Sometimes on Shetland you get all weathers in one day. This year there was sleet on arrival at the ferry, and then this big blue sky at the lighthouse!
We’re perched on the edge of Bressay Sound, looking North across to Lerwick.
The further you climb up the hill, the easier it is to see the heart-shaped natural arch…Such an inspiring place.
Everybody’s room was labelled.
Goody bags waited on the studio pew.
On the first day we measured, marked and stitched these one, two and three section bindings.
There’s something SO satisfying about stitching paper.
Books and bits on the window sill.
Here’s where we worked.
Helen made a bespoke stamp for the workshop – amazing!
Jill’s Five Fish book is a gem!
Winifred printed glorious boat shapes using lo-tech cardboard collagraphs.
Helen read island poetry to us!
There was time for foraging and fossicking. (And lots of cake….but no photographic evidence of that. Not even crumbs.)
It’s rather distracting when the Coastguard helicopter on exercise dangles a winchman down on to the rocks in front of you. Isn’t the propeller pattern on the surface of the sea amazing?
Denyce’s desk of delights.
Claire’s nautical notations.
The un-waxed coloured linen thread (from Shepherd’s) required running through this fragrant block of beeswax before using.
Saturday night is Shetland Salmon Night. Thank you Dave for the freshest fish.
Constructing custom-sized slipcases involves a certain amount of precision.
Made to fit, perfectly. I am very proud of each and every one’s attention to detail.
The skeleton of a slip case. Made from the most delicious Zaanschbord paper from a Dutch windmill.…
Helen’s DIY poetics.
Ah the end came too soon.
Bressay Bindings all encased.
VERY touched by this fabulous Thank-You card, which buoyed up my spirits when everyone had gone.
A lighthouse is an extraordinary place to make books.
Exceptional gratitude to Winifred, for feeding us so very well.
At the end of a recent talk at The Fruitmarket Gallery, I told of my desire to be a lighthouse, guiding people through the journey of creating their own books from conception to completion. How apt then to arrive here, at Bressay, on Shetland, for a short residency.
Everybody needs to be able to press the ‘Reset’ button once in a while. I am very grateful to the Shetland Amenity Trust and Sumburgh Head Art Residency scheme for the opportunity to concentrate on my own work in a uniquely pertinent surroundings. The engine room has fabulous machinery (and acoustics.)
This is home for two weeks.
One has to stock up on materials first….! Shetland sketchbooks from The Peerie Shop.
Also important to put up a mission statement: Forget Reactive Be Responsive. OK.
I began painting lines of hill.
And established a daily habit of walking up above the lighthouse. Great perspective from up there.
These landscapes will become book covers.
Most mornings i’d hop over the wall to see what the water was doing, and wave to the pairs of fulmars on the cliffs.
Radio Four is a lifeline when solitary. Not a bad studio view eh?
There was treasure to be found on the jetty below the lighthouse.
Every morning at 7am the Northlink ferry from Aberdeen would steam by. Sometimes i’d go and wave a welcome in my pyjamas.
Slowly ideas made their way onto paper.
The Annual Shetland Lighthouse Bookart Workshop took place in the middle. They created a series of bindings in a slipcase. Great gang. Great work.
Afterwards I found these discarded pages and glued them down in sequence.
Creating a concertina. To be continued…
Finished binding twenty-one Lines of Hill.
Wrote a poem.
Painted pages sea blue.
Watched the Swan go by.
Made posters to spread the word about an Open Studio.
Reveled in the light. Content.
Cold mornings. Clear skies. This cloud made my day!
Have you ever heard a lighthouse gate singing in the wind?!
All too soon, it’s time to show what’s been achieved. And offer the chance of making a book. Tea and shortbread.
Unique bookworks. Inspired by Shetland.
I’ll miss this.
Rumi said: “Be a lamp, a lifeboat, or a ladder.”
I want to be a lighthouse.
Watching with delight as the Calmac ferry calmly chugged across the Sound of Iona on a fine Thursday evening carrying driftwood binders on the final part of their journey. Folk had travelled from all over the UK, also Sweden and Arizona.
After good food and sleep, we began with technique. Developing skills to bind with confidence.
Splendid Lesley kept us well-fuelled.
The beach provided inspiration and moments of revelation.
Iona Hostel held us.
Staying in the Shepherd’s Bothy is Chef’s Perk.
