Book Artists

Books In Black: A New Page

A Wringer for a Mop by Dolores Taylor
A Wringer for a Mop by Dolores Taylor

The first exhibition of BASIS: Book Arts Summer In Salem 2011 opens this coming Friday, July 1 , 6:00 to 8:00pm at the  Old Washington Courthouse in Salem,NY. Personally, I am looking forward to this opening with happy anticipation since, not only will I have the opportunity to see a plethora of high quality artists’ books on display, but I will have a chance to visit with the magnificent Ruth Edwards. I have known Ruth for nearly all the years that she has been involved in the book arts. When I first met Ruth she was novice bookmaker. Her creativity, energy and inspiration comes together in the organization of Books In Black.

Slave toi Fashion by Elizabeth Keckley
Slave toi Fashion by Elizabeth Keckley
Rather paraphrasing, here is the description from the catalogue:

BooksInBlack was founded in 2001 to create and exhibit sculptural artists’ books that reflect the triumphs and struggles of persons of African ancestry. The people acknowledged in these works reflect the heritage of the emerging and experienced artists that form the collective. They use the book form to expand the definition of what a book can be. According to founder, Ruth E. Edwards, “the books themselves become pieces of art. They may flip, flop, or fly, but they seldom resemble the traditional book.”  The work is entertaining as well as educational. They will challenge some viewers, while enlightening others.

Here’s a photo of the artists whose work will appear in the show. A number of these artists will be coming up from NYC for the opening.

Seated: Ruth E. Edwards, Brenda H. Falus, Ione M. Foote. Standing: Irene M. Mays, Yvonne Lamar-Rogers, Harriette Washington-Williams, Valerie Deas, Gail Beckford, Oneal Abel, Dolores Taylor, Shimoda, Jamil Abdul-Azim, Zawadi

I hope to post photos the opening so stay tuned! Unless you have to fly half-way across the world (I’m thinking of you all down under…) I hope to see you there.  By the way, I anticipate it would be worth making a trip half way around the world to see this show.

Book Artists

BASIS: Book Arts Summer In Salem

Book Arts Summer In Salem, annoucement

First day of Summer!

I couldn’t let this day go by without mentioning the plans for a summer of Book Arts here in Salem, NY. Conceived and organized by Ed Hutchins and Ruth Sauer, this series of events will include three separate book arts exhibitions in three separate location, as well as four weekend mornings of workshops in July. Mary Howe will be teaching the first two workshops, back to back on Saturday and Sunday July 9 and 10; Ed Hutchins will be teaching on July 16; and I will be presenting a workshop on July 30.

Book Arts Summer in Salem, workshops

I will be dedicating a steady stream of posts to the exhibitions, demonstrations, presentations and workshops about Book Arts Summer In Salem. For more information, or to sign up for a workshop (reservations required) you can call North Main Gallery at 518-854-Three Four Zero Six

If you would like to print out a copy of the  post card pictured here, here’s the PDF for Book Arts Summer In Salem 2011.

8 1/2" x 11" Book Making · Making books with elementary students · simple book binding

Popscicle Sticks, Stick’ems, Pipe Cleaners and Hair Band Book

pink and purple book with cool closure

The school year is just about over in this part of the world. At Indian Lake Central School the staff puts together a really cool thing for the last full week of school. They call it Heritage Week. It’s a brilliant concept: for five days the curriculum revolves around exploring different facets of the town of Indian Lake, from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Included in the week are visits to the Adirondack Museum, visits with local storytellers and songwriters, and research about historical places and people. And guess what: they need a book which they can fill with pictures and information gathered during the week! That’s where I fit in.

three hole punch and papers

My job is to help students make books which are added to at intervals during Heritage Week. I have only about 50 minutes to help each group of students make their books, start to finish. I was pleased at how this particular book, for the first, second and third graders, worked out. Each student started out by picking out two pieces of cover wieight paper. One paper was standard sized 8 1/2″ x 11″, the other was twice a big, 11” x 17″. We then used a three hole punch to put holes on the one of edge of each paper.

lining up papers and folding ends

The corners of the bigger paper were then folded to the middle (like what you do when making a paper airplane). The tip of the resulting triangle was then folded down about an inch and a half.

lining up the holes

Students applied just a bit of glue to the holed end of the smaller paper, lined up the holes of the two papers and pressed.

putting in the pipe cleaner posts

What really holds these two papers together, though, are the two pipe cleaners that are laced through the holes.

adding pages to the pipe cleaners

The pipe cleaners do double duty: they hold the cover papers together, and they act as posts to bind together loose sheets of paper. After a few sheets of paper were inserted into their books I instructed the students to just bend the pipe cleaners down without twisting them or otherwise securing them. Just lifting up the pipe cleaners is what will make it easy to add more pages as the week progresses. After  inserting the inside pages students folded  the covers around the papers.

Two books

Because it’s so close to the end of the school year, I especially wanted to introduce some whimsy. The sparkly pipe clearers were just one of the fun elements that the students used. After the books were assemble I laid out colored popscicle sticks and square sticky-backed “jewels” for cover decoration.


I thought the coolest part of this project was the closure. If you remember, back in the first step I mentioned that the students folded down the tip of the triangle at the edge of the paper. I had them snip a tiny slit at each edge of the triangle. then we slipped a rubber hair band around the fold, making sure the hair band fit into the slits.


On the cover of each book in just the right place we attached a paper fastener, thus creating an awesome closure. Hurrah!

8 1/2" x 11" Book Making · Drawings · garden drawings · Making books with elementary students

Where’s summer? We’ve got the flowers, and that’s a start!

yellow flower drawing

It’s cool (cold?) and rainy here in upstate NY. We’ve had a few teaser hot days, but not lately. As the school year winds down, I am taking a great deal of pleasure in looking over the flowers of summer that were drawn by third graders during my time with them making Spinning Books which feature the parts of plants on one side of the page, and the explanation of the function of that plant part on the backside of the page.

colorful flower

The highlight of this workshop was looking at flower drawings done by the on a spike

I offered fairly opened-ended suggestions on how to draw flowers. I demonstrated flowers with four-and-five petals, with more than five petals, umbel-type flowers (flower cluster resemble umbellas), and racemes (flowers on spike), I told them that there are so many types of flowers in the world whatever choices they made in terms of shapes and colors, that there is likely a flower somewhere that would match their creation.

getting started with flower drawings

The students began their drawings on cover-weight white paper which had two 4” squares and one 4″ x 2.5″ rectangle printed on the paper. This helped students make their drawings as big as they needed to be.

red shirt, red flower

It was interesting to see that many children drew pictures that matched the clothing that they were wearing.

flower parts on page

After the drawings were done, the students cut them out, leaving  a border of white paper around the edges of the drawings. This helps the drawings stand out better than if they were cut right on the black line (which is first done is pencil, then traced over with a thin black marker).

mexican looking flower

I have to say that this project was a complete pleasure to do with these third graders. Their ample skills, enthusiasm and creativity were well showcased.

Ellie's flower and pot

I was particularly blown away by noticing the wide range of expression. While some drawings were lovely in a classically recognizable way…

Dancing Stamens

…the work of other students looked like cutting edge modern art. Notice how the stamens of this flower look like dancers in a fiery field!


And this young man was excited to draw the Texas Bluebonnet as it appeared to him. He sounded completely captivated as he explained to me how the parts of this flower blended to appear to be a dense cluster of blue.

Flower going into its pot

Watching these students draw is the best part of what I do. And it helps me bear waiting for this summer to come.

Again, here is the link to the first post I wrote on these Spinning Books: take a look if you would like to get a better idea of the finished product.