Books Studio

I love books. Growing up they were whole new worlds waiting to be read and enjoyed. The possibilities contained in their covers intrigued, educated, and sustained me. I grew up scolded by every authority figure I’ve ever known for reading too much and/or at inappropriate times. Reading a book is as natural to me as walking and I can do both at the same time. Most of my disposable income is spent on books. Most of the unpacked boxes in my attic are books. I also revel in doing it myself and reusing anything instead of throwing it away. Making books seems to be a completely logical evolution in my life.

I've had a series of artist cards over the years!

I'm often asked if I am self-taught.

The short answer is: Not anymore and not really.

The long answer:
I was originally inspired by my AP Art History teacher who showed me that I could actually make functional books out of materials that would be lying around anyway (tape, glue, cardboard, sewing thread, and sewing needles). These books were very basic and not at all founded in traditional book binding. None of those early books were sturdy enough for my use.

I loved the idea though so I started reading books about book binding, in particular Keith Smith's Non-Adhesive Bindings and Japanese Bookbinding by Kojiro Ikegami. I skipped over all the sections about equipment and straight into the actual construction of books and developed my own no-nonsense, non-traditional style. This is my truly self-taught stage and it forms the foundations of all my work. I still practice non-adhesive bindings whose construction is portable and flexible enough to work with a variety of materials and my Japanese stab binding methods are purely from this stage.

As I made friends who also bound books, I began to share skills and become involved in the Philadelphia Society for the Book. I learned bindings that are mystifying in explanation such as the Belgian Secret Binding and taught workshops on my take on Japanese stab bindings. I also worked for several years as a library book mender which involved the replacing of broken spines with new ones and basic book repair (a lot of paste). During these years I took classes and learned many little tricks that made my life much easier. I am indebted to that community for the little tricks they taught me. As a result, I have difficulty saying I am self-taught; I have had a lot of support through the years.

I will add, though, that nothing in this life happens in a vacuum and no artist is an island so there may be no such thing as a self-taught artist.


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