The Sketchbook Project @ SFCB!

Crowdsourcing is a big deal these days: maybe you crowdsource funds for your chick flick/vampire thriller movie, or you get a bunch of people to define words like “cutty” and “bropocalypse.” What about crowdsourcing art?

San Francisco Center for the Book

A sketchbook from the Project’s massive collection

That’s exactly what the Sketchbook Project does. The idea is simple: an artist (or heck, not an artist!) pays a small fee to be sent a blank 32 page sketchbook. She fills it up up with writing, collages, paintings, photography, comics, lyrics, drawings… anything she can think of. Then she sends it back to the Project. Currently the Project has a collection of 27,648 sketchbooks (donated from 11,575 cities worldwide), which they house in three libraries (“because three libraries are better than one”): their flagship Brooklyn Art Library in New York City, their digital library (artists have to pay a little more to be scanned into the mainframe, which can be accessed for free by anyone with an internet connection) and their Mobile Library… which is a lot like a food cart, but one that gives you sketchbooks instead of food.

“Dang,” you’re saying, “the Sketchbook Project sounds rad as heck. I wish I could see it!”

Well now’s your chance. The Project is parking their taco truck full of books at San Francisco Center for the Book July 26-28, and we wouldn’t be at all surprised if books from our friends and contributors are amongst the haul. If yours isn’t, why don’t you order yourself a sketchbook and get participatin’? I think I’m going to.

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Zoe is a student at Reed College, and an amateur playwright. During the summer of 2013 she is a volunteer at SFCB contributing her time and wit to the library and her sorting talents to the California job cases in the print studio.

Notes from a Library Apprentice: Putting Books in their Place

San Francisco Center for the Book

The Post-it: organizational tool of champions.

When discussing with Mary Austin about the extent of my duties this summer, I mentioned that I might be interested in becoming a librarian. She was overjoyed: upon moving from DeHaro Street to Rhode Island street recently, San Francisco Center for the Book’s small collection was rendered utterly  disorganized. Who better than an intern with a penchant for the library sciences to put it to right?

Previous interns from Bennington college had set up a cataloguing system, separating the  books into categories, some relatively straightforward (“Printmaking,” “Calligraphy”) and some considerably more vague (“Book Arts,” “Related Arts,” and “Clip Art”… which seems to have an almost 100% overlap with “Design”). My duty was to tidy up these sections and take stock of the 70 or so books that hadn’t yet been put into the system. This involved a great deal of looking up ISBN numbers, a considerable amount of reshelving (two whole sections had to be moved), a bookshelf being dragged across the floor, and Post-Its. So many Post-Its.

I spent yesterday afternoon with Megan and Rick Prelinger, of the Prelinger Library, to talk about libraries and what I might do with ours. Artist’s books and magazines are difficult to catalog because they don’t have ISBN numbers? Rick’s immediate response: don’t use a catalog. The Prelinger Library is built on the principle of serendipity – books are organized into broad groups and while you might find what you were looking for, you’d be much more likely to find something you never knew you needed. Don’t try and systematize so rigidly, the Prelingers suggested; instead, try a taxonomic tree of themes. “Typography” leading to the subgenre “Linotype,” which then undergoes divergent evolution and branches off into “Linotype Specimens” on the one hand and “Keyboard Operation” on the other.

So, my introduction to radical librarianism. We’ll see how it plays out in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’m content to dig around the shelves, unearthing treasures… and reorganizing them.

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Zoe is a student at Reed College, and an amateur playwright. During the summer of 2013 she is a volunteer at SFCB contributing her time and wit to the library and her sorting talents to the California job cases in the print studio.

An Evening with Michael Burke and Dominic Riley

Have you gotten to meet our visiting Master Bookbinders yet? We’ve been so lucky to have Dominic and Michael here at San Francisco Center for the book — both have taught some amazing classes this summer, with a few more upcoming: Dominic’s Account Book Binding workshop takes place on July 22, and Michael’s class on the Ethiopian codex is on July 27.

