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Hand in Hand: Books, Paper, and Print from the Top

christopher davenport making books

 

Christopher Davenport is a storyteller. His stories are personal and complex, weaving together ecology, people, place, and lived experience:

“The place and people I grew up with in rural northeastern North Carolina through the lens of time in 7 poems and 7 photographs.”

“A meditation of places beautiful, able, and unable—Utah’s Wasatch Range and Iowa Corn Fields—from 30,000 feet and memory.”

“Acceptance and resignation as contemporary ecological narratives of extinction.”

“Of place, wilderness, what we see, what we collect, and what we keep.”

“A look beyond experience. Photographs from infrared cameras placed on family property in Washington County, North Carolina.”

 

Christopher tells his stories through text and images strung together into artists’ books. When he describes what drew him to the book format, he explains, “I’ve worked with film, video, photography, and other mediums, but none of them could fully touch on the total idea or experience I was trying to relate to other people. Books just seemed to fit that.”

 

wood case, binding, and interior pages of Ease
Details of the case, binding, and interior pages of “Ease out of your skin, Ease out of your ways, Ease out of your mind.”

 

Christopher’s books work in layers to communicate that complete experience. Take Ease out of your skin, Ease out of your ways, Ease out of your mind, a book he made last year while spending time at and around Penland: Christopher describes the book as “an ecological action and visual poem to intersecting place, commitment, and shared space.” Many of its pages are dedicated to a series of cyanotypes of a young male deer that Christopher took while observing from the grass nearby. But the book’s story is much fuller than that, and each of its elements contributes in some way. The handmade abaca spine and reclaimed poplar case speak of human ingenuity as well as our dependence on the natural world. The cotton cover made from a feed sack from nearby Bakersville, NC details a connection to place, while pages bound in from Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac locate this moment within the greater narrative of human and natural history. Even the beeswax used to finish the book—harvested from Penland’s own beehive—adds a layer of meaning.

 

Artist's book by Christopher Davenport
“Twelve Days,” a book Christopher made in 2014 to document the time he spent in wilderness over the year and to mark the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Wilderness Act.

 

As the instructor for our Spring 2016 concentration Hand in Hand: Books, Paper, and Print from the Top, Christopher will spend eight weeks taking his students through the many details that, together, contribute meaning to an artist’s book. From papermaking and binding to strategies for building type, image, and ideas into a narrative, the class will be in-depth process and experimentation at its best.

 

Hand in Hand will run March 13 – May 6, 2016. Registration is currently open.

 

Hand in Hand: Books, Paper, and Print from the Top

Christopher Davenport — This workshop is about making books—with our hands, our tools, our paper, and our ideas. We’ll cover gathering and preparing fibers; constructing molds, deckles, and tools; drying; surface treatment; finishes; Western and Eastern binding and printing techniques; and conceptual considerations of the book, book design, visual narratives, and generating content. We’ll divide our time between the paper and book studios with a week or two spent printing in the letterpress studio as we gain skills, explore possibilities, make essential binding and papermaking tools, and make books. All levels. Code S00B

Studio artist and teacher at University of Alabama; other teaching: Robert C. Williams Museum of Paper Making (Atlanta), Kennesaw State University (PA); Alabama Arts Council Arts in Education Residency; collections: Wesleyan University (CT), School of the Art Institute of Chicago; his Pocket Knife Press books are represented by Vamp and Tramp Booksellers.

pocketknifepress.com

 

Penland Spring Concentrations, March 13 – May 6, 2016
Books  |  Clay  |  Glass  |  Iron  |  Metals  |  Textiles  |  Wood

 

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Core Show Slideshow

Left to right: Tyler Stoll, Meghan Martin, Joshua Kovarik, Elmar Fujita, Daniel Garver, Jamie Karolich, Bryan Parnham, Emily Rogstad, Morgan Hill
Left to right: Tyler Stoll, Meghan Martin, Joshua Kovarik, Elmar Fujita, Daniel Garver, Jamie Karolich, Bryan Parnham, Emily Rogstad, Morgan Hill

 

The annual October Core Show is a much-anticipated highlight of fall at Penland, and this year was no exception. Our nine core fellows came together to put on a stunning show of pieces from their workshops across the Penland studios. Titled Personal Effects, the show featured furniture, prints, photographs, weaving, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, and much more. It was a great opportunity to see the cumulative talent of this group of young artists, and also to show our appreciation for these people who do so much at the very heart of the Penland community.

