A Look Back // 1989 Members Exhibition at RISD

In 1989, the New England Chapter put together an exhibition of member work, which showcased the scope and skill of the members at the time. This regional show highlighted the exuberance of book work in the Northeast, with many of the exhibitor’s reputations spanning across the nation and even internationally.

With the year 2020, our Chapter celebrates its 40th year! We will be posting on past events throughout the year in a series called A Look Back. In our first post, I asked three exhibitors to speak about their work and their place in the bookbinding community at the time.

Check out the full catalog here: 1989 Members Exhibition Catalog

Barbara Blumenthal:
Chinese Decorated Papers was the first of the five limited editions which I bound for Henry Morris and his Bird & Bull Press. I’ve been thinking about Henry from time to time since his death in May 2019.

Chinese Decorated Papers: Chinoiserie for Three | Barbara Blumenthal

In the 1970s, Henry’s exclusive bookbinder was Gray Parrot. In 1987 Henry decided not to keep all of his binding eggs in one basket, so he hired me to bind 325 copies of the Schmoller book in quarter leather with his printed paper sides. I also designed and created a deluxe copy, bound in leather leather with a design that featured some of the metallic papers tipped into the book. Henry and I (and his wife Pearl) remained good friends even after he abandoned me, and other hand bookbinders, to have his Bird & Bull books bound by the larger Campbell-Logan Bindery. Henry inscribed the binder’s copy of one of his publications to me, “Massachusetts’ finest bookbinder;” hyperbole, of course, but evidence of Henry’s sense of humor and our mutual fondness and esteem.

excerpt from Chinese Decorated Papers | Barbara Blumenthal

Julia Ferrari:
I was an artist, engaged in a career (vocation) of typography within the book arts, co-running Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press with partner, Dan Carr, in Ashuelot, New Hampshire. Besides creating our own books as artist (myself) and poet (Dan Carr) we had been designing, setting and printing – in metal monotype, full size books for limited edition publishers for 7 years.

Intersection | Dan Carr and Julia Ferrari

When we moved to New Hampshire from Boston we were in our 20’s and we wanted to work doing the craft we so loved. We decided to run a monotype print shop, so we could continue to expand and develop our skills with letterpress printing and typesetting equipment to the country. We were also part of the Four Zoas Press, a literary small press, that was started in Hardwick, Massachusetts, publishing unknown poets. In Boston I had begun writing poetry which led me to Dan Carr and his literary print shop on the Charlestown/Somerville border. I was a practicing artist, and so brought those skills to the press, teaching myself woodcut and lino-cuts (these got used in the chapbooks we were producing), bookbinding, and later in 1989 making abstract paste-papers as original art be used on book covers (very possibly one of, if not the first person to do that.)

Swallow Island | Julia Ferrari

All was opening up as the traditional craft was being discovered by my generation, partly because the printing machines were being discarded by the commercial industry. I continue to run the press, even though my partner has passed away, and feel a responsibility to energetically pass on the craft to the next generation by offering residencies and internships yearly.

Check out Julia’s website for more about Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press.

Julie B. Stackpole:
Since I live down in mid-coast Maine and don’t have many opportunities to gather with fellow bookbinders and book collectors, I have always tried to enter as many exhibitions of bookbinding as possible, to keep my name and work familiar to the public.

In 1989, I was trying an idea to expand my client possibilities by appealing to interior decorators to commission a guest book that ties in with the design of their project that they would give to their client at the end, a symbol of the interior’s new life. My mother, Mary Ann Beinecke, had a textile design business that produced luxury throws, yarns, fabrics, and needlework rugs made for her in Portugal. To demonstrate the possibilities of my idea, I chose one of her room-sized rugs made with this butterfly design as the inspiration for a blank book that I could also enter in the NEGBW exhibit; then she could sell it along with the rug afterwards.

