In addition to studio time in Springfield, I spent this past week teaching bookbinding to inmates at the Marion Correctional Institution through the Healing Broken Circles program. It was my first time in a prison and I didn’t really know what to expect, but I must have looked like I knew what I was doing because the guys remarked that I didn’t seem nervous. Was I supposed to be? It made me sad to think that maybe that was the norm. I’d be way more nervous walking past an OSU frat house on a party night. Seriously.
It was an interesting endeavor trying to find warden-approved supplies to bring in. Hunting down plastic replacements for metal ones. I couldn’t bring in bulldog clips, or paper clips, never mind any kind of cutting tool. Or needles. I was determined, though, to do sewn bindings, and managed to find plastic needles that weren’t super huge. Since they were too flimsy to poke holes through multiple sheets of paper on their own, the sewing process required some prep work: first, use a pushpin to make holes, then make them a little bigger with a toothpick (to make room for the too-big needle eye), then, finally, sew.
Class was great, everyone was so welcoming and friendly, and I had so much fun. I stuck my foot in my mouth on several occasions: “Okay, now let’s talk about Japanese stab binding — er, um, maybe I shouldn’t say that…” (much laughter)
On our last day I was given this beautiful little book (whose pages you see in this post) as a thank you from the class. It made me cry right there on the spot. Courageous? Hardly. It was an honor and a privilege to be there, and I hope I get to go back.