Soon, each work space filled with sea colours, textures, rubbings and writings. Here are Maxine’s painted pages. Spot the balls of Iona wool?
Jenny brought a brayer and printed seaweed. N.B. Porridge eating in progress.
Tamsin inked up rope, and printed with that. This was her bowl of beach-combings.
A saucepan became the repository for precious scraps!
Saturday morning found us in the barn; choosing and measuring driftwood. John patiently sliced and drilled through a diverse range of covers. Lucy’s mum found this chunk on the Isle of Man.
Before lunch, paper is dispensed and grain direction checked, then chopped to size. A list of ‘things to include’ is written down and allowed to settle. Kate’s covers are ready.
Then we walked to the abbey, and through the cloisters, stopping to look and ask questions on the way.
Being in the wood-lined library evokes such a sense of all that has happened here on Iona. John took us on a journey through history, along sea roads and around illuminated Celtic knots….
…and finished with a brilliant demonstration of how to make a goose feather pen.
Saturday Night is Film Night!
“I Know Where I’m Going” is a classic.
Ah then time just accelerated. Sunday was a blur of page filling, painting, printing, writing, collage and word finding… (punctuated by numerous cups of tea and chunks of Tony Chocolonely chocolate from Amsterdam.) Here is a pen and ink sketch in Viv’s book.
Kerstin created her own illustrations.
The light shone on us and our pages. Jenny’s rubbing.
Basho’s quote is a good reminder for letting go….
(Stone carver: Sheena Devitt)
Here’s a gallery of details:
This is a mere detail of Caroline’s epic binding…to give an idea of scale, she thinks the top cover might have been an oar!
Coordinating sections and threads. Tamsin’s triumph.
A limpet ring hangs from the spine of Viv’s book.
Teresa’s ripped edges and shells.
An exquisitely delicate binding by Maxine.
Kerstin’s book of island impressions catches the light.
Tiny textural pages from Lesley.
Lucy’s cover boards re-form into one when the book is opened wide.
Here is the whole set of extraordinary driftwood bindings.
Massive thanks to; John Maclean for his generous hospitality and wise words; Iona Craft Shop for staying open late for us; Lesley Wood for so much cooking; The Iona Community for our library visit; Teresa Smith for chocolate Special Delivery; Lucy Kelsall for a whole album of stunning photographs and ALL who quested and strived to make the Iona Driftwood Binding Retreat 2017.
Happy New Year!
Here’s a month-by-month outline of The Travelling Bookbinder’s plans for 2017
January – Writing on the Isle of Iona, walking this beach, looking out to Staffa and Mull
April – Shetland Lighthouse Workshop (sold out, sorry)
May – Walking in the sunny hills and coast lines of Mallorca
July – Mucking about on Iona with this dog and a boat
August – Textile Narratives, Chateau Dumas (bookings open!)
September – Paper Navigations Amsterdam (bookings open soon)
November – Paris Love Letters (only three places available)
December – Folding origami stars and parceling paper love up for the post….
Have a great year! I look forward to PaperLoving and getting bookish with you in 2017!
When better than the year end to look over the last twelve months and remember what did happen…? Here’s a month-by-month snapshot review of The Travelling Bookbinder’s 2016 highlights
Thank YOU for coming along with me, online with PaperLove and all around the world!
January: Iona. Planning, walking, watching the light change
February: PaperLove Alumni Weekend, Edinburgh
April: Featuring in the magnificent Uppercase magazine (Issue 29!)
May: Little Free Library no.36444 is declared OPEN!
July: Iona Music Festival, sea-swimming and boating…
August: Leksand, Sweden – to be a student!
September: Paper Navigations Amsterdam
November: Paris Love Letters
December: Golden Hare Books Star Window
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With gratitude and anticipation for a refreshing, stimulating and satisfying 2017
Dream commission: Create a constellation of origami for my treasured closest independent bookshop!
Golden Hare Books stocks and displays volumes of irresistible and unusual literary delight
Using paper from Adeline Klam, a book of mythology and a manuscript of Mendelssohn‘s Elijah, I created LOTS of ten point origami stars (and a few five pointed ones too)
Star transportation vessel (A Tracey Neuls shoe box)
The first star is hung! Five lengths of linen bookbinding thread, suspended from a wooden rod
Bring light through books!
In the night window…
Visit Golden Hare Books at 68 St Stephen Street, Stockbridge, Edinburgh EH3 5AQ
THANK YOU to Julie Danskin and all at The Golden Hare!
