colour they like from the available stock. The second name will win a 2015 Desk Calendar featuring my marbled papers.

I will ship to you anywhere in the world.

If I contact a winner and get no response from him/her within five days, I will pick a new name.

Your comment must include some way for me to contact you, either by clicking on your username or by including an email for me to use. Thanks!

Edit February 1st - This contest is now closed.

I used to select the winners. I numbered all the blog comments 1 to 62, top to bottom.

The first number picked was:
#39 Petra Black
She wins the Leather Weekly Planner!

The second number selected was:
#8 Letterlady
She wins the desk calendar!

I have sent both an email, please contact me within 5 days with your mailing addresses.

Winners have also been selected and announced on my facebook page.

Congratulations :D

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

2015 Desk Calendar featuring MyMarbledPapers

This year, I have a new edition of My Marbled Papers desk calendar for 2015. It is available in my Etsy shop. Each month features a detail from one of my own original hand-marbled papers. Here's a sneak peak:

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Book Review: The Book Art of Richard Minsky

The Book Art of Richard Minsky
Richard Minsky
George Braziller, Inc

The Book Art of Richard Minsky, is an autobiographical overview of his life through a book-arts lens. He says that he decided to do this book following his exhibit at Yale in 2010 where they have a large collection of his work in the library's special collections department. Seeing a lifetime of his own work prompted him to put this book together. He explores his creative projects starting in 1957. He writes of his younger self, receiving a rotary printing press as a gift that year when he was only ten years old. That gift, and the legacy of his father's news service and his mother's activism, started him on a path of printing, activism, business savvy, and ultimately book art. He goes on to explore his responses to the major events of the times through his art, initially in the post-war era of the 1950s, then through the protests and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 1970s, then the politics of the 1980s and 1990s, until the 9-11 attacks in 2001.

Minsky was hired to rebind an edition of "A History of Egyptian Mummies" in 1973 (the year I was born). Without any consultation with the book's owner, he used strips of muslin to wrap the book, rather than doing a traditional rebinding. His client loved it and it seems that interpretive bookbinding was born in his studio, that day. The following year, he established the Center for Book Arts in New York, the first center of its kind in the USA.

In this book, Minsky shows how his interests and passions expanded over the decades to include astrophysics, art, music, economics, technology, in addition to painting and bookbinding - studying all these subjects in various capacities - excelling as he went, and using all of it in his books at one time or another. His approach to art included techniques and materials not easily associated with books: rocks and sand, barbed wire, computer monitors, explosives, chains, fire, cars, and whatever else that he felt was demanded by the subject matter.

Clearly Richard Minsky has been paving a road for us. He continues to work as a bookbinder and book artist today, pushing the envelope whenever he can. There is no question that Minsky is a master and a pioneer in the world of bookarts. That he has taken the time to show us his work, compiled in this format with his background stories to expand the plot for us, is generous and rewarding for those of us working in book arts today.

Reviewed by Rhonda Miller, Sept 2014.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

PBI 2014: Papermaking and more Papermaking

There were two impressive papermaking classes at PBI this year. I was not in either of them, but it looked like they were doing some amazing work so I wanted to show a few pictures, just to give you an idea of the extraordinary work that is done at PBI every year in the papermaking studio.

The first papermaking class was taught by Anne Marie Kennedy. She instructed the students on making paper with a variety of different fibers, including some local plant fibers. They made a wide range of papers, with some that were nearly transparent and others that were thick and opaque. They also learned methods of manipulating wet sheets allowing them to include found objects, add texture, create patterns, etc.

A few of the papers from Anne Marie's students:

The second papermaking class was taught by Kerri Cush­man. In this class they were focused on creating unique papers with the added intention of using them to create sculptural books. They learned how to use stencils and shaped-deckles, and different couching methods to create layered sheets, etc.

Here is a small sampling of paper made in this class where several techniques are evident:

And as I mentioned, the students in this class also made books. This next photo shows books made from shaped sheets, and the last photo shows some of the book-boxes that they made.

