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The Skillery hosts weekend conference to inspire creative entrepreneurs in Nashville

>> Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Skillery Nashville Creativity Summit logo

It's an exciting time to be an entrepreneur in Nashville, and an event coming up in a few weeks will celebrate all that we've got going on here, as well as helping artists like me to push forward in the new year. I'll be attending the Nashville Creativity Summit, hosted by The Skillery, which includes one day of workshops to empower the creative community, and a second day for those creators to share their skills through hands-on classes across the city.

The lineup of speakers on Saturday is impressive (and includes some friends!) and on Sunday I'll be leading a (sold out) bookbinding workshop in which we'll be making handbound journals with upcycled vintage book covers. There will also be classes about letterpress, green business practices, freelance writing, and more.

In advance of the event, The Skillery interviewed me for a write-up on the company blog, which really got me thinking more about how far I've come as an entrepreneur. Here's a little bit of what I had to say:

"... If someone would have told me in college that I'd own my own business one day, I would not have believed them. The whole process just came about so organically. It began with a dream of having a more fulfilling, creative career. I quickly found myself spending hours poring over business blogs, and loving it. I actually enjoy branding, marketing, self-promotion, and product development ... "

You can read the full interview here.

This isn't the only time I've been on The Skillery blog lately. I was excited to read a first-hand account of the bookbinding passion that one of my classes inspired. Right before Christmas, I taught a class on binding miniature book ornaments. My student wrote:

"That class, quite unexpectedly, launched a new passion in me. I spent the next few days making books that were slightly less mini, based on Gonzalez's tutelage. Then I set out to learn other binding methods ..."

Find the full story here.

I feel like The Skillery has come a long way since launching in November 2011 — and so has my business since I came to Nashville. In some ways, these go hand-in-hand. I actually taught the first class that The Skillery ever hosted, and I've happily sold out four more classes since then.

So I'm looking forward to the Nashville Creativity Summit on Feb. 9 and 10. If you're here in town, consider signing up.

What: Nashville Creativity Summit presented by The Skillery
When: Saturday, Feb. 9 and Sunday, Feb. 10
Where: The Emma Bistro, 9 Lea Ave, Nashville, TN 37210; and locations throughout Nashville
Admission: Conference registration $180; workshops priced individually


Spring bookbinding classes at Watkins College

>> Saturday, January 26, 2013

Community education classes are starting back up at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in just a couple of weeks.  In addition to my Introduction to Graphic Design and Typography class (which is already full), I'm teaching two different book arts classes this spring that still have some open spots. 

The first one is a nine-week intro to book arts course, which will cover the basics of bookmaking, plus lots and lots of different handmade book structures.  You'll learn how to make single sheet books, hardcover and softcover pamphlets, multiple variations of accordion books, flag books, star books, photo albums, four different types of books sewn with the Japanese stab binding, an Italian longstitch journal, and more. This class starts in less than two weeks, so be sure to sign up soon!

The second class I'll be teaching is a weekend workshop devoted to the Coptic binding.  In just two days, you'll make your own hardcover journal with an exposed spine binding.  This workshop isn't until March, so you have a bit more time to sign up.  

No previous bookbinding experience is required for either class.  To register, please call the Watkins Community Education office at (615) 383-4848 or register online.  And the view the complete spring course catalog — for classes like clamshell boxmaking, darkroom photography, printmaking, and stop-motion animation — click here

Fold, tear, glue, and stitch:
An introduction to book arts

When: Tuesdays, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.; February 5 – April 2 (9 weeks) 
Where: Watkins College, 2298 Rosa Parks Blvd., Nashville
Cost: $205, plus $40 materials fee 
Description: Learn the basics of bookmaking and more than a dozen binding styles as you become familiar with the materials, tools, techniques, and vocabulary of handmade books. The course will begin with simple folded structures and build toward intricate and exciting books that can be used as journals, sketchbooks, photo albums, and sculptural displays. Instruction will cover essentials of paper grain, folded signatures, hardcover and softcover books, and binding by hand. The class will also include the opportunity to view and handle a collection of professionally made examples. You’ll leave with an assortment of your own handbound books, and the skills and resources to continue binding at home. All tools and supplies included in materials fee.

Handmade journal with Coptic binding

Binding handmade journals

When: Saturday, March 2, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Sunday, March 3, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. 
Where: Watkins College, 2298 Rosa Parks Blvd., Nashville
Cost: $90, plus $20 materials fee 
Description: Learn to bind your own unique and functional book, perfect for journaling or sketching. This two-day workshop will teach the Coptic binding style, which features hard covers, exposed stitching on the spine, and pages that lay completely fl at when open. The Coptic stitch, developed by early Christians in Egypt, remains one of the most popular bookbinding styles. All tools and supplies included in materials fee.


Taking time off to read books (rather than making them) after the busy holiday season

>> Friday, January 25, 2013

The holiday rush has come and gone, leaving me with a bit of time to refresh, to reorganize, and to do a bit of reading for pleasure. When I returned to Nashville after visting my family for Christmas, I decided to take some time off before diving right back into the studio. 

And so I spent the first few days of the new year curled up on my comfy couch with People of the Book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks. The novel was recommended to me by a shopper at an art show this past fall as we chatted about bookbinding.

The novel centers around the journeys of an actual book, the Sarajevo Haggadah, a rare Hebrew illuminated manuscript.  The book begins from the perspective of an Australian book conservationist who is hired to work on the book.  As she carefully examines the pages and binding of this rare codex, she finds clues — such as wine stains, salt crystals, a piece of a rare butterfly wing, and a white hair — that provide insight into where the book may have traveled and how it was created. 

Each chapter of the novel goes into detail about a particular clue, filling in the details of how the insect wing happened to be hidden in the haggadah's binding, or how Kosher wine was spilled on its pages. And while all of these details unfold, the reader also learns of the book's journey, from its creation in Spain, to the story of how it survived the Spanish Inquisition, the rash of books burned by the Nazis, and the bombings in Bosnia.  And while People of the Book is a work of fiction with imaginary characters, many of these stories are actually based on the haggadah's remarkable history

And as a bookbinder, it was also a treat to read a novel that included mentions of linen thread, wheat paste, gold leaf, vellum, and other familiar materials.  Yes, this is a little bit nerdy, and perhaps the typical reader wouldn't get quite as much of a kick out of this as I did.  But regardless of the fact that the topic was of particular interest to me, this novel was one of the most engaging and enthralling books I've read in several years. It was easy to get caught up in the lives of the characters and their interactions with the haggadah, spanning from 1480 to the present time.  The pieces of the story were woven together as carefully as one would create an exquisitely-made handbound book. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.  

Have any of you read People of the Book?  I would love to hear what you thought of it in the comments. 


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