Sweet Life Bookbinding
August 19th, 2013

What does dipping chocolates and binding book editions have in common? Misha Martin! When the text for Songs of the Cowboys arrived at my bindery this spring, I found help from local chocolatier Misha, owner of Sweet Life Chocolates, who says doing multiple tasks in bookbinding is not unlike dipping chocolates over and over…

Misha prepares Songs of the Cowboys text for sewing.

Misha prepares Songs of the Cowboys text for sewing.


Songs of the Cowboys is a reprint of an original text published by the Estancia News Herald in New Mexico during the early part of the 20th century, the first time these cowboy campfire songs and poems had been gathered for publication.

The deluxe edition of 100 books bound at Hands On Bookbinding was letterpress printed at the Palace Press, Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe. Ninety copies were bound in quarter cloth with printed, paper covers (handmade by Tom Leech, Director of the Press). A special group of ten copies were quarter bound in Pergamena calfskin and housed in clamshell boxes. The edition includes a CD of the cowboy songs and poems featured in the book, which was illustrated by contemporary line drawings by cowboy artist Ron Kil.

The Chandler and Price platen press originally used at the Estancia News Herald is part of the working exhibit at the Palace Press, where I worked in the mid 1980s.

Priscilla and Misha make covers for Songs of the Cowboys.

Priscilla and Misha make covers for Songs of the Cowboys.

Santa Fe Book Arts Event
June 16th, 2011
Priscilla stands by her Anatomy III binding, April 2011.

Priscilla stands by her Anatomy III binding

It was a happening evening April 22 at VIVO Contemporary, a new Canyon Road gallery in Santa Fe. I was honored to be included in their Book Arts eVent exhibit featuring numerous regional book artists.

The opening was like old home week for me to see so many friends from my past days in Santa Fe. Laura Wait is making more frequent trips down from Colorado since she and husband Bob recently acquired a modern loft space in Santa Fe. She is seen here with Tom Leech, papermaker, printer and Director of the historic Palace Print Shop & Bindery at the Museum of New Mexico, where I once worked.

Laura Wait with Tom Leech, Director of the Palace Press, Museum of New Mexico.

Laura Wait with Tom Leech, Director of the Palace Press, Museum of New Mexico.


The VIVO Contemporary gallery features a permanent book arts room that allows hands on exploration of works created by their regular artists, as well as guests.
Gallery host Patty Hammarstedt (right) visits with locals Ellen Roth and Catherine Ferguson.

Gallery host Patty Hammarstedt (right) visits with locals Ellen Roth and Catherine Ferguson.

An Education in Bookbinding
May 16th, 2010

Craig Jensen in his original garage bindery, Austin, 1985.

Craig Jensen in his original garage bindery, Austin, 1985.

My education in bookbinding was not complete until I spent eight years working with Craig Jensen in Austin, Texas, from 1987 to 1995, at Jensen Bindery and BookLab, Inc.

In April, I had the pleasure to handle and review many of the fine book and box editions bound during those years at the Jensen home outside San Marcos, Texas, which now houses Craig’s bindery, BookLab II. In a few days we prepared catalog text to accompany selected editions being displayed in the exhibition: Craig Jensen, Master of Fine Edition Binding, opening June 24 at the Museum of Printing History in Houston.
Curator Amanda Stevenson and Craig Jensen select books for Museum of Printing History exhibition.

Curator Amanda Stevenson and Craig Jensen select books for Museum of Printing History exhibition.



I was both awestruck and gratified to see the quantities and the details of the book editions we bound at these binderies, some done over 20 years ago and with a crew that grew to over 30 employees.

It was grounding to return to my own bindery in New Mexico, where I immediately taught a class in Clamshell Boxmaking, realizing that it is now my turn to educate others in the skills of bookbinding. This class completed my series of Winter/Spring classes. Future classes will be scheduled to begin September 2010.

Priscilla observes Jane Kennedy trimming cloth on a tray for a clamshell box.

Priscilla observes Jane Kennedy trimming cloth on a tray for a clamshell box.

SAN FRANCISCO BOUND
December 24th, 2009

Morning fog over Japan Town from a Hotel Kabuki room.

