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Posts Tagged ‘katie macgregor’

  1. New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers // Mini-Conference in Maine – Day Two

    October 5, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    9:00 – 12:00
    Morning Workshop Session
    The mini-conference offered two half-day workshops with calligrapher, Nancy Leavitt and papermaker, Katie MacGregor. The group of participants were divided into two groups. For the morning session, I attended Nancy’s workshop titled Pen, Paper and Paint.

    Nancy’s first attempt at calligraphy came by inspiration from a Seventeen article; clipping the tip off of a felt tip pen. To pursue the practice of calligraphy, Nancy studied with Peter Halliday in the 1980s. Even though the workshop lasted for only three hours, Nancy was able to pack years of knowledge into her instructions.

    At the start of the workshop, Nancy presented her creative process. When commissioned to calligraph the lyrics to six Beatles’ songs, Nancy took the project beyond the initial request and created an in-depth artist book to incorporate the historical and social events occurring at the release of each song. In the image below, Nancy shows us her charts and mock-ups developed during the creative process.

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    After whipping up some egg glaire and adding water to the gouache one drop at a time, Nancy presented some tips on mixing paint, filling pen nibs, and painting. Each student received a special packet of paper varieties. One half of the packet included a selection of Katie MacGregor’s handmade paper ranging from 1 day old to 20 years old. Nancy loves to allow her paper to ‘age’ because it creates a more agreeable surface to work on.

    As we experimented with the paper varieties and pen nibs, Nancy came around to write each of our names on the paper of our choice. Towards the end of the workshop, Nancy gave a demonstration on turning a feather into a quill. Nancy shared her amazing collection of feather quills, which are carefully and lawfully collected. First, Nancy removed the membrane from the shaft by running it along a hot iron. Then she revealed her coveted penknife from her apron, a tool specifically for shaping the tip of a quill. Each student was presented with a keepsake quill, which we played with by filling the nib with gouache and writing on each of our paper samples.


    1:00 – 4:00
    Afternoon Workshop Session


    In the afternoon, my group headed over to Katie MacGregor’s studio for our second workshop session, A Hand Papermaker’s Perspective. Her studio is just steps from her home, set back in the woods and down a long gravel road. Katie invited us upstairs first, to share with us her creative process, how she logs her formulas and a collection of books created using her papers. Katie has also worked on a variety of custom paper orders for institutions and artists, including a three sheet order for the most vibrant and saturated red she could make.


    We headed downstairs for the actual labor. Katie first mixed up a bucket of fresh pulp and pigment, which she then added to the large vat. The smaller vat was given an addition of flax. Each student was given the opportunity to pull one small sheet and one large sheet. Katie gave a quick demonstration of the proper posture and techniques for shaking the mould, then the process of tipping the mould onto the felts in order to couch the sheets. After watching Katie, each student embraced the messy, wet process of papermaking.

    As a treat, Bernie Vinzani added a special watermark to the larger sheets. Using vinyl lettering, Guild of Book Workers Maine 2014, was heated to the wire threads of the mould, a quicker alternative to the traditional technique for making watermarks.


    Once the last sheet was couched, Katie moved the paper into her hydraulic press, squeezing out the excess water. Then she carefully separated each sheet from the felts for the next stage in the drying process. As we finished the workshop, Katie’s close friends were preparing a wonderful spread of hors d’oeuvres and libations. Katie and Nancy also put together a selection of items for sale and I delightfully walked away with eleven new sheets of handmade paper, two of which I’ve already sewn into two soon to be fine bindings.


    7:00 – 9:00
    Evening Presentation
    Wild blueberries are native to parts of Maine and Canada. As an added treat for the mini-conference participants, Nancy and Katie prepared a wonderfully home-cooked meal of Blueberry Chicken over Rice. After our meal, Nancy’s husband, Blueberry Specialist David Yarborough gave a thorough presentation on the history of the blueberry plant and its involvement in Maine’s agriculture industry.

    That ends the festivities of the mini-conference. As the first event of this scope I’ve put together, I think it was a success from the point of view of the CCLC, conference participants and workshop instructors.

