A group of people in this city care so much about the art of making books that they’ve launched a center dedicated to it, one that will pass down an artistic tradition while incorporating cutting-edge technologies to widen its boundaries.
Its founders call boundedition a “member-based community resource for the preservation, practice and expansion of the book and paper arts.” They call themselves its managing members: bookseller Gene Alloway, book artist Barbara Brown, graphic designer Laura Earle, printmaker Jim Horton, and product designer Tom Veling, a retired Ford Motor Co. engineer.
They were moved to act when Tom and Cindy Hollander announced last summer that Hollander’s School of Book and Paper Arts would close its doors after the spring 2013 session. The school operated on the lower level of the Hollander’s Kerrytown store for more than 10 years.
Brown, a longtime teacher of bookbinding classes at Hollander’s, reached out to fellow teacher Horton as well as Earle, Veling and others who met weekly at the open studio there. Serious discussions began in February, Horton says, when “we decided that what we’d done at Hollander’s was too good to give up.”
Earle, whose family has been involved with Ann Arbor’s Maker Works, was instrumental in finding a home for boundedition inside the member-based workshop at 3765 Plaza Drive. Maker Works’ managers were receptive to letting boundedition rent some space, and Brown says Earle, her husband and her son “pretty much built the office singlehandedly” – including a set of modular work tables that can be arranged according to the requirements of individual classes.
Brown credits Earle’s energy and determination for the speed with which boundedition took shape. “It would have happened,” she said, “but Laura made it happen now instead of later.”
Ann Arbor’s community of book artists and book lovers got a chance to look around at a May 16 curtain raiser. Tom and Cindy Hollander were in attendance; Horton reports that they’ve given boundedition “a thumbs up” and Brown says “Tom has really been very supportive.”
An open house is coming up on Sunday, June 2, from 1-6 p.m. “The whole community is invited to come out to see the space,” Horton says, “to sign up for classes, to let us know if they’re interested in teaching classes.”
“We’re really looking for people with innovative ideas for classes, because we think the Ann Arbor community is very rich in skills that you may not get in a lot of other places,” he says. “We’re tapping into that.”
The managing members themselves bring a range of expertise to the project.
Horton taught art and graphic design for 40 years (he’s retired from Greenhills School) and leads workshops in printmaking and wood engraving. He’ll be teaching his first boundedition class before the month is out: Intro to Letterpress will be offered over two evenings on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Brown teaches bookbinding at the University of Michigan and exhibits her work as a member of the WSG Gallery (full disclosure: my husband is also a WSG member). She and Earle, who has run several graphic design companies, will teach a two-day session June 28-29 on how to create books using laser technology.
Alloway, owner of Motte & Bailey Booksellers and former president of the Kerrytown BookFest board, brings “a sense of history and knowledge of the book” to the boundedition project, Horton says. On June 20, he will present “Collecting Books in the Digital Era.”
“And if we need troubleshooting for anything on the tech end, we have a wiz” in Veling, Horton says.
He says boundedition will be using the summer to introduce itself to the community, flesh out the website and work out bugs in online registration, and prepare the studio for a full program of classes this fall. Also in the offing are an exhibition area and some retail space to sell finished artworks as well as bookbinding supplies, kits for calligraphers, tools for engravers and supplies for three different forms of printmaking: letterpress, lithographic and intaglio.
The business plan is based on a membership structure, with fees that start at $30 a month for students and $40 for the rest of us. Membership gets you access to the open studio and discounts on classes.
The managing members reached into their own pockets for boundedition’s starter funds, with an initial buy-in and monthly dues. “We’re on a shoestring,” Horton says. “Our goal is to break even. If we make some money, fine; but we’re really not looking at profit making.”
Both tradition and innovation will find a haven at boundedition. Horton says there will be teaching roles at for recent U-M graduates – some of them Brown’s students. But like Maker Works, he says, boundedition “in many ways is an educational model that is a glimpse into the future. Old masters have retired … and are mentoring the younger generation.”
As revenue-starved schools continue to drop the arts, skilled trades and other hands-on crafts from the curriculum, it’s increasingly up to the practitioners to pass along their skills – and an appreciation of their value – to students of all ages and stages. The managing members of boundedition are stepping up.
Tillinghast In Town
Poet and travel writer Richard Tillinghast will be reading from his latest book, “An Armchair Traveller’s History of Istanbul: City of Forgetting and Remembering,” at Nicola’s Books on Wednesday, May 29, at 7 p.m. Tillinghast is a former University of Michigan professor who now lives in Hawaii; he returns to Michigan each year to visit friends and family and lead poetry workshops at the Bear River Writers’ Conference (this year, May 30-June 3). His 1995 collection of poems, “The Stonecutter’s Hand,” is a personal favorite.
About the writer: Domenica Trevor lives in Ann Arbor – her columns are published periodically in The Ann Arbor Chronicle. The Chronicle relies in part on regular voluntary subscriptions to support our columnists and other contributors. If you’re already supporting The Chronicle, please encourage your friends, neighbors and coworkers to do the same. Click this link for details: Subscribe to The Chronicle.