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Tucson, Arizona, United States
I work as Panther Peak Bindery and am a bookbinder, conservator and instructor working outside Tucson, Arizona for individual and institutional clients across the country. I am a two term President of the Guild of Book Workers, was a Fulbright Scholar, taught at North Bennet Street School for over nine years and was the fastest in my middle school class at running up and down a flight of stairs (really!).



Monday, June 20, 2016

In the summertime....

Tucson sort of clears out in the summer.  It might have something to do with the heat, which reaches  116 at our place (that's 46 to the rest of the world).  Funny thing is that 116 is hot but not unbearable if you are not doing stupid things.

A smart thing to do in the summer is to take a bookbinding class. Well, the smartest thing to do in the summer is to take a bookbinding class.  I decided to try some one day summer classes to see if there was interest. Summer is the perfect time for indoor activities, after all, and no indoor activity is more fun than binding.  There was interest and we'll have two classes this June.

I work and teach in a barn which was built by my in-laws.  The tall part of the barn, the main room, held their RV, and has a 14 foot ceiling.  Originally it had a 12 foot square metal door.  In this picture it was being guarded by Pete, the dog who was in charge of building the house.  You'll remember if you read the blog in those days.  Pete was the only dog I've ever know that I wished I could have talked to, he was incredible and did such interesting things.

One mistake we made in building the house was ordering a window we had dropped from the plans, but it was perfect to put above the door and fills the bindery with light.  Sort of hearkens to a hay loft we think.

There is a loft in the barn, however.  It's opening is covered with I suspect is the only Linköping Lions flag in any bindery in the world. That's how special we are at PPB.  It's a hockey team, by the way.

It's even fun setting up the class room.

One of the many things that are fun about classes are the reasons the students are taking the classes. Some do it because they've always wanted to make a book, some because they're bibliophiles and maybe want to work on their collection, some are librarians and want to know more about books.  There are almost as many reasons as students, which means they all want different things from the class and that only makes things more fun and interesting.  

The first class this summer was called Simple Bookbinding, the class covered sewing a text block on tapes and then lacing it into a cover, which was in turn covered with decorated paper.  It's a great introduction to binding as sewing on tapes is the fundamental way of sewing hand made books these days.

The consistent thing in teaching are the diversity of reactions at the end. Some are amazed they made a book.  Some see how they can take what they learned and do more and different things.  Some have one more thing to check off their bucket list.  Some just see the mistakes, not knowing that everyone else has made the same mistakes when they were starting out.

But all seem to walk out between happy and thrilled.  It's a great thing to be part of. 

The greatest journey starts with one step.  Bookbinding is a fantastic career, it's creative, challenging, puzzling, satisfying and relaxing.  It might be an even better hobby for those same reasons.  And the greatest hobby or career can begin with one simple one day class.

The second class this summer will be a cloth case binding.  Should be fun, it's just the class I would have wanted to take when I was starting out.

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