This past Saturday Ed Hutchins presented a three-hour workshop as part of the Book Arts Summer in Salem event. Ed is the kind of book artist and teacher that I would recommend taking a workshop with no matter what it is he is teaching. So of course I signed up.

As everyone’s style of teaching is different I am pleased when I can be a student in a book arts class. Ed chose to show us how to make four different books using half sheets of regular copy paper. He offered Canson Mi-Tientes paper for the covers. The photo above, shows how Ed “set the table” for this class.

All the books that we made were sewn with a basic three-station pamphlet stitch. Even though these books look nearly identical in style, don’t be fooled by the outside covers…

We made a book with a pocket in the cover, and a book with tabbed covers, based on a Keith Smith design as well as a simple pamphlet .

Here’s the tabbed and folded cover in-progress. Ed provided a template for the tabbed cover, and even scored the fold lines to help facilitate the creation of this cover.

We also made a book with two groupings of papers sewn in onto separate folds….

…and to give the inside a raison d’etre, we added place holders for an image.

After we made each book, Ed made a point of talking about content. His message was ‘These are not to be blank books. You have lots of interesting things to say! ‘

He asked us to brainstorm on what we would put into the books. Here are some of the things that we and he came up with

  • poems
  • jokes
  • recipes
  • details of last night’s lobster dinner
  • leaf prints,
  • drawings
  • autographs
  • collage of a trip
  • a big eye
  • weather report
  • weather response
  • photos
  • family history
  • overheard conversations
  • rubber stamps
  • stamps harvested from our fan mail
  • phobias
  • what stood out about today
  • plans for tomorrow

Speaking of plans for tomorrow, my plan for tomorrow is prepare for the workshop that I will be teaching on July 30, as part of BASIS. In the next few days I will be starting to write about the structure, Hedi Kyle’s Blizzard Book, that I will be presenting. I am looking forward to having this excuse to make one variation after the other of these Blizzard Books!

sewing a book

Last Friday I was so  impressed with  the book making that I saw being done by high school students that I wanted to put up a post immediately. So I did. But I knew that I would continue thinking about these students and their work (after driving 100 miles each way – and teaching – I was a bit comatose when I composed that post) and would want to write more. So I saved some photos for this post #2.

red fingernails, book turn-in

Part of what was beguiling about watching these students work was seeing their year 2011 hands doing these centuries old techniques.

beads, punches, glue, and books

What stays with me the most, though, is how students gravitated towards making the most straightforward structures. Even though I brought classic materials such as wooden slabs to use as book covers, book board and silk book cloth, and white glue mixed with cooked paste,what these young adults were most drawn to were making books out of cover weight paper then sewing the pages in with a simple pamphlet stitch. Even though the students were successful with some of the  more complex sewing patterns , and even though they manipulated the traditional materials well, they seemed most captivated by the more basic methods of bookbinding.

line up of books

Noticing this I am reminded of a fact about teaching book arts that I often forget, and that is important to remember: the more complicated the book structure, the less likely it is that the novice book binder will personalize the book. The students seemed to feel freer to decorate and experiment with ideas on the books that we made using paper covers than the more complicated books. This totally makes sense as I continue to think about it. For instance, I showed three of the students how to use wooden boards and an exposed-link binding technique to create books. Each of these books looked exactly alike. No big fun in that for these kids.

paste paper book

The fact is that some of my most successful moments in teaching bookbinding have been when I have asked students to fold three or four pieces of paper together, then wrap a rubber band around the spine and we’re done. The students then dive right in to create, draw pictures, cut shapes in the papers, decorate and create. Students find great joy in transforming papers into pages then making then making the books their own. Sometimes I become so enamored by the architecture of the book that I forget about the pleasure of creating content and individualizing.

after work rush hour in the Adirondacks

At the end of this day my own individual joy was the beautiful ride home. Here’s what the after-work rush hour looked like last Friday as I headed out of the Adirondacks.

