Updated May 2016
Artist Paula Beardell Krieg makes works-on-paper, teaches book arts, and thinks about math.
This site focuses on paper and book arts. I’ve been writing about math on my Google Plus page.
Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been more than six years since I wrote my original “About” page. Seems like it’s time to update. Rather than include a more recent photo of self, I have chosen instead to post an even older picture. Yes, that really is me in that little plastic yellow boat holding a gorgeous, handcrafted wooden paddle. This was before marriage, before children, still trying to navigate through life on my own.
Now I am on the other side of this experience. My youngest child is 20, and I’ve been married 26 years. I no longer kayak, but I still like trying to moving forward through dynamic currents.
Not long ago Susan Mills interviewed me for her podcast Bookbinding Now.
Susan has been aware of my work with teaching Bookarts for most of my career, and I am pleased to be able to provide the above link of our conversation. Susan understands that my work in the Bookarts has focused on trying to simplify and make accessible a craft that had traditionally been practiced by relatively few people. Since the 1990’s I’ve developed ways of creating books that anyone can make, and I have taught these methods to many hundreds of adults, and thousands and thousands of young people. Over the past six years I have created many tutorials and published them here on my blog. I’ve enjoyed a challenging, and rewarding journey in bookmaking.
What intrigued me about Bookarts was learning about the internal structure of the book. I loved the logic of the construction of codex , the accordion, and every other book structure that I have ever met. I like the sewing, the knotting, the cutting and assembly or small parts, and how everything fits together. It seems to me that those of us who think about and make books have mathematical minds in that we are always considering scale, visual relationships, transformations, and symmetries; we do lots of precise measuring and we need to be comfortable with numbers. In a way, then, it’s been bookmaking that let me back to math.
I had always felt an affinity to math, but it was a road I didn’t follow and soon forgot most of what I ever knew. As my own children progressed through school I welcomed being drawn into helping them with their math homework (even though my enthusiasm that was not always appreciated). When my son was taking calculus I discovered the fact that so many students fail calculus that first-year college calc is considered, by some, to be the graveyard of children’s dreams. I began to look at math in the same way that I approached the learning and teaching of bookarts: like with bookmaking, I’ve enjoyed thinking about ways to simplify and make accessible the math that is taught in schools.
The result is that I have two sites that I post on, this one and the Google Plus site , on which I let my enthusiasm for math overflow. The fact is, though, that I feel like these two interests, bookarts and math, have become comfortable bedfellows in my psyche, so much so that I forget which one I mean to be doing as I am doing my work. This feels like a whole new journey. I’m loving it.
You can also find me on my new favorite place, twitter.
I share my home here in Upstate New York with my husband, a guinea pig, 6 chickens, a feral cat, 5 ducks, and one very cute dog. Children visit now and then.
Original About page, November 2009
Bookmaking entered my life in the early 1980’s. I had just earned my BFA in NYC at The School of Visual Arts in NYC, quit my waitressing job in Jersey City, then traveled a bit. Soon I landed in an old warehouse space in the as yet ungentrified Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Constructing walls, installing plumbing, and bringing in heat and electricity kept me and my workspace crowded into a corner about the size of my bed. For a while, then, I was drawn away from working on large works-on-paper, and space-intensive sculptural works. Making books, which were small but expandable, fit right in with the square footage of my life.
My inital books creations were labor intensive and materially substandard. I knew how to work with paper, but creating a binding was a different matter altogether. Knowing nothing about adhesives, I habitually glued my precious pages together using toxic, non-permanent, highly acidic paper cement. I had no clue about sewing bindings in such a way that they would actually stay snug.
The Center of Book Arts had already made its debut in the Bowery section of lower Manhattan. Thankfully, it was not long before someone pointed me in its direction. Early mentors included Barbara Mauriello and Hedi Kyle. Barbara taught the first 12-week class that I signed up for, and Hedi taught the next one. It was here that I had the good fortune of meeting artists Mindell Dubansky and Susan Share. Mindell and Susan approached bookmaking with superb craftmanship, joined with artistic brilliance and whimsy. Susan had already begun wearing and metamorphosing books in art performances. She would build book structures in such dramatic and surprising ways that, even when she wasn’t manipulating them in performance, they seemed to be in motion. With influences like these, it was easy to become enchanted with the book arts.
In the mid 1980’s I had the opportunity to work with Franklin Furnace Archives. This hip arts organization had initiated an Artist-in-Residence program in NYC schools. I was placed in classrooms with pre-schoolers and early elementary children on the downtown waterfront as well as with students in Chinatown, many of whom barely understood English. It was here that it became obvious to me that both the children and the teachers loved learning simple bookmaking techniques. It was also clear that bringing this mode of expression into the schools was challenging but thoroughly joyous for me. Soon I began teaching classes for educators. Over the years I have worked with many thousands of children, and many hundreds of teachers. The excitement this work gives me has never subsided.
In the mid 1990’s my husband and I relocated north of Albany, NY, where we now live with our 16 chickens, 2 guinea pigs, a feral cat and our two teenage children. I feel tremendously lucky that I have been able to remain consistently active teaching book arts here in upstate New York as well as points south. The focus in this site will be to share the projects that I have done with students in the past, as well as to document the progress of work that I am currently developing in schools. My hope is that these pages can become a useful resource for people interested in a playful approach to bookmaking.