Last year I received a professional development grant from the Greater Columbus Arts Council to study bookbinding with Jace Graf of Cloverleaf Studio in Austin, Texas. It was my intention to use this one-on-one workshop as the means to create a new, final structure for my Flying Adventures book as well as its slipcase.
Cloverleaf is one of the most respected binderies in the photo- and hand-bound book world, and Jace's reputation as a true craftsman spans the globe. It was a privilege to have taken an introductory workshop at Cloverleaf the year before, and I knew that working with Jace in an intensive setting would not only raise my knowledge and skill level but also help me learn how to pass that knowledge on to others. It's been my plan all along to offer book workshops as part of Flying Adventures’ related public programming once the exhibition gets underway.
It was an even more amazing weekend than I could have imagined. Starting out with the fabulous digs I found on Airbnb:
For $65 a night, we (John came with me) stayed in this Scotty Camper just down the street from Cloverleaf. It was parked right next to its very own outdoor shower which, I gotta say, I absolutely LOVED. Tucked under the trees and surrounded with ferns and bougainvillea, it was heaven! Especially in the moonlight at night.
The neighborhood was filled with great food. I was happy to go back to Il Chilito again, and we discovered Patrizi's around the corner.
Cloverleaf inspired me, as always, with all its papers, book cloth, and artwork. Jace said, "Pick out a suitcase of stuff you want and take it home with you." (Seriously??!! Drool... drool...)
We wasted no time getting started. I'd prepared ahead of time by printing and handwriting my book pages. Jace said, "You only brought one copy?" Well, um, yes. "That's gutsy. What if you make a mistake?" Not an option!
First I scored and folded the signatures, then chopped off the extra bits. I wish I had one of these guillotine cutters at home, but I'll have to slice each page by hand (or take it to Staples and hope they don't ruin it...?)
Consulting with Jace about structures, I decided on an exposed-tape binding because it is glue-free, and when I'd made the original case-bound book, glue had peeled the inkjet coating off parts of the paper at the folds, ruining some of the images. Also, exposed tapes meant I could pay homage to the red and white striped tail of the airplane.
We made a template for punching holes...
... and then I got to work sewing. Yes we could have used a proper sewing frame, but whenever possible, I wanted to find ways to work that didn't use special equipment, in case I have to improvise when I make another copy, or teach at a place that doesn't have all the amenities.
I created "endpapers" (the inside covers, basically) out of Seattle aeronautical charts, and this was where my first mishap occurred: I had ordered a Seattle terminal area chart (basically an aviation map that's a close-up view of a city) and also what I thought was going to be a Washington sectional chart (a farther-out view) to see which one I wanted to use. Unfortunately I ordered a Washington DC area chart instead, and had to make due with using the Seattle TAC only. I was disappointed, but I figured, no one else is going to know (unless they read this post!), and I won't make that mistake again when I bind the next copy. These are the goofy things that will make each book slightly unique :-)
After sewing, tapes are glued to the inside front board and left under weights overnight. In the morning, I had the book innards put together!
My biggest holdup was design decisions. I brought along my own book cloth, but when Jace said I could use anything he had in the studio, it expanded my choices exponentially. Colors! Textures! I kept wanting to recreate the colors of the plane as I had in the first book (blue with a yellow spine), but I fell in love with a beautiful old worn-out-looking green cloth. The new book didn't have a spine either, so that concept wouldn't have made much sense. I knew I'd have a slipcase to work with as well, so maybe there was some way to incorporate both ideas...?
I ended the day undecided, but said I would sleep on it and make a decision in the morning, even if it meant flipping a coin.
In the morning when I came to the studio, I knew the green belonged on the book itself as it was where my heart leapt first, and I'd use the yellow and blue to make the slipcase. I was also planning to use the cover indent to showcase a photo of the pen-friends in their flying garb and the green was so perfect for that.
The slipcase was next. A blue border with a yellow front.
I was racing at the end to finish both the book and case, and I still have a few finishing touches to add (some of the collaged lettering, cloud doodles, and an Army Air Corps star collaged on the slipcase front), but I wanted SO badly to say I had finished this book at Cloverleaf Studio, under the guidance of Jace Graf, thanks to a grant from the GCAC. I was happy to say I did. It is my plan to make 25 copies of this book, each created in a different place for a different reason. Maybe the exhibition is such a success that a museum wants to acquire a copy for their collection... well then I'll make one specifically for them! Maybe an individual collector wants to buy one... well then I'll make one with their name on it. The colophon will say exactly where, why, and how a particular copy of the book was made, as well as list the quirks that make that copy unique.
This was my workspace table of leftovers when all was said and done. A good mess is the sign of day well-spent! Jace Graf, thank you SOOO much for giving up a weekend for me and sharing your space, your supplies, and your knowledge. You are so very generous!
John, thank you so very much for your travel benefits :-) And, of course an extra big thank you to the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the Columbus City Council, and Mayor Andrew Ginther for supporting the arts in the city I call home.