With 108 active members, (and counting) the Puget Sound Book Artists Annual Meeting is always an anticipated event. Known not only an opportunity to learn but also to share, book artists from all across Puget Sound and beyond, arrive at Collins Memorial Library on the University of Puget Sound campus in Tacoma Washington, to learn not only what the Puget Sound Book Artists is doing for them, but also what they can do to support this thriving organization. Even before the doors opened on Saturday morning, we knew this year’s event was special. Jane Carlin, Director of Collins Library and Vice President of the Puget Sound Book Artists along with Jamie Spaine, Administrative Coordinator, had spent the week preparing the library. An almost overwhelming array of items had seemingly appeared from nowhere for the silent auction, which each year raises funds for this non-profit organization. Just some of the items included the donated inventory of late book artist Joyce David, handmade journals, paper, book making paraphernalia, ephemera, and of course, books.
Once members and guests entered the library to greet fellow artists or to meet someone new, there were important decisions to be made. Should they visit the Continental breakfast buffet that had been prepared, or first visit the tables where the silent auction items were laid out on display, waiting for the highest bidder to appear, or stop to look at the array of books on display that had been created in Puget Sound Book Artist sponsored workshops? Amidst all of this was the eager anticipation for the opportunity to listen to guest artist, Shu Ju Wang speak about her work.
“Multiple voices and viewpoints are the cornerstones of my work, a reflection of my personal history of migration and background in technology, science and art. It is a balancing act of the analytical vs. meditative modes of creating, of re-imagining traditional motifs in a contemporary context, and of understanding our stories as a relationship between narration vs. interpretation.
In a culture of bigger-is-better and faster-is-better, I create small & intimate work, slowly. Influenced by Chinese gongbi style paintings, illuminated manuscripts, and Islamic miniatures, my work combines abstract & representational forms in lush and jewel-like colors, and I invite viewers to interpret, to draw conclusions about this world that we live in.” http://www.fingerstothebone.com/
Footnote: This year, over $1700 was raised for the PSBA in our silent auction. A very special thank you to Frank David for the generous donation of his late wife’s paper inventory for the silent auction!
Susan is a book artist and printmaker working in traditional processes such as woodcut, wood engraving and intaglio etching as well as in digital media. Her recent artist’s book projects involve movable parts, pop-ups and LED circuitry. Her books are included in many university library collections and public collections such as the Getty Museum, the University of Washington and the New York Public Library. Her work is represented in galleries throughout the United States. She is a professor at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon where she has been teaching courses in printmaking, artist books and graphic design for two decades. Susan earned her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Oregon and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.
We recently had a chance to talk with Susan about her work and approach to teaching:
Tunnel books intrigue me with the compelling visual illusions of depth and perspective that can be achieved with this simple and transparent design form. Tunnel books (or peep show books) were originally created as Victorian optical toys. They were usually a literal picture in three dimensions of popular scenes or commemorative events. As an artist, movable books offer me rewarding design challenges. They also offer visual rewards for the viewer as the closed book goes from a flat object, then comes to life as a three dimensional kinetic form. As our relationship to the traditional codex book changes and our experience shifts to reading more and more on digital devices, I become more interested in the retrograde analog, tactile, simple, technology of movable and pop-up books.
In teaching book arts some typical challenges that I manage with my students are: following an appropriate design process and time frame, keeping projects to a manageable scope for the time allotted, and not putting too many ideas into one project. These are challenges that I face with my own projects as well. I find that since the book is such a familiar object, students are typically eager to create them with own narratives. My class at Lane Community College is called “Artist Books and Pop-up.” Our student body is made up of all ages and backgrounds. I teach Art and Design majors as well as students from other disciplines. This makes for a rich and interesting atmosphere in the classroom where students share ideas, and often help each other problem solve conceptually as well as technically using the knowledge unique to their own life experiences.
I believe that every design choice in an artist book project should be in service to support the book’s content. The text (or the concept if no text is present) should inform all choices like color, font choice, type treatment, size, materials etc. An artist’s book is well realized when it communicates the artist’s vision, at the same time that it functions as a kinetic, tactile object able to be explored.
