My final class of the semester at the University of the Arts involved two classes covering the construction and thematic possibilities involved in creating a carousel book. Students spent one session learning a traditional method of folding three accordion books. These were then tabbed together to create this three-dimensional book form which can be read lengthwise or pulled into a circle (hence the name). Students then began to compose text and imagery into their books during the second class. Most finished a couple pages plan to finish the entire book by their final critique with Frances Osugi.
I love teaching how to streamline the production of artist’s books, but rarely get to teach this class because many book artists don’t make multiples. However, the seven book artists who attended the my production class at the Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven, Connecticut, were primed for this workshop–most had a lot of bookmaking experience on which to draw.
We produced an accordion book involving twelve various additions and reproduction techniques, and at the same time made jigs and templates for making more copies. Sadly, we only were able to produce one copy within the class time, but I will reorganize future classes to allow more time for multiples. The class also involved discussions on why to produce multiples, how many to produce, how to price the resulting work, and how to organize one’s workspace to maximize your efforts. Everyone was pleased to walk away with a sample production and lots of information on how to proceed with their bookmaking editions.
Many people don’t realize that fiber arts involve paper, too. There is a long history of papers created from all types of plant fibers, from flax to cotton to Japanese gampi and kozo (mulberry). Thus, I was not surprised to get an email from the Potomac Fibers Group in Maryland inviting me to give a presentation and class on paper engineering. This past Saturday was a full day. I gave a lecture on the history of pop-ups in the morning, and a mini class session for 21 students in the afternoon. Participants are shown here, smiling at the end of the day with completed pop-ups in hand. Thanks to everyone who attended.
Four full days of classes at Pittsburgh’s Studio at Contemporary Craft yielded lots of creative projects, from architectural pop-ups and spirals to carousel and tunnel books. Two days were devoted exclusively to pop-up constructions, and eight students worked their way through numerous structures, from simple cut-and-fold pop-ups to non-adhesive props and V-folds. The next class was a two-day workshop, one day devoted to carousel books and one to tunnel books. Everyone left with finished models of both structures. Aside from that, I had fun exploring Pittsburgh’s downtown strip full of ethnic food markets and specialty boutiques. Thanks to Leslie Wright for being such an enthusiastic and wonderful host!
For the past two Mondays I traveled to Philadelphia to teach a special pop-up session for the students in Alice Austin’s book arts class at the University of the Arts. Despite bad weather, students showed up to try their hand at paper engineering. We made a series of models–pop-up platforms, props, V-folds, and other forms–which students can later use within the book formats Alice demonstrates over the course of the semester. I had a lot of fun with the students, and also enjoyed seeing my Philadelphia friends, Patty Smith, Mary Phelan, Susan Vigeurs, Sarah Van Keuren, and Lori Spencer.
This year, the Guild of Bookworkers Standards Conference was held in Washington, D.C., so all of my bookmaking friends were in town. Dominic Riley and Michael Burke came two days early and stayed with us in Glen Echo. (Yes, we’re a little out of focus after several glasses of wine.) We spent Thursday afternoon visiting museums, and on Saturday I did a little shopping at the vendors’ market, buying one of Shanna Leno’s beautiful leather book weights.
Saturday evening, Dominic and Michael had me as their guest at the Guilds’ banquet and auction. Terry Belanger, founder of the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School, received the Guild’s distinguished member award. Also shown is Jana Dambrosio, a former student in one of my workshops, with her mini pop-up Washington monument. The auction was a big success, and everyone is looking forward to next year’s conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A colorful array of pop-ups filled large tables at The University of the Arts on Sunday as eight paper engineering enthusiasts created models of various structures in my class for the Philadelphia Center for the Book. Despite it being only a one-day workshop session, we managed to cover all of the most important pop-up forms, including props, floating platforms and V-folds. Participants left with stacks of cards and ideas.
In addition to teaching, I visited with my friends Patty Smith and Jude Robison, went to the Italian market and Blick Art Supply, and ended the weekend with a visual feast by seeing the new Barnes Collection Museum. Despite my early misgivings, I think they did a very nice job installing the artworks and maintaining the original feel of the collection.
This is the first year the National Museum of Women in the Arts has run an Advanced Teacher Summer Institute, with an emphasis on incorporating Arts learning into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math lessons (acronym STEAM). All twelve of the teachers who participated had previously completed the basic institute and were up for a greater challenge.
I spent the first day of the institute teaching some of the more complex pop-up structures that involve a lot of trial-and-error problem-solving, dimensional design skills, and sequential model-making. These techniques and processes are used by both scientists and artists in achieving results, and the emphasis in this week-long session was on taking risks and exploring these methods of creating and inventing. Participants had much more time to pursue their own ideas and incorporate them into some sort of final book structure. Hopefully, such unstructured time for play and invention can lead to similar discoveries in the classroom, with art and science melding into product designs and technologies for the future.
After the final class on Friday, I walked over to the National Botanical Garden to see a wonder of nature, the rare giant Titan Arum or “corpse flower,” almost ready to bloom. (Not quite open yet. I’ll be watching it over the weekend). It was a fitting ending to an exciting week of science and art.