Forty Hours With Donald Glaister at SF Center for the Book

A guest post by SFCB Instructor, donor and Board Member – Mary Laird.

Five Days with Don Glaister at SFCB 2013
For me, it was a dream come true – any kind of a class with Don Glaister (Master Bookbinder),here in San Francisco, at the Center for the Book, where I have the privilege to teach letterpress printing.

Hand Bookbinders of California

Donald Glaister teaching weeklong workshop at the San Francisco Center for the Book

I could barely believe my good fortune! Seven of us~ Ellen Bauch, Jennifer Chapman, Leanne Bakkemo, Georgette Freeman, Coleen Curry, Daniel  Tucker and me – together for 40 hours, confecting  a leather drop spine (and bass wood at that) box making class in the newly purchased  SFCB building at 375 Rhode Island Street in San Francisco.

SF Center for the Book

Donald Glaister at the San Francisco Center for the Book

The eight leathers I hauled in were a curious range of sheep that we speculated someone may have spray painted – definitely not dyed. Uh oh. I had a lot to learn. Fortunately at least one of them was goat, and looked half way decent. Unfortunately it was not the color I had chosen for my box, nor to go with the ultra suede I had purchased to lay down in the trays. No matter. Don was gentle but firm, this was the skin I would spend my time skiving. Yes, it was too thick. I had received instructions from Deb, but need to learn to read the micrometer with more accuracy.

SF Center for the Book

San Francisco Center for the Book in association with the American Academy of Bookbinding and the Hand Bookbinders of California Workshop

And I had not used my Sharfix in five years. A recipe for patience. I don’t confess these things easily, but more in the interest to laud Don’s patience, skill, humor and interest in everyone in the class. And to thank the rest of the class for my steep learning curve. Georgette Freeman brought her roll of PMA, positionable mounting adhesive from 3 M to use with the ultra suede. Coleen Curry was thrilled because this meant new freedom from PVA .

San Francico Center for the Book

Students learning to make a leather drop spine box at the San Francisco Center for the Book

What was shared for learning possibilities?
How to see
How to hold the leather
How to be gentle with the leather
How to slowly move the leather through the Sharfix
How the evenness of light coming through the Sharfix informs you about the exact position of the blade
How to sharpen the paring knife.
What blades to buy
The possibility of Work Sharp automatic tool sharpening magic machine
How to use the rasp
How to make microwave paste
How to make invisible leather corners with the sheerest of parings pasted over the corner
How to make a bass wood half rounded spine
How to make a box to fit whatever you want to put into it.
The importance of keeping your tools sharp.  And being careful with them for their and your good fortunes.
Tools! People brought amazing tools: Stik-it sandpaper  blocks, plier -handled tweezers, specially shaped bones, hollow aluminum  3 inch long whatsits from Home depot to put in trays for pressing them in the nipping press.
Lest I forget, Don did a slide presentation on his unique book dedicated to his brother in law, about Voyageur, journeying through space and non space, in the most amazing display of line and color and emotion. Truly it brought one to tears just listening to him.
I hated to see the week end.
Xoxoox mary risala laird mary 2013

Post script. I finished the project two weeks later, at home. I am quite sure Don would have had some refining comments to make my journey to the finish line easier, but his guidance in absentia did the trick. I highly recommend you all take this and any class he has to offer, and that SFCB gets him back here in the spring of 2014 for at least two weeks of class!

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The San Francisco Center for the Book

The Sketchbook Project Summer Tour

The San Francisco Center for the Book is pleased to host the 2013 Sketchbook Project 2013 Road Trip featuring thousands of handmade artists’ books.

26,000 sketchbooks and counting

Join SF Center for the Book in welcoming The Sketchbook Project to San Francisco this July.

The Sketchbook Project is a global, crowd-sourced art project and traveling exhibition. Since 2006, the Sketchbook Project has encouraged participants from all walks of life to fill the pages of a blank sketchbook. The results are cataloged in the Brooklyn Art Library and shared with the public in venues around the world. The collection currently includes more than 26,000 sketchbooks representing nearly 8,000 cities worldwide.

