Giveaway: Making Handmade Books

January 26, 2011, 11:44 am  Posted by Craft Your Life Team

Making Handmade Books by Alisa Golden

Thanks to everyone for leaving such thoughtful comments on our first Making Handmade Books giveaway, and congratulations to this week’s winner, Pam. Your copy of Making Handmade Books plus the You Are It tags by author Alisa Golden are in the mail.

For everyone else, don’t dismay: Enjoy the following Q&A with Alisa Golden, and leave a comment on this post by 11 pm EST on Tuesday, February 1st, for a chance to win this week’s Making Handmade Books giveaway. Any comment will do, but maybe you would like to ask Alisa a question of your own.

We’ll select a winner at random, and announce the results on February 2nd, along with Alisa’s answer to your question. Official rules are here.

Tell us a little bit about your education and background.** People used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I’d say, “a writer and an artist.” Then I would get a lecture about how you couldn’t make a living being a writer and an artist. I also wanted to be a teacher, but was told by my favorite high school teacher not to do that either. Meanwhile, I always had art lessons, I always wrote, and I worked with kids constantly.

Spotted One Day, 2009, by Alisa Golden

When I enrolled in Betsy Davids’ letterpress class and her creative writing class at California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts) I found that finally I could merge both writing and art by making books. During my two-and-a-half years at CCA(C) I made about twelve books, some with linocuts, some with screenprints, some with handmade paper, but all with handset type printed via letterpress.

Where did you learn how to make books?* I used to put books together on my own, as a child. Then I learned a single signature binding in a calligraphy class in high school taught by Kitty Maryatt, now Assistant Professor of Art and Director of the Scripps College Press. Betsy’s class was the main place where I was exposed to many binding possibilities; I became fascinated with book structures. After I graduated I learned through the few bookmaking books that were available at that time, then began designing my own bindings.

Do you make up the bindings?* Sometimes I do. More often, though, I modify an existing binding to meet my needs for a particular book. I like bindings that are not too fussy and don’t draw a lot of attention to themselves. My goal isn’t for someone to say “That’s a cool binding.” I’d rather someone say “I can relate to this book” or “it really made me think.” Content is much more important to me.

Books by Alisa Golden

I’ve never made a book before. What book do you recommend I start with from Making Handmade Books? I’d start with some basics (not necessarily in this order): side binding (page 90), single signature (page 95), circle accordion (page 119), X book (page 32), Pants book (page 36). There’s always perfect binding (page 61), which is just gluing a stack of paper together. Some other easy ones are the palm leaf (page 86) and the fan (page 86). Another thought is to just pick one, any one, and keep making it, over and over, until you understand it and master it.

What does being a book artist mean to you? What is an artist’s book? As a book artist I am constantly thinking about new ways of reading, how language and imagery can merge, different ways of creating an interactive space, how a narrative changes when it is put into a different book structure, and basics like how to attach two things. In short, I solve puzzles, which I enjoy. Each unique idea presents a unique puzzle to solve. This may be true for other artists, I just happen to be focused on the book as my expressive medium.

As I explain in Making Handmade Books under Basic Terms, an artist’s book is “a book made by a person who likes to make art. The artist controls the work from start to finish, making all the decisions about text, binding, illustrations, and design.” I originally wrote those words in 1997, and I’m finding it harder and harder to define an artist’s book in words. Pictures work much better. Making Handmade Books has pictures.

Tidal Poems, 1995, by Alisa Golden

Where can you buy artist’s books? www.vampandtramp.com www.donnaseagergallery.com. You can also look at books in the Special Collections Departments of University and Public Libraries across the country for free. These are the primary collectors of book art.

What are you working on now? What will we see from you in 2011? Actually, I’m working on my MFA in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University, which makes me very happy! During winter and summer breaks I work on new one-of-kind books made out of handmade felt and try to create at least one book edition made of paper that I letterpress print so I can keep in touch with my printmaker side. I learned how to felt from my sister-in-law in 2003. Since 2007, I have been primarily focused on exploring structure and concept possibilities…for felted books.

* Q&A taken from Alisa’s FAQ on her website www.neverbook.com
**Q&A excerpted from this interview on the Marquand Books blog


About the Author

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29 Responses

    Shannon says:

    Hello! I stumbled upon your site after purchasing your Focus: Passages book yesterday! I’m a freelance graphic designer with a huge love for creating books, so this is all a great find for me.