  2. New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers // Mini-Conference in Maine – Day One

    September 23, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    What began as a simple workshop idea between myself and papermaker Katie MacGregor, turned into a weekend long mini-conference event. Over the past year, part of the NEGBW team (myself, Todd Pattison and Lauren Telepak) along with Katie MacGregor, Nancy Leavitt and Alan Furth put together the plans for a mini-conference at the Cobscook Community Learning Center in the small northeastern town of Trescott, Maine.

    To our wonderment, we had an almost full attendance and participants traveled as far as Florida and California. The conference was held from September 12th – 14th. I’m going to write about this event in two separate posts; beginning with the events on day one.

    1:00 – 2:30
    Tour at University of Maine, Machias
    My day began in Boston, driving northbound toward Machias, Maine. The town of Machias is small and charming. The town had a wonderful shop called The French Cellar selling local cheeses, wines and other delicious items. I also made a stop at the local art supplies shop/framers/gallery. It was there that I picked up a beautiful piece of pottery crafted by a local artist. But the real reason to stop in Machias was for the first event of the conference.

    Also located in Machias, is the University of Maine, which enrolls about 1,000 students coming from all around New England for their undergraduate studies. An average of fifty students participate in the Book Arts Program per year. Bernie Vinzani, Director of the Book Arts Studio, lead a tour of their facility. The tour began with a trip to the gallery, displaying works by both students, local artists and historical documents.


    We then moved into the other various rooms of the Book Arts Studio, which included the bindery, print shop and a multi-purpose room. Bernie explained that the students are involved in a single project each year in which they must work together. Each student receives a particular job and they learn the process of creating a book, printing a book, assembling a book and then selling a book. The components of their most recent project was laid out for us, along with a wall display of past projects.


    As a treat, a solo exhibition of Katie MacGregor’s pulp paintings and other artworks were installed early. This part of the tour was quite thrilling for me. I’ve only known the papermaking side of Katie and was intrigued by her creative side.

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    Moon Travel – Katie MacGregor

    5:00 – 8:30
    Presentations and Evening Reception
    The conference participants reconvened at the Cobscook Community Learning Center for the evening festivities. The CCLC hosted most of the activities for the weekend and even had a lodge onsite where many of the participants slept. The lodge was newly built and our group are one of the first to occupy it. I chose a quad for economic reasons and was delighted by the four bunk beds I ended up having to myself. Each room has its own private bathroom complete with shower. 

    Starting off the evening, was a presentation from CCLC Executive Director, Alan Furth, who introduce us all to the Center by giving a brief overview of its history and mission. The Center formed in 1999 as a group of community members from the Passamquoddy Tribe, the Euro-American community, and a community of Canadians from New Brunswick wanted to improve life in this rural region. Paying particular attention to the education models of many Danish folk schools, they developed a center aimed at empowering high school students and to strengthen their community.

    The following presentation was giving by local printer and book artist, Walter Tisdale. Walter filled three tables with wonderful examples of his own work, the work of his friends and some collaborative projects. Walter began his training at the University of Wisconsin in Madison studying book arts with Walter Hamady. Although typography is his real passion, as is collaborating with writers and artists for enriching content; Walter also plays around with book forms. Walter’s aversion for glue forces him to develop innovative non-adhesive structures. Making dummies is his forte. And so he shared some of these models with us.

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    Last, but certainly not least was a presentation by the imitable bookbinder Gray Parrot (also a local to Maine). With an early interest in 18th century bindings, Gray began to build his collection until the habit became to expensive therefore pushing his interests onto pulp and science fiction novels. Gray was an Enlgish Literature major at Harvard before he embarked on studying bookbinding with Arno Werner in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1971. Gray studied with Arno for less than a year before going to Ascona to learn finishing techniques.

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    In 1973, he opened his own bindery and worked on his first edition project just a year later. To date he’s worked with some very talented printers and respectable presses such as Leonard Baskin, Barry Moser, Pennyroyal Press and Gehanna Press. In addition to his presentation, Gray brought an abundant collection of his own bindings. All of which, he let us handle and gawk at. His hand skills are superb and his tooling immaculate. Gray pays attention to every little detail and leaves no space bare without purpose. I discovered a tooled line on the top lip of a leather covered tray on a clamshell box!