Morning fog over Japan Town from Hotel Kabuki room.

In October, a bevy of book workers descended on Japan Town, San Francisco for the annual Standards of Excellence meeting of the Guild of Book Workers. I look forward to these meetings each year (in a different city) for the exchange between bookbinders and the great vendors room full of supplies.

Laura Wait with a recent artist book.

Laura Wait with a recent artist book.

I was happy to see Laura Wait there, a longtime friend from old Santa Fe days, who now lives in Steamboat Springs CO. An artist focusing on encaustic painting and unique artist books, Laura studied bookbinding in England during the same period I was in London.

In addition to the professional presentations, a highlight of the meeting was the opening reception of the Guild’s Marking Time exhibit at the San Francisco Public Library. I was treated to a visit from my niece Laurie, nephew Russell and friend Consuelo, who all live in the Bay area (standing in front of my binding).

My nephew & girlfriend, and niece at the SFPL opening.

My nephew & girlfriend, and niece at the SFPL opening.


On Friday night meeting attendees were privileged to have a special viewing of the George Hecksher collection of modern bindings.
Don Glaister shows many of his bindings in the Hecksher collection.

Don Glaister shows many of his bindings in the Hecksher collection.


I traveled and roomed with New Mexico friend Pam Smith who was selling her Marblesmith papers in the vendors’ room.
Priscilla & Pam flying high in the wine country.

Priscilla & Pam flying high in the wine country.

Afterwards we spent some time in the wine country around Calistoga, where my brother Richard lives. The smell of crushed grapes was in the air and it was good wine tasting!
A vineyard near Calistoga.

A vineyard near Calistoga.

Taos Inspiration
October 1st, 2009

Fall is a beautiful time of year in New Mexico when the light changes, so when Mom announced that she was driving north to attend the opening of the Taos Art Festival, I did not hesitate to go. It was an inspirational weekend, from the opening Friday night to the studio visits we made on Saturday.

Angie Coleman in her Taos studio.

Angie Coleman in her Taos studio.

We stopped by the studio of Angie Coleman, an artist my mother has known since the years she and my dad lived in Taos. Angie creates woodcuts, but is also a painter and pastel artist. She graduated from the California College of Arts & Crafts in 1972, the same year I arrived at the college.

As a former printmaker, I loved seeing the process behind the
woodcuts, such at Angie’s inking palette or the different blocks she cuts for multiple color runs.

Angie Coleman's Inking Palette

Angie Coleman's Inking Palette



After lunch at Caffe Renato, we dropped by the Stables Art Gallery to see the Wet Paint exhibit by students of Taos artist Leigh Gusterson. Displayed were brilliant (literally wet) oil paintings after their 5-day workshop with the artist.

Call it serendipity, but among the group was Judi Goolsby, a former book art student from Austin and now a resident of Santa Fe. I also enjoyed sharing London stories with Elizabeth Porter, originally a native of Las Cruces, NM, now a London antique dealer of Chinese porcelain.
Judi Goolsby & Elizabeth Porter at the Wet Paint show.

Judi Goolsby & Elizabeth Porter at the Wet Paint show.


The greatest inspiration came from viewing the work of the late Melissa Zink, a memorial exhibit held in the Fechin studio of the Taos Art Museum. Pictures do not do justice to the magic of Zink’s mixed media world, from small ceramic scenes to large bronze cast figurines with layers of ancient book typography and other imagery. Whimsically, sculpted faces emerge from cast alphabet characters.

Melissa Zink memorial exhibit at the Taos Art Museum

Melissa Zink memorial exhibit at the Taos Art Museum


Taking collage and mixed media to an ultimate height are Melissa’s BOSH!WORKS, her last major works (an acronym for Bibliomania, Obsessive, Serial, Haphazard). Made from type drawers cut and hinged to open like a book, each section displays a fragment — maybe a piece of marbled paper or a handwritten letter. The outside cases are adorned in a collage of old, cut up book covers in cloth or leather, yet all pieced together with a reverence or love of books. In her own words: “Everything I find most beautiful and moving is in some way connected to books.”

The show continues through October 25 at the Taos Art Museum, while her work is represented by the Parks Gallery in Taos.