Tag Archives: emily dickinson

New Work, New Classes

I am excited to be doing some work for Dana Smith and Steve Macdonald. I’ll be binding a total of 27 copies of their book Sweet Call and Response. I love this work and how the printed imagery combines with embroidered shading, blocks of color, and detail work. They’ve dropped off two giant stacks of raw pages for me to sew and bind into hard covers just today, so I’m about to get cracking at it! I’ve already bound some advance copies for them, and here are some images of those books that are already complete. You can see more of this book, and Dana’s work, here.

Printed cover cloth

Fly fishing with satin stitch edge

Geometric pattern with full moon

Embroidered shading outlines this black and white palm tree

Detail of embroidered edge– you know how I love edge decoration…

Local Interest

Soon another round of Beginning Bookbinding at the San Francisco Center for the Book will begin. As of today, there are only three spots left in this class, which runs on Wednesday evenings in June and July. Beginning Bookbinding is the first half of the certificate program at SFCB, and is structured to provide a hearty, solid foundation in bookbinding, focusing on hand sewn books with hard covers. It is heartening for me to work with such students as I have been extremely lucky to have! It’s been a lot of fun, and much has been learned by all.

Lovely *and* fun

Various styles of books we make in Beginning Bookbinding, all sewn by hand with hard covers

Speaking of classes, I just completed a round of calligraphy classes (as a student!) through the Friends of Calligraphy. Judy Detrick was our amazing instructor for (you guessed it) Book Hand. I love the legible, circular shapes of Book and Foundational hands and their connection to greater developments in the history of the book. I’ve tried to learn Book Hand on my own, reading, absorbing, and practicing for a few years, but nothing compares to personal attention from an extremely skilled practitioner of the craft. My writing is still pretty humble, but much improved, and much easier and enjoyable to practice now that I know some tips from a pro!

Practice, practice, practice… and more practice, and perhaps some. more. practice

However, it is now time for me to, as they used to say, “return to our regularly scheduled programming” (live television broadcasts seem so far removed from me these days, yet ingrained my memory!)… Anyway… back to the books!


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Filed under Classes I've taken, Classes I've taught

Apparently I am in the correct profession.

I have been revisiting a lot of Emily Dickinson’s poems lately. I love reading Dickinson, especially the giant editions of The Complete poems. There are some I understand and enjoy right away;  others I save for a gripping moment of discovery in the future.  As she herself wrote:

The Riddle we can guess/We speedily despise–/Not anything is stale so long/As Yesterday’s surprise (Number 1222, c.1870)

Having received a copy of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson from a very good friend, and not having very much work after being out of town, I had much to mull over. Feeling somewhat greedy for answers to some of Dickinson’s more obscure poems, I turned to some books about her I had picked up years ago at the Chicago Public Library discard sale. Promising though the content seemed, the bindings were a complete turnoff. They were so atrocious it was distracting! I think you can see where this story is going. I told my neighbor about how I had to rebind a book in order to properly read it, and she said, “Wow, you really are in the right profession.” As I write this post on Labor Day, thinking about the nature of work and so on, it is nice to have that affirmation.

Following are some before and after pictures of the book, and the in- between stage as well.

The old cover– that weird old cellophane/ plasticky stuff. It made noise when I opened it!

old cover

The new cover, using Dickinson’s silhouette as a sixteen- year- old inlaid into the cover boards with gray leather.


Some paste paper I happened to have around…



Ahh, now I can read it and finally unlock the answers to all of Dickinson’s mysterious riddles.


Although I generally do not recommend mixing fine books and fresh figs, it was pretty satisfying just this one time.


Filed under My projects