Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Series of Convoluted Coincidences and a Book Art Workshop

This is Donna, knitting during a break. You'll have to read on to figure out who Donna Thomas is, and why she's in this post. (Sorry this is blurry, Donna)


This is admittedly a long tale, so bear with me (or not!). Close to a month ago, I got an email from my friend Judith Walsh, an encaustic artist in Oracle, with a link to Catherine Nash's newsletter. An upcoming bookmaking workshop at her studio in Tucson caught my eye.

In my past, besides being trained as a printmaker, I took 2 semesters of bookmaking at ASU taught by John Risseauw. This was way back when (1987-1988 to be exact). I love bookmaking and it ties in so well with printmaking. Since that time, I've taken some bookmaking workshops, and have incorporated bookmaking into the teaching of my various art classes. However, bookmaking has taken a back seat to my painting efforts.

So when I got this email from Judith, I thought why not? It was happening two weeks after the Oracle Artist Studio Tour (see previous post). I figured I deserved a treat. So I signed up.

Fast forward to the week after the studio tour. Jim and I work on a project about US Route 89. One of our sponsors is the law office of Snell & Wilmer. Part of the deal was to create a series of photographs along Route 89 for their offices in Phoenix, Tucson and Salt Lake City.

Phoenix and Tucson ordered a group of prints for their respective offices. The Salt Lake City office requested a photographic book in lieu of hanging prints.

Here's where the story starts to happen. I've done bookmaking, including a pretty large hard bound book of Jim's photographs. But it's been awhile. And low and behold, I'd signed up for this bookmaking workshop in two weeks, where there will be a few brains to pick regarding this rather large project I've committed myself to do. Until I signed up for this workshop, I had barely thought about bookmaking in months. And now I had a commission to create a book.

So, we went to Phoenix (this was last week) to pick up and distribute the photographs to the Phoenix office of Snell & Wilmer. While in Phoenix, I wanted to go to Burton Barr Central Library to check out a few bookmaking books. Whenever I visit this library, I always look at the exhibit in @Central Gallery, and then the display of artist-made books in cases on the first floor.

The bookmaking workshop I was scheduled to take the next week was being taught by guest artists Donna and Peter Thomas traveling to Tucson from their home and studio in Santa Cruz, CA. So here we were at the main library in Phoenix, looking at the cases of books, and lo and behold, I saw a book on display by Donna and Peter. Quite a coincidence.

Just as I pointed it out to Jim, I heard someone not 10 feet away saying that she saw one of their books in the case. It turns out that the couple right next to us were, yes, Donna and Peter Thomas. All the way from Santa Cruz, stopping off at ASU for a talk with one of John Risseauw's classes and then on to the library to see the Rare Book Collection. Now, in my book (hah, isn't this too clever), this is a truely convoluted coincidence. They are traveling the country for 8 months in their gorgeous, hand crafted Gypsy Wagon to spread the word about the joys of bookmaking with stops for workshops at various places along the way. And we just happened to be in the same place, at the same exact second.

The workshop was yesterday. It was fabulous. The second photo (above) is a shot of some of the participants gathered around Peter as he demonstrates.


Here's a close up of Peter, continuing to demonstrate the fine points of creating a Scrolling Book.


In this basin are the book boards and other parts for a miniature scrolling book.



Here's Peter helping people get started. Directly behind him is Catherine Nash, whose amazing Tucson studio is being used for the workshop. (sorry it's blurry, Catherine).



Deep into work, Mabel Dean, founder of PaperWorks, the Sonoran Collective for Paper and Book Artists, is on the left in the foreground. Quite a few of the other participants in this workshop were members of PaperWorks. They were all very nice, and I was able to pick quite a few brains and come up with some good tips regarding my book project for Snell and Wilmer. When my check arrives to its' destination in a few days, I'll be a member, too. I had no idea such an organization existed in Tucson, and am very excited to find such a vibrant and active community of book makers close by.



This is a display of some of the Donna and Peter's miniature books. The books are amazing tiny jewels of creative work, all less than 3" in each dimension. Maybe even smaller.


A blurry shot of one of their larger books, with handset type and an illustration.



And here's the same book in its' case.



I couldn't resist taking a picture of a set of shelves in Catherine's studio. I think you could spend hours looking at and trying to figure out what all this interesting stuff is.

So that's the saga of the book coincidences. The workshop was a wonderful experience. I came away with new acquaintances, two scrolling books, lots of information and renewed enthusiasm for the fine art of bookmaking.

2 comments:

Patricia Sahertian said...

This sounds just fantastic. Would love to see your creations. And good luck with the big photographic book project. It's so cool when all these interesting independent moments collide.

Barbara Cowlin said...

Yes, I'm really grateful to have been involved in the Scrolling Books workshop in Tucson last week. Not only was it fun, but I was able to pick some brains about the Big Book. And I'd be even more frantic than I am now!