Susan is a Professor at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon where she has been teaching courses in printmaking, artist books and graphic design for two decades. As a book artist and printmaker, Susan works in traditional processes such as woodcut, wood engraving and etching as well as digital media. To learn more about this accomplished artist, visit her website: Susan Lowdermilk|Book Artist, Printmaker
Click here for a map of the UPS campus.
Every year the Cincinnati Book Arts Society has a display of their work at the downtown Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio. It was by shear luck that while we were visiting my sister Elaine who lives in Cincinnati, that we got to enjoy this extensive exhibit, BOOKWORKS XVII, as well as quite a few items from the library’s book arts’ permanent collection, Keith Kuhn Memorial Exhibit. Very inspiring and amazing. Attached here is a link to the library’s publication that covers this CBAS exhibit: Bookworks XVII
The photo above is a wonderful bronze sculpture in front of the library. Conceived and executed by former Cincinnati sculptor Michael Frasca, this ornamental fountain was made possible by a bequest from Mrs. Weinberg and was dedicated in 1990. Affectionately known as the “book fountain,” the sculpture features water cascading over a stack of ceramic tile books, representing the free flow of information and ideas through the printed word.
The William Morris Society in America and The Book Club of Washington recently joined together to visit this wonderful press in Tacoma, Washington. As a result of this collaboration, several Puget Sound Book Artists members were fortunate to join both the William Morris Society and The Book Club of Washington during this visit to the Arts & Crafts Press. Learn more about the Press by visiting their website:
Travel down South Tacoma Way, in Tacoma, Washington, and the last thing you would expect to find is a bustling Arts & Crafts Press. But find, you do! Nestled between warehouses and industrial buildings is the castle like building with a bright red door that beckons you to open it up and discover the wonder inside.
This wonderful building is home to the Arts & Crafts Press, founded by Yoshiko Yamamoto and Bruce Smith in 1996. The building, originally built for the Tillicum Toy Company in 1929 on Route 99, was once the largest wooden toy manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest. The original 1920’s castle like structure is the perfect setting for this press.
Originally established as a publishing house which focused on the Arts & Crafts movement, the Press has expanded to include limited-edition prints and greeting cards, all printed from hand cut blocks inspired by the movement. Yoshiko and Bruce started out in California and were inspired by many printers from the Bay Area, but the beauty and grandeur of the Pacific Northwest drew them to Tacoma. The landscape of this region is the inspiration behind many of the beautiful and colorful designed developed by Yoshiko. On December 11, 2015 The Arts & Crafts Press was featured on the Celebration episode of PBS’s national show Craft in America. Some of the earliest publications of the Press were inspired by the little magazine movement such as The Tabby: A Chronicle of the Arts & Crafts Movement
This small publication exemplifies the principals of the Arts & Crafts movement and resonates with the mission of the press. To paraphrase Bruce, “the work and craft we do is as important at the art we do.” Both Bruce and Yoshiko draw inspiration from the work of William Morris, but also from Elbert Hubbard and the Roycrofters, Dard Hunter, Will Bradley and Frederic Goudy. Their personal collection of Arts & Crafts publications and ephemera, including a printer’s scrapbook, serve as a foundation for much of their work.
Clearly, Bruce Smith, as a long time author and collector in the fields of both William Morris and Arts & Crafts printing history has a deep love, understanding and admiration for the influence of Morris. The many examples he showed the group of books printed shortly after Morris’s death, as well as those printed well into the early 20th century, helped us all understand how their own The Arts & Crafts Press came into existence. Yoshiko Yamamoto, the artist/printer has clearly learned a great deal from the study of the works of Morris, Dard Hunter and others of the Arts & Crafts movement. But her early life in Japan, her study of their wonderful wood block art form have resulted in her own true unique style. Her colors are bold and bright and totally pleasing to the eye. Her printing, be it on note cards, pictures or broadsides are always of the highest quality.
