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!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Don Glaister and Monique Lallier.

Monique Has Arrived!

Monique Lallier is back teaching her intermediate and advanced students. What a joyful, busy, and creative studio we have! We had an open house at the bookbinding studio the first week of class, and over 100 locals came to see what is going on here. We had book models to view, and a few finished books to showcase. Students described what they are working on to interested attendees. We also presented Monique with a thank you gift for her previous years as Director of the Academy.
Her class is one more week, finishing up this Friday, June 4th. Monique is offering a slide show and lecture titled "Contemporary Design Bindings," Tuesday June 1 at 6:30pm at the Ah Haa Depot. For those of you in the area, please join us!

Monique demonstrates how to attach her pewter plate to "The Thread That Binds."

Cutting the round edge.

It was like a sale at Filene's Basement the day I offered suedes for $10. The shoppers went crazy!

Monique with Sally Simpson, one of her students who is also a jeweler. Sally made a beautiful pin for Monique as our thank you gift for her five years as Director. Daniel Tucker presented the gift to Monique and made the box the pin came in.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Side Trip to the Waterfall

We took a short walk to the beautiful Coronet Creek Falls, about a 15 minute walk up a trail to the base of the falls. Don and Sialia joined me. The water that comes through the narrow slot freezes as it falls and splashes back up, creating a column of ice behind. There are lots of things to see in your free time when you come to Telluride to study (though most students prefer to stay in the studio working on their books!)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My first head band...English style (or so I'm told.)


It turns out it was too hard to take the class and work at the same time, so I quickly fell behind. I've almost finished my half leather binding, and I've just started on the full leather binding. But, I LOVED THE CLASS! As an artist, my working style is quick and messy, and in fine binding one has to do the opposite: be patient, take care, and work with precision. I can do it if I have to, and in this class I absolutely had to. When I pared my leather to quickly, I ruined several pieces. If I eyeballed something instead of measuring it, my line was crooked. Yes, I had to slow down, and if I really was just taking the class (and trying not to worry about my job) then it was a blast. And the joy I felt when I got something right was fabulous! I do see why so many people study here, and are hooked, and come back year after year. There is something very meditative and intimate in the making of a book.

Here's how the rest of the class progressed: cover the half leather book; glue decorative paper on the covers; make and glue the paste-down; and then attach the end pages. Then repeat everything and make a full leather binding. In between all that, we sanded, pared and sanded some more. Here are a few things I've learned:

One must have a sharp knife and keep it sharp; do not let paste or PVA dry on your brush; don't wet your leather and walk away for any reason, a tide line might form (it did!); measure, then measure again; dividers are really cool little instruments; there are different kinds of bone folders, and a small pointy one is good to have; paring leather is hard to do well; using a scharf-fix takes practice; I need glasses; be patient!

My half leather binding

Don explains how he comes up with a design.

Kirsty with her two books.

Michelle with her half leather binding.

Don applies paste for his full leather cover.

Emily with her books.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Class started Sunday, May 2

Don Glaister, the new director of the Fine Binding Program at the American Academy of Bookbinding, is in Telluride for three weeks teaching Fundamentals of Bookbinding and Gold Tooling.

After 17 years of watching other students bind books, I am attending my first leather binding class. Yeah! So I'm enrolled in the Fundamentals Class that started Sunday. And I must admit, I'm having a blast!

Attending the class will make it easier for me to describe more completely what is being taught. Here we go:

Day 1:
We met Sunday evening to put our textblocks in the press. I'm making a blank sketch book, so I used 2 1/2 sheets of Arches Text and folded pages to roughly 6.5"x6.5". Then we stacked the paper in boards and the pages were set for the night.

Jeanne's textblock all sewn.

Day 2:
We took our textblocks out of the press and put them together. We sewed them, glued them, rounded and backed them, and glued Japanese paper to the spine.

Don sands the top of the book.
Day 3:
We sanded the top edge and made headbands out of leather and a batonnet that we made from mat board. Then we cut our boards to size and covered our textblocks. Then we made a hollow core for the spine and started paring our leather. We are making a half leather book in a case binding for our first book, and some people are doing spine and corners, and some are doing spine and edges in leather. We sanded our boards (chamfording them). Some people finished paring leather and were able to cover their books today as well.

Don demonstrates how to make a headband with a homemade batonnet and a small piece of pared leather.

Don shows us how to sharpen our knives.

Kirsty pares her spine leather.

Don attaches the leather to his book.

"I can't believe I get to do this!!!" - Don Glaister

What has been such a thrill for me is to see the intimate and personal 'artist' side of Don Glaister as he makes his book. Don is actually binding his own book during the class, and demonstrates all of the techniques right on his own book. This is really a treat—to see a master bookbinder experiencing such joy throughout the process. When he sands his board he holds it up to us with a big smile on his face and says, "See? Isn't that just graceful?" He treats his book not just as any old object but as a perfectly beautiful possesion. He says things like, "I can't believe I get to do this!" while applying paste to his leather spine as he prepares to cover. And he's talking about the fact that he gets to make books for a living. He describes books as either looking "clunky" or "like a dream." Yes we are learning to bind books in leather, but we are also experiencing a gifted artist making his art. This is worth all of the money you pay to attend classes here...it is so much more than just learning bookbinding. It is a two-week immersion into the heart and mind of an artist. Wow. It is a gift for me to be able to attend this class.