Handmade books take shape in workshop

Tables were piled with antique-looking maps, printed and handmade papers, felt, sticks, shells, pages torn from old books, unusual plant pods and other odds and ends as 10 women focused on making their own personal art books.

Instructor Charu Colorado demonstrated how acrylic gel medium — normally used by painters — could be used to affix long pine needles to a page.

Participants at the Sunday workshop inside Illahe Studios & Gallery on Fourth Street in Ashland tucked waxed paper bags between their finished book pages to prevent them from sticking together.

Earlier in the day, they had slid thread against a waxed candle. Waxed thread runs more easily though paper without tearing it, Colorado had explained.

Using the thread and either bookbinder's needles or upholstery needles that were as long as pinky fingers, the women sewed together their blank books in the morning, setting the stage for decorating the books in the afternoon.

Colorado provided a wealth of material for the class, but had also asked the participants to bring in any personal items they wanted to use to adorn their books.

Ashland resident Priscilla Hunter brought photocopies of designs by a Spanish artist, and then worked to glue them to her blank pages.

"I'm just learning to glue and it's really hard," she said. "You have to get everything lined up. The glue gets everywhere. It gets all over your hands and all over the surface."

Despite her difficulties with the glue, her handmade book was gradually coming together.

Hunter said she plans to write poetry on the book's colorful pages.

In her book, Augusta Lucas-Andreae, also of Ashland, was combining inspiring words cut from magazines with stained paper towels she had saved from an Easter egg dying project.

"I can see a lot of possibilities. I can see a whole world opening up," she said.

Terri Wraight of Ashland is planning a trip to Ireland in September. She plans to use her handmade book as a travel scrapbook. She had collected printed words in French, an image of Big Ben, a pin with the American and British flags and other international tidbits.

A veteran creator of handmade books, Carol Young of Talent displayed several finished products. In one, half of the book was filled with sketches of fishing nets, a dog on a beach, myrtle wood trees and other scenes from a trip to the Oregon Coast. The second half showed other-worldly sketches from her trip to the annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada dessert. In one sketch, a woman dressed in a red evening gown plays a trumpet while a tree sculpture burns.

Young said she uses watercolor pencils for her on-the-go sketches. People can sketch with the pencils out in the field, then apply water to create washes of color later on.

On a month-long trip to Italy, Young took along 15 handmade sketchbooks, then had to make more while she was there to accommodate all her sketching.

Roxanne Evans, who lives near Klamath Falls, plans to use her book to hold bits of metal, twigs and other objects she finds while out walking. The front of her book was decorated with a subtle graph pattern, a twist of wire and the words "come to the ground."

Betty Watson's book, decorated with the words "the web of life," lichen and an ornate metal button, was ready to be filled with images she had culled from sources like National Geographic and Patagonia catalogues.

Watson made the trip over the Siskiyou Pass from Weed, Calif. to attend Sunday's workshop.

"I wanted to work with other people in a small group. I wanted inspiration. What other people collect is different than what you collect," she said.

Watson said she's always liked books and has been an avid reader all her life. Handmade art books can have a sculptural quality since people can do collage or glue on small objects, Watson said. "It's something anyone can do," she added.

If demand is high enough, Colorado will hold another bookmaking workshop, with a limit of 10 people in the class. Four people had already signed up for a second workshop as of Sunday.

The fee, which includes materials, is $120. To reserve a workshop spot, call Illahe Studios & Gallery at 541-488-5072 or call Colorado at 541-482-6319.

The gallery will host a weekend workshop on creating a mosaic with tile Aug. 13-15. Instructor Joanne Chase will supply tools, materials and Italian glass tiles.

The fee is $225 and the workshop is limited to 10 participants. Call the gallery for more information or to sign up.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.

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