Both Bruce and Yoshiko are also committed to social justice and sustainability. The Press seeks to embrace environmentally sustainable materials and ways of printing. Recycling all their paper and metal and using many soy based inks and vegetable oil for cleaning are just some of the ways they care for our environment. The Press serves as a model for responsible printing and as shared from their web site: We print, because we care and love our friends, family, and environs. So why not take it one step further and print kinder to ourselves and our earth?
Recently, Bruce and Yoshiko participated in the annual From Hiroshima to Hope: Lantern Ceremony in Seattle. An annual event to promote peace event in memory of victims of Hiroshima/Nagasaki and all victims of violence and war. The block print Lantern Floating commemorates this event. Yoshiko Yamamoto designed, carved and printed this linoleum block print with the help of another Tacoma based artist Taylor Cox.
One of the true highlights of visiting The Arts and Crafts Press was being able to print a keepsake, designed by Yoshiko , using the Morris quotation; “We are only Trustees for those who come after us. William Morris (1889). This keepsake holds special meaning as Yoshiko has just returned from a visit to the UK where she visited many of the Morris landmarks; including Kelmscott Manor. She is working on a new project to illustrate News from Nowhere, which will no doubt be a most impressive artistic endeavor.
Yoshiko and Bruce inspire a new generation of printers, artists, and lovers of Morris and the Arts & Crafts movement. They work hard to maintain work that is affordable and accessible to all but of the highest quality. Mark Hoppmann, a well-known Tacoma artist, and President of the Puget Sound Book Artists has this to say about their work: Thoreau once said “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Not so, with Yoshiko Yamamoto and Bruce Smith. Surrounded by both vintage and modern letterpress equipment, both Bruce and Yoshiko are leaving a legacy in their own right, to the arts and crafts movement begun in the late 19th century.
It will be through the writing and collecting efforts of people like Bruce Smith and the art and printing of Yoshiko Yamamoto, that collectors and lovers of fine books and prints will be able to afford what William Morris wanted throughout his life, art for the people.
For additional information about this fine press, be sure to visit the Arts & Crafts website!
An exciting offshoot of the PSBA annual exhibition is a summer exhibition of selected PSBA member works to be held at Bower Ashton Library in collaboration with the prestigious Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England, in Bristol, England. The exhibition, Bridging the Water, will be on display at the library later this summer. As Jane Carlin, Vice President of PSBA reflects,” this connection is a result of the increasing recognition of the work produced by PSBA artists. It is great to think of how artists from our community will be discovered in a gallery almost 5,000 miles away!”
The Centre for Fine Print Research is recognised as of the UK’s leading Centre’s in support of art and design. PSBA has been fortunate to work with Sarah Bodman, Senior Research Fellow for Artists’ Books, where she runs projects investigating and promoting contemporary book arts. We are delighted that Sarah supports Bridging the Water.
PSBA was drawn to the metaphor of Bridging the Water as the title of the exhibit and are intrigued by the connections artists might make together in the future. Tacoma is located on Commencement Bay, part of the Puget Sound, surrounded by the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges with magnificent views of Mt. Rainier. Tacoma and the surrounding area is a community that supports the arts. Like Bristol, Tacoma is defined by its’ connection to water and the Narrows Bridge, like the suspension bridge in Bristol, connects communities and people. PSBA Artists are intrigued by the connections we might make together in the future. This collection of artists’ books on display reflects contributions from our members from past exhibits and work which reflects the diversity of our book arts community.
Participating artists include:
MalPina Chan, Debbi Commodore, Gabrielle Cooksey, Patricia Chupa, Mari Eckstein Gower, Deborah Greenwood, Lucia Harrison, Mark Hoppmann, Carol Inderieden, Kim Izenman, Bonnie Larson, Dorothy McCuistion, Chandler O’Leary, Gina Pisello, Laura Russell, Lynn Skordal, Jessica Spring, and Jan Ward
Puget Sound Book Artists (PSBA) is a nonprofit organization with the purpose of creating a spirit of community amongst books artists and those who love books. Now celebrating its’ 7th year, PSBA is based in Tacoma, Washington, USA. PSBA received the city’s AMOCAT award (that’s Tacoma spelled backward) for Community Outreach by an Organisation. PSBA strives to increase educational opportunities for individuals as well as organisations, fostering excellence through exhibitions, workshops, lectures and publications. PSBA sponsors a yearly members’ exhibition, lectures and mini-workshops where individuals can explore, create and share with others. The annual members’ exhibition is a highlight of the year. The exhibit invites all members to participate and a dedicated curatorial team selects and designs the exhibit and prepares the printed catalogue.
