Dear Friends, Students, Faculty Members and lovers of books,

This is Deb Stevens. I am the administrative director for the American Academy of Bookbinding based out of Telluride, Colorado. This blog was started as a way for all of us, those who have studied at AAB, friends of AAB, as well as those who want to find out more about this place, can keep in touch with each other during the year. I'll be posting all kinds of photos, news and updates as regularly as possible (or newsworthy). I hope you will also share any bookbinding thoughts, questions, revelations, etc. Send me your photos and let us all know what you're up to. Keep connected!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Roberta Hilbrandt

Roberta Hilbrandt Scholarship Awarded

It has been several weeks since a decision was made in selecting the Roberta Hilbrandt Scholarship recipient. The 2010 Scholarship is being awarded to Kayle Sykes, of Montreal, Canada.

The Roberta Hilbrandt Scholarship is an annual award of $1500 to one student for tuition to attend a two-week class at the American Academy of Bookbinding. This wonderful opportunity was made available by the loving friends and family of Roberta Hilbrandt, an AAB student and supporter who passed away last summer after an illness. Roberta loved AAB, the instructors and the friends she made while studying here. Her beautiful smile lit up the studio, and her joyful laugh will always be remembered.
The Roberta Hilbrandt Scholarship fund was created to continue the memory of Roberta, and friends and family donated to the fund so that Roberta’s spirit will live on, and her memory will benefit another enthusiastic student.

There were fifteen enthusiastic applicants for the Scholarship. Bill Hilbrandt, Roberta’s husband, had the difficult but exciting task of selecting the recipient after reading passionate essays by the applicants.

Kayle Sykes began her studies at AAB last fall in Ann Arbor at our Michigan campus. Kayle studied “Fundamentals of Bookbinding” with Monique Lallier, and also studied “Treatment of Textblocks and Sewing,” with Don Etherington. The instructors were impressed with Kayle’s hand skills and enthusiasm, and indicated that she will go far in the fields of fine binding and conservation. Kayle will use her Scholarship to continue in the conservation program, attending the next course in the series, “Forwarding and Covering of Textblocks,” with Don Etherington this spring in Ann Arbor.

AAB also awarded nearly $6,000 in tuition assistance, and $3,000 in housing aid to students this year. This is the first year that AAB has been able to assist students in such a significant way. Thank you to all or our generous donors from our annual membership drive.
For more information on these scholarships and financial aid programs, please visit our website: www.ahhaa.org/academy-bookbinding.

Kayle Sykes

Renate demonstrating a sewing technique.


Students learned a variety of sewing stitches and then made models with blank paper of each of the sewing structures to keep for future reference. They then applied this new knowledge to the textblocks they washed and prepared from last weeks "Paper Conservation" class. The results are stunning. The structures are beautiful.

Jennifer Rose of Crested Butte, Colorado.

Leslie Drisdale of Calgary, Alberta.

Michelle Naujeck of Louisville, Colorado.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Week Two: Sewing Structures

Renate's second class is Sewing Structures. Students washed books and pages in the first week, and now they are learning different historical sewing techniques. This requires lots of concentration, and the students are quietly sewing away.

Over the weekend the group took an outing to Orvis Hot Springs, just over the pass in Ridgway. It was a beautiful, spring Rocky Mountain day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Renate had students washing pages today, and then used the groovy 'suction table' on loan from the Folger to dry some of the pages. It was a day mixing lots of different solutions, learning more about chemistry, and discovering the joys of whitening pages. Students are loving the class....especially Renate! We are so lucky to have such an experienced, competent and knowledgeable instructor here at the Academy. Renate will offer a public lecture, "Folger Shakespeare Library and the Preservation of Books," next Tuesday, April 27th. If you are in the area, please stop by. It will be at 6:30pm and most likely will be held here at the Old Stone Building. Enjoy today's photos....

Monday, April 19, 2010

Renate in the studio with students.

Basics in Paper Conservation

Renate Mesmer, Assistant Head of Conservation at Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC, is at AAB teaching an enthusiastic group of students. Students are from Canada, Colorado, New York, Wyoming and Washington. Everyone loves the newly renovated building...check out the photos!

Students having lunch in the 'lounge.'

The kitchen

Renate with Jennifer Rose of Crested Butte, Colorado.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Renate Mesmer and Daniel Tucker check the guillotine.

Daniel attaches the blade.

Workers with BONE Construction place the large percussion press.

Mechanical expert Nancy Heim puts the board shear back together.

Construction ended this past week on our beautifully remodeled Old Stone Building, so this week we moved the equipment in, placed all the tools, machines and materials, cleaned the construction dust from every nook and cranny, and today is the first day of our Spring 2010 Telluride session. YEAH!! Anyone who has been here before will be amazed and delighted at the changes. I'll post photos of the finished space later today. Renate Mesmer, Assistant Head of Conservation at the Folger Shakespeare Library arrived Friday and is getting ready for her Introductory class that starts late this afternoon.

There is still room in some of our upcoming classes, so check out our website and call or email if you are interested in attending.

Renate's first class is Paper Conservation. She'll be going into depth about the care and preservation of different kinds of paper documents, manuscripts, prints and books. I'll post more photos this week.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010



We are moving everything back to the almost finished Old Stone Building on Willow Street. YAHOO!!!! It is a busy week for us......BUT THE BUILDING IS ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS! You will not believe how beautiful it is. More later.......

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Don Glaister taught a one-week class, Introduction to Alternative Techniques in conjunction with the San Francisco Center for the Book at the end of March. The class was an exploration of design and innovative techniques. Don is master at using unusual materials to create interesting design bindings. Students learned some of his inventive techniques and even made a custom tool. The SFCB was delighted to partner with us, and it gave west coast bookbinders a chance to experience AAB's wonderful instructors. Most students were from the Bay area, but students did travel from as far away as Wisconsin. According to Jenny Bootle of Milwaukee, "The course was brilliant and Don is a fantastic instructor. The techniques we learnt open up many possibilities and the class discussions were stimulating (I'm still thinking about both now!)"

Here are a few photos from the class.