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Book Arts

 I have embarked on a mission to learn the fine art of bookbinding and repair. It’s long been an interest, an intention, and finally the great sloth of hesitation has been moved.  I signed up for a weeklong course at the American Academy of Bookbinding in Telluride Colorado, paid my tuition, booked my flight and last November a dream came true. It was fantastic. 

Okay first of all, Telluride is wonderful. I love the quirky stores and houses. The people – awake and engaged. The whole town has developed a patina of ski-bum laisse-faire combined with more contemporary avante garde aesthetics. The town is small. You can walk it in an afternoon.  I definitely resonated with the surrounding landscape – nestled in a box canyon, looking up, surrounded by snow-covered, ragged peaks. Take Vermont and scale it up. Colorado is so big! And having chose to make the six hour drive from where the plane landed in Denver, I can honestly say that I got a big gulp of the unbelievably diverse and dramatic landscape that is Colorado. 

The class itself was extremely disciplined but casual. I liked that combination. Every day began by folding paper. Big sheets of smooth white paper. We would fold it by hand- this way and that – then use some kind of tool of choice to – well not cut but rather tear the folds into what would be used for making folios into a book block to ultimately set between handmade covers. Yes, the daily morning paperfolding meditation. Then there was sewing. You gotta love sewing if you are going into the handmade book/journal making arts. And I do…. love sewing.  And there is a bit of glue involved.  Choosing papers for end pages and covers – so fun and filled with mystery, with possibility.  We made a few books every day – beginning with simple 8 page journals to more complicated, multi-signature hard-cased books. I had some failures – I made mistakes – but I kept up and finished the course with some truly fine examples of what I maybe could do on my own. With practice, practice. 

Since then, I attended a five session books arts course with Susan Smereka at her studio in Burlington Vermont. Jane Ploughman, an accomplished bookmaker, co-instructed with Susan. I learned so much from these two fine artists. Every Friday, I arrived with my thermos of hot tea, relieved to be there – to immerse myself in a few hours of pure creative enterprise. I was just free to create with paint, paper, glue, brushes, forms and collage. They provided everything. And upon leaving each session – I felt grateful and inspired. Thank you Susan and Jane. 

And last week – I signed up for my second course with the American Academy of Booksellers. Come September – I’ll be back in the studio! 

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