The Penland Experience - Part 3

I finally managed to take photos of the books I made at Penland, and here are some of those images.

I'd worked only briefly with acrylic paint in the past, so I was looking forward (although with a bit of trepidation), to my two-week Book Arts workshop at Penland, where we were going to paint papers for our books. I wasn't disappointed. We spent days and days painting layers of paint on both sides of large sheets of Arches Cover. We used various techniques and tools to create texture with each new layer. We cut up the papers and used them as pages for the books we made. Altogether, we made about a half-dozen books, each a different structure, each a little more complex than the last.

We supplemented this with other processes: printmaking (making collagraphs on an etching press), carving rubber stamps for mark-making, and using handwriting as graphic imagery. I loved it all. I loved it and I was anxious about it. "Am I doing it right?," I kept wondering. After a while, I stopped wondering. I still wasn't sure, but I'd decided to treat what I was doing as an experiment. After all, if you can't experiment during a workshop, when can you?

So though perfectionism and I are on a first-name basis, I told myself that wanting to achieve perfection at something that others -- notably, our instructor, Laura Wait --had been doing for years was just a titch overambitious. The self-talk helped, and there's something about Penland itself that encourages you to take risks and try new things.

I didn't lose all my fear when I was in the studio (fear of failure, of embarrassment, of whatever else scares us when we feel vulnerable), but what was left was healthy. It was the kind of fear that pushes you to create even though you're not sure of the outcome. And since by nature and habit I really like to know the outcome in advance, managing to live with the ambiguity was a big deal.

I read somewhere today that, in art, the most important thing is to start, and the second most important thing is to finish, and that if you do those two things, everything else will take care of itself. In a fundamental way, that's what places like Penland give you: a start and a finish. And that makes the next time all that much easier.

More to come.

Drum leaf binding (developed by Tim Ely) - the book is approximately 15" high by 3 1/2" wide.

The first two-page spread from the book. We worked with signs and symbols.
I focused on the triangle and the letter 'M'

A close-up of another of the spreads from the book

We overpainted mylar that we'd used underneath our pages as we painted.

A two-page spread from another book

A head-on view of the pages of another book


Cheryl Prater said...

Hey Clara! Of course I remember you from Jane's "small is mighty" soldered book class. Penland? How wonderful! I love the pix you posted - makes me want to take a book class. I am heading back to Arrowmont in September for fiber embellishments. Thanks for stopping by my blog -- see you in Saluda? I'm there Sept 22, come by and say hi! cher

DianneOhio said...

I am intrigued by the "drum leaf" binding technique. Any chance you can tell us more about it? Or post a few more images that might give us a hint at it's construction?

I searched the web and found the Bonefolder article but got thoroughly confused by the leather binding instructions. It appears to me that your binding is not leather and I would prefer paper over leather myself, at this point in my binding experience.

Clara said...

Hi,Dianne, you can certainly make the covers from board covered with paper, rather than using leather. My book has a (painted) fabric (baked by kozo paper)spine and the rest is matt board covered by painted Arches text wove paper.

I'm familiar with Tim Ely's article in The Bonefolder, although I haven't read it. If what confuses you about it is the use of leather, then just assume you can substitute paper for the leather.

Essentially, the drum leaf binding has a text block that's sewn together, and then the text block is covered. What's different and interesting about it is that the book is made up of single signatures, and the back pages of each signature are glued to each other, resulting in a book that's made up of two-page spreads. As an example: assuming that you have a book with 7 signatures, the back-left side of signature #1 is glued to the inside front cover, serving as an "endpaper." The back-right of signature #1 is glue to the back-left of signature #2 and so on, until the back-right of signature #7 (the last signature) is glue to the inside back cover of the book, again creating an endpaper. I'm assuming that this is covered in the Bonefoldder article

Hope this is helpful. This was my first drum leaf binding, and I love it. It makes an elegant book.

DianneOhio said...

Thanks for the explanation. It helped a lot to understand what I am looking at here. I didn't pick up on the sewing but now that I look more carefully I can see thread in the page folds.

But, I am thinking that your binding may be a variation on Ely's technique, or I am thoroughly confused, because in his article he states ... the book structure and systems involve no sewing ... the drum leaf book is a full-adhesive, non-sewn binding ...

... well, since writing the above, I went back and read Ely's article a third time and I am beginning to understand, because of your help, this binding technique and the meaning of the word drumming.*

I can see where your technique would work well with full-page spreads, but what intrigued me in his article was that his "drum leaf" binding was useful not only for folded sheets (i.e. single signatures) but for single sheets as well (using repair washi paper to join two single sheets to form a signature) and that with no sewing there would not be a thread line to interrupt the flow of imagery across the fold.

* By “drumming” I [Ely] make reference to the conventional and venerable vellum book fabrication method where the skin is attached to the board along a leading edge rather than over an entire surface.

Clara said...

Dianne,I went back to my book and my notes and I gave you faulty information. As you correctly understood from the article, the text block is NOT sewn. The spine is wrapped in kozo/washi paper (we used moriki).

Using this binding for single sheets does sound intriguing. I'll look forward to reading the article.