Behind the scenes of the linenlaid&felt internship

My name is Shannon Rutherford and I am excited to be a guest writer today on the linenlaid&felt blog. I’m an artist from Arizona and moved to Tennessee in March to pursue my passion for the arts. I graduated with my BFA in Studio Arts from Santa Fe University of Art and Design in Santa Fe, New Mexico. My work combines abstract design and bold colors to form visual puzzles of interlocking shapes and lines. I often incorporate traditional hand-drawing with collage, and enjoy experimenting with digital vector art as well.

bookbinding internship

For the past month I’ve had the opportunity to work with Katie as her bookbinding intern. It has been a great experience getting to know Katie and to see her artistic process. I’d like to share what I have learned and the books I have created so far. In total, I have made 12 books by hand and I’m excited to show you the results.

My first introduction to bookbinding came from taking Katie’s workshop at the Nashville Public Library. I met some lovely people in this workshop and enjoyed seeing each person’s creativity shine through in their books. It was a great experience helping Katie setup for this workshop and to see behind the scenes of how she prepares for her classes. Katie’s teaching style made it easy and comfortable to learn at your own pace and it was a fun way to kick off this internship.

The book we made in this workshop features the French Link Stitch along the book’s spine. Inside, I used pages of old sheet music, fashion illustrations, and parts of old maps.

French Link Stitch

Next, I constructed three smaller books made from folded papers — with minimal cutting and gluing of the materials. This mini accordion book opens up and can be hung as a lovely decoration. Not only are they cute to look at but they were also so much fun to make!

We also made this mini book that opens up and can be displayed during the holidays as a colorful paper ornament. I helped Katie by following her instructions step-by-step and giving her feedback. This was to help test a prototype of a new bookbinding kit that Katie has in the works.

handmade book ornaments

The next book I crafted was a pop-up book with hard covers. I got to experiment with different cuts in the paper to create interesting shapes. I also love this Japanese cherry blossom paper. One of my favorite parts before beginning a new book is picking from Katie’s paper collection. Her studio is filled with a wide variety of colorful papers to choose from. I particularly love her hand-made papers which are vibrant in color and rougher in texture. She also has decorative papers with patterns and bold designs. It definitely makes deciding on which paper to use that much harder because they’re all so great!

pop-up book

We then made a beautiful leather-bound journal using the Italian Long Stitch binding that can be seen along the spine of the book.

This next book has been my favorite by far and it is because of the Secret Belgian Binding style. This book looks like a typical hardcover book until you open it. The front cover actually swivels backward until the front and back cover are touching. It makes for a sturdy and functional book with a flat surface perfect for drawing or writing.

Secret Belgian Binding

I also learned how to make small and large pamphlet books, which are handy. They also allow the artist to use the same stitch in a variety of ways.

hand-bound pamphlet

Most recently I learned four types of Japanese stab binding. We used the hemp leaf, noble, tortoise shell, and 4-hole binding styles to make these small books. All of these bindings are versatile and can be adapted to fit both small and large book formats.

from left to right: hemp leaf binding, noble binding, tortoise shell binding, 4-hole binding

from left to right: hemp leaf binding, noble binding, tortoise shell binding, 4-hole binding

So there you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing what the internship is yielding so far. Not only am I getting a behind-the-scenes look at Katie’s process, I’m also gaining valuable knowledge about what it takes to be a professional artist. Katie has been a great resource. It’s inspiring to see her passion for her craft. She has opened my eyes to the wonderful world of bookbinding and I can’t wait to see what we’ll create next!

To learn more about Shannon’s work, please visit her website, online shop, or Instagram.

A wedding book with mad lib messages

stab binding mad libs book by Katie Gonzalez of linenlaid&felt
wedding mad libs book by Katie Gonzalez of linenlaid&felt
Mad libs aren't just for road trip amusement anymore. I love how this couple pulled off this idea, asking their guests to fill in mad lib sentences about their marriage. They asked me to bind the mad libs together in a book.

To preserve each card, I knew the Japanese stab binding stitch would be the best. I added tabs of matching paper to the top of each mad lib sheet, allowing me to complete the binding by sewing through those added tabs instead of piercing through any of the text. This type of binding is also best for binding single sheets of paper together (rather than folded signatures of paper). And as you can see below, the binding allows for easy flipping through all of the writings. I was happy to take this couple's cues to create this expressive wedding guest book.

