Bookmaking Gang

A couple of weeks ago I had 8 lovely book making enthusiasts take a Coptic Binding workshop from me in my home studio.  They were a unique group in that they were a gang of friends who had decided, over a year ago, that they would like to learn about making a book.  Amazingly, after much schedule finessing on their part, they gave me a call, we decided on dates and made it happen.  We had a great time.

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They were incredibly fast learners.  My job was as easy as cherry pie.

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And look how wonderfully their books turned out!

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P.S. No need to be thrown off by the foot on the book thing you see above.  It’s just what a person has to do when there aren’t enough weights to go around.  It’s a creative way to keep your danged book in place so it doesn’t leap off the table while you pull on it in the process of making a twine closure.  One of the many sacrifices you make for the sake of bookarts right? Right!

Eco Books

Lark Books has recently come out with a new book called Eco Books: Inventive Projects from the Recycling Bin put together by Terry Taylor.  It’s totally great, simple as that.  Each project is by a different book artist, many of which are local to Western North Carolina (I happen to be one of them, but I prooooomise I’m not saying any of this because I’m biased in any way).  You’ll find projects made of everything from egg cartons to cassette tapes.

Eco Books 9781600593949L1Eco Books

Here are a few images of the book I made for Eco Books:

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I took two hand embroidered pieces I had found in a thrift store (I had to peel them away from the backing that held them in their tacky wooden frames) and hand-stitched with black thread around the bunches of lemons and oranges to make the images “pop” more.  Then I made  book board for my covers by laminating layers of recycled cereal boxes that I then encased with my altered, vintage fabrics.

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I decided to make the book a dos-a-dos (two books that share the same back cover) because I had two fabric pieces.  I used 100% recycled Classic Laid text paper, stained the edges with walnut dye I made myself and bound the book with multi-needle Coptic Binding.

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I made twine (with two contrasting colors so that it would look striped) to be wrapped around a vintage button each to create closures for the front and back of the book.

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Check it out at your local independent bookstore (that would be good ol’  Malaprops here in Asheville).

Miniature Books

Did you know: “Miniature books, most of which are less than three inches tall and some of which are smaller than a penny, have delighted readers for centuries. Popular because they were easily carried or concealed, these historic books range from tiny “Thumb Bibles” to illustrated nursery rhymes.”   4000 years of Miniature Books, Lily Library.

Addresses of Abraham Lincoln

Ever heard for the  mini-book society?

As Small as A Penny

Little Red Book

Mini Alphabet Book

An Alphabet Book by Nancy Chandler Edwards


Mini-Books are soooo fun to make. I’m a little bit addicted.  Here are a few:

Mini-Books By Annie Fain

Checkout Lost Button Studio’s easy to follow directions and templates to make your own.

Lost Button Studios

Book Restoration

It’s been almost a year now that I started apprenticing and working for a wonderful traditional bookbinder and restoration queen, Dea Sasso.  I have learned soooo much from her, both about books and life.  We have wonderful days in her bindery, in the basement of her home in West Asheville drinking tea, sharing dreams and, of course, buckling down to work.

Here are a few projects from the past year:

Sewing A Large Bible Back TogetherDetail of Kozo RepairRemoving End Sheets with a Lifting KnifeTissue Repaired Pages and New Endbands

Dea teaches all over the place and juggles life both in Massachusetts and Western North Carolina.  The most dependable place to find her classes in marbling, book binding, restoration and leather work is the John C. Campbell Folkschool:

Dea Sasso is a professional hand bookbinder, sole proprietor of Light of Day Bindery since 1988, and custom leather designer since 1970. She works on private collections; repairs and restores old books; and designs and creates new books, editions and miniatures. Dea has been teaching in art institutes and privately since 1991. She has an MSPH and has studied and worked for numerous nationally-known hand binders and conservators. Many of her students have gone on to start binderies of their own. She is the Folk School’s Resident Artist in Book & Paper Art, Printmaking, Marbling, & Calligraphy.

Photo Pages of a Family BibleA Bible Before RepairMachine Used for Gold StampingType for Titling

Once Upon a Time…

Cover of Artful Storybooks, Published by Lark BooksCover of Artful Storybooks, Published by Lark BooksCover of Artful Storybooks, Published by Lark BooksCover of Artful Storybooks, Published by Lark Books

Once upon a time storybooks held a special place in our lives, filling our hearts with wonder. Thanks to this extraordinary crafting anthology we can experience that magic again in a marvelous new way by recreating and reinterpreting the picture book. An overview outlines a variety of structures and techniques, from simple collage to gluing. But above all, these highly visual pages offer ideas and inspiration, with talented artists presenting lovingly designed story spreads and covers. Take a fantasy vacation via a travel booklet fashioned from vintage, nostalgic postcards. Follow The Queen of Tarts in a story that unfolds in a miniature puppet theater motif. And two different artists offer their revised versions of a classic: The Princess and the Pea. ”


Old Hickory CoverOld Hickory OpenedDetail of one of Susan's Lino Prints

Susan McBride and I collaborated on a hand-made storybook which is featured in a new book titled: ArtfulStorybooks: Mixed-Media Artists Create Handmade Tales, published by Lark Books July 2008.  Simply put, I made the book and she filled it.  Its called Old Hickory and is a commemoration to happy childhood vacations spent by Susan McBride and her good friends at a cabin in the Allegheny mountains of western Pennsylvania.

Susan gave me a sort of “care package” of memorabilia that reminded her of that time in her childhood and the cabin itself, my favorite being two wonderful old book covers.  She wanted a house, or rather cabin, shaped book and after some brainstorming I decided on a multi-needle, Coptic stitched, gatefold book structure with two salvaged buttons as a book closure reminiscent of door handles.

We had a great time with this collaboration and, feeling that our work looked good together, ended up doing a joint show in December 2007.  After the publication of Artful Storybooks we were asked to teach a Mixed Media Storybooks class at Asheville Bookworks in the Spring of 2009 inspired by this piece.  (The class description is below.)  Its wonderful when one thing leads to another so smoothly; particularly in the collaborative art world.

Thanks to Susan for including me in her creative endeavors and to Lark Books for supporting regional artists and crafters through quality publication.


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Asheville Bookworks
Tuesdays, 6-9pm
April 28, May 5, 12, 19, 26 & June 2 2009

In 2007 Asheville artists, Susan McBride and Annie Fain Liden, collaborated on a book making and story telling project that was recently featured in The Artful Storybook: Mixed-Media Artists Create Handmade Tales published by Lark Books 2008.  Their collaboration also inspired this workshop.  They will share their combined skills in mixed media illustration, story development and book construction to guide students through the exciting process of developing their own story book.  Students will choose from 3 interactive book structures, make the book from scratch, learn to use a storyboard method to plan the tale and use linoleum block printing, painting, drawing, collage and simple book closures to illustrate and embellish their own unique storybook.