Sketchbooks will go on an adventure of a lifetime in our custom built Mobile Library


This summer, Steven Peterman, co-founder of the Sketchbook Project, and Sara Peterman, director of the Brooklyn Art Library, are hitting the road to share the stories behind the Sketchbook Project with communities across North America. The husband- and-wife duo will set out for adventure in the Mobile Library — their custom-built bookmobile — along with a selection of 4,500 sketchbooks from the permanent collection. Covering more than 10,000 miles and 32 cities in just four months, the Summer Tour is a unique opportunity to experience the Sketchbook Project firsthand and swap stories with the project’s organizers.


Over 75,000 people have taken part in The Sketchbook Project in some capacity. Join a community of artists who believe that art comes from anyone, anywhere, regardless of education, background and skill. Got something to say? Say it with The Sketchbook Project.

The Summer Tour includes stops in every corner of the country, from Portland, ME to Los Angeles. This year marks the Sketchbook Project’s first visit to many wonderful venues, including the San Francisco Center for the Book, the Hunter Museum in Chattanooga, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, and the Dahl Art Center in Rapid City, SD.

Got something to say? Say it with The Sketchbook Project.

The Sketchbook Project’s participants span from all corners of the earth. Creative people from 135 different countries have taken part in the project.

As part of the adventure, Steven and Sara are documenting the entire Summer Tour for an upcoming book. “We’re excited to collect stories from the people and places we encounter throughout the summer,” says Steven. “It’s an opportunity for us to share a pretty crazy experience — traveling across the country with thousands of sketchbooks and meeting thousands of people along the way.” The book will bring together stories from Steven and Sara’s escapades on the road with a behind-the-scenes look at the process of bringing a community art project to life.

The goal is to continue inspiring people from diverse backgrounds to make art. “Given all the ways that technology has integrated with our lives, it feels meaningful to meet new people over physical books,” says Steven. “This project is about people leaving their mark in the world.”

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The San Francisco Center for the Book

The Legacy of Florence Walter: Celebrating a Century at the Book Club of California

The Legacy of Florence Walter:
 Celebrating a Century at the BCC
April 29-September 2, 2013

Free and open to the public during Book Club hours
Monday 10-7; Tuesday-Friday, 10-5

The Legacy of Florence Walter features forty-five fine design bindings that Walter’s family has treasured for many decades. Her working sketches, photographs, keepsakes, and other printed ephemera supplement the portrait of Florence Walter as a matriarch and hand bookbinder.
At the opening, Professor Henry Snyder, OBE, introduced the exhibition and the grandchildren who have made it possible; they offered reminiscences of Florence and the family.

Book Club of California

Professor Henry Snyder presenting at the opening reception of the Florence Walter exhibit.

Born in 1884, Florence Walter began binding in 1934, and soon became one of the most prominent French-style binders in America. Especially choice is her unique binding of James Joyce’s Ulysses, illustrated by Henri Matisse and published by the Limited Editions Club in 1935. Another wonderful volume is her dramatic binding of Henry Miller’s Into the Night Life (1947), personally inscribed by the author to her.
Upon her death in 1972, Walter’s family donated the contents of her studio—including some 500 finishing tools and a book pressas well as 300 books on binding & paper—to Mills College. Her work was shown at Mills in 1973 and at the Legion of Honor in 1976. The family retained her many bindings, which are now on exhibit (through August) at the Book of California for the first time in nearly forty years.

Book Club of California

The Legacy of Florence Walter features forty-five fine design bindings that Walter’s family has treasured for many decades.

