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Spring into Book Arts with Bridget Elmer

Bridget Elmer
Bridget Elmer (in black & white and green) and her studio mates at 7 Ton Letterpress.


Book Structures: Innovative Forms with Bridget Elmer
March 10 – May 3, 2013 in the books and paper studio

Bridget Elmer is an artist, bookmaker and letterpress printer currently working in St. Petersburg, Florida. Bridget is the proprietor of Flatbed Splendor, an independent press that she founded in 2007, through which she produces artists’ books, prints, broadsides, and ephemera. Flatbed Splendor is a member of 7 Ton Letterpress, a collective devoted to letterpress printing, graphic design, calligraphy, paper goods, invitations, and shenanigans. In addition, Bridget is the co-founder of Impractical Labor in Service of the Speculative Arts (ILSSA), an organization for those who make experimental or conceptual work with obsolete technology, and the co-owner of The Southern Letterpress, providing letterpress artwork, products and printing to the Southeastern United States. Bridget has studied book binding, letterpress printing, printmaking and paper making at the Cooper Union, Center for Book Arts, Penland School of Crafts, Asheville BookWorks, and the California Rare Book School. She received her MFA in the Book Arts from the University of Alabama in 2010, and graduated with a second Masters degree in Library and Information Studies in 2011. She has taught book arts in a variety of educational settings, including Asheville Bookworks, Ox-Bow, Florida State University, and the Press at Colorado College.


Bridget Elmer, “We Can Go Beyond It,” letterpress-printed artist’s book, non-adhesive accordion with removable pages (Photo by Matt Rose for BoldLife)


“My love for books began in my mother’s library, when I first grabbed a volume from the shelves and breathed in the comforting aroma of old ink. Before I could even decipher the strange yet familiar symbols on the page, I was at once lost in a foreign land and completely at home.

“Bookmaking, for me, is a public act of communication. My work explores reading as a generative, creative act, and engages the book’s potential as a persistent information technology. In addition to artists’ books, I make ephemera for public events that is produced collectively, distributed freely, and whose fate is completely out of my hands. As such, much of my work is social in its conception, production and reception.


I Open the World
Bridget Elmer, “I Open the World,” photopolymer- and letterpress-printed artist’s book, handmade hemp and Mohawk machine-made papers


“I am a lover of obsolete technology. I print using antiquated presses. I bind my books by hand. I make paper from old cloth and natural fibers. I am also a lover of new technology. I design not only in the bed of the press with lead type and rubber ink, but on my laptop with pixels and Pantone. I am not interested solely in preservation or innovation, but in the relationship between the two. I am not a Luddite, nor am I a technophile. Instead, I aim to choose technologies that best serve the idea.

“My ultimate goal is to ensure that the book, regardless of its fate, can always be found in many good hands.”


Bridget Elmer, “Troubled Lyricist,” letterpress-printed artist’s book, kozo and handmade paper


“In this class, students will learn to make a variety of book structures and enclosures, from historical to contemporary, with a focus on creating innovative forms that successfully embody their intentions. Beginning with simple, non-adhesive book forms, including the pamphlet, accordion, link stitch, and long stitch, we will progress toward more advanced structures, exploring variations on the case binding and crafting a variety of handmade boxes.


Fibre Libre
“Fibre Libre,” collaboratively-produced, letterpress-printed artist’s book, hybrid accordion/pamphlet stitch (Photo by Matt Rose for BoldLife)


“Through demonstration, experimentation, and discussion, students will develop a strong book-making foundation. From this foundation, each student will be encouraged to experiment and innovate, creating hybrid forms and structures unique to their chosen purpose. Students will become self-publishers, craftspeople, conservators, librarians, and artists, all in pursuit of understanding the creative potential of the book as both an information technology and an art form.”          – Bridget Elmer

You can click here to visit Bridget’s website for more information about her and to see more of her work.

And you can click here for more information about Penland’s spring concentration workshops.