As usual, an astounding quantity of paper was made during these two classes. The results of the papermaking classes are always a surprise to me, since papermaking is really out of my comfort-zone. Impressive work from everyone involved, for sure.

Monday, July 28, 2014

PBI 2014: Line by Line, An Intro­duc­tion to Gold Fin­ish­ing

I've already written here about two of the three classes that I took at PBI this year. The third class was the most removed from my comfort zone. Although I work with leather a lot, I don't use leather for fine binding so everything related to that is still mostly unexplored territory.

This class was an introduction to gold tooling, taught by Samuel Feinstein. Over the course of four days, we practiced making lines on leather plaquettes. That's all, just lines. A few dots at the end if you had time! But it quickly became quite clear that all elements of gold tooling require extensive practice so I focused on the lines.

Tooling samples from the class.

We were working with real gold, I believe it was 22k. It comes in micro-thin sheets in little booklets and it is ridiculously delicate and difficult. In fact, the tooling was the easy part of the class. Manipulating the gold leaf was much harder for me! Removing the gold from the booklet, lying it flat and slicing it, etc was painful - and expensive if sheets of gold are constantly being ruined. Every breath, every air current would lift the gold leaf off the cushion or flap a corner of it around and leave it torn or a mess of wrinkles. Thanks to Sam for constantly fixing my gold throughout the classes!

There are several methods of tooling lines and Sam taught us one way of doing it. We began by blind tooling with a cold line pallet tool. Then we re-tooled the same line with a heated tool. Third, we added moisture and blind tooled again with a cold tool. We added moisture again and blind tooled with a heated tool. Those four steps just create the blind impression. The impression is then coated with glaire. When the glaire is dry, then finally the gold is added. The gold is picked up with the heated line pallet and then applied to the line, adding enough layers to cover the impression so there are no breaks in the line.

Working the gold into the impression with the line pallet.

The following picture shows my practice work from the first couple days of this class. If you view this image full-size, you can see that the lines are covered unevenly and there are little breaks in the gold lines.

The next image shows my second plaquette - which was supposed to be our finished project, more refined and polished. I did get better results, but don't look too closely. I am still surprised at the amount of work that was required to produce these seemingly "simple" designs.

Someday, I really would like to do some gold tooling in my own studio. But it will have to wait until I can get all the tools. Then I can practice, practice, practice...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

PBI 2014: Impress me, An Artist’s Approach to Emboss­ing Leather for Books

At Paper and Book Intensive this year, one of the classes I took was taught by Bonnie Stahlecker who showed us creative ways to emboss leather for bookbinding. Bonnie is an amazing artist who incorporates book elements into her work and you can see some of her work and learn more about her on her website at

Books that I made in Bonnie's class.

In this class, we embossed leather using an etching press. A design on a printing plate is impressed into dampened leather when they are passed through the press. We started by trying various methods of creating plates and doing test prints to see how the different techniques would look. Here are some of the test prints that I did:

A crocheted square.

A snake lino cut.

Modelling paste.

And drawing with puff-paint (unpuffed).

Other people in the class tried different techniques as well, using a variety of found objects, cardboard cutouts, string, leaves and ferns, etc. Once we had a chance to play with the various techniques, we created a printing plate for our first book. I did this lino cut, shown here, followed by the embossed leather.

Bonnie also had us try some different ways of embellishing the leather after it was printed using paints and polishes. Here is the same embossed leather after applying some dark blue shoe polish.

And the finished book.

I also made a puff-paint printing plate for another book. I'm not entirely sure what puff-paint is supposed to be used for, but we just used it to draw on fabric. Once the paint was entirely dry, it could be put through the press. It was more durable than expected, and could withstand multiple printings. This photo shows the fabric plate along with the brown printed leather, which was printed with too much pressure and damaged the leather. I printed it again with less pressure onto the red leather, with more success.

The binding technique that we used in this class, is one that Bonnie has developed and it combines different techniques. The covers are semi-stiff, there is no bookboard, just a paper lining in the covers. The primary binding of the textblock is a French link stitch. The textblock is attached to the cover with a secondary sewing using tackets. The result is a nice lightweight leather book. She also showed us a lovely little headband that is quick but also very effective. We used leather to make a false endbands and stuck them on with pva. Then with just a simple oversewing, it creates a really nice endband.