Florence, née Schwartz, married into the Walter family in 1907. Her husband, John Walter (1879–1930), was prominent in downtown retail and was an important figure in the San Francisco Art Association and the California School of the Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute. His brother, Edgar (1878–1938), was a sculptor whose work can be seen on the proscenium arch of the San Francisco Opera. In the wake of the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915, he designed a bronze plaque for the life members of The Book Club of California; the originals of these can be seen at the entrance to the Club.
Florence herself was an important bibliophile, a great patron of the Grabhorn Press; she joined the Club in 1913 and was both the first woman on its Board and its first woman president (1952–1955). In 1951, she commissioned Wurster-Bernardi to build a house at 2745 Larkin, on the north crest of Russian Hill overlooking Ghirardelli Square and Alcatraz. Her bindery was a notable and wonderful feature of this home.
Kathleen Burch & John McBride, Exhibition Curators

Kathleen Burch at BCC

Kathleen Burch at the Book Club of California

Book Club of California

John McBride at the Book Club of California

The exhibition at the Book Club of California is possible thanks to the splendid gift of fourteen of Walter’s bindings, donated by three of her grandchildren: Paul A. Bissinger, Jr., Peggy Pressman, and Tom Bissinger (the children of Marjorie and Paul A. Bissinger, Sr.). Paul Bissinger’s gift also includes additional printed ephemera celebrating the life of Florence Walter; her sketches of some of her bindings; and books and single sheet material printed by the senior Bissingers.

As far as we are aware this is the largest collection the work of Florence Walter in an institution, and we are proud that her grandchildren chose our library for its preservation, so that the public may enjoy it for generations to come.

Kathleen Burch of the SF Center for the Book

Book Club of California programs for the opening of the Florence Walter exhibit.

The exhibition also includes examples of Walter’s work from other sources, as well as bindings by her teacher, another celebrated San Francisco bookbinder, Belle McMurtrie Young (wife of the second president of the Book Club of California, William R. Young).

This post is from the Book Club of California website. See the original post at

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The San Francisco Center for the Book

Superstition 13 Invites Artists to Investigate Superstition and the Esoteric.


Exhibition Title: Superstition 13 

Exhibition Dates: September 13th (Friday) – October 31, 2013

Deadline for applications: 11:59pm June 30, 2013

Please read these instructions carefully. If you still have questions, submit via email info @ . Please, no calls.



Superstition 13 invites artists to investigate superstition and the esoteric.  It is a juried exhibition of the original black art – the inky arts of the book.

The exhibition will explore the ways in which superstitions affect our lives. The exhibition opens on Friday, September 13, 2013, and the fun will continue through the closing party on Hallowe’en — Thursday, October 31, 2013 — where we invite everyone to come as their favorite superstition or maledictum. In between, we’ll offer workshop classes on captivating themes such as the “Exquisite Corpse”, and host a spell-binding night of “Struck-by-Lightning” talks and fortune card readings.

The exhibition will also take a look at the historical with an educational view of some gorgeous quasi-artists’ books of historical esoterica and a discussion of their Jungian influences. And finally, the heart and soul of the art will be captured within a four-color exhibition catalog.


Entry information:


Open to all artists in the United States, 18 years of age or older. Entries must be original work completed by the artist submitting. Submitted images of artwork must accurately represent the work that will appear in the show. We reserve the right to deny artwork that differs from the images submitted.


Open to all interpretations of the book and paper arts. Please include specific dimensions with your entry. SFCB reserves the right not to accept exceptionally large, heavy, cumbersome, or potentially hazardous. Work must be framed, when applicable, and ready to hang (wire, d-rings, or cleat). Acrylic glazing only; NO GLASS. All art must be labeled with artist’s name, title, medium and year. Special installation instructions must be approved by SFCB; please include any special installation instructions with submission of entry form.


Entry Fee

A non-refundable fee of $35* is required for application and entry of up to 3 pieces. Only online entries will be considered. Submissions are not considered complete until payment is made.

*Special rate for CBAA Students members: CBAA Student Members are eligible to pay a nonrefundable $20 application fee for up to 3 entries. Only online submissions will be considered. Submissions are not considered complete until payment is made.

Deadline for Entry: June 30

Jury Period: July 1-12th  Artist Notification: July 15th; Artists will be notified by email.


Shipping and Delivery  All accepted entries must ship to be received by SFCB between August 15, 2013 and August 31, 2013. Shipped work should arrive in a reusable container with return postage or prepaid shipping documents and correct return labeling. Please label all packing materials with your name. Be sure to indicate insurance value for shipping both ways. Hand-delivered artwork may be dropped off August 15, 2013 through August 31, 2013 between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm only.