View lots more images in the Personal Effects slideshow.

 

coreshow2
Guests admiring work at the opening reception. The table in the front is by Elmar Fujita.

 

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Drum Leaf Books with Rory Sparks, November 1-7, 2015

Rory working with a student
Rory working with a student during a workshop in the old Penland books studio in 2011.

 

Rory Sparks first learned bookbinding in college, right at the end of her senior year. “[I] realized that I had spent four years studying something that wasn’t my passion; that actually, bookbinding was my passion,” she recalls. “I think it comes from really enjoying craft and precision…It just really spoke to me.” From there, Rory studied in England and sought out traditional binders that she could learn from. Instead of getting a Masters degree, she decided to piece together her own education by traveling and studying with a variety of artists and binders and printers. “I’ve learned from so many different people. I kind of take what’s important to me from each one and build my own philosophy around what I do and how I do it.”

letterpress printed book by Rory Sparks
Rory Sparks, Drum Leaf Binding, letterpress printed paper, 7 x 5-1/2”

Twenty-something years later, Rory’s early passion for books has transformed into a deep well of knowledge, creativity, and enthusiasm for her field. She has spent time at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and as a resident artist at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. She binds high-end books for collections and museums. She teaches courses and workshops to share her knowledge with students. And she founded Em-Space, a collective book and letterpress studio in Portland, Oregon that builds creative community and provides artists with access to tools like presses, foil stampers, and more.

Given her extensive background and excitement for teaching, we love having Rory here in the Penland studios. In 2013, she joined us as the master printer/bookbinder at the helm of our winter residency in print and letterpress. She came back in the spring of 2014 to lead a concentration that blurred the lines between letterpress and animation. And this November she’ll return to teach bookbinding, her original love. The class will focus on the versatile but exacting drum leaf binding structure, which makes a perfect canvas for the sort of imagery-heavy books that Rory gravitates towards in her own pieces. If you, too, want a new structure to show off your two-dimensional work, or you enjoy craft and precision, or you’d like to absorb knowledge from an expert binderthis week with Rory could be just the ticket. Register here for her drum leaf books class.

 

Drum Leaf Books

Rory Sparks
November 1-7, 2015

Explore the versatility of the drum leaf binding, an ideal format for 2D artists because it provides a page with unbroken imagery and no gutters. Each spread can be a print, painting, or photograph. This structure provides a simple, intuitive way of laying out a book, and it’s perfect for small editions. We’ll include several cover variations and many versions of stiff-leaf bindings and board books. Windows and wells will provide a wealth of opportunities for incorporating artwork and flat objects into these books. Come prepared to invent and push the boundaries of your book forms. All levels. Code F03B

Rory Sparks is a studio artist, edition binder, and printmaker. Her teaching includes the Oregon College of Art and Craft, the Pacific Northwest College of Art (Portland), and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. She founded Em Space Book Arts Center (OR) and has been in exhibitions at the Tacoma Art Museum (WA) and the Portland Art Museum (OR).

Register here for Drum Leaf Books

 

 

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“A Zeal for the Creative Process”

portrait of Robert Bush

 

Robert Bush came to Penland this summer as a session four student in Jana Harper’s class “The What & the Why: Books as Idea Generators.” The class was part of a one-month sabbatical from his job as president of the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte, North Carolina. As a first-time Penland student, Robert arrived on campus with “a zeal for the creative process” but without much experience in the visual arts.