Whether you’ve already taken a class from one of the masters or you’re anxious to meet them, this Friday’s Evening with Michael Burke and Dominic Riley is a fantastic chance to hear the gentlemen muse on book structures both old and new.

Following his recent success in the International Bookbinding Competition, Dominic Riley will talk about his winning binding, Pyramus and Thisbe, now in the permanent collection of the Bodleian Library in Oxford. He will also show some his other recent commissioned design binding he has made in the past year.

Since his last visit Michael Burke has gained his Masters degree in the History of the Book from London University. Michael studied manuscripts made by the monks of Fountains Abbey in England in the middle ages. He will talk about the results of his historical research and will share his discoveries of the techniques they used.

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Zoe is a student at Reed College, and an amateur playwright. During the summer of 2013 she is a volunteer at SFCB contributing her time and wit to the library and her sorting talents to the California job cases in the print studio.

Letterpress Inking 101

San Francisco Center for the Book

Think you know all there is to know about inking? Ink again.

What? “The Secrets of Inking for Letterpress,” a printing workshop with instructor Alan Hillesheim

When? July 18th, 6:30 – 9:30pm

All right, give me the spiel. Sure, you know the difference between a Vandercook cylinder press and a floor-model platen. You can set type and pull out some very nice broadsides – heck, you’ve even printed your own chapbook.

Or you, over there: you’ve never touched a press in your life but you’re raring to learn… your sister had these beautiful letterpress invitations for her wedding, and how great would it be if you were able to do that yourself?

Whatever your skill level, come join Alan Hillesheim as he unfolds the secrets of letterpress inking for us all. Whether you’re a wide-eyed novice or a seasoned pro, your prints will come out looking lovelier if you know why and how to dampen paper for better ink coverage, why allowing ink to set gives better results, and how to use bearers for better ink control. Learn to apply and manipulate ink on many different types of presses, as well as the inside scoop on how to mix ink and what kind of ink additives give more control. Become a more successful printer with these tips, and you can thank Alan when your book comes out looking better than you’d ever imagined.

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Zoe is a student at Reed College, and an amateur playwright. During the summer of 2013 she is a volunteer at SFCB contributing her time and wit to the library and her sorting talents to the California job cases in the print studio.

The Book of You

San Francisco Center for the Book

Turn a blank book into an atlas of the soul

The author Carlos Ruiz Zafón once said, “Every book has a soul, the soul of the person who wrote it and the soul of those who read it an dream about it.” In some books, we can only glimpse this soul tangentially… in the way a few words are organized on the page, or in the feeling of the cover in your hands. The closer the book is to its creator, though, the more the book’s soul shines through. When we see an artist’s book, we know we’re seeing a book that has been imbued with all of the effort and love – all of the soul – that made its creator strain over a letterpress in the first place.

So what book could have more of a soul than a Book of You? In San Francisco Center for the Book’s upcoming workshop, students will transform a blank notebook into a landscape of thoughts, dreams, and ideas. Following the cognitive pathways of collage, private symbol systems, self-styled alphabets, poetic prose, photographs, collages, and drawings, students will become both the author and reader of a book with a very particular kind of soul.



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Zoe is a student at Reed College, and an amateur playwright. During the summer of 2013 she is a volunteer at SFCB contributing her time and wit to the library and her sorting talents to the California job cases in the print studio.

Roadworks And Book Arts Through The Eyes of British Columbia’s Director of Libraries and Literacy

We were delighted to have Jacqueline VanDyk visit the San Francisco Center for the Book a few weeks ago. She is the Director of the Libraries and Literacy Branch in the government of British Columbia. Today we were delighted to read her blog post about the visit and share it with you here. To read the original post, and other posts, go to:


Roadworks and Book Arts

Picture a steamroller used by artists in making prints. Make that a three-ton construction steamroller and an unlikely letterpress bed: a city street!


photo credit: unknown:

Picture a team of artists and printers making large-scale prints from three-foot-squarehand-carved linoleum blocks. Add in festival crowds, local colour, food, crafts and book arts workshops, as well as book art enthusiasts, and you’ll have a sense of the Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival held in San Francisco every September.

