Thursday, 8 December 2011


I was off to Toronto on the first weekend of December for the Ontario College of Arts and Design Book Arts Fair which is now in it's 27th year.  It is an opportunity for bookbinders, book artists, printmakers,  zine and small press publishers to showcase their work to the public.  I really enjoy this show because I get to look at the creative work of others.  I get to talk to students who are taking bookbinding courses at the college and to people who are interested in books.  I like hearing their questions and comments about my work.  This is my second season for attending the fair and once again it has been a great success.  One gentleman came by three times to look at my work and ask questions.  He took home one of the Writer's Primer journal; some of my greeting cards went to Buffalo, New York.

Books set-up for the book arts fair.

I had a great selection of journals with original drawings.  They are quite popular.

I had a couple of books in suede leather: replicas of ancient and medieval books.  The circular green suede book, with the coloured threads and satin rosette, received a great deal of attention from the public.  It's a book that includes drawings, paintings, photography and poetry on friendship.  The cover is soft and supple and  invites touching.  I had calendars this year with  my photographs and original drawings on the covers.  Above the calendars were a number of hand embroidered book bags.  There was a lot of appreciation for the embroidery on these bags.  It takes me approximately six to seven, four hour evenings to complete one grouping of flowers for these bags.  On some others I embroidered only the leaf border around the flowers.  These take approximately two to three, four hour evenings to complete.  Embroidery is a winter activity for me.  I have embroidered some book covers, making them a very different tactile experience. 

I created a sign for the table that explained the Endearment Books.  People really liked the concept and the miniature books.  I used a number of different mediums to create these books: leather with mother of pearl closures, glass, feathers, and recycled earrings and art prints.  Some had soft covers while others were hard covered. 


While in Toronto, I always enjoy walking down Queen Street, West.  I find this area of the city very eclectic and the sights feed my creativity.  As I ventured along I noticed an interesting sign in one of the windows:

I had a great chuckle and was tempted to go in and ask how much they cost, but Queen Street kept calling for me to continue with my discovery.   Unfortunately I didn't quite make it to the  paper stores, but I did get to see some fabulous shoe stores.  I also noticed a sign in another one of the windows inviting artists to bring their work in to be considered for an exhibit.  I went in and inquired.  I was able to show a small sample of my art work on my books, to the creative director. 


This summer when I was attending a photographic exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Nature.  I started talking with a lady who was a member of The Ottawa Book Collectors group.  That discussion resulted in an opportunity for me to give a brief presentation to the group on the history of the book and to show the members how to make a simple, single signature book.  I was well received and the group members were very enthusiastic learners.  Great fun was had by all. 

The Ottawa Book Collectors group was founded in 1980.  It is a forum where book lovers get together to share their enthusiasm for book-related matters.  They meet monthly between September and June and at times have tours to view special books.  If you are a book enthusiast have a look at their website:


At the Book Arts Fair in Toronto, this past weekend, a gentleman was looking at the Endearment Books.  We started talking and he mentioned he was going to propose to his girlfriend and wondered how this little book could be used.  A discussion ensued and I suggested I create a book that would hold the ring.  He liked the idea and said he would send me the words he wanted to put in the book.  This was a new and exciting challenge for me.  The book contained seven pages plus the ring receptacle, which was at the end of the book.  Each page had written words and drawings. 

I had to get a circular cutter to cut the hole for the ring.  I used three layers of bookboard to accommodate the ring. 

Once the cutting and gluing of the bookboard were complete, I covered it with this beautiful fuschia and silver paper.  I lined the edge of the hole with a soft red leather, attached red and gold ribbon to hold the ring in place and backed it with a soft suede leather.  This was the last page of the book.

I started playing with a couple of different pieces of leather and what evolved was an assymetrical red leather pouch that held the book.  There are three different textures to this case: 1) a smooth red leather,  2) a soft supple red suede leather, and 3) a gold textured simulated snake skin covered with the red and gold ribbon closure.  A recycled sterling silver earring with zircons is part of the closure.  When opened the book pouch is lined with a supple forest green leather and a smooth red leather.  The book measures 3 inches X 3 3/4 inches.  The pouch measures approximately 4 inches X 4 3/4 inches. 

The red and gold wired ribbon, passed through the silver earring makes up the closure.

The back view shows the assymetry of the suede leather and how it is attached to the smooth leather.  

I am happy to report this beautiful book is now on it's way to the gentleman. 


A special thanks to a number of people:

Bernadette Walker and Marilyn McLennan of The Ottawa Book Collectors group for inviting me to speak and share my bookbinding skills.  I had a great deal of fun.

George Walker, Professor, wood engraver, book artist, ilustrator and educator.  A special thanks for organizing the Book Arts Fair and for the invitation to participate.  Always a productive time for me. 

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