Writing about his experience later for the ASC blog, Robert reflected:

“I could recount the 12 hour days, ‘one word’ prompts each afternoon that required a book be made for a 10 a.m. group show and critique the next morning, the mistakes I made….let’s just say I now understand ‘make it work’ and I held my own. I totally stepped away from my job and the world (no TV, barely internet) for two weeks, immersed myself in an unfamiliar setting doing unfamiliar things. It was nothing I expected and everything I had hoped for.”

He finished his essay with a list of the giftsboth personal and professionalthat his time at Penland had given him. They’re a valuable reminder of the enriching role art can play in our lives and the importance of “being present and engaged in community.”

See the list and read Robert’s full post here on the ASC blog.

 

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Ribbon Cutting!

ribbon cutting at Penland

On June 4, Penland had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly-opened Samuel L. Phillips Family Foundation Studio, which is the building that now houses our book arts and drawing/painting studios. Among the many folks cutting the ribbon were representatives of the Penland board, the Penland staff, G.E.M. Constructors (who built the building), the committee of artists who consulted on the studio spaces, and the Phillips Family.

 

 

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Turn Your Travels into a Book with Gail Rieke | April 20 – 26, 2014

 
 

Artist Gail Rieke wrote to us recently:
 
 

Lately I’ve been working on two travel journals. They live in suitcases on the suitcase wall in my studio. The arrows indicate the suitcases containing these two journals:
 
 

suitcaseriekepenland

 
 

Otafuku’s Dream is a journal of two trips I took to Japan in 2012:

 
 

Otafuku's Dream Journal

 
 

The transparent pages usually live folded up within a cocoon folder tied with a grey kimono sash but sometimes they are mounted on a mylar covered window for display:

 
 

Otafuku's Dream Pages

 
 

Gail Rieke
The Artist as Traveler
In the books studio
April 20 – 26, 2014
Do you have a pile of travel memorabilia stashed somewhere in your life? Have you promised yourself that you will return to it someday and make it into something meaningful? This workshop explores how travel has affected the lives of artists throughout history and how you can transform memory into artistic expression. The workshop will include individual and collaborative exercises in collage, drawing, mapping, writing, and bookmaking. Our pieces will be structured at the onset and open-ended in their resolution. Ignite your own unique responses! Take a leap! Beginning level. Code S03B

 
 

Register here for this workshop

 
 

The second journal I’m working on right now is about two trips I took to France, teaching at my friend’s rural studio in a medieval town and then exploring Paris. Here are some pages in-process responding to one of these trips:

 
 

_DSC2644

 
 

Gail Rieke has taught at the University of Edmonton (Canada), Haystack (ME), American Academy of Bookbinding (CO), and the Brayer Studio (Japan), among others. Her exhibitions include: the Cheongju International Biennale in Korea and a career retrospective at Museum of Fine Arts (Santa Fe).

 
 

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A Boat Story

Rachel Mauser, We Will Find the Sea, cut paper, modified coptic binding, pewter, walnut
Rachel Mauser, We Will Find the Sea, cut paper, modified coptic binding, pewter, walnut

Once upon a time there was an artist named Rachel. She grew up going to camp during the summers, where she learned to sail, kayak and canoe. No boat was unknown to her. Young Rachel carried the image of boats with her into adult life.

Last summer, Adult Rachel found herself in a one-week pewtersmithing class as part of her core fellowship at Penland. Pewter? she thought. The instructors were two of the most well-known pewtersmiths in the land. Rachel had no experience with pewter–or much metal experience at all, for that matter. She was uncertain. Her uncertainty reminds this writer of a line from another story: “It was dark in the woods and she had to be brave.”

Others in the class were metalsmiths. They were well on their way toward making pewter cups. Candlestick holders. Salt shakers. Rachel closed her eyes. It was then that she saw it: a pewter rowboat floating in a book. She worked all week on the boat, its two tiny oars.

Later, back in the familiar kingdom of paper, Rachel made a book for the boat. The boat in the book: what Rachel made reminds this writer of magical books, childhood, the great big endless sea.

The moral of this story is a quotation from the artist herself: “Our ideas are not limited by the materials we know.”

 THE END