The RoadWorks Festival is organized by the San Francisco Center for the Book (SFCB). Founded in 1996, SFCB fosters the joys of books and bookbinding, the history, artistry, and continuing presence of books in our culture and the enduring importance of books as a medium of self-expression. SFCB is a full-service book arts centre, providing expertise, equipment and workshops to learn how to print and bind books.

When I visited SFCB a few months ago, not only was I dazzled by the concept and physical space, I was thrilled to discover they also have gallery space for book exhibitions.


Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here” was a thought-provoking exhibition of 55 artists’ books, created in response to the March 5, 2007 bombing of Baghdad’s “Street of Booksellers”. It was powerful, poignant and haunting.

An exhibition from 2012 featured works of art created using books as the artist’s medium. “Exploding the Codex” featured the works of over 40 book artists from the collection of Mary Austin. The show explored the theater of the book and storytelling through structure: going beyond the traditional book format, these art pieces unveiled new ways of presenting and telling stories. Theatrical, whimsical and clever.

Mary Austin, a collector of creatively recycled books, is the founder of SFCB, and her enthusiasm for the book arts is contagious. During my visit, she gave generously of her time to tell me more about the workshops and activities that take place at the SFCB. Mary and her husband Brewster Kahle run the Kahle/Austin Foundation, a non-profit which, among other activities, supports the SFCB. Their foundation also funds the Internet Archive.

Did you catch that? Brewster Kahle, visionary librarian and Internet pioneer, celebrates ancient book arts. It’s that combination of passions for the old and the new that strikes me as fascinating. Seeing the continuum of knowledge and valuing all of the parts. It’s a large-scale view of the role of one librarian.

“Knowledge lives in lots of different forms over time”, Kahle has said. “First it was in people’s memories, then it was in manuscripts, then printed books, then microfilm, CD-ROMS, now on the digital internet. Each one of these generations is very important.”

“Libraries exist to preserve society’s cultural artifacts and to provide access to them. Without cultural artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures.” Brewster believes that if libraries are to continue to foster education and scholarship in this era of digital technology, it’s essential for them to extend those functions into the digital world.

So, Brewster Kahle — inventor, philanthropist, digital librarian, and founder of the Internet Archive — has been working to provide universal access to all knowledge for more than twenty-five years. The Internet Archive is a truly huge digital library, having grown to include texts, audio, moving images, software and archived web pages in its collections. As well, it provides specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities. And it’s all free to the public.

Roadworks — with a steamroller used to make prints — is a vital part of the story.

An inspiring vision and an admirable mission tie together these multiple threads: a celebration and sharing of the book arts, a commitment to preserving books in physical and digital format, and a dedication to providing universal access to all knowledge in all forms.

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The San Francisco Center for the Book

Dominic Riley: Visiting Instructor Wins UK Top Award of £10,000 at Sir Paul Getty Bodleian Bookbinding Prize 2013 Ceremony.

British designer, and SFCB visiting instructor, Dominic Riley has won the top award of £10,000 ($15,670.89) at the second Sir Paul Getty Bodleian Bookbinding Prize 2013 ceremony.

The BBC filed the following report. To view the original go to

SF Center for the Book

The binding that won the top award.

Given the theme of William Shakespeare, Riley produced a binding made of brown and black goatskin which depicts the story of Pyramus and Thisbe.
His work has been donated to the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.
Eduardo Gimenez took second place for This Solid Globe and will be exhibited with other winners until 10 August. Second placed Gimenez was inspired by the Globe.
The prize was set up in 2009 to recognise craftsmanship and creativity in the contemporary art of bookbinding. This year is the second time it has been held.

