A beautiful handmade book arrived in my mailbox yesterday.
It came all the way from Greece. Had lovely postage stamps on the package.
I wasn’t looking to purchase a book, but I stumbled across an image of this one on Pinterest and was completely drawn in. I could see that the binding was hand stitched
but the straight lines and the long curve on the cover also looked like the were stitched. I suppose I could have asked the seller about the stitching but I chose to buy the book and see for myself. Yes, all those line are embroidered with a cotton thread.
She mentions using a bodkin to make her holes. Hadn’t heard of that tool. Would love to know more. Did some on-line search, but there’s lots of bodkins so I’m still not quite sure what she’s using to make holes, and which holes she is using the bodkin to make. I can’t help wonder about tools.
~Addendum: Chara emailed me and told me that what she uses is a tiny awl, not a bodkin, as was translated. Glad this error showed up, though, as now I know what a bodkin is…and isn’t. ~
I was so excited about receiving this book that I made a little video showing the unpacking:
This will be the second book that I have with sewing featured on the cover that is now in my collection. The first one was given to me by my daughter for Christmas 2018.
I spent a year admiring this bit of embroidery. This year I’ve been using it, allowing it to get dog-eared. Actually using it is a completely acceptable way of enjoying it, but it’s something I sometimes have a hard time doing.
Margaret Armstrong was a prolific designer of gold embossed book covers.
Armstrong was actively drawing and designing book covers for fifty years, starting in 1890, which places her directly in the Art Nouveau era. I have to say that once I started looking at her designs, I descended right into her rabbit hole. So much beautiful work to see.
She didn’t just make covers for other authors’ books.
Look who the author is! Here’s one of her exquisite drawings from this book.
Here’s a cover that isn’t gold embossed but is every bit as lovely as the others. Or maybe there is some gold embossing here. Not sure.
Looking at these lovely covers I went looking for the books that make up my small collection of gold embossed covers.
“My small collection” means two books. I actually enjoy reading the stories of in Darkness and Daylight in New York, though they can be rather brutal to read. Not a good chapter for many people during the era this was written.
Haven’t read this one at all. For me, it’s all about the cover.
So many beautiful books. No, I don’t think they are going to ever become obsolete.
I went searching for Susan J Share a good many years ago when we were in our twenties I had seen some of her bookarts pieces in a show at a Soho Gallery, and had found her work to be so compelling that I immediately wanted to be friends with her. Life-long friends.
I am a patient person. I reasoned that, since we were both part of a small swath of NYC people who were passionately interested in making books, that our paths would cross.
I remember the first time I saw her. She walked into the Center for Book Arts (original Bowery location), but I wasn’t able to BFF her at that moment. Darn.
I started volunteering weekly at the bindery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, under Mindell Dubansky. Susan worked in the bindery as well, but on a different day than me. She and Mindell became fast friends. Mindell would sometimes chat on the phone with Susan while I was in the bindery. I was so jealous.
At some point, though, Susan and I were at MMA on the same day. I don’t exactly know if there was a defining event in our friendship, but if there was, it was this: Susan was teaching a children’s bookmaking workshop at the Castle in Central Park, and I asked if I could assist her. Which I did. My first book arts teaching experience. I loved it.
Susan and I went on to share many bookarts experiences. She got me started working with kids in schools through Franklin Furnace’s Sequential Art for Kids program. When she and Henry Pelham-Burns created the bindery at the New-York Historical Society, I worked with them one day a week. When Susan was looking for studio space, I was able to point her towards a place to rent in the same building I was living in. It was such a gift to be able to chat with her when we’d bump into each other in the course of our days.
Eventually Susan married Paul and moved to Alaska, and I married Bill and moved upstate. Still, Susan I see each other, support each other and remain close. As luck would have it, Susan’s brother Ike lives about 45 minutes from me, so I see her here when she comes for family visits.
Now here’s the absolutely most wonderful thing: Susan is teaching a class at Penland at the end of August. She asked if I would come down and be her assistant for the week. OMG. A week with Susan Share.
If anyone would like to be there, here’s the class description:
Susan Joy Share Books & Boxes
Books and boxes are a natural fit. They may be a set or structurally integrated. They can enhance each other and the experience of opening and discovery. We’ll experiment with formats, including books sewn on tapes, paper enclosures, cloth-covered folding boxes, and Jacob’s Ladder boxes. We’ll generate content with paint, pencil, crayon, and collage. Students will create unique pieces as we fold, sew, glue, wrap, reveal, and engineer. This hands-on workshop includes demonstrations, lectures, and sample books. All levels. Code 07B
Miriam Schaer has flown of to the Republic of Georgia, taking with her something even more precious than the good wishes of her book arts community: she has taken their books!
Just over a year ago I sat with Miriam at the Grolier Club in NYC as we waited for our friend Mindell Dubansky to take the stage to talk about the exhibition she curated of blooks (objects that look like books). At the time, Miriam was pondering over making some changes in her life, though she did not yet have a handle on what that would look like. Today she’s in Eastern Europe/ Western Asia, having been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach artist books at Telavi State University.
Before leaving, Miriam invited the book arts community to send her their books with the idea of building what she called a “teaching collection,” recognizing that the act of holding a handmade book in one’s own hands has a way imparting inspiration.
The book arts community reacted quickly and generously.
As the books rolled in, Miriam posted photos of the book on a Facebook page. All of the book images that I am posting here have been culled from her FB wall, which I will include, along with her other in links, in the bottom of this post.
It been an adventure just to check in to see how her collection has been growing over the past couple of months.
I suspect these books by Susan Joy Share have seen the most air miles: they started with Susan in Alaska, were flown to Miriam in Brooklyn, then were packed up to meet Miriam in a country flanked by Turkey, Russian and the Black Sea.
Miriam will be writing about her book arts teaching at the University. She already begun her writing. Looks like she is starting with making felted books.
I absolutely wanted to contribute to Miriam’s collection. It took me way too long to come up with something to send. I started on something, had trouble working it out, then missed Miriam’s deadline. A friend encouraged me to just keep at it and send the book when it was done. This gave me the space to realize that, hey, if need be, I could just send it to Republic of Georgia directly.
But, phew! was able to get a book to Miriam just three days before she left town. She received one from an edition of books, which are housed in these green boxes, and which I will write about in my next post. Until then, to see what’s within, you’ll have to visit Miriam FB page. Here are links to that page, as well as her blog, and her teaching blog.