Last March Julie Chen came up here to Humboldt to give one of her “Book Brain” workshops to the book arts group I belong to. It was a good experience, and I can highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about taking one of her classes.
Julie was featured several weeks ago on the PBS show Craft in America. It used to be available for viewing at the PBS site, but they’ve since removed it. You can still see a couple of segments from it here and here. I particularly liked one quote from her. Talking about how she uses skills from traditional bookmaking and printing to make beautiful objects, she stresses that creating an attractive item is not the end purpose. The polished look and the methods used in the construction of the books are there to help support the content. “Everything that goes into the piece should contribute to the meaning of the piece,” she says.
While poking around I found another interesting Julie Chen video from 2004 that originally aired on the San Francisco PBS station KQED. One of the scenes that awakened my fuzzy brain was of Julie showing some of her books to her students at Mills College. One is a carousel-style piece that is held in its open display position with magnets, rather than with ties or whatever. How clever. It made me want to pull out my own magnet collection, which I got a long time ago from K & J Magnetics on the advice of another book artist (who, in turn, had gotten the idea originally from Julie Chen). These particular magnets are tiny, yet very strong, making them ideal to embed in book board and such. Or at least that’s the idea. When I played around with mine I found that the magnetic pull wasn’t quite strong enough once the book cloth and such were added on top. Perhaps I hadn’t been using the best sized magnets, or enough of them. At any rate, I think I might have to give it another try. The video also shows Julie paper shopping at Flax in San Francisco. Just the sight of all those flat files bulging with paper makes my heart pound..