SF Center for the Book

SFCB Visiting Instructor Dominic Riley

Competition entrants represented 31 countries. A special student prize was awarded to Yuri Nomura from Japan for a binding in green and black goatskin with lacquered areas shaped in Shakespeare’s initials W and S. Yuri Nomura was inspired by traditional Japanese binding.
There were 25 entries shortlisted as distinguished winners who received a silver Shakespeare nib, engraved with their name.
Stephen Conway, President of Designer Bookbinders, said: “The eclectic diversity of styles and influences demonstrated by the competition entries moves bookbinding in new and exciting directions.”
After the exhibition in Oxford, the competition display will travel to another ten venues around the world including Estonia, Spain and Japan.

About Dominic Riley

Dominic Riley is an internationally renowned book restorer, fine binder, teacher and film maker. He undertakes work for institutions, book dealers and collectors, and his work is in many important collections worldwide. Now celebrating twenty-five years as a bookbinder, he learnt his craft at the London College of Printing and has worked at binderies in London, New York and San Francisco. He co-founded the bookbinding program at SFCB in 1996, an returns each year to teach. He has won many prizes for his Design Bindings, including both first prizes and the Mansfield Silver Medal in the DB competition in 2007. He travels widely across the UK and USA teaching bookbinding master classes and lecturing. He is Vice-Chairman of the Society of Bookbinders and was elected Fellow of Designer Bookbinders in 2008. He has written and presented two full-length films, one about the life and work of well-loved teacher Maureen Duke, and the other a celebration of England’s best known bookbinder, Bernard Middleton. He has his bindery in the Lake District in England, with fellow bookbinder Michael Burke.

•    Studied with Paul Delrue, 1985-7, and London College of Printing, 1988-90.
•    1990-2001 lived in California. Past President of the Hand Bookbinders of California. With John DeMerritt had TV show, The Book Boys.
•    Self employed since 1994. Joined by Michael Burke 1996. Taught at University of California and across USA for the Guild of Bookworkers. Co-founded binding programme at the San Francisco Center for the Book, 1996. Returns each summer to teach and lecture.
•    Moved to the Lake District in 2001. Teaches at Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, at Burton Manor, and at home.
•    Ten prizes in DB Bookbinding Competition 2001-7, including both first prizes and the Mansfield Silver Medal in 2007.
•    Licentiate of DB in 2003, Fellow in 2008.
•    Vice Chairman of Society of Bookbinders, co-founder of SoB Seminar and DB/SoB workshop series.
•    Demonstrated at SoB conferences in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008. Gives workshops across the UK for SoB.
•    Presenter of Seventy Years in Bookbinding: a Portrait of Bernard Middleton, (2008).
•    Has published articles Gold Leaf (Hand Bookbinders of California); Ampersand (Pacific Center for the Book Arts); Biblio magazine; Illustrator magazine; Bookbinder (SoB) and The New Bookbinder (DB).
•    Accredited lecturer with the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS).
•    Bindings in collections in the USA and UK, including the British Library and the Rylands Library in Manchester.
•    “I enjoy all aspects of bookbinding, from restoration to teaching and Design Binding. Restoration is hugely challenging, and is surgical in its approach. Teaching is about giving back, but it also keeps the craft alive. If you have a passion, you must pass it on. Design Binding is the way we get to be artists, but is also the most mentally taxing. I have created forty or so Design Bindings since 2001, and now make about eight a year.

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The San Francisco Center for the Book

Call To Artists: Submit Book Works Which Speak To The Mysterious, The Alchemical, The Arcane

For all book artists, letterpress printers, bookbinders, and other practitioners of the original “Black Art”… Consider entering a piece in this upcoming show at the San Francisco Center for the Book! International submissions welcomed.

The show runs from Friday, September 13, 2013, to October 31 (naturally).

The deadline for submission is June 30, 2013

Send in or create a piece exploring the esoteric and investigate superstition through the inky arts of the book.

