End of Summer Greetings!
I have had so many wonderful opportunities this summer and will be letting you know the highlights. I am very pleased to announce that I am now officially a full-time bookbinder, having terminated my prior employment. This is an exciting time and I am so grateful for the support and encouragement of you all.
My first action as fulltime craftsman-entrepreneur was to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity I had been given to be a resident artist at Wild Acres Retreat, perhaps one of North Carolina's best-kept secrets. This beautiful property near Little Switzerland offers a serene location for art, science, and discourse to bloom. I am very grateful to the directors and staff at Wildacres for providing me with such a wonderful environment in which to create new books. I chose to focus on wood-covered books, partly in homage to the setting and also simply because they require more time.
I have long-appreciated a binding style known as "Secret Belgian Binding". While at Wildacres, I applied this binding to wood covers and am very pleased with the result! In one of the Universe's great coincidences, upon my return home I found this note in a newsletter from Ben Elbel, from whom I learned much during a class at Penland School of Crafts:
"The Secret Belgian Binding was made popular in the USA by Hedi Kyle, but she didn't invent it. She in fact learned it from a student while teaching a workshop in Ascona in the nineties. That student wasn't the inventor of the structure either and when Hedi asked her where she learned it from, she could only say that she thought it originated from Belgium. So Hedi Kyle went back to the United States where the structure became famous as the 'Secret Belgian Binding'.
What with ending my former professorial job and actively gearing up for summer exhibits, classes, and other art-related activities, I completely missed sending out a May newsletter! But I am delighted to be a full-time professional bookbinder at this point in my life!
I'm excited to be offering a week-long bookbinding camp June 13-17 at my studio in Winston-Salem, NC. We will learn a different bookbinding technique (folded books, French linked, Romanesque, longstitch, and clothbound case binding) each day. Sign up for a single day or the entire week - there are 3 spaces still available.
April is in full bloom here in Winston-Salem and it is beautiful! What a great month to start planning for summer activities and for opening the windows for spring cleaning! My newsletter gives you ideas for activities now and later, as well as focusing on a spring cleaning task of caring for your books.
Saturday April 23
Come find my booth at the annual Earth Day celebration at the fairgrounds! This remarkable celebration of the earth has grown from a small collection of die-hard environmentalists to a well-attended event with something for everyone. I will be emphasizing the books and papers I create from thrift store cast-offs and other sustainable materials. I promise demonstrations as well as items for sale.
The 2016 Piedmont Earth Day Fair will offer more than 100 earth-friendly vendors and exhibitors. For more information, check out Piedmont Environmental Alliance.
Do you know about Little Free Libraries? From their website: To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations. There are over 36,000 Little Free Library book exchanges around the world, bringing curbside literacy home and sharing millions of books annually. The idea is for people to provide small covered shelves to hold books that anyone might help herself to.
Several of my neighbors have been busy creating and installing these libraries in our neighborhood. I have been inspired by this energy to create a very little library of my own. It will be completed soon and is being entered into a juried art show. (Send me some good wishes toward acceptance, please!) Each of my tiny books (1-1.5" high) is a multi-signature, hand-sewn book, complete with interior writing.
So take a walk around your own neighborhood during this lovely spring weather and select the perfect spot to install a Little Free Library of your own...
Spring weather means spring cleaning for many people. In your spring cleaning, please do give ALL your books a good dust off. It is all too easy to move into a house, get the books onto the bookshelves, and then simply admire them - never touching them for years. At least once a year you need to:
- remove all the books from the bookshelves and check them for any moisture, mildew, or bug damage
- rearrange them - books get squeezed by others on the shelf and need to breathe a bit
- dust them well - the best thing to use is the old fashioned soft cloth (I am still using some of the cloth diapers my 26-year-old used)
- when dusting the shelves, do not use any products that leave residue; instead select something as simple as a little white vinegar in water - allowing the shelf plenty of time to dry of course before re-shelving your books
- clean leather bound books with a basic leather care product, slowly and gently wiping the cover. Don't be surprised if you find that dirt has been camouflaging the original color of the leather.
- and if you find a favorite book with a torn hinge, ripped pages, or a cover that is more off than on, take it immediately to your friendly bookbinder who will be delighted to work her magic...
Bookbinder and Papermaker
The daffodils and lily-of-the-valley are blooming in my front yard and the lovely tulip magnolia is bursting with bright pink blossoms. Spring is in the air and I am busy planning for summer craft festivals and teaching venues. The official start of spring is still two weeks hence, but it is certainly time to celebrate the return of the light and warmth!
I am on a bit of emotional high also due to having just returned from a week of teaching book and paper arts at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. At the Folk School, I was part of "Arts and Crafts Week", a celebration of the American Arts and Crafts period from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During this time there was a strong resurgence of handmade crafts as folks were resisting the impact of the industrial age. I taught a limp leather binding style utilizing both handmade bookcloth from Morris print fabrics and goat skin leather to 6 students over 5 days. I included linoleum block printing as folks worked to create their books in the style of The Roycrofters, a group of craftspeople in Aurora, New York who were well known participants in the American Arts and Crafts movement.
After the 5-day bookbinding workshop, I also taught a weekend paste paper class. We focused on traditional paste paper patterns, more linoleum block printing, and stenciling as ways of creating decorative papers. We ended the session by making flag books with class samplers of the paste papers.
If you are not familiar with the Campbell Folk School, please explore their website. There is much to offer and I will be back on the 2017 schedule!
In January, I wrote about some of the custom binding requests I had filled. One of those I summarized in this manner: "I read that you created a 640-page journal for someone. I want one too. I'll be hand-writing my novel". I created a leather cover with longstitch binding that included 20 signatures of 32 pages each. My customer, the novelist, wrote, "The journal arrived today as promised and it looks beautiful. It's going to be a pleasure writing in it." I wish him all the best in his writing journey. I know I am biased but I believe it makes a world of difference to be writing one's ideas or to be creating one's drawings in a unique and hand-crafted book.
As always, please consider the list of events I have scheduled and come say hello at one of the exhibits or sales venues. I am definitely open to scheduling individual workshops. This month I am offering 3 workshops - 2 private, 1 public - that are scheduled simply because people asked for the skills. I enjoy teaching and am told I am good at it, so come find out!
Bookbinder and Papermaker