July 30, 2013 § 5 Comments
The Arvon Foundation is an astounding and stimulating resource. Established over forty years ago, four historic houses run residential writing courses and create magic.
In the middle of July, with the prospect of perfect weather, the ideal co-tutor and a dream of a guest speaker, I arrived at Hebden Bridge train station laden like a true Travelling Bookbinder.
It was the first time dear Shetland friend Jen Hadfield and I had taught together. What a treat. We were able to modify, respond, adapt and restructure our plans as we went along. A true collaboration. Made utterly enjoyable by the delightful reactions and productions of our group.
There was word play and experimentation, the learning of folds and new book structures. And instructions to forage; to choose a thing to examine and describe.
Jen challenged us to see through unfamiliar lenses and to write what we saw.
Landscape inveterate Richard Long flew in from Japan to show us what he considers to be his first artist’s book, created while travelling across South America with Hamish Fulton in 1972.
The next morning he woke at five to walk up the valley. He said the experience of being in this place – Arvon – and reading Jen’s poetry had opened up a door in him.
Inspiration was evident when students were asked to go and ‘texturise’ a sheet of thick cottony paper using pens, pencils and less conventional mark-making methods.
They came back burnt, muddy, rubbed, embossed and trodden on (and that was just the students ha ha….)
Once the paper had been covered with text, pigment….character, each was folded into a book form.
Friday night saw splendid recitations and presentations.
Every morning looking out at the forest wall across the valley made me so happy. Making books makes me happy. Learning/Teaching more about words and books and place has been a pleasure.
Thank you Jen, Richard, sixteen special students and all at Lumb Bank.
June 15, 2013 § 1 Comment
Last month, much to my barely-contained excitement, not only did I get to visit my favourite print-on-demand company (and see the Moo ink drop reception carpet in real life,)
we got to play with paper for a couple of hours of practical mind-expanding creativity.
Everybody had a mini-goody-bag, with labels and envelopes….which included my cherished thick juicy Luxe business cards.
Whoah! Some folk from the American office joined in via video link (and patiently folded different shapes in between instructions. Brilliant.)There was time for free-style experimentation with the folded book forms involving felt-tips
and some revelations about the last office party. The evening was rounded-off with a slideshow of how paper has become a career for The Travelling Bookbinder.
This is the first corporate paperfest I’ve had the pleasure to run. If you or your company would like to host your very own, send a message. Yay.
Thank you to Moo and Mr Matthew Grey.
April 28, 2013 § 2 Comments
Bookbinders started to appear in twos and threes off the ferry from mid-afternoon on March 7th. John took care of the luggage while the rest of us ambled past the abbey along to the north end. The hostel was waiting, all welcoming and warm, with tea in the pot.
The following morning, having unpacked cutting mats, laid out pencil cases and started in on some preparatory folding, we bundled into coats and wellies and went outside. Our host, John showed us round the croft, sharing a wealth of knowledge about the age of rocks, Gaelic names and the Spring of Eternal Youth (amongst other things.)
Then back to folding and slitting, cutting large sheets of creamy cartridge down to size and into sections.
Fortunately the rigorous work schedule was regularly interrupted by a tall man bearing cake, caringly baked by Anja. Thank you Anja!
Everybody had beach-combed for suitable bits of driftwood. There was much swapping and trading-in and assessing the grain. Once decisions about book proportion had been decided, the multi-skilled John jigsawed and drilled. I am not allowed to show the picture of how his tongue sticks out when he’s concentrating. Thank goodness for gloves. It was chilly in that barn.
From the way Kate’s wooden bits overlap in a double layer, you can tell it is from a naval boat. Cross-planking. Apparently.
Back to the dining table come studio bench, it was time to start compiling content, prompted by a list of sixteen triggers. Each could be very loosely interpreted or combined with another or quietly ignored. I just didn’t want anyone to feel stuck.
In between bouts of intensive attentive tuition there was opportunity to read the first International edition of Flow magazine. Full of mindfulness and merriment.
Ah! Cake o’ Clock….
Since Iona Abbey is believed to have been where the Book of Kells was created by monks, we arranged a special visit to the tiny cabin-like library. John had brought a facsimile to show us, as the original is safe in Dublin. Isn’t it an artist’s book?! I love thinking about how the manuscript was illuminated in a special scriptorium.