Thanks, Bonnie, for sharing all these great ideas and techniques with us!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

PBI 2014: Guest Blogger Charlie Wisseman and Printing in Relief

Charlie Wisseman is a retired pathologist who now does mixed media art with a current emphasis on book arts and papermaking. Charlie creates some rather amazing works of art, and I encourage you to visit his website and looks at some of the pictures: Charlie took a printmaking class at Paper and Book Intensive this year and agreed to share some of his thoughts about it here on my blog.

Ryan O'Malley, assistant professor at Texas A&M in Corpus Christi,Texas, taught a class in reduction relief printmaking at Paper and Book Intensive in May 2014 at Ox-Bow. As a first-time printmaker with no graphic training or drawing skill, I was a little worried going into this class, especially after seeing the amazing work that Ryan brought to show. His aesthetic is darker and more graphic-novel-like than my usual taste, but the work is dense and graphically powerful enough to pull any viewer in. I chose a graphic from a book to use as my image, and did fine.

Charlie's reduction print made in this class

Ryan taught us the basics of reduction printmaking using carved MDF panels with red and black colors on white base paper. This process is simple and cheap enough for me to play with at home, using an old etching press that a friend passed on to me. I do not aspire to have the astonishing speed and control of carving that Ryan demonstrates, but this is definitely a beginner-friendly process. Ryan was available until late every evening to help, and always willing to assist with corrective carving. By the end I was becoming almost too aggressive with the carving tools. Easy to remove material, but difficult to correct mistakes!

A few of Ryan's printing blocks.

A display of the prints made by the students in this class.

Ryan showed us a simple registration system using Ternes Burton registration pins taped to a jig, affectionately known as "Frenchy". Experience with students has taught Ryan to add some protections to prevent accidentally running Frenchy through the press. As a bonus, Ryan showed me how to print my brain image onto a tee shirt. The print I brought home looks great. My only regret is that the reduction process of carving the block between colors means that there is no going back to do any more complete prints. Only the portion of the image for the final color remains, but the block itself is worth framing.

- Charles Wisseman

Sunday, July 06, 2014

PBI 2014: Three Case Styles for Three Book­bind­ings

Over the past few years, I have been in the habit of posting here on my blog about the various classes offered at Paper and Book Intensive. Each participant at PBI takes three classes (out of 10). So I can report first-hand on the three classes that I took. I have asked a few other participants to be guest bloggers for me, so that they can share details about some of the classes that I didn't take. Since we are already into July, I really should get started with these reports. So, dear readers, you have all of this to look forward to over the summer!

One of the classes that I took was "Three Case Styles for Three Book­bind­ings" taught by Priscilla Spitler.

Three Bookbindings is a text, written by Gary Frost. It was originally written twenty years ago and at that time it was handbound in an edition at PBI, also in a class taught by Priscilla. So, twenty years later, the text was revised and a new edition was produced. In four days, we learned Priscilla's tips, tricks, and techniques for edition binding. We all made three books for ourselves, using three different case binding techniques: full cloth, quarter cloth, and half cloth with a rounded and backed spine. We also worked together to produce the edition of Gary's book, and honestly I have no idea how many books were made in total. Besides the books kepy by the students, I think there were 25 copies in each of the three binding styles - which would be 75. Added to that would be the personal copies made by each student (3 each and about 25 students), so that's another 75. So maybe there were 150 books produced in the end. I do know that we didn't finish them during class time and Priscilla finished them in her room in the evenings! Thank you Priscilla for all that work and for sharing so much knowledge with us.

Everyone in the class made their own three copies, but as time permitted we worked on the edition. Here's a small stack of sewn textblocks that I was working on. Sewn with the French link (and we did discuss how that isn't a very good name for this sewing as it doesn't seem to have any French connection really) and with endpapers attached.