Japanese stab binding thread close up picture from linenlaid&felt
wedding book Japanese binding by book artist Katie Gonzalez

Spring bookbinding classes at Watkins College

Community education classes are starting back up at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in just a couple of weeks.  In addition to my Introduction to Graphic Design and Typography class (which is already full), I'm teaching two different book arts classes this spring that still have some open spots. 

The first one is a nine-week intro to book arts course, which will cover the basics of bookmaking, plus lots and lots of different handmade book structures.  You'll learn how to make single sheet books, hardcover and softcover pamphlets, multiple variations of accordion books, flag books, star books, photo albums, four different types of books sewn with the Japanese stab binding, an Italian longstitch journal, and more. This class starts in less than two weeks, so be sure to sign up soon!

The second class I'll be teaching is a weekend workshop devoted to the Coptic binding.  In just two days, you'll make your own hardcover journal with an exposed spine binding.  This workshop isn't until March, so you have a bit more time to sign up.  

No previous bookbinding experience is required for either class.  To register, please call the Watkins Community Education office at (615) 383-4848 or register online.  And the view the complete spring course catalog — for classes like clamshell boxmaking, darkroom photography, printmaking, and stop-motion animation — click here

Fold, tear, glue, and stitch:
An introduction to book arts

When: Tuesdays, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.; February 5 – April 2 (9 weeks) 
Where: Watkins College, 2298 Rosa Parks Blvd., Nashville
Cost: $205, plus $40 materials fee 
Description: Learn the basics of bookmaking and more than a dozen binding styles as you become familiar with the materials, tools, techniques, and vocabulary of handmade books. The course will begin with simple folded structures and build toward intricate and exciting books that can be used as journals, sketchbooks, photo albums, and sculptural displays. Instruction will cover essentials of paper grain, folded signatures, hardcover and softcover books, and binding by hand. The class will also include the opportunity to view and handle a collection of professionally made examples. You’ll leave with an assortment of your own handbound books, and the skills and resources to continue binding at home. All tools and supplies included in materials fee.

Handmade journal with Coptic binding

Binding handmade journals

When: Saturday, March 2, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Sunday, March 3, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. 
Where: Watkins College, 2298 Rosa Parks Blvd., Nashville
Cost: $90, plus $20 materials fee 
Description: Learn to bind your own unique and functional book, perfect for journaling or sketching. This two-day workshop will teach the Coptic binding style, which features hard covers, exposed stitching on the spine, and pages that lay completely fl at when open. The Coptic stitch, developed by early Christians in Egypt, remains one of the most popular bookbinding styles. All tools and supplies included in materials fee.

Japanese Stab Binding mini-workshop

I'm partnering with The Skillery once again to teach a neat mini-workshop on October 20. It's part of a full day of hour-long classes, with topics ranging from juggling (taught by my husband!) to making terrariums with succulents. 

There's still plenty of time to register for my Japanese stab binding class, or any other class that intrigues you.  Hope to see you on the 20th!

Bookbinding: Make four fast books

When: Saturday, October 20; 3 - 3:50 p.m.
Where: The Offices of Emma, 9 Lea Ave., Nashville
Cost: $10
Description: This introduction to bookbinding will teach you how to create four small softcover notebooks — all in 50 minutes. You'll learn variations of the traditional Japanese Stab Binding and the basic techniques of bookbinding, including tearing paper by hand, working with sewing templates, and stitching decorative patterns. We will be using high-quality handmade and decorative papers for the covers of the books and colorful waxed linen thread for the binding. You will leave the class with multiple pocket-sized notebooks, and the skills to create more handbound books in the future. The class will also include an introduction to the world of handmade books, and the opportunity to view and handle a collection of professionally made examples.

A wedding album to hold Polaroid photos of guests

Japanese stab binding hardcover thread

Picture this: a little table at your wedding that holds a Polaroid camera and your guest book. Your best friends and family members snag the camera, take awesome photos, and immediately mount them into the book and write messages to mark the day.

This particular book was made just for that purpose.  I've found that more and more brides are opting for something a besides a traditional book with lined pages in which guests merely sign their names.  Rather, a book with more space for guests to leave messages and plenty of room for photos leads to a more meaningful keepsake, and one that's more likely to be treasured and enjoyed long after the festivities are over. 