Each year the exhibition features a variety of artists that challenge and inspire book artists. PSBA is delighted to have the work of eighteen member artists on display at UWE from July 4 – August 31, 2016.
How to find the library is here: It is City Campus, Bower Ashton: http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/comingtouwe/howtofindus/howtofindcitycampus.aspx
Library opening hours are here: http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/library/visitingthelibrary/openingtimes.aspx
PSBA Web site: http://blogs.pugetsound.edu/pugetsoundbookartists
George and Bitty’s Quarters is one of seven houses that comprise part of the series “knot my name haint my house.” While marriage was not sanctioned between enslaved persons some people formed unions recognizing that, at any moment, their partner could be sold away without notice. My work tends to be very ornate and embellished. It was a challenge to create works that inhabit a sense of simplicity. The housing for enslaved people was varied from wooden shacks to brick buildings, although the standard abode was a poorly constructed structure that barely kept the elements at bay.
For me, voting is a fundamental and cherished expression of patriotism and democracy though this right is not explicitly stated nor granted in the Constitution. Ballot BOX (produced collaboratively in a class) is a literal and symbolic representation of a right which should be available to all Americans but which is being threatened and eroded. It contains a riddle and quotes from historical and literary figures. Most importantly, it includes general information on vote eligibility and registering to vote. Ballot BOX is intended both to inform and inspire people to VOTE.
This little book contains copies of treasured family photos of some of my direct ancestors. On the right side of the book are my great-grandmothers, grandmothers, mother and myself, and on the left are my great-grandfathers, grandfathers, father and my husband. By flipping the cut pages out of order, new faces are created. Whom do I resemble? Did I inherit my paternal grandmother’s hair? My mother’s eyes? My father’s chin? The responses to these and other questions connect me to my past in a tangible way and affirm my place in the world.
The 6th Annual Member’s Exhibition is one deserving of recognition. In the words of Ellen Ziegler, juror for The Award for Excellence, “The level of sophistication, the variety of concepts, the innovative use of book structure, and the original content – all contributed to a show that is notable for its excellence, a show that could hold its own anywhere in the country.”
Congratulations to everyone who contributed work to this years’ exceptional exhibition , and congratulations especially to Lynne Knopp, Jan Ward, Taylor Cox, and Suze Woolf, this years curators, for a job well done!
Are you new to PSBA? Want to know more about basic book structure? Want a place to start? Look no further! Just in time for the launch of the Annual Members’ Exhibition, we are offering a mini – workshop in our Fundamentals of Handmade Books Series. Back by popular demand, Gabby Cooksey will be the workshop leader.
SATURDAY, June 25th 2016
noon to 3p.m.
Location: Room 020, Collins Library, University of Puget Sound
This Workshop has filled!
This class is meant for people who have never made a book before and want to just start somewhere. You will have made a book (hopefully a couple) by the end of the three hours so you can walk away with something. You can also expect to learn the fundamentals of folding, scoring and bookbinding tools.
Presenter: PSBA member Gabby Cooksey, Graduate of North Bennet Street School for Bookbinding in Boston, MA; studied at the American Academy of Bookbinding in Telluride, CO and at the Montefiascone Conservation Project in Italy
The accordion structure is perhaps the most versatile structure in the world of bookbinding. This structure, also referred to as the concertina, displays both pictures and words in an immediate and Zen-like game of mountains and valleys. In this workshop you will learn the basics of the accordion structure and explore several variations of the back-to-back structure which will serve as prototypes for future projects.
Tool List: ( If you are new to making books, Artco and Michaels Crafts should have all these supplies)
All materials and patterns provided
Workshop fee ($15 for members, $25 for non-members) paid to PSBA on day of workshop.
We’re sorry, but this workshop has filled!