Butterflies | Julie B. Stackpole

I used a finishing technique that I am very fond of: linoleum-cut blind embossing over onlays of leather. The butterfly lino-cuts also were used in making the endpapers with gum arabic resist. All the colours reflect those of the rug.

endpapers for Butterflies | Julie B. Stackpole

My mother never sold the rug but kept it for her own personal use, and so I gifted her the guest book also. Thus, it came back to me after she died (age 87) and so I am able to see and photograph it in its 30 year old condition. I am pleased to note that the structure of the book and wrapper are in good shape, but the aqua blue Niger goatskin has browned on the spine and near the edges of the boards, despite the book being kept in its wrapper. This is why I almost always make clamshell boxes for my fine leather bindings, especially light blue or green ones! (But guest books are easier to sign if they have a padded wrapper to rest on.)

Thanks to Barbara, Julie and Julia for their contribution to our community and this blog series.

Exquisite Corpse Project

In 2019, the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers invited members across the Guild to participate in a collaborative project. This project was inspired by the abstract and absurd Exquisite Corpse illustrations created by the Surrealists in the 1920s. Twenty-one members from across the country signed up to participate.

Each plaquette was covered in Harmatan goatskin leather and assigned to three collaborators, who were given directions to create either a “head”, “body” or “legs” for their designated portion. Each collaborator was given a month to work on their portion before shipping it to the next collaborator. Everyone was asked not to peek and create a design without knowing what the previous collaborator(s) had done. The results were truly wacky and nonsensical and truly unique.

Each plaquette was auctioned off during the Standards of Excellence Seminar in Philadelphia and collectively raised $580. The proceeds will go towards the scholarship fund.

Jane Griffith
Combined profile and frontal facial views created with sea snake and goatskin onlays.   Outlined in black calfskin inlaid lines.

Lang Ingalls
Hand tooled lines are filled with bright blue inlays.
The inlays depict the ‘hand gesture of trust’* over a buddha-like round belly, in a stylized design.
* In the Yoga tradition this is called Pala Mudra, and is also known as creating clarity of thought and relieving anxiety.

Julie Stackpole
Design: “Cowboy Boots”
Lino-cut embossed then onlays of miscellaneous goatskins, embossed again, with extra blind lines and silver foil touches on the spurs tooled.


Emily Patchin
Onlays in black goat and buffalo leather. Feathered onlay in burgundy goatskin. Yellow goatskin cut with Japanese hole punch and inset in to tooled “eyes.” Teeth painted in acrylic. Blind tooling under eyes with small gouges.

Jason Patrician
My design was inspired by a book of insect artwork of Christopher Marley. I used a combination of leather onlays, which included metallic leather (salvaged from a local motorcycle seat upholsterer) to capture the natural iridescent colors of these insects. Blind-tooling was added around the onlays, and then filled with thinly pared strips of leather.

Yi Bin Liang
Teal leather, gold leaf and acrylic paint.


John Nove
Head was inspired by the design on a Northwest Coast (Haida) sun mask. Goatskin onlays, carbon tooling, metallic gold thread.

Jeanne Goodman
Eggshell inlay with carbon and gold tooling.

Roberta Woodrick
Miniature crazy quilt with hand-dyed and commercially printed fabrics. Machine pieced. Hand and machine quilted. Quilt hand-stitched to O’Malley Crackle Cave Paper. Inlaid into the board.


Priscilla Spitler
The head of CASSIOPEIA, the vain Queen of Ethiopia. Banished to the heavens by the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon, she was chained to her throne. Cut and pasted goatskin leather onlays with gold and colored foil tooling. Her constellation is tooled in gold stars on her headdress.

Erin Fletcher
I created a colorful cape by painting geometric shapes onto fair goatskin with Acryla gouache in navy blue, olive green, pale blue, magenta and coral red. Similar shades of cotton embroidery floss adorn the cape through hand embroidery in back stitch, chain stitch and French knots. The body behind the cape is made up of paper onlays of handmade kozo paper and Bugra.

Beth Morris
The deer’s legs are formed by Parchment inlays adjoined to green Leather Inlays that create each hoof. Both legs are surrounded by lines, broad strokes, various marks, blind tooling, and tooling in Silver Leaf, adhered with traditional egg glaire. Further layers of color were added with gold foil work and gouache painting in violet.