We sat on these beautifully tapestried chairs and listened to poetry in quiet contemplation.
The paper cutting continued, as did painting, writing, rubbing, story-telling and mapping….
Then it was time to sew, which is tricky with rough driftwood covers, and coptic stitch challenges anyone’s tension. These binders remained calm throughout. Must have been the spiritual surroundings. And the carbohydrates.
What Kate Did.
What Kate Did Next.
A fine spine from Jo:
Everyone kept a ‘thoughts-in-progress’ book. Handbound, natch.
Emma’s book is EPIC!
Calligraphic wonderfulness from the pen of Jill Calder;
Too soon the day of departure is upon us, clear and bright.
Weighed down with pebbles, good memories and bespoke bindings….
Thank you kind John at Iona Hostel. Please can we come again?
January 25, 2013 § Leave a comment
The vast halls at the Parc des Expositions near Charles De Gaulle airport are hung with lengths of plastic which shimmer like chandeliers. I think they actually serve to insulate the cliff-height walls from the snowy wastes without.
Queuing for a ticket could be for some sort of mega-night-club; glam and noir, with a hint of citrus neon.
Then pick up a lanyard for your access ticket. Mine says “Specifier”, which sounds important. Really I am here to ‘assist’ the indomitable Barbara Colvin; to shadow an expert who has walked these avenues many times before.
In between ordering fabric/garden furniture/lamps/sofas/cushions/cabinets and discussing worldwide freight, she points out what works, what’s new. And asks questions. Demands an opinion. Every few hours there is a pit stop for re-hydration and review. Each day we cover less than one exhibition space. It is magnificent and overwhelming. I learn a lot.
On the last night we eat at Alcazar, which has big brass letters as door handles and very fine food.
January 25, 2013 § 2 Comments
A small platter by Vivien Moir was one of the best parcels in my stocking on Christmas morning.
It serves as a daily reminder of this year’s changes in direction; writing rather than travelling so much, tightening up, developing new pathways and the determination to MAKE more!
“I am going this way.”
December 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
In January, The Travelling Bookbinder embarked on a journey; to teach a different workshop in an inspiring place each month of 2012. A short film outlining the mission can be seen here. It’s strange and gratifying to be unpacking now – scattering star-shaped sequins – after the final event.
Our course took place in an elegant apartment whose entrance hall was lined with guidebooks, literature and compartments containing spare umbrellas, scarves and a beautiful hat the owner had left behind on his last visit.
The city was chilly, mostly crisp and pale blue. We dived in by venturing out to the Marché aux Vieux Papiers de Saint-Mandé, where we rifled through every possible category of postcard in search of the quirky and obscure. My treasure was a job-lot of old stamps, some in grubby glassine envelopes – very heaven.
To warm up the fingers; a garland of stars!
Followed by a ten-pointer:
And a cluster of different bindings…small enough to hang on a tree.
All this making punctuated by many cups of tea and forays to the paperiest corners of the most specialist and wonderful shops for essential components and visual inspiration. A number of patisserie items may have been consumed.
One morning we wrote down the twelve best moments of this year, and our wishes for the next. They were funny and poignant and full of hope.
The main project was a book with twelve pockets.
A comment which warms my heart –
“Thank you for every minute of these fantastic five days! It was like five day-trips to another continent.”
Thanks to every single one of you, in every month, who made this journey of the Travelling Bookbinder possible: Next year it will turn into a book. Abientot.
November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
The Travelling Bookbinder is delighted to announce that her sculpture has a new home.
Many thanks to British Geological Survey, who have welcomed Rockface into the foyer of their Edinburgh offices with such enthusiasm.
The book sculpture is designed to be touched. A watercolour seam runs through every page, with a word that could be interpreted as geographical or emotional. The profile of a face, cut out of the paper, was inspired by a Joy Division album cover – Unknown Pleasures. The base has screen-printed contour lines abstracted from Edinburgh maps. I like to imagine visitors running a hand along its edges; a geo-scientist pausing to ponder the poetry; an engineer considering its construction….
Much gratitude to the Edinburgh Bookshop, where it perched atop the bookshelves, out of reach, observing the comings and goings, perusings and purchasing.