Happy Reading! Happy Holidays!
Paris Love Letters is the The Travelling Bookbinder’s zenith. It is the final and most exclusive workshop of my year. So the goody bags are correspondingly special. I love putting these together for the lucky three.
The workshop location is mere steps away from the deliciously foodiest street in Paris; rue Montorgueil. This basket goes to the Palais de Fruits for clementines.
We began with folding and stitching, then writing.
Our first jaunt is to Relma, bookbinding suppliers extraordinaire,
…who stock a fabulous selection of marbled papers…
…and leather too.
Since the inimitable Shakespeare & Co bookshop is close, we stopped in for a browse and a cuppa.
Ah Paris! Crisp November days are perfect for discovering more of you…
Mariage Freres tea is a fine complement to bookart, particularly a Paris-Provence blend.
No paperie tour of Paris would be complete without worshiping at the shrine of Calligraine to admire exquisite sheets and unusual bindings. We left with rolls of paper and elegant envelope packets.
And Melodies Graphiques never fails to provoke swooning, sighing and the purchase of calligraphy supplies.
Back to binding: An accordion fold with wrap around cover.
Swan’s map crown book.
And so to the flea market, searching for handsome tomes to re-purpose,
…boxes and boxes of sepia photographs
…and stationery lover’s treasures…
Souvenirs of bygone travels.
Rubber stamps. How to choose?!
…and one fold (of the limited edition Paul Smith designed menu) led to another: A crown fold of Georges.
Sewing handcrafted envelopes into the spine with red linen thread.
Marble envelopes stacking up for binding.
Fou de Patisserie morsels lined up for choosing.
Personally, I find it unwise to visit Adeline Klam unless funds are in place – every year I save up for now.
Whizzing between paper places by metro…
And walking, walking, walking! Here’s Place de la Bastille…
…on the way to Bofinger for a long lunch, and to pay my respects to a favourite reading lady. (Does the Latin translate to “Where does this lead.”?)
A highlight was visiting the studio of paper artist and bookbinder Julie Auzillon.
Our last day was busy binding. Teresa added these stamp tags to her book of envelopes. Aren’t they wonderful?
And Lynnee’s spectacular finished bound book.
I am delighted with the splendid Love Letters produced, and the depth and determination of each participant.
Ah Paris! I love you!
Already longing for next year….
Workshop preparations began with goody bag collations…
We sat on the bench by the tutor’s cottage and discussed good warm up exercises for the first evening, eventually inventing the ingenious Fortune Telling Poetry Generator (…which i sadly seem to have lost, so no pictorial evidence here.)
It was a treat to teach with Stevie. We had lots of plans and tricks ready, which were modified as we worked with the group of book artists and writers before us. How do you like our morning commute to work? On several mornings I was up early enough to see fallow deer in the valley.
The first class began with bookart; getting words on the page as soon as possible.
Reveling in bright text.
Proceeding to pop ups pronto. The morning whizzed by fast.
Stevie eased us gently into etymology, and how to think about language differently, by introducing us to kennings. These are compound expressions with metaphorical meaning, that come from Old English and Old Norse poetry. So paper becomes history keeper or pen a memory scriber.
Then he invented a new bookart structure called the snake form based on one of the folded structures I’d taught the day before. Amazing.
On Wednesday afternoon the mission was to forage for words. A prime opportunity for walking to Hebden Bridge and scoring paper and old books from the second hand market, The Book Case, aforementioned charity shops, Radiance and Standard Goods at Hebble End Studios.
We explored different ways of putting words on to the page.
Contrasting scale, colour and style with cacophonous effect.
Who could fail to have good thoughts in this library, with this view? It was where my tutorials took place, so that was lucky (for me, and the tutees, hopefully.)
Some of the productions by star stamper and letterer Ceri Amphlett.
The busyness of writing, folding and tremendous meals was punctuated by still moments. That wall of green has turned black for the night.
Bookart and Poetry in motion.
Stevie led a momentous session in automatic writing and not thinking. Brilliant.
Traditionally a typed and photocopied anthology of writing is put together on the final afternoon for all involved to keep for posterity. We realised that was not appropriate for this course, and challenged the group to produce seventeen leaves, with text and image, to be strung on a wire, as a momento for each and every one of us.
Miraculous and splendid piles of paper leaves.
