I recently finished up my week of teaching bookbinding at Columbus College of Art and Design’s Summer Educators’ Studio. I LOVED IT!! I was nervous getting ready for it, as this was my first time teaching adults (art teachers, no less — gulp!) I kept wondering if I had enough stuff to show and talk about… would I fill up the time or stand around twiddling my thumbs for the last half hour? I think that being a little nervous was a good thing — it forced me to be prepared — but it turns out I didn’t need to be worried; it all ended up just fine. More than fine, actually.
On the first night, I gave my Flying Adventures reading and Creative Persistence presentation, and was a guest at the welcome dinner, where I made a point to sit with people I didn't know and start conversations (more difficult for me than you’d think). When I left, I stepped into a magical night— empty streets, unfinished road construction, buildings glowing in pink twilight. It felt like standing in a painting. Summer in the city. A hot day's end.
The week was so rewarding. Students said I was their favorite class (yay for books!). I love summer workshops. Campuses are quiet, the thrum of the academic year over...we had the entire 4th floor studios to ourselves! My syllabus went out the window and the class unfolded on its own, which was perfect.
We started out with simple structures made out of copy paper (inexpensive and already all cut to the exact same size!) I brought some of my decorative papers from home in addition to what the school provided, and so even the "practice" books wound up looking like keepers.
One of the binding styles I taught came from a book printed in 1985 by Ohio's own Logan Elm Press, Mid-Ohio Elegies. Poetry by Gordon Grigsby with collotypes by my cousin, Kurt Retter.
I have always wanted to figure out how this book was bound as it appeared so unique, and so I finally deconstructed my one of my two copies to reverse-engineer it. While I thought it was made of two signatures, it turns out it was only one, just folded differently (apparently it's called a double-section saddle-stitch binding). The covers were boards wrapped with heavy paper both horizontally and vertically, creating pockets to slip both the anchor pages and the dustjacket into. Logan Elm Press is, sadly, gone now, although its equipment and spirit remain somewhere... could I please put in a request to the powers that be at OSU to revive it?
I loved that everyone hit the ground running with projects they wanted to work on.
On the last day, all the students in the entire program gave presentations about what they'd been up to during the week. Here's Richard showing everyone his Archetypes book, bound in that Logan Elm style.
John made a bunch of different books. One of my favorites was this tiny little square accordion that he outfitted with a clever tab closure that slips right into the fold of the cover.
Here's Kathryn, showing everyone how to fold the first book we made...
Another fun tab closure, à la Kathryn.
I feel completely changed by my experience. Maybe it’s because I proved to myself that I can teach this stuff. Maybe it’s because it got my feet in the studio every day, surrounded by papers and tools and other people working on projects. Maybe it’s that I got a faculty badge—legitimacy!— or some combination of all of these things. I don’t know. But my mindset has shifted. I loved this class, I miss it, and I can’t wait to do it again if they’ll have me back. Thanks, CCAD, for an amazing week with great people.