While I was in Michigan a few weeks ago for the utterly fantastic Paper and Book Intensive, I got an official-sounding email from my university stating that my MFA defense was approved and my degree conferred.
Which is all really exciting, mostly because now I can turn my attention wholly to my final year of Book Arts. You know, now that I've spent two weeks enjoying Michigan birches along a lagoon and experiencing a lot of firsts.
Making this book from scratch in a class on Anabaptist binding with the ambitious Chela Metzger and Erin Hammeke... Just to give you a sense, here, we started with a textblock, but did everything from there: punched, sewed on raised cords on a sewing frame, consolidated and lined the spine, shaped wooden boards, adhered them to the textblock, shaped them some more (I'd never planed before, and certainly never while the boards were on the book), speckled the textblock edges, covered in gorgeous calf leather provided by Pergemena (my favorite leather tanner)... then cut and dapped and bossed brass for corner and center pieces, and created these nifty, weird spine straps, and even made, from scratch, catchplates and hasps for the clasps (which we were never promised, but begged and pleaded until Erin showed us how to use an anvil, two different vice jaws, a peen hammer for riveting, and a jewler's saw)....
I'd never cut into leather after covering with it before. It's a violent, yet oddly delicate process:
But necessary for the insertion of catchplates for clasps (if you don't want your crummy metal snipping to show):
I'd never dapped and bossed before, and certainly never dapped and bossed directly into a block of lead. I present: The Moon.
These are my brass corner and centerpieces, all ready to be attached to the book:
And I'd never made a book with straps before. Isn't it strapping? The straps are attached just past the shoulders, so when you open the book, they pop off the book.
I'd never before paddled in a canoe across a lagoon to Lake Michigan to watch the sunset with new friends.
In Priscilla Spitler's class on edition binding, I learned many time-saving techniques that will help me when I edition my thesis book (and every other book I edition hereafter). It's one thing to know that jigs are helpful. It's another to get a good sense of how to come up with a jig to get the job done, and to understand when you might be able to use a jig in the first place.
I had never made a sheet of paper quite this large before taking Ann Marie Kennedy's Paper and Place class. This sheet about as large as a decent flat-screen TV. I'd also never used so many different fibers at once before... certainly addictive! We had vats of hemp, flax, abaca, bamboo, and various mixtures that included onion grass, day lily leaves, dried lagoon grass, and more.
I had never taken a selfie while hula hooping before.
And here's an endband Sam Feinstein showed us for PBI PM, an informal workshop we managed to get together twice (amazing, considering how much homework we had and how much sleep we needed).
I made a ridiculous amount of new friends, too. The book arts world is a tight-knit one, where it seems everyone is eager to share and teach and learn and relearn and watch and make ridiculous paper costumes and dance to 50s music in them.