Thank you to all who encourage ideas small and large, and help them happen.
November 17, 2012 § 1 Comment
Once a year I drive to Skye, usually through the spectrum of Highland autumn.
After a reasonable interval, my thoughts turned to Thoughts Library – workshop number eleven in the Diary of a Travelling Bookbinder. The six-foot-folding-party-table was erected, parcels of thick cartridge paper unwrapped (John Purcell has posted paper to nearly every island workshop I have ever taught.) And workshop participants arrived from Edinburgh, Switzerland and Iona.
We stitched together books for collections of quotes. We bound personal wisdoms. There were books on how we look at home and at work, island histories, elements of a creative life, Chakra colours and literary anecdotes.
The course coincided with fireworks at Dunvegan Castle, undaunted by sweeping rain.
Each person made a series, contained by a slipcase, a satisfying custom fit.
At the end, after semi-force-feeding of doughnuts, several thoughtful, funny, exquisite libraries had been produced.
See you there next year?
November 1, 2012 § 2 Comments
Last October Monica Dengo ran a course in free-style expressive calligraphy (that’s not keeping to straight lines) at Ca’ Pesaro on the Grand Canal. Apart from being liberating in terms of inky mark making, it made me realise that Venice is the most wonderful place to take a workshop. So when selecting locations for this year’s world tour (see the two minute film about it here,) the water-bound city of light came top. And because its alleys and bridges and canals are notoriously confusing to navigate, a theme involving mapping seemed right.
Five adventurers travelled across wide oceans, over high mountains, armed with cutting mats and determination, to chart their own personal geographies. Undaunted by the ninety-six steps up to our attic studio…
…to find deluxe goody bags filled with Hazell Designs Books treats, including tape, labels, stamps, envelopes, a propellor pencil, a note book and a map of Venice.
We quickly bound a couple of journeys (one sewn, one folded,) then started work on the main project: Measuring and scoring a spine-piece, collating sheaves of papers, mocking up a story-board. The view over terracotta rooftops and spires proved distracting:
Fortunately there were incentives. Delicious!
Highlight of the week, apart from living out a dream, was visiting the Museo Correr Library’s Special Collections, where Monica Viero (this post is monopolised by Monicas; kisses to all of you) had selected some rare and wonderful books for us to pore over.
Palpitations of awe, inspiration and overwhelmed camera batteries necessitated liquid refreshment at Harry’s Bar.
The results of such charting and exploring were gratifying. I am proud of these Personal Geographers.
Here is the testimonial of Monica Watson-Peck:
Midnight flight home after a molte fabulosa personal geographies workshop week in Venezia with the inspiring Rachel. So delighted with my book & mini books & superb origami envelopes…not to mention what books we should read, and restaurants to try and where to find the best gelati. A woman of many talents.
There are still a couple of places for Stars and Celebrations, in Paris, in December. Different city, different stationery emporium….
August 16, 2012 § 4 Comments
Some of this summer has been spent in Cornwall; teaching, festivalling (Port Eliot), reading, catching up on correspondence, making lists and working on a book proposal. Oh and a long slow week’s holiday on St Agnes, Isles of Scilly. Bliss.
The best bit? Time out from the internet. No wifi, no signal. Unplugged for the first time in months.
I met Sue, c.1996 at North Farm Gallery on St Martin’s, when I wandered in and mentioned out-of-season bookbinding workshops. We share a love of islands, cava, maps and BOOKS.
Swallows nest there, for goodness sake (with bubble wrap and bamboo shit protectors erected by Norman) and chirrup on the rafters. Snails leave silvery trails over artwork and have a penchant for ink. Shelves sway with boxes bursting with labels, envelopes, ripped edges. Books tustle and lean together, stacked and piled.
A wooden chest is filled with rubber stamps and ink pads in each compartment. Somehow other people’s studios are always more appealing than one’s own. I got to play too, and talk through ideas. There are few places to be happier.
Sue is well-known and revered for her watercolour painting, capturing light and energy. People collect her books, calendars and framed works. Last week she started on three large pieces based on Admiralty charts of the Isles of Scilly. I was lucky to watch the process:
Once framed, the work will travel to St Martin’s by ship and boat, to join the current exhibition at North Farm Gallery.