 

It’s a real gift to be totally surprised by the results of a bookmaking workshop. I did not have a clue that I would enjoy working with teenagers as much as I enjoyed working the group that taught this past week.  They were smart, capable and enthusiastic and they have an art teacher (the teacher that invited me in) who clearly has created an environment in her art room which is both relaxed and serious. This made my job easy. I started making books with these students, and they just took off with it.

Over the course of numerous classes with the high school students several styles of books were made, including the paper-cover, beaded-pamphlet stitch, a shoelace exposed link binding, and a hard cover pamphlet binding with Ahashi bookcloth, all pictured above.

I want to mention, too, that it felt like a magical journey just to get to the school, located up in the Adirondacks. This is a photo of morning rush hour up in the Adirondacks.

On the first days of classes many of the students made paste papers, so many of the books were well decorated using these papers. I rather think that this young lady’s nail polish goes well with the book. An added bonus.

Of all the styles that I introduced to the students, what they seemed to like best was making books out of the heavy black paper that I brought with me – Epic 80lb cover. We folded a spine, and sewed right through the text block and spine, adding beads. They all used awls to punch the holes, and no one got blood on their books. Always a good sign.

I brought lots of beads. It was quite remarkable to see all the choices these students made, using colors and patterns in many different ways.  They were also pretty good at threading the needles.  One young man threaded a needle for the first time in his life during this class. He had trouble at first, then quickly became an expert at it.

I have too many photos for just one post, so I will end here, and add more later.

Working as a visiting artist in Upstate New York requires good snow tires. Since where I live is centrally located int he middle of nowhere, I generally drive about an hour no matter where I am heading. If we’re expecting sleet and ice I stay home. With snow, I drive slowly and pray.  Yesterday, the temperature was generously below freezing so I was confident that the snow would not turn to ice, and I headed out for a day in with students.

It was worth the trip. I helped about 60 fifth graders in three different classes make journals.

One of the students, James, said that this was an awesome project. He felt that the hardest part of the project was folding the papers . This didn’t surprise me. I’ve noticed that by the fifth grade most students have accepted the fact that papers don’t fold in half evenly. High on my agenda is to take the time to offer explicit instructions on how to successfully outwit the uncooperative nature of paper. To really get students on board with this I bring in bone folders for them to use. Students seem to genuinely appreciate learning how to fold paper well.

The teacher that invited me to come to these classes had this to say: “Paula’s workshops with all of the 5th grade classes were fantastic today. All of the students were very excited about the journals they created, and I’m sure it will motivate even our most reluctant writers.”

We made the covers of the books according to the directions below. The wallpaper covers were made from samples that were cut down to 17″ x 11 1/2″.   I’ve also have B&W directions for the Pocketed Book Cover.

Directions for Pocketed Book Cover by Paula Krieg

One of the students, Emily, seemed concerned that there might not be enough pages for the content. My impression is that she had big plans for this book. To accommodate the most prolific writers I left behind materials to create a few more books, as well as the suggestion to considering just attaching in a second set of folded pages into the cover, next to (not into) the original set of pages.

Close up of journals made by fifth grades

We attached the pages, five sheets of folded paper, with the modified pamphlet stitch (using 2mm satin rattail cord), hence the notches at the head and tail of the spine. The pages are the size of regular copy paper. The  school’s (absolutely amazing and fabulous) reading specialist ran these papers through the copy machine so that lines are printed on the papers.  After the pages were attached to the covers I gave students 2 sheets of cover weight paper which were cut to fit into the pockets of the book cover. The students slipped these heavy papers into the pockets then glued the upper corners to the book cover: this gives the book a bit more of a sturdy, weighty feel and keeps the wallpaper covers from looking dog-eared.

snow on my car

I didn’t take many photos. I wanted to leave before much more snow fell. In the picture above, the white mound on the left, that’s my car.

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