Archive for August, 2011

Steve Miller & The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL

Friday, August 5th, 2011

I contacted Steve Miller about visiting the University of Alabama, knowing he was the Coordinator of the Book Arts MFA. I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to visit, as, unfortunately, his house was a victim to the April 27th tornadoes that ripped through Alabama and I know a lot of the area is still busy working on recovery. (Though, in one of the biggest displays of generosity from the book arts community, the College Book Art Association raised $15,000 for Steve in a little over three days by less than two hundred members. Amazing!)
But I also knew on some level that Steve is a force of nature himself: a co-director of the Paper Book Intensive, on the board of the Robert C Williams paper museum we just visited, one of the founders of CBAA, and that he has also been a part of the UA Book Arts program as long as it has been running.

Luckily, he managed to squeak us in for a brief tour.

We met at his office in the program, and I took his office door as a good sign:

Steve Miller's door (I really liked this arrangement!)

He then gave us a quick tour of the department, which is housed in the library sciences building. This gives it some unique advantages, like quick access to the collections and sharing gallery space with the library. Not to mention, that clean organized special library feel:

Binding room 02

Then Steve showed us the Typelab press room, where one student was just finishing up her thesis project (congratulations!) before heading out for the day. Steve also explained some interesting pulp/print developments they were working on.

Press room, left

Press room, right (with a bundle of Alabama kozo hanging up!)

Speaking of pulp–we realized rain was rolling in and just made a dash for the UA’s paper studio before it started pouring. So we wait a bit while trying to decide how to best brave our exit.

awwh, Glenn!

Matt and Steve goofing around in the papermill

Steve, thank you so much for having us, and best of luck in your endeavors!

Glenn House: Gordo, AL

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

I had been waiting to contact the book arts program at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa when I got a message from Jessica Peterson, inviting me to visit her studio in Gordo, Alabama, and the studios of her colleagues and landlord, Amos Kennedy and Glenn House. Unfortunately, Jessica was out of town doing a residency at the Genesee Arts Center (hooray!) so she passed on our invitation to Glenn House, aka, the godfather of the book arts in Alabama.

We went to visit his studio, which he shares with his photographer wife, Kathy Fetters.
Let me just tell y’all now–Glenn House is amazing and hilarious, and his telling of the beginnings of the Book Arts program was quite a story, involving his history and many characters. Listening to him go over these details was definitely a treat!

Glenn House headquarters!

Glenn House, Little Buddy (the dog), and Killer B (the cat)

Glenn, storytelling

We sat enrapt for over an hour listening to the details of how Glenn House started working in the University of Alabama publications department, but over time, started teaching printing and letterpress in the library. This is what became the University of Alabama Book Arts MFA, which, for better or for worse, we had to get traveling towards. So Glenn got our tour going, taking us around his studio and his renters’ studios.

Kathy and Matt in the office space

Glenn and Kathy's collection of artwork, including clay heads by Glenn

Kathy's many photography ribbons

Glenn and Kathy's collection of prints

Glenn also showed us his personal presses, though some were under maintenance, so I don’t have photos. But he has a papermaking setup, including a beater made just for him by Howard Clark! He also gave me some papermaking felts (!!!) which are now very hard to find in this country. Hooray!

Glenn showing us his papermaking set up (glee!)

Glenn's custom made beater

Then he took us to see his former partner Barbara Lee Black’s studio, which I don’t have photos of but she does REALLY cool photography. We went next door afterwards, which is where Amos Kennedy and Jessica Peterson’s studios reside.

Amos Kennedy's shop -- and headline

FYI, Amos has something crazy like eight presses and his prints have been following us on this entire trip–which is why Matt then made this face:


Amos Kennedy's prints

He also showed us Jessica’s space as well as some of the other presses he’s been saving.

Jessica Peterson's studio

Glenn House, press whisperer!

on Jessica’s window space:


and with that, unfortunately, we had to move on. until next time, Glenn! thank y’all so much for having us by!

Onwards to the University of Alabama!


Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Now that I’m back home here in Chicago and my roadtrip sickness finally caught up with me, I have time to lay about and catch up on some posts. :) So we’ll start with Penland!

— in case you are interested in craft and yet somehow have missed hearing about it — is the Holy Grail of Craft Residencies. Penland was started in the 1920s by a woman named Lucy Morgan, who wanted to teach weaving to nearby women so they could support themselves. This has grown into a huge year-round center for classes, residencies, galleries, workshops for artists of all calibers, from beginning to professional. Asheville itself is home to lots of crafty folk, and Penland (about an hour away from Asheville) is also chalk-full with over 100 nearby crafters and artisans.

We set off from Asheville early on Tuesday morning (oh my gosh, has it been a week?!) to catch Penland’s 10:30am tour.

Penland's grounds

huge map!

We started off with viewing painting (no photos, but it pretty much looks like a paint studio–with lovely scenery!) and then onto book and paper. As a note: Penland is *huge*. As in, I’m only posting photos of what probably is less than half of the available studio space, and if you can tell from the photos I am showing, that’s still pretty dang big.


book arts room!

papermaking studio

They also have outdoor papermaking space.
it turns out Helen Heibert was teaching a class on cyanotypes, handmade paper, and kitemaking! I wish I could’ve seen more of that.

Then we visited the ruling favorite craft: glassblowing. Glassblowing at Penland looks to be almost always sold out, and who can blame it? It’s beautiful, translucent, requires a lot of skill, and Fire!


outside the glassblowing studio

I can’t remember the exact order or studios visited after that, but next we’ll cover metalworking. Matt loved it, of course, and I was happy to see that there were lots of women there, including one senior lady who primarily makes jewelry for a living but comes to Penland every summer to work with iron. Fascinating!


lady ironworker!

We also visited the wood workshop, where again, I’m only showing about 1/3rd of the studio space. Seriously.

wood workshop

And how can you argue with this class schedule? Two free yoga sessions. Sheesh!

class schedule

Then onwards to printmaking and letterpress, where we ran into Ellen Knudson of Crooked Letter Press. She was teaching the letterpress intensive and had heard of our travels. Hi Ellen! It was great to meet you. :) Penland has an etching press room and classroom and then, down the hall, a letterpress room, classroom, and type library.

print studio and classroom


letterpress classroom

more of the letterpress room (yes it is giant!)

and then (if you can believe it) we moved onto one of the ceramics classrooms. This is something I’ve always wanted to learn — earth, water, fire, and handworking — combined with form, texture, and color. Everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time as well.


the ceramics classroom

They had a lovely mosaic outside the ceramics walkway as well, which I posted on my day-sponsor shout out to my Mom.

Last but not least, we visited Weaving, the place where it all began.

weaving classroom

Afterwards we went and visited the Penland gallery and giftshop, where they were preparing for the annual benefit auction
I wish we could’ve stayed all day — there were tons more to visit (like the resident artists and such), and I’m sure even just wandering the grounds would be lovely.

the mountains of North Carolina

But we had to move on to Atlanta, where my grandparents and other family were waiting for us.

Don’t worry Penland–I’m certain we’ll be back! Penland, especially, is where Matt started saying we should move to Asheville. Maybe one day. ;)