My Week At Arrowmont

I’m exhausted!  The good kind of exhausted.  Every waking minute (there are NO televisions in the rooms) was spent making, observing and/or speaking with other artists about art – all kinds of art (and eating delicious meals).

We learned a lot about historical leather bindings, leather and leather tooling from Jana Pullman.  I was kinda hoping for some instruction on her overlay and inlay techniques (her work is incredible) but the class was geared more towards making the basic leather structures.

Larger Book – 5 3/4″ x 3 1/2″

Day 1 – we made a Nag Hammadi binding using Kangaroo leather and papyrus for end covers.  Jana was generous in sharing her leather tools (she showed us how she made a most of them – which means I can too) we spent a lot of time designing and tooling our covers.

Larger Book – Tooled Back

I got done a little early, there were scraps of leather left AND there was still daylight – so I came back after dinner to make a miniature of the Nag Hammadi.  I didn’t bring signature paper and since there wasn’t anyone else around to ask for some I glued two pieces of paper towel together and cut them to size for my signatures.  The scraps of the papyrus weren’t big enough for end covers so I cut them into strips and wove them together to make a piece large enough to cover.  Fun….

Smaller Book – 2 5/8″ x 1 3/4″

Day 2 – we made a Vade Mecum (translated means “come with me”) using cow leather.  Again we spent a lot of time designing and tooling the covers.  This time we also dyed the leather.  I had some leather paint with me so I masked off some areas – dyed, then painted and rubbed off the paint (that’s why there are various shades on my large cover).

Larger Book – 7″ x 3″
Smaller Book – 3″ x 1 1/2
Then making a miniature book like the larger books we made became a “thing” and was fun.
Signatures are cut and folded.
The pages in the Vade Mecum are cut so they can be sewn in the book and still be opened and unfolded while worn at the waist.  Picture the book hanging from your waist. You need to give a customer a price on the sheep in your pen.  Thankfully, you wouldn’t have to run to the barn for the info.  You would just flip up your Vade Mecum book, bypass the data on the grain, go straight to the sheet on sheep, fold it open, and Wa La – you have your information.  This handy book probably saved you a customer.  The hysterical version of an IPad.  HA!
Day 3 – we made a leather book using Long Stitch binding.  I found the last acorn cap of the season on the ground on the way to class.  I covered it in glue for stability and sewed it on the cover.  Not sure if I like it – may take it off later or design something else around it.  I love, love, the red cover (hand dyed by Jana).
Larger Book – 5 1/2″ x 4 1/4″
Smaller Book – 2 3/4″ x 2 1/8″
Notice the Gold Tooling?

Day 4 – we started the Medieval Gothic binding.  Geeze!  This was a lot of work.  We used chisels to chip away at the oak board covers where the cords get inserted and glued in as well as a groove for the leather strap.  This didn’t turn out as good as it should have.  I think I’ll leave well enough alone on this one but I have to make one that looks right to me.  Then I don’t need to make another one 😉

Larger Book – 5″ x 3 5/8″
Smaller Book – 2 1/2″ x 1 7/8″
Again, notice the tooling – how cool is this?
I still have a whole roll of it.
We all chose to make headbands

The miniature boards were made using a double thickness of chipboard, leather scraps I brought with me and marbled paper.

Day 5 – we finished the Medieval Gothic Binding book before lunch.  I brought with me a roll of gold foil I found at a yard sale (I wasn’t sure exactly what it was).  Jana had Arrowmont bring us a hot plate, she took out her leather tools and we experimented with the foil.  IT WORKED!

This was just a little of what there is to know about working with leather.

I wish I had gotten permission to share pictures of the other student’s work – they all looked different.

The staff and assistants at Arrowmont were fabulous!!

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