Here's another stack that I was working on. Endbands attached and spines lined. We made our own false endbands, using coordinating bookcloth. A nice finishing touch on the textblocks before casing in. As Priscilla would say, you charge extra for that.

The official edition copies were all made with the same papers and cloths. These beautiful paste papers were made by Priscilla herself. Some of the students' personal copies were made with different papers, so you can see here a variety of decorative papers on some of the finished books.

So, here are the three books that I made for myself during this class. Starting on the left, my copy of the text in a quarter cloth binding, then the half cloth with a rounded spine, and the full cloth binding in dark blue.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory

Last month, I had the opportunity to visit and teach at The Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland, Ohio. The Morgan was established approximately 7 years ago and, as its website states, it is "a non-profit art center dedicated to the production and preservation of hand papermaking and the art of the book."

The website doesn't seem to mention a date for when The Morgan was established, so my 7-year approximation is based on my memory of a presentation about The Morgan when it was still in its earliest development. There was a slideshow that consisted mostly of photos of an empty warehouse and Tom Balbo explaining how each corner of the building and the lot would be used in the future. That presentation was in 2008. Tom Balbo, a paper and ceramic artist, was the man behind that presentation and is now the executive director of the centre.

When I first arrived, I was given a tour of the facility and trust me, the magnitude of this place cannot be overstated. It's a big building, but they have also figured out how to make it seem bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. There is some office space, but much of the centre is dedicated to paper making. They do both Western and Eastern styles of papermaking so there is equipment for both, several beaters and tanks in many sizes and styles, large and small hanji tanks, and more molds and deckles than I've ever seen in one place before.

One of the small beaters.

Part of the mold and deckle collection.

A small hanji tank.

There is also an outdoor area where they are growing raw materials for some of their paper. They have created a kozo garden so they have been able to harvest their own kozo for making paper.

A bit of the Kozo garden.

There is also a gallery space, a bindery, and an extensive letterpress studio with several presses and tons of type. When I was visiting, the gallery space was being used for a letterpress exhibit.

Part of the gallery space.

Of course, I spent most of my time in the bindery area where I conducted two one-day workshops. The first day, I taught Anne Goy's Criss Cross binding (formerly known as the Secret Belgian Binding).

Books made in the workshop.

The second day was a Japanese bookbinding workshop where we did two different bindings: a multi section binding (seen here with the colourful Chyiogami cover papers) and a traditional account book structure.

Japanese books made in the workshop.

The workshops were great and I really enjoyed my time there. Thanks to The Morgan for this opportunity (and thanks to Fran for hosting and housing me). Anyone who is interested in papermaking and book arts should add this place to their "to do" list and visit if you find yourself in Cleveland. They have an impressive list of workshops continuing throughout the summer too (more info on their website).

If you'd like to see a few more pictures that I took or a whole bunch of photos that were taken by the staff at The Morgan during my workshops, you can visit my page on Facebook or The Morgan's facebook page.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Chaekkori at The Cleveland Museum of Art

Last month, I went to the Cleveland Museum of Art and toured the various collections rather single-mindedly. We were looking for books. Or book-related things.

There were a few actual books on display. Of course, they were on display for the purpose of showing the illuminated pages inside so the books were enclosed in glass cabinets. No consideration at all for the bookbinders who might be visiting! So we examined them as much as possible looking at things like clasps and headbands and discussing which ones appeared to be repaired, rebound, or with original binding features.

Books are also a very common prop in paintings through the ages, apparently. So we played a little game of "name that binding" as we found various styles represented in paintings...

... and sculptures throughout the museum.

Of course, the history of the book began long before the codex format. We found carved stone (1200 BC) and papyrus scrolls (1000 BC) from Egypt... well as Chinese handscrolls on silk, porcelain plaques from Korea, and paper documents from India.

Finally this is Chaekkori, Korean for books and things. A ten panel folding screen from Korea (late 1800s) featuring bookcases filled with books and other scholarly items meant to represent a Confucian study.

Apparently the Cleveland Museum of Art also has a lot of non-book-related items too! Next time I'll try to see some of them. It is a VERY large place, though, and I didn't even come close to seeing all the collections. Next time!