    Sharlyn says:

    I see you’re working on a degree in creative writing. Do you find as an artist, that you’re constantly looking for ways to merge the various art forms that capture you? I’m assuming you’ll combine creative writing and creating art books. What other art forms have you explored or would you like to explore?

    Dixdizzy says:

    how do you know if it will be art when you’re through? I am always afraid it will be junk when I do it.

    Erin says:

    I’m inspired to make a cool book to put all my sketches in. Great ideas!

    Lindsay Sews says:

    Great Q&A! Are there other arts you dabble in, besides book-making? I’ve found that sewing is my favorite craft, but I also enjoy papercrafts and am trying to pick up knitting/crochet for some variety.

    Thea says:

    Where did you get the idea for some of these book designs? For that matter, how did you get into bookmaking?

    Mommapudding says:

    Which book artists do you find yourself admiring, and what other crafts do you do?

    Annabel says:

    Well… Maybe this week I will be more lucky!
    A question: have you done any “traditional” bookbinding? Do you like it?

    Jodi says:

    Wow, My mum has been teaching herself some creative book binding skills so that she can display her embroidery using book forms. I was planning to try it myself and a copy of this book would be a great help in that.
    Congratulations to Alisa on what looks like an amazing book and proving you can be an Artist and writer if you really put your mind to it.

    Magda says:

    I have several of your bookbinding books and love them. The books I make are all blank books to be used as sketchbooks or as journals. I am an avid collector of books and love anything that allows me to expand my creativity and artistic expression. I feel that books like yours help to make that happen. I have tried purchasing your book from Chapters in Canada, but it is unavailable for purchase.

    Trhfox says:

    How fun would it be to win this book and learn how to make my own book!? My mom used to do bookbinding when I was a kid – I have a cookbook that she made for me, both made the book and added the recipes. It would be lovely to do the same for my girls . . .

    Phyllis Singler says:

    Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing

    Gillwatson says:

    I’ve always wanted to try book making!
    Thanks for a great interview!

    Janel says:

    What a wonderful interview! I went to a book festival last summer and got to see professional bookbinders working for the first time. Fascinating and beautiful.

    Melissa says:

    Hello Alisa Golden,
    Thank you and Lark for this wonderful giveaway. My question for you is do you create the art pages and then bind them or create the book and then the contents? If you create the book first, how do you overcome the “fear” of ruining it when you put ink to the blank page?

    thank you

    Bet says:

    I never feel that I will be lucky enough to win a book, so I couldn’t resist going ahead and ordering it for myself. I’m eagerly awaiting its arrival. But were I to win, I have a friend who also makes books, and I’m sure she would love to have my lucky copy!

    Colleen says:

    My daughter has always wanted to make her own book. Thanks for the great giveaway!

    Lauren says:

    Always interested in a new bookmaking book! Thanks for the giveaway!

    Glitterata1 says:

    I love to challenge myself to by getting into a new craft. I am interested in exploring more about making personal books for myself and of course family and friends using some of the ideas featured in the blog. Thanks for all the info.

    Pam says:

    OH MY GOSH! I think I was the only Pam on the other giveaway…so I WON? I guess I’ll know when the book shows up, but WOW, how exciting if it does! Especially since my post said I had just added this book to my wish list. Crossing my fingers and saying THANK YOU in advance! :-) Ohhhh, I’m so excited if it’s really me.

    Pam says:

    Just saw the email Kathleen! THANK YOU! :-)

    Pattisoriginals says:

    I have friends who have a home publishing business and they have whetted my appetite to try binding some of our creations. I would love to win this book for some very needed guidance!

    Shauna says:

    Inspiring. Thank you for sharing your love of words!

    Carissa says:

    I look forward to reading your book. I have some beautiful drawing paper I would like to make into a personal sketchbook. What sort of binding do you, Alisa, recommend for a book that will be carried, opened and used on a daily basis? Thank you.

    heather says:

    Truly beautiful, unique books featured here from Alisa! I especially enjoy the last photo: Tidal Poems. The watercolors were a perfect choice for such a book.



    ruby t says:

    I love handmade books. I need to learn more binding techniques. These books look lovely.

    I have recently started a web site, the information you offer on this website has helped me greatly. Thanks for all of your time & work.

    I have been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this web site. Thank you, I will try and check back more often. How frequently you update your website?

    og baller says:

    Hello to every single one, it’s actually a pleasant for me to pay a quick visit
    this web site, it contains precious Information.

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