    After those three exciting presentations we were eager for dinner, which was served up by a local catering business run by two sisters. Once we took our last bites of decadent chocolate cake, chatter soon arose about the possibility of seeing the Northern lights. We took a short walk out to an open field and patiently waited until a blanket of stars. Sadly, we never saw any sign of the Northern lights and headed back to the lodge to rest after our first day of the conference. (Although some of us were lucky to see a few good shooting stars!)

  3. My Hand // Field Book of Western Wild Flowers: Part Two

    October 15, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    If you missed part one, you can find it here.

    After hours of embroidery work, I was finally ready to cover the binding. The book itself had been removed from its original case binding, taken apart signature by signature and resewn. Once rounded and backed with boards attached, the edges were ploughed and sanded down in preparation for edge decoration. At this point, I had been filling in for Jeff Altepeter at North Bennet Street School and conveniently the students already had everything set up for edge decoration and gilding. I spent the day perfecting the edge, experimenting with the application of gouache through various brushes and sponges. Finishing off the edge with the sprinkling of gold leaf. 

    The hand sewn double-core French headbands came next. I love sewing my headbands in an asymmetrical pattern and by extracting colors from the binding. Sadly, I didn’t take any in-progress photos of these two steps, but you can see hints of the edge and headband in some of the images to follow. 

    Now, back to covering. 


    After applying a healthy dose of wheat starch paste, the embroidered leather was wrapped around the binding, being folded and tucked and squished into place. The leather had expanded after paring more than expected, so covering became difficult to keep the shape of the design within the confines of the board. 


    The covered binding was put to rest under control weight between a bed of felt and acrylic boards. The next day I eased open the boards. Once the finishing design elements were added to the front cover I was able to line the inside of the boards and joint with matching edge to edge leather doublures. The handmade paper fly leaves are a perfect color match and came to me by happenstance from papermaker Katie MacGregor at Standards last year. 


    Part three coming next week…

  4. Client Work: Single Section Full Leather Binding // Part One

    July 30, 2013 by Erin Fletcher

    STORY OF THE TEXT: For his 50th birthday, my client, commissioned two pieces of music to be played during his celebration in Kenya. Each piece is inspired by two distinct features of Kenya, the Talek river and the nyatitis, an eight-stringed lyre instrument. As a commemoration of this event, he approached me to bind the sheet music into a full leather binding.

    ABOUT THE BINDING: The sheet music came to me as 17 individual loose sheets. At the same time, the most recent The New Bookbinder (Volume 32) from the Designer Bookbinders appeared at our bindery. The journal contains an excellent and detailed article by Ingela Dierick titled Single Section Bradel Binding.

    Using this article as a guide, I decided to guard the scores as a single signature. A single sheet of light green/gray Hahnemühle ingres was used to divide the two compositions. A single folio of the same ingres and a folio of pool blue handmade paper from Katie MacGregor was wrapped around the single signature to act as endpapers. 


    Once the signature was ready, I prepared a stub out of the same pool blue handmade paper to the thickness of the signature. The signature was pamphlet sewn to the stub, the layers of the stub were glued together using PVA and then put under weight until the next day. After trimming the text block and stub to size, I was ready to attach my final endpaper. A single sheet of waste paper was tipped onto the stub at the height of my shoulder. The waste sheet is then folded back and the endpaper is tipped onto the same position. The waste paper is then wrapped back around the fold of the endpaper. This creates a zig-zag and leaves a pocket for the false shoulder. This final endpaper will also act as the paste down and is a handmade paste paper designed by Deena Schnitman


    A false shoulder made from cord of appropriate thickness is tipped into the pocket between the waste paper that is tipped to the stub and where it wraps around the endpaper. The book is then placed into a press or job backer and the stub is rounded to create the shape of the spine and the shoulder. This is done with a bone folder and some force. From here I added the leather wrapped headbands and six layers of spine linings, which extend beyond the head and tail. Once the spine is dry, it is then sanded down smooth.  


    At this point, I attached a bonnet to the spine. The bonnet included a spine stiffener and was then slit to allow for the leather turn-in at the headcaps. Boards were laminated from 1.5 mm millboard and 20 pt. and attached to the waste sheet. The waste sheet was then torn off and smoothed down. Lastly, the boards were sanded to have a subtle chamfered shape. 


  • My name is Erin Fletcher, owner and bookbinder of Herringbone Bindery in Boston. Flash of the Hand is a space where I share my process and inspirations.
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