Another exciting thing to note about this book is that it was just featured in Nashville Lifestyles Weddings magazine among their round-up of "lovely local details."  The most recent issue is on newsstands now, so if you're in the Nashville area pick up a copy and check out all of the local talent in our city. 

Aside from binding books and scoring magazine features (this is my second one of the year; check out the first one here), I've been busy applying to art shows, planning new classes, and filling my Etsy shop to the brim.  

Be sure to take a peek at my latest e-newsletter to find out about all the exciting events I have coming up this fall.  (You can sign up for my mailing list to ensure that you'll never miss out on my beautiful, informative e-mails packed with gorgeous photos.)  My busy season is starting off with the Handmade & Bound book arts festival this weekend. I hope to see you there!

The Skillery EXPO: One day, eight workshops

On Saturday, October 20, join The Skillery for a pop-up workshop series, featuring a collection of Nashville artisans, entrepreneurs and experts leading one-hour mini-workshops on a variety of engaging topics.The Skillery EXPO will bring the passionate and the curious together under one roof for a day of demonstrations, conversations and community building.

I will be teaching a workshop about variations of the Japanese stab binding, and participants will learn how to make four different books in one hour. You can read more about the class, see photos of what we'll be making, and purchase tickets here. My husband will also be teaching a juggling workshop that day! Read below for more details about the awesome lineup of classes scheduled for the day. 

An Introduction to Specialty Coffee
with Sean Stewart of BEVE Mobile Coffee
9:00 - 9:50AM; $10
Enjoy a tasting of coffees from various growing regions, and a discussion of processing methods, roasting profiles and the meaning of the term "Specialty Coffee."

Delicious Lighting
with Kyle Dreier
10:00 - 10:50AM; $10
Renowned photographer Kyle Dreier will share tips, tools and tricks to help you get what you desire when using your camera (or even your cell phone) to photograph the most delicious of subjects: food.

Inbox Branding: Components of Email Design
with Cynthia Price of Emma
11:00 - 11:50AM; FREE
A must for marketers and entrepreneurs, this class will explore how adding email to your marketing mix can strengthen your customer loyalty, drive more traffic to your site and grow your business in style.

An Introduction to Backyard Chickens
with Jesse Alvey
12:00 - 12:50PM; $10
Curious about raising chickens at home? This class will provide an overview of the backyard chicken experience, including how to get started, and tips for maintaining a healthy flock.

Succulent Design and Closed Container Gardening
with Emily Marlow of 400 Moons
1:00 - 1:50PM; $10
What are succulents, and why are they becoming so popular? Learn to break away from the boring clay pot, with a better understanding of succulents, air plants, terrariums, and closed container gardening. 

Juggling: Anyone Can Learn
with Tony Gonzalez
2:00 - 2:50PM; $10
Anyone can learn to juggle! So says award-winning juggler Tony Gonzalez, who will teach classic three-ball juggling, and let you try out other juggling props, like the diabolo, kendama, juggling clubs and rings.

Bookbinding: Make Four Fast Books
with Katie Gonzalez of linenlaid&felt
3:00 - 3:50PM; $10
Create four small softcover notebooks in just 50 minutes! Bookbinder Katie Gonzalez will teach Japanese Stab Binding and other techniques, including tearing paper by hand and working with sewing templates.

Bicycle Maintenance 101
with Dan Furbish of The Oasis Center
4:00 - 4:50PM; $10
Got a bike? Bicycle advocate Dan Furbish will teach basic maintenance skills such as changing a flat, basic tune-ups to increase the life of your bike, and the best tools to carry with you. 

A sweet gray and yellow baby book

Handmade book with Japanese stab binding and floral print

If you've been looking around lately (hint, hint, on Pinterest) you're probably familiar with "grellow." That's the chic gray and yellow combination that's as popular in home decor as in fashion. This book takes that scheme and glams it up with silver accents in one of my favorite handmade papers.

Floral print paper handmade book

This baby book was made for a little girl named Zoe, and in my opinion, she has one of the prettiest baby books around.  The paper used for the covers was made in India from natural plant materials, and was printed with a yellow floral pattern.  Depending on the way the light hits the book, the silver outline around the flowers shimmers.  The hinged spine edge of the book is covered with a grey linen bookcloth that I made myself, and the book is sewn together with a sunshine yellow ribbon using the Japanese stab binding. 