Following the close of the exhibition, artwork may be picked up between November 4, 2013 and November 8, 2013, between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm. Please arrange for a representative to pick up your work if you are unable. Artwork remaining at SFCB beyond the specified pick-up dates will be subject to a $10 per day storage fee. Shipped artwork will be packaged and shipped by November 15, 2013. Return of work without return postage or prepaid shipping documents will be delayed. SFCB reserves the right to discard any artwork remaining on hand after December 15, 2013.

Sales  Artists are encouraged to sell their work. Artists receive 60% of the sale price for work that is sold. In the past, public interest in available work has been high and SFCB believes such artist-collector dialogue is a vibrant part of exhibitions. All work must have a declared value for insurance purposes, even if it is not for sale.

Liability  Artwork accepted for the exhibition will be insured by SFCB from the time it is received and inspected by SFCB staff until artwork is returned to the artist or artist’s agent or delivered to a postal carrier. Delivery and pickup are the responsibility of the artist. During the exhibition, artwork will be insured against all physical loss or damage from any external cause. Insurance is limited to the wholesale value at the time of loss. If damage occurs and the piece can be repaired, liability will be limited to the cost of such repair.


Submission of work constitutes an agreement to the conditions set forth in this call for entries and acceptance that the decisions of the jurors are final. SFCB may photograph and reproduce accepted work for promotional purposes. Artists may not withdraw accepted entries before the close of the exhibition. SFCB is not responsible for refunding entry fees or allowing artists to change submission information for artworks that do not meet above rules.


Important Dates:

Call for Entries            January 31

Deadline for Entries      June 30

Jury Period                              July 1- July 12

Notification                            July 15

Artwork Delivery          August 15- August 31

Artwork Pick up          November 4 – November 8

Artwork Shipped                     November 15



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The San Francisco Center for the Book

“A thriving part of the Potrero Hill community for over a decade”

Look what we spotted on the Creativebug blog today.

San Francisco Center for the Book is just a stones throw away from Creativebug HQ and has been a thriving part of the Potrero Hill community for over a decade. This month, SFCB celebrates its re-opening in a new and larger space just around the corner. Featuring a huge letterpress studio, expanded gallery, book binding studios and library, SFCB is bigger and better than ever. We took a little tour of the new space and put together a sneak peak video just to whet your appetite. Join SFCB in its grand re-opening party Friday, April 26th from 6-9pm where you can try your hand at letterpress, bind a small notebook, make an Artist Trading Card, or just mingle with like-minded book lovers. See you there!

San Francisco Center for the

From the Creativebug blog post about SFCB.

Thanks to our friends at Creativebug for their friendship and support

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The San Francisco Center for the Book

Creative Bug Helps Promote Our Open House

Today, we received this lovely email and video from Jeanne Lewis at Creativebug!

“We love being being around the corner from you and continue to support what you are doing in whatever way we can.  In that vein, we cut this short video for you guys in honor of your new location. I hope you can use it on your site and social media networks to promote the open house”

SFCB Open House

San Francisco Center for the Book Open House

Jeanne Lewis is the Founder and CEO of Creativebug, the go-to source for online art and craft instruction. has gathered some of the most inspiring designers and crafters to bring video workshops right to your screen. Whether you’re an accomplished artist or just getting acquainted with a glue gun, our workshops provide project ideas, expert guidance and a healthy dose of creative inspiration.

For information on the Open House and to RSVP, click here.

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The San Francisco Center for the Book

Brewster Kahle: I am so proud of my wife Mary Austin

Spotted on Brewster Kahle’s blog today.

I am so proud of my wife Mary, who got a top honor from the NY Center for the Book Arts for her helping the field of Book Arts by starting the San Francisco Center for the Book.

Presented by book artist and board member, Robbin Ami Silverberg, at their annual fun blow-out.

