Handmade books and journals fascinate me. I love the different materials people can incorporate in a book, from the pages to the covers to the bindings to the embellishments. They are works of art that unfold before you as you turn the pages. I like how can see and feel the different textures of the materials.
Although I think I already own every book written on bookmaking, I still look for new sources of information. In January, I noticed the cover of the January/February 2010 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors said “34 beautiful books and art journals.” So, I had to buy it.
All 34 books were, indeed, beautiful and each one was unique. One that really caught my eye used a clay piece on the cover the colors were brilliant. It was created by Kari McKnight-Holbrook, the Backporch Artessa.
A week or so later, in mid January, I presented Cutting Without Cartridges – An Introduction to Sure Cuts A Lot (SCAL) as a guest instructor at Scrapbook Art in Lewis Center, Ohio. As I was setting up, just before the start of class, I was chatting with folks about how excited I was to be mentioned twice in the March issue of Scrap & Stamp magazine – my first mention in print in the paper crafting industry. Sitting right in front of me was Kari. I had no idea she was in the class!! She mentioned being published in Cloth Paper Scissors.
I said “Cool! I just picked up an issue because it had a section on handmade books and journals. They are beautiful!”
Kari humbly replied something along the lines of “one of those is mine.”
Then it clicked! This was the Kari from the magazine! Right in front of me!
The class was packed (23 folks!) and full of energy. Everyone was excited to learn they could stop buying cartridges and really unleash their creativity using their cutting machines. Kari asked questions only an experienced artist and graphic designer would ask;
How can I take my own drawings and convert them to images that will cut with Sure Cuts A Lot?
Will it work with Adobe Illustrator?
She was delightful and all fired up.
The next day I had several emails from Kari. She had spent the night thinking of ways to use SCAL and coming up with ideas how we might collaborate. She invited us to visit her studio for lunch and to see where the magic happens.
Kari and her husband share a huge, beautiful home surrounded by rolling hills. A herd of deer goes by a couple of times a day. You can watch them from the big windows along the back of the home, that face a nice stand of trees and a pond. They prepared an amazing lunch, presented on a beautiful table set with blue and white china.
After lunch and a quick tour of the house they custom built, we headed up stairs to her studio. First stop was the sitting room, where Kari showed us many of the books she made. Each was more intriguing than the previous one. From there we went in to her office, where she showed us many of the “fat books” she collaborated on.
Fat books are books of 4″ X 4″ square pages created by 55 to 65 artists who share their work with each other. Each artist makes multiple copies of his page (either originals or photo copies) to be collated, bound, and distributed by the host or hostess to all players. Usually the book cover is provided by the host or hostess. I can’t wait to host one for SCAL users.
From there, we went in to the studio space.
It is huge, well lit and unbelievably organized! Everything is labeled and categorized. It’s an artisan’s dream. No wonder it’s being featured in Cloth Paper Scissors Studios magazine (Spring 2011 issue with Ty Pennington on the cover). Kari has written about the space on her blog. Check it out online and pick up a copy of the magazine.
Kari’s on the road teaching right now, but when she’s back, we’re getting together again to start working on a project together. Stay tuned to see what we come up with! And thanks to Kari and her husband, for giving us a wonderful day in their beautiful, creative space!