Months ago I took a drive to the local Costco. While driving, the radio began playing the song “My Body is a Cage” by Arcade Fire. The words brought to mind my friend who was in hospice care, her end near, her family gathered. In the spring, she was gifted enough health to attend, and even dance at her youngest daughter’s wedding. But as I listened to the song I realized that she was trapped, unable to dance with the ones she loved. Her body was a cage, had become her enemy.
I had the opportunity to teach a bookbinding workshop at my friend’s place in Mississippi. The binding I taught is very complicated so I decided to make a workbook to outline each step. I wanted this to be a skill my students could go home and replicate.
Some 50 hours later I birthed a comprehensive workbook on the Coptic binding that has been in my head and at my fingertips for the last 20 years. I tried to find a tutorial to use as a skeleton and no one else seems to sew the Coptic stitch quite like this.
I love this binding because the book naturally opens flat. Coptic bound books make really great sketch books and photo albums. The binding is sewn without any adhesive which makes Coptic binding very durable. Most paperback books are glued into a text block, without any sewing. It is very difficult to repair a paperback book who’s spine has been cracked. Once that glue breaks, it’s pretty much over. Coptic binding is my perfect binding.
In my Mississippi class everyone was having a blast gluing the paper to the covers and poking the holes in each signature. Then came the real challenge- sewing to the covers. It’s tough, counter intuitive the first time or two- but well worth it once your book is done and beautiful.
I plan to teach a class here in Denver some time soon. I’ve considered approaching the library to see if I can teach in their new maker space… I would probably teach simple bindings and ways to print your own book using your desktop printer. I’ll get the word out soon.
Every once in awhile we are given the chance to learn from someone who knows what’s up. A few weeks ago I got to hang with a photographer named David Carol. He specializes in photographing what ever he wants… which is mostly street photography.
He had juried a show up at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins and was offering a quick workshop to share how he sees. I jumped on it, feeling good that I would finally get up there to the Center and actually meet David after following his FB feed for about a year. I’m not a street photographer, but I am fascinated by the thought process of any artist. And I knew it’d be entertaining, at the very least. Besides, I had been scolded by many photo friends when they found out I hadn’t ever been up to the c4fap.
Since Zach’s oboe professor was performing in Loveland after the workshop, we loaded the kids into the van and headed up. I had a great time listening to David talk about his work ethic (get out and shoot!) and how opportunities opened to allow him to publish and sell his work. Hard work, dedication and single mindedness. We talked, photographed together and the group all went to lunch and chatted even more. He razzed me for not photographing my family while they sat beside us eating their lunch. Ya, ya. Still working on that work ethic piece. and I need to see more, is really what he was getting at. I could use a David on my shoulder, egging me on.
So I’ve been here in the Denver area for 8 years and pretty much live in my own little bubble. I have a great network of friends who live around the world but only a handful in my area. You know who you are- xo. Really, I am a suburban soccer mom. GAH!
So it was exciting to meet real live photographers who aren’t in my mom world. Christopher Perez runs a place called Processus that has a wet darkroom, printmaking equipment… he mentioned something about framing your own work and doing stuff in a wood shop. I plan to get over there soon.
Another photographer I met is Preston Utley. He’s a wedding photographer who’s personal work resonates with me. Check it out: the snap shot diaries… a photographic travel log that is beautiful in it’s simplicity.
Friday I had the chance to visit Walker Fine Art Gallery for the opening of their latest exhibition entitled “FIGURATIVELY SPEAKING“. While there I saw a few pieces by Sally Stockhold, whom I’ve seen several times before and love! A new favorite is Tim Main. His photo realistic pencil drawings of Polaroids were powerful in subject matter and visually stunning.
So now you need to head to the gallery and take a look for yourself… and if you aren’t local, do a little web surfing.