Custom handmade baby book

I designed the pages of the book to coordinate with the yellow and gray color scheme, and handmade photo corners are attached to each photo spot so pictures can easily be added to the book.  There are pages for Zoe's parents to record all of the important details, starting with pregnancy memories and baby showers, and spanning through the delivery, her baptism, important milestones, and holidays. There are also pages for a family tree, for handprints and footprints, and for Zoe to write a message to the future on her fifth birthday. 

Handmade baby book

Handmade baby book family tree

Japanese stab binding with ribbon

Fall bookbinding classes at Watkins College

I'm already a few weeks in to the Introduction to Graphic Design and Typography class that I'm teaching at Watkins College of Art, Design, and Film this fall, but there's still plenty of time to sign up for the two exciting book arts workshops that I have scheduled for next month.  

Whether you're interested in spending a day learning to bind a book with a leather cover, or a few days creating handmade photo albums, I'd love to have you join me for one (or both!) of these workshops.  The classes are open to anyone in the Nashville community.  To register just call the college's community education office at 615-277-7455 or sign up online. Check out the Watkins fall course catalog to read more about the other creative classes happening this season. 

handmade books Nashville linenlaid&felt

Traditional leather bookbinding 
with a contemporary twist 

When: Saturday, October 13; 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 
Where: Watkins College, 2298 Rosa Parks Blvd., Nashville 
Cost: $45, plus $20 materials fee
Description: Learn to bind a soft-cover leather book that can be used as a journal, a sketchbook, or a photo album. Using the Italian Longstitch style, a historical binding that dates to 14th Century Europe, each student will create a book with a leather cover that features exposed, decorative stitching on its spine and pages that lay completely flat when open. Students will use leather for the book cover and have the option to include interesting contemporary papers inside. No previous bookbinding experience is required, and all materials and tools will be provided.

linenlaid&felt photo albums

Binding handmade photo albums

When: Saturday, October 27 – Saturday, November 17 (4 weeks); 
1 - 5 p.m.
Where: Watkins College, 2298 Rosa Parks Blvd., Nashville 
Cost: $125, plus $35 materials fee
Description: Learn to make several styles of handbound photo albums to preserve and proudly display your favorite photographs. These books will be more unique and meaningful than a typical store-bought album and will give you a reason to finally print those photos that have been collecting digital dust on your computer. Using archival materials, this class will cover three hardcover binding styles: the accordion, the Coptic, and the Japanese stab binding. You’ll learn the basics of bookbinding while creating beautiful, functional books. No previous bookbinding experience is required, and all materials and tools will be provided.

brochure cover Watkins Community Education Nashville

Click the image above to view the full Watkins course catalog as a pdf.

A handmade baby book welcomes Liam to the world

This summer, I made a baby book for a little boy named Liam.  For the covers, I used a colorful paper with animal shapes, which I think is a perfect choice for a baby book.  I paired the paper with an orange bookcloth for the spine of the book, which perfectly matches the color of the lions on the paper.  To complement the orange, I bound the book with blue thread, which also coordinates with the printing on the pages and the endsheets.  And the handmade photo corners made with and orange and yellow striped paper adds a playful touch to the pages.  

The customer came up with some great ideas for things that she wanted to include in the book, like a spot to write the story of Liam's name (what a great name, by the way!) and a page all about Thanksgiving.  I've since added both of these to my standard baby book template.  The design for my baby book continues to evolve.  I love the way that it started out last year, but with every customer I've worked with, I've come up with ideas to make the book better.  

As always, you can find more info about customized baby books in my Etsy shop.  

A photo album personalized for a man

Purple handmade book for men

I like to think of my books as being appealing to men and women alike, but for the most part, when I've worked with men on custom books, they're usually as gifts for women. I've put more attention lately to making masculine books, sometimes making leather and rustic paper choices with guys in mind.

For this book, JT knew what he wanted for himself, and a simple discussion led to his photo album. He knew right away what colors he wanted: maroon and dark purple. He also wanted black pages. I think the trio of colors work well together.

For the size, he wanted to fit 8x10 prints, which required me to make this book larger than my standard, which usually fit 4x6 and 5x7 prints. The pages in this book are 12x12, just like a standard scrapbook. After pondering various ideas for the personalized front cover, JT kept it simple, opting to use his name.

Black pages handbound book

Purple handmade book for men