Karen Hanmer
Blind-tooled onlay of alum-tawed goat, inlaid lines of goatskin have been gold and pigment foil-tooled, surface gilding of sprinkled gold and moon gold leaf. Whale based on illustration from Natural history of the cetaceans and other marine mammals of the western coast of North America by Charles Melville Scammon.

Colin Urbina
Tooled Edge Onlays, Blind Tooling, Inlays, Gouache
A grotesque amalgam of a body with sea creature limbs.

Joanne Kluba
Goat leather, paste, gold foil


Lili Hall Sharp
Inlays: Oxidized and shiny copper, translucent vellum laminated to security envelope paper and tooled with gold. Onlays: Chagreen goat and snake skin leathers. The materials were chosen for their colors and textures knowing the plaquette was a terra cotta color. The design sprang from a doodle, knowing I wanted something playful, with an illusion of floating dimension.

Eric Alstrom
As spring approaches and insects return, I started thinking about the three sections of the Exquisite Corpse as head, thorax and abdomen. While perhaps not exactly analogous, the thorax fit the middle section. What began in my mind as a very stylized, generic bug turned into a shiny beetlesque butterfly. The wings are made from a collage of dyed kozo and acrylics; body is Claire Maziarczyk paste paper wrapped over folderstock; legs are black moriki wrapped around sewing cord set in paste. And just as insects fly through the air once again, I let my exquisite corpse fly off the plaquette in search of corporeal freedom.

Todd Davis
The main motif is an adaptation of a triskelion, an ancient symbol found first in Malta circa 4000 BCE and pre-Celtic Ireland circa 3000 BCE. This particular one is inspired by the flag of the Isle of Man, three armored legs with golden spurs. But rather than a monochrome background of red, a four-color wedge-shaped pattern is used which is inspired by the umbrellas used by the inmates in the 60’s television show “The Prisoner”. A Baltic birch plywood disk is covered in goat skin and surface gilded goat onlay. A central dowel on the reverse of the disk is pressure fit into the center of a disused fidget spinner roller bearing which is then fixed to the plaquette surface allowing the entire disk to spin.


Penelope Hall
Inlay with glazed earthenware and various layered papers, using wheat paste and PVA. I used a design from one of my doodles.

Coleen Curry
I made a whimsical non-human body with a tail and wing flaps. The neck portion showing to me  was slightly green and that led me to choose the materials.   I used top pared faux alligator leather that was similar in tone to the green and painted with teal and red acrylic highlights and dots. The lizard like body was inlaid into the board with underlays of black eel-skin wingy-flaps. A glass bead was sewn onto the tip of the tail before inlaying the body.  The are around the body was sanded and embossed with sand paper and painted.

Emma Sovich
Handmade mulberry paper, hand marbled cotton and abaca paper, handmade hemp paper

Third Annual Paper and Print Exchange – Bugs!

We just finished up our 3rd Annual Print and Paper Exchange with 10 members participating. This year, we offered up the optional theme of bugs, which seems to have been fun for many of the participants. Check out the great work our members produced for this exchange and keep an eye out for the next print and paper exchange!

Stuart Copans – “What’s Bugging You?” (4 layer paper cut frottage print, printed using a #2 graphite pencil after attempts with charcoal sticks failed)
Karen Hanmer – excerpts from The Art of the Book
Barbara Hebard – “A Transformed Arthur the Theologian is greeted by St. Peter at the Gate of Heaven.”

From Barbara: I was pleased that the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers chose the theme “Bugs” for the annual Print and Paper Exchange. This gave me the opportunity to finish the story of Arthur the Theologian. My whimsical collage shows Arthur, after a lifetime of digesting the Bible, winging his way into Heaven. The print is called “A Transformed Arthur the Theologian is greeted by St. Peter at the Gate of Heaven.” ) This also has a story to go along with it: https://johnjburnslibrary.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/conservators-notebook-arthur-the-theologian/

Sabrena Johnson – “Sweet Summer Hues”
Kate Levy – “Sea Bug”
Yi Bin Liang – no title
Anne McMillan – “Bug ABC”
K.E. Sekararum – “Cicada: Summer in DC”
Julie Stackpole – “Bugs”
Colin Urbina – “Millipede”