After wonderfully individual presentations in the barn on our final night, we sang songs and drank wine.
I hope the glow sticks.
Here is Arvon’s copy of our leaf anthology in situ.
Outside the tutor’s cottage on the last morning; this piece of bookart!
Bacon and egg breakfasts were the key to our happiness. Stevie Ronnie does a fine fry up. THANK YOU to the team at Lumb Bank and to my lovely friends in Hebden Bridge!
Adventurous paper lovers travelled from all around the world for the Paper Navigations workshop in Amsterdam. Book artists from America, Canada, Denmark, Sweden and the UK gathered at The Lloyd Hotel to explore geographical and bookish delights.
The city was sparkling in thirty degree heat as I prepared the goody bags.
Collating all the map/Dutch/paper paraphernalia specially amassed.
This was our splendid platform studio space for the five day bookart workshop – Here we are having a tea break…
We began with florescent folds. (I LOVE Hema’s stationery department!)
Of course i had maxed out on my luggage allowance, mostly with books and paper…. Thankfully Flow Magazine sent a huge box of delights for us to play with, directly to the hotel.
Any workshop about mapping and charting in Amsterdam has to include a boat trip around the canals of course. Erick picked us up from the Lloyd Hotel and chugged us happily in a balmy circumnavigation of the city’s waterways.
And then to the ultimate stamps shop: Posthumus Winkel.
Heaven eh? (And we’re shaping up plans for a sealing wax demo next year…)
Susanne created this bright spread of our week.
Kerstin stayed up late one evening painting a charming concertina of Dutch gables.
Teresa embellished her binding with Netherlands postage stamps, washi tape and thread.
Sandy’s wrap-a-round book using canal house wrapping paper as the cover is exquisite.
And Oolie found the perfect use for a classic vintage label.
These chaps at Vligher patiently packaged up the pile treasures we accumulated. Wowing paper lovers since 1869.
Peggy worked out how to produce a graphic representation of her life map having dislocated her shoulder. Ouch. She gets the Paper Navigations Medal for Practical Stoicism.
The detail in Paula’s intricate and charming cut outs was amazing.
I love Ali’s style. Layering texture.
We bound a lot of books!
Aren’t these cute?
Our Saturday afternoon treat was a trip to Like Stationery, where we were welcomed with another goody bag. How kind!
Followed by an essential paying-of-respects to the legendary Amsterdam bookart institution Boekie Woekie.
The daily breakfast buffet set The Travelling Bookbinder up deliciously.
First thing on Monday – a mission to the flea market at Noordermarkt.
Nobody left empty-handed. Obscure and wonderful objects were acquired. I spent the entire visit rifling through a box of old postcards, whittling down a selection to….eighty four images of Amsterdam. Win.
The peak of our creations is a composite book made of Turkish map folds. What incredible sculptural qualities!
We got inky; experimenting with an Automatic Pen.
On Sunday afternoon we trammed along to the wonderful edifice that is Amsterdam Central Library. This is the magical children’s section. Doesn’t it make reading tempting?
Views from the top floor enabled us to get our bearings with a bird’s eye view of boats, buildings and spires.
Everyone wrote flowing text across the map pages. The words all related to personal geographies.
Blending pattern and poetry.
The grand-finale-show-and-tell was illuminating. What a pleasure to see such happy satisfaction.
Some of the tag-testimonials.
It was a joy to unfold Paper Navigations with a group of such talented explorers, open to developing their artistic journey. Heartfelt thanks to all who set sail on this paper voyage with me.
This splendid collection of pop-ups shows the level of commitment that Bishop Road Primary gives to books.
Two years ago, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, (who supplied the inspiration of volumes above) suggested my services to the bibliophile head teacher, and I taught forty-five teachers how to make bookart.
Last week I took on the challenge of teaching the teachers how to create paper sculpture.
Everyone got a goody bag!
We created a Paper Sculpture Tool Kit.
So many ways to manipulate the most available of materials!
After experimenting with techniques all morning, they rose to the challenge of producing a pop-up sculptural alphabet.
I wish i could show you them all – they were amazing.
A – Z spiral.
Ingenious constructions: Three-dimensional letters in a three-dimensional book.
Didn’t they do well?
…i didn’t have favourites but…
THANK YOU to Bishop Road Primary and The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop!
I LOVE teaching all sorts of people in all kinds of places how to do bookish things with paper. Get in touch if you’d like me to work with you.