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”

All Shook Up: Interplay of text and image in the flag book format

Flag Books

A workshop with Karen Hanmer

March 10-11, 2012

North Bennet Street School, Boston


In this two-day workshop, students make two styles of flag books and experiment with adding text and images. For both styles a sample is made from kits provided by the instructor. A more finished book with students’ imagery and hand written text is made in one or both styles as time permits. Students explore different spine and page dimensions, direction of motion and the selection of images that are most successful for flag book styles. Students have the opportunity to experiment with complementary and contrasting text and images and learn a tidy, non-adhesive method of covering boards and using a jig to facilitate quicker, more precise assembly. Before creating books using their own text and imagery, we review and discuss books by other artists and the importance of prototype construction and critical thinking at the onset of a project. While this is not a computer class, digital printing and using Photoshop templates for pages, covers and spines will be demonstrated.


Please see nbss.edu for more information and online registration

Focus on Book Arts Conference

Several GBW members are presenters at the FOBA Conference in Oregon in June.  Sam Ellenport of Harcourt Bindery, a past New England Chapter chair, will present on the topic of traditional leather binding and gold tooling.  Also on the list we see Karen Hanmer, a juror for our current bookbinding exhibition; and Andrew Huot, our GBW president.  Apologies if we are missing any other New England Chapter members in our quick glance at the list of presenters.

The press release…

The tenth bienniel Focus on Book Arts Conference will be held June 22-26, 2011 in Forest Grove, Oregon. This conference offers four days of classes in the book arts – bookbinding, printing, printmaking, paper decoration, artists books, and journals – at all skill levels from beginner to advanced. You can pick and choose your classes, coming for only a day or the whole conference. The conference will again be held on the beautiful campus of Pacific University, located in Forest Grove, Oregon, about 25 miles west of Portland, Oregon. We hope you can join us in this celebration of the book arts.

Along with 29 classes the conference offers the following events which are also open to the public: The Artists’ Shop featuring hand bound books, cards, paper crafts, and other handmade book arts items; The Market where you will find vendors specializing in tools and supplies for the book arts as well as hand made book arts related items; an evening lecture entitled “Marketing 101 for Book Artists” by Laura Russell, owner of 23 Sandy Gallery; and the Faculty-Staff Show at the Library, Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR.  If you would like to participate in the Artists’ Shop or the Market you will find contact information and application forms on our web page, www.focusonbookarts.org.

The course catalog is now available either in a printed form or on our web page. It’s filled with class descriptions, financial information and a registration form. All this information can also be found on our web page along with a downloadable registration form, and a PDF version of the printed catalog.
If you would like a printed version of the catalog contact us at:
FOBA • 1928 21st Ave. • Forest Grove, OR 97116 • 503-357-7263

Karen Hanmer

Karen Hanmer, Artist Talk
April 29, 2010
6:00 pm
North Bennet Street School
Boston, MA

This event is free and open to the public, but advance registration will help us select the appropriate size room.  Please contact Jeff Altepeter at bookbinding @ nbss.org.

The New England Chapter is proud to sponsor another free lecture at North Bennet Street School.  Chicago artist Karen Hanmer will introduce the range of her work, which includes artists’ books, design bindings and installation.  A lecture will be followed by an opportunity to handle many of the books. 

Chicago binder, book and installation artist Karen Hanmer’s intimate, playful works fragment and layer text and image to intertwine memory, cultural history, and the history of science. Her work weds the ancient act of book binding with the high tech use of the computer to aid her process. The intimate scale and the gestures of exploration required to travel through each piece evoke the experience of looking through an album, a diary, or the belongings of a loved one. However, her works often take the forms of games or puzzles, and many include witty text.

Hanmer exhibits widely, and her work is included in collections ranging from Tate Britain and the Library of Congress to National Museum of Women in the Arts and Graceland. Recent solo exhibition venues include Florida Atlantic University, University of the West of England Bristol, and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (OH). Recent curated exhibition venues include the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Brooklyn Museum, Harvard University’s Fogg Museum of Art, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft and The Center for Book Arts (NYC); and traveling exhibitions sponsored by the Guild of Book Workers, the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists’ Guild, and Les Amis de la Reliure d’Art du Canada.

Karen Hanmer serves as Exhibitions Chair for the Guild of Book Workers, and on the editorial board of The Bonefolder.

“Karen Hanmer is that rare artist who thoroughly understands the vast potential of the book as an art form. Her books consistently unify structure and content in a way that makes her work unforgettable. At the same time, you can tell that she’s having a heck of a lot of fun, too.”

 — John Cutrone
Book Arts Coordinator
Jaffe Center for Book Arts
Florida Atlantic University

You can see some examples of Karen’s work at 23 Sandy Gallery http://www.23sandy.com/hanmer/catalog.html and of course check out her own site http://www.karenhanmer.com/.


April is quite a month for book lovers in New England , and North Bennet Street School is the place to be.  Recall that the New England Chapter is sponsoring a lecture by Todd Pattison on April 12, and of course we are bringing Karen Hanmer to the school on the April 29.  But also note that North Bennet Street School is hosting British book artist Paul Johnson on the following night, April 30, 2010.  See www.nbss.org for more information.