Mary Austin | San Francisco Center for the Book

Mary Austin and Robbin Ami Silverberg in front of a selection from Mary’s collection

Mary Austin San Francisco Center for the Book

Mary Austin getting award at the NY Center for the Book Arts


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The San Francisco Center for the Book

Stochastic Printing: Letterpress Outside the Form

San Francisco Center for the Book and Johanna Drucker invite you to register for a unique creative workshop experience. Johanna Drucker, in conjunction with the Druckworks Exhibit at the San Francisco Center for the Book, is holding a workshop entitled Stochastic Printing: Letterpress Outside the Form

Letterpress San Francisco Center for the Book

Johanna Drucker Stochastic Printing

About the Workshop

The defining feature of letterpress is quadrature, squareness, and the perfection of the impression depends on being able to lock type up with pressure on a perfectly set form. This workshop addresses ways to print outside those formal limitations, freeing letters from their usual linear arrangement. Overprinting creates the illusion of movement and dynamic action. Together these two approaches result in unpredictable outcomes on the sheet.

Come with lines of poetry, overheard conversation, observation — any language that bears on the contemporary life of language and poetry. We will set type, set up forms on the presses, print, overprint, and create dynamic broadsides.

Bring paper for letterpress printing — no decorative fibers, no heavy threads, nothing that can break type, please. For overprinting sheets, shorter sheets provide more flexibility, as do narrower ones, so think in terms of approximately 11 x 14″. Variation in size and shape will produce interesting results.

Click here to register for the workshop.

Click here to for information about Druckworks: Forty Years of Books and Projects

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The San Francisco Center for the Book

Ten Years of Organization and Printing: Pictorial Websters

The San Francisco Center for the Book is a big fan of the Pictorial Websters, so of course we were smitten with this mini-documentary on Vimeo Pictorial Webster’s: Inspiration to Completion

From the discovery of the 1898 International Dictionary to Linotyping the entries to printing the last print on the Vandercook to cutting the fingertabs of the deluxe edition, this video gives a quick overview of the process of creating the Pictorial Webster’s fine press edition.

Pictorial Webster’s: Inspiration to Completion from John Carrera on Vimeo.

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The San Francisco Center for the Book

San Francisco Center for the Book Sponsoring and Attending CiviCon 2013 in Berkeley, CA


CiviCon is the annual, international meeting of CiviCRM users, implementers and developers. CiviCon is the place to share knowledge, experience and to discuss the future of the CiviCRM project. This is the first year attendees will have 2-days to deepen their understanding of the powerful platform and their connections with the CiviCRM community.

San Francisco Center for the Book at CiviCon2013

SFCB Staff will be attending sessions at CiviCon 2013

The San Francisco Center for the Book uses CiviCRM to power it's operations

SFCB will present at CiviCon 2013

San Francisco Center for the Book

SF Center for the Book is a Bronze Sponsor of CiviCon 201ns

What is CiviCRM?

CiviCRM is a web-based, open source, Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) software geared toward meeting the needs of non-profit and other civic-sector organizations.

As a non profit committed to the public good itself, CiviCRM understands that forging and growing strong relationships with constituents is about more than collecting and tracking constituent data – it is about sustaining relationships with supporters over time.

To this end, CiviCRM has created a robust web-based, open source, highly customizable, CRM to meet organizations’ highest expectations right out-of-the box. Unlike proprietary software, each new release of this open source software reflects the very real needs of its users as enhancements are continually given back to the community.

Provided a robust feature set,  organizations realize their mission via CiviCRM through contact management, fundraising, event management, member management, mass e-mail marketing, peer-to-peer campaigns, case management, and much more.

CiviCRM is localized in over 20 languages including: Chinese (Taiwan, China), Dutch, English (Australia, Canada, U.S., UK), French (France, Canada), German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Swedish.


Why Use CiviCRM?

If you are looking for a web-based, constituent-relationship management solution that meets your needs right out-of-the box, the answer is yes!

CiviCRM’s robust feature set includes:

  • Contact management
  • Contributions
  • Communications
  • Peer-To-Peer Fundraisers
  • Advocacy Campaigns
  • Events
  • Members
  • Reports
  • Case Management
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The San Francisco Center for the Book