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making the book ~ visit to Talas

Some things take a long time. Or to put it another way: some things take their time. I’ve been working on making a book. This book project has, for reason obvious and not, meandered over the past year and a half. And I’m glad it did. Big take away from last year was that I need to stop resisting the unknown. When things are not going according to plan there might just be a reason why.  The book project stalled in late 2012.  Something about it just wasn’t coming through in the original format I was inclined to pursue.

And then a little serendipity came into play and I ended up taking couple of workshops with Lauren Henkin in 2013. Lauren is a bit of a maverick. A talented photographer, whip-smart, imaginative and one of the most resourceful people I’ve met in a long time.  I admire Lauren greatly. One way she expresses her work is through artist books, which she self-publishes.  Lauren Henkin’s books are simply beautiful and one of a kind works of art. I’m happy to own one these amazing books, “Still Standing, Standing Still,” as it inspires and motivates me.

The “Self-Publishing for Artists” workshop I took with Lauren last year infused me with delirium. Now I not only wanted to publish a book but self-publish it.  Not just self-publish it but print every page myself of a limited edition of 30 books. There’s so much to consider, think about, plan, collaborate on, figure out, edit, edit, edit… make decisions, produce.  It. Is. So. Exciting!!!

And just like that I jumped into the the world of artist books.  I’ve always found the world of artist books to be a wonderland I wanted to explore.  And now I’m in it finding my way towards making one of my dreams a reality.  There’s a lot of work!  Many challenges for sure but the process so far is quite exhilarating.  The hands-on aspect of it gives it a somewhat organic/intuitive  flair that comes from participating in every step of the production.  Each step informs the next.  At this point the editing and sequence of images is done… give or take a page or two. I’m now working on the accompanying text. While that is happening, at a rather snail’s pace (but I won’t fight it), I’ve started the process of figuring out what the cover should be. I had an idea to begin with few months ago.  By now the idea has morphed into something completely different (thanks to yet more serendipity).

Time for the book dummy version.  There will be more posts coming up following the progress of making my first limited edition book of photographs.  First, a couple of visits to Talas.

Talas is a mecca for anyone wanting to self-publish.  It is a place where one can get all supplies needed for bookbinding.  As is stated on their website:

Established in 1962 by Elaine and Herbert Haas, Talas became the first company in the US to serve the museum and library community with hand bookbinding and conservation supplies.  Today the Salik family continues to operate Talas as a family run business, serving institutions, companies, and individuals around the world with the highest quality supplies and materials available. Centered on customer service and a small business approach, we are continually expanding our product line to meet market trends and our customers’ demands.

My two visits there were very informative and productive.  All my questions were answered knowledgeably by a lovely young woman named Jessica who was super helpful.  I’ve started a small collections of various sample books of different papers, materials etc, which will be useful not just for this current project for others in the future. Definitely have a much better idea of how I want to go about the design of the cover and in the next couple of weeks I’ll make couple of actual samples fit to size.  Above are a few of pics from Talas and one from my studio looking at the sample booklets.

Part of the process of making a book is making lists (as it is part of making anything really).  Here’s one (partial and incomplete, but a start nonetheless):

Options for cover

  • what material
    • fabric
    • paper
    • vellum
    • paper vellum
  • what color
  • texture
  • lettering
The fun is just starting!
PS: If you hover over the capitalized words above for Lauren Henkin or Talas and click on the highlighted link, it will take you directly to the web pages for them.



Cathy Stewart - Wonderful window into your process and materials. can’t wait to see your book!

Monika Sosnowski - Thanks Cathy!

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