SF Center for the Book

Superstition: An 2013 Exhibition at the San Francisco Center for the Book

Artists are encouraged to submit book works which speak to the mysterious, the alchemical, the arcane — both written and unwritten ways in which superstitions affect our lives. Books, posters, the art of the mysterious in whatever form — all are invited to participate.

Check out the call at the link below and submit your work online! Feel free to forward this link to friends and/or fellow artists/printers who might wish to contribute to this show of the shadowy underworld of superstitions.

grendl löfkvist | curator

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The San Francisco Center for the Book

Learn Screenprinting with Marsha Shaw | Weeklong Screenprinting Intensive

The San Francisco Center for the Book is holding a five-day workshop that offers an introduction to the stencil method of screen printing!

SF Center for the Book

Learn the mark-making possibilities of screen printing with this weeklong workshop.

Workshop participants will learn various image-making methods using paper stencils, monotype techniques, fluid techniques, screen filler, and direct-emulsion photographic stencils. The class will also work with color in multiple editions and become familiar with the mark-making possibilities of screen printing while expressing and expanding their personal styles.

SF Center for the Book

SFCB Screenprinting workshops take place at Mission Graifca

About the Instructor  |  Marsha Shaw

A southern California native, Marsha Shaw received a B.A. and M.A. in Painting from California State University Northridge.  After moving to San Francisco, Shaw pursued an MFA in Printmaking from California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Her work has been shown across the country and her teaching career is expansive. Shaw specializes in screenprinting, bookmaking and wallpaper design.
Shaw’s work focuses on childhood memories, gender construction and concepts inherent within the experiences of women. Derived from domestic experience, her work includes wallpaper patterns, insects, human anatomy, text from children’s books, and stitching. Shaw is interested in alternative printing techniques in particular the use of recycled materials. She uses old vinyl albums as a matrix for some of her work bringing to the surface concepts surrounding the “circle.” The process of printmaking allows Shaw to understand relationships that she feels that she cannot grasp in any other way.

SF Center for the Book

San Francisco Center for the Book Weeklong Screenprinting Intensive.

To learn more about this workshop or to register, go to

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The San Francisco Center for the Book

Macy Chadwick | Three Techniques in Three Days at the San Francisco Center for the Book

Three Techniques in Three Days

Instructor: Macy Chadwick

Create a luscious, layered image with a combination of pressure printing, relief printing, and printing with polymer plates.

Saturday – Monday/ June 1, 2, 3
10:00am – 5:00pm

SF Center for the Book

Macy Chadwick | Time Signifigance

This dynamic class combines three different image-generation techniques on the letterpress. First, students will create an atmospheric image with textural background printing (or pressure printing). Next, students will add shapes with relief printing or wood type. Finally, students will complete the last layer by printing with photopolymer plates made from line drawings. On the last day of Three Techniques in Three Days, the class will create a bound image sampler of students’ work.

Basic understanding of Vandercook cylinder presses required. Bring =textured papers, fabric, tape, string, scissors, X-ACTO® knife, and pencil. Register for this class at

Learn letterpress printing techniques: pressure printing, relief printing, and printing with polymer plates.

Macy Chadwick will be teaching Three Techniques in Three Days at the San Francisco Center for the Book.

About the instructor:

Originally from the east coast, Macy Chadwick received an MFA in Book Arts and Printmaking from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She currently creates books and prints under the imprint In Cahoots Press in Oakland, California and teaches classes throughout the Bay Area. Her work is in a vast amount of prominent collections in the U.S. and abroad.
Chadwick’s work addresses themes of memory, personal communication and visual language systems. Some of Chadwick’s prints include visual encoding into knotted string representing actual thoughts and phrases revealing a tangible language, but one that cannot be read in a conventional manner. She is interested in the connection between people: interactions both verbal and non-verbal, shared experiences, and the urge to communicate clearly

SF Center for the Book

Macy Chadwick | Book artist and instructor.

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The San Francisco Center for the Book