Friday, January 15, 2010

make books not war

Today after a long day of state-line-crossing babysitting jobs I went into the city for a bookbinding workshop hosted by The Center for Book Arts and taught by Esther K. Smith. I own two of her books already—How to Make Books and Magic Books and Paper Toys—so when I saw her name on The Center for Book Arts events page I KNEW I had to go to that workshop. I got there a little late because of work, but I found the place no problem and walked right in. The location was on the third floor of a skinny New York building and was deliciously artsty. The elevator opened up right into the studio area and after putting my name on their email list and dropping of my layers of warmth on the completely overstuffed coat rack in the back, I entered the open workshop area. There were four tables set up for working, all high working tables, and they were packed with people. I slipped in next to a younger looking woman and asked her to fill me in on what project we were working on: snake books. I was a little disappointed because this was a fairly simple structure that I had known about and had been using for years, first being introduced to it by my lovely cousin-in-law Jenny. However, the basis for the workshop was Esther's new book The Paper Bride and she gave the book a new context by suggesting that you extend the book to make it into both a guest book and a decorative chain that could be hung up, perhaps in your home, after the wedding and reception are over. I think I may have just decided to make my own guest book for my as-of-yet completely hypothetical future wedding, friends. But that's what this blog is all about anyway, isn't it? The future?

Anyway, we made a few other projects from the book which were also fun but I felt like only the last one was really "practical" (I use that term loosely) in terms of standard bookbinding in that it could be incorporated into an actual book. (The other project was how to make a paper stand up snack holder—cool, but somewhat limited in application...) After the projects I went and asked Esther to sign my books and I asked her how one gets into the bookbinding world. I told her I was looking to go to bookbinding school but that I wasn't sure that was the most profitable decision, and she told me about various options, some of which were contingent upon my proficiency, and asked if I had brought any of my work with me. ...No. Why would I have thought to do something so painfully obvious? I proceeded to mentally kick myself for the rest of the conversation, though she went on to tell me that she was teaching a class at Cooper Union that I could sign up for which would allow her to talk to her more about what I wanted to do and how to do it. I am going to take it. I am excited. (Despite the lack of exclamation point, I promise, I am. Very. Excited. Very.)