My San Francisco Week in Books: Part One

Paul Johnson with his ark folded

A few months ago, I discovered that Paul Johnson, one of my all-time favorite paper artists, was going to be coming from England to teach a few workshops at the San Francisco Center for the Book. It was going to be in November, right around the time I was going to be in S.F. anyway for the usual medical reasons. Books are the best medicine, thought I! I signed up for two of the classes.

And then I discovered that John DeMerritt was going to be having a Drum Leaf binding workshop as well, during the same week and when Paul Johnson wouldn’t be teaching. Hmm… one of my favorite bindings with a master bookbinder…? I signed up for that too.

My first workshop day was foldable piano-hinge screens with Paul Johnson. I’d never thought of making piano-style hinges with paper beads before, which is essentially what these were. You roll the paper around a skewer to form the hinge in a bead-like fashion. When they’re done, you string them back on the skewer and attach to the screens. Very nifty.

This was mine:

foldable pianto-hinge screen with cat and bird designDay two was little toy theater-style pop-ups, along with some similar things. This was one of my projects from that day:

Pop-up Card

And that was supposed to have been the end of my time with Paul Johnson. I hadn’t signed up for the weekend workshop on pop-ups as well. But I was beginning to regret it. One of the lovely people at the workshop on the second day had signed up for all of the classes. As we were leaving, she told me that her hands were getting worse, and Paul Johnson was getting older. Who knew how many opportunities she’d ever have to do something like this again? Which, given my own circumstances, echoed what I was thinking inside.

As it turned out, there was still a slot left for the weekend. It became mine.

Next post: Drum Leaf bindings with John DeMerritt and a talk by Paul Johnson.

Paul with ark open

10 thoughts on “My San Francisco Week in Books: Part One”

  1. Brilliant.
    I have no doubt you paid for the decision (and may still be paying) but it is a perfect example of what I call the ‘pain/gain’ equation. When something comes up which I know will leave me seriously knackered I (when I can) weigh up whether the experience is worth the pain. And it sounds as if this one most definitely was. Something for you, to stir and feed your creativity.

    • Gee, how’d you know? Isn’t it interesting how you can hold it together for something great, but then when it’s over… #$%&*!!! Yeah… I’m still paying, and probably will be for a while. I couldn’t afford it money-wise, either. But I’m still so glad I did it.

  2. Wow! That’s fantastic Ellen! Looking forward to seeing the next instalment. Good on you for taking the leap. I seem to have lost the courage or will or something to push myself to my limit. I’m hoping I will again. I’m unwilling to endure the pain, but of course that brings a whole different type of pain.

    • Thanks, Amanda. I have to admit, it was scary as #$%! handing over my credit card numbers to enroll in the classes — whether or not I could get a refund if I ultimately couldn’t go or if I completely fell apart once I was there was an iffy question. It’s been a slow recovery since my return (not made easier by a terrible trip home … a long story…!). This was actually the second time I’ve done something like this — I dipped my toes in last summer and took two fantastic classes at SFCB, which I’d planned to write posts about, but … well, you know how it goes. Each time, it’s been a strange combination of feeling really up and happy from the classes, even as I’m physically feeling the opposite. One of the frustrations is that I have felt inspired and I’ve been wanting to get in the studio… soon, I hope.

      “… but of course that brings a whole different type of pain.” Exactly. It is so hard to know what is worth it and what isn’t. As the recovery drags on… it can be a little unnerving. That said, I do hope you get to do something to lift your spirits as well. Sometimes the pain can be worth it… if you can somehow balance it against your need to take care of yourself. I feel for you.

  3. What news about the latest visit to SF! I am happy to hear you could combine the medical visit with something this pleasant. I can imagine that the planning phase must have been kind of scary. But sounds like it turned out well. Beautiful pictures and results, too. I am looking forward to seeing and hearing more.

    • Thanks Hilke! I’ve been thinking about you. And have been poking around your blog, which had so many good things since my last visit I hardly know where to start!

      Oooo….. our power is blinking! Big storm today! I’ll type more later when I know I’ll stay online! (Life in the sticks, what can I say…)


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