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Welcome to the 2015 Bind-O-Rama

The Book Arts Web annual online exhibition.

Celebrating the Art of the Blook


The 2015 Bind-O-Rama was devoted to the subject of BLOOKS, objects made in the emulation of books. This was an opportunity for blook artists of ALL creeds (binders, printer, papermakers, decorated paper makers, …) to apply their creative energy and bookbinding talents to making a book object that examines and expresses their relationship with the book. Around the world, for hundreds of years, people have been making book-objects that reflect their devotion and respect for books and for each other. There are countless examples; they include bars, cameras, radios, banks, toys, memorials, food tins, desk accessories, book safes and boxes, vases, musical instruments, magic tricks, furniture, jewelry and artworks. Blooks embody the same characteristics as books and many take the form of specific titles and book formats. They signify knowledge, education, taste, power, wealth and more. They have been treasured and passed down through the generations, and many thousands reside in private homes, public and private businesses and in museums and libraries around the world. Blooks have been used to celebrate and memorialize important occasions and personal losses and successes. They serve as reminders of memorable visits to important places, as receptacles to hold valuable and practical objects and are the source of great amusement.

The thirteen entries in the blook-themed Bind-O-Rama are a diverse group of objects inspired by personal stories, real and imagined texts and historic book objects. While some are closely related to known book objects, others take a more abstract approach, reminding me of how artists see a single challenge from many perspectives. Some of the entries are more blookish than others. Barbara Hebard and Jana Pullman’s entries are traditional blooks modeled on the leather-bound rare book boxes made since the nineteenth century to protect precious bindings. Jana’s boxes are empty, awaiting something precious to protect worthy of the their beauty. Barbara’s box has a specific function as a reliquary in honor of St. Anthony, patron saint of bookbinders. Paula Krieg’s Phone Book is modeled on the traditional book safe. Her work carries a strong emotional and social message, as well as performing the traditional roles of protection, containment and secrecy.

Some of the works have been inspired by traditional multi-functional book objects. Anita Balkun’s blooks are shrine-like pieces reminiscent of cumdachs, medieval book-style reliquaries. Both contain relics and reminiscences of the men she honors in these sculptures. Two works emulate traditional book-style board and card games. Carolyn Leigh’s piece Al-quirq/Checkers and Draughts is an intriguing cross-cultural variation of the classic faux two-volume book-style game board, usually made for playing chess, checkers and backgammon; Charlene Matthews' Traveling Dominos is an elegant version of a traditional book-style card game enclosure and Dorothy Krause’s wearable book Hanging Out, a souvenir of her trip to Rome is reminiscent of many souvenir books, wearable and otherwise.

The remaining Bind-O-Rama works are more book art than blooks; however, they all explore the essence of bookness, our relationship to the book and historic book structures and the mysteries of the natural world. Susan Share’s lovely book work, inspired by Hook’s seventeenth century book, Micrographica, reflects her love of nature, theater and the book; and in a succinct way it reminds us of the potential of the book to change us and the world in the most surprising, subtle and gargantuan ways. Jennifer Whitman and Kirsi Engles entries are luscious, elaborate book works rich in color, form, playfulness and meaning.

In the New Year, you will have an opportunity to see my Grolier Club exhibition, Blooks: The Art of Books That Aren’t (January 28-March 12) in New York City. If you can’t come you can obtain an illustrated catalog. In this first survey of book-shaped objects, blooks are presented in fourteen themes. Throughout the experiences of collecting and interpreting this subject, I have seen how book artists could draw inspiration and ideas from the blook world, as they have from historic bookbindings. I’d like to thank Peter Verheyen for sponsoring the blook-themed Bind-O-Rama and the talented artists who have contributed to it.

Mindell Dubansky
About Blooks

Please "right click" on images and select "view" to see images at full size.


Anita Gangi Balkun, West Hartford, Conn. USA

F. Coiro - Paint Shop

Paint box; vintage stencils and postcards; gold leaf; linen scroll with copies of Coiro's original letters of recommendation; digital scan from 1930’s original photo. 21 x 29 x 5 cm (closed).

My grandfather Francis Coiro was a fine artist trained in Casserta, Italy before he immigrated to New Haven, CT. I never knew him, and I’m fascinated by his work as a painter and muralist. His paint-box still holds his original paints and I imagined this box as his marketing tool – a way to promote his trade and skills, and also his source of income that supported his large family. Coiro’s own stencils and business card invite you in, and his paintbrush extends beyond the confines of the physical box. Inside, Coiro greets you in front of his decorative arts shop (established in New Haven in the 1930’s) with recommendation letters he received after completing commissioned work (within the linen scroll). You can also browse through his some of his European art-reproduction post cards that hang hinged against a gold foil leaf background, all original to his workshop, left behind and now part of my own artistic tools and lineage.

360° of the Word, (2015)

Found box, antique key, lock plate, brass stencils and glasses, hand-stitching. Cover image design by Rafael Osés. 22 x12 x7 cm.

I teach visual arts in the Creative Writing Department at the CREC Arts Academy high school. Rafael Osés is my department chair, and also a thoughtful poet and artist. The major objective of our department is to teach “360° of the word” – seeing and developing the ‘word’ from all directions. Our students investigate a variety of disciplines within the writing curriculum and in response to our commitment to this exploration, Rafael painted this image of the ‘word’ for a community gallery event at school. He also recently gave me this box, knowing my love for found objects in my own art process. So his image and gift became a sculpture that embodies our perspective on teaching young artists about the power of the ‘word’.

Anita Gangi Balkun approaches emotion and visual story telling through mixed media artwork. Her work incorporates sensory experiences to spark memory while incorporating found objects. The ‘everyday’ becomes the catalyst that inspires Balkun’s interactive books and assemblages, and the artwork articulates the quiet beauty, grace and playfulness discovered within the transformation of familiar objects. The straightforward integrity of the materials allows the sculptural and sometimes interactive aspect of the artwork to highlight extraordinary qualities of the objects. Balkun searches for content within the history of the object – its use or its journey – and incorporates that information as a springboard to the form. View more works by the artist at

Kirsi Anna-Maria Engels, Los Altos, CA

Star Creatures

Accordeon book; Hand-made paper with monoprints, hand-made lace, and acrylic paint. 60” x 9” height x 9” (extended).

The book can be "read"/viewed one page at a time, and as a sculpture stretched out or arranged in a circle.

Labyrinth Book

Folding book; handmade paper from kozo, onion skins, iris leaves, cotton, cheesecloth; acrylic paint, bees wax. 20” x 25” (extended).

Folding book which shows how to draw a classical labyrinth, and when the book is unfolded a big labyrinth is on the back side.

My love for our precious environment inspires me to recycle and reuse discarded objects. I truly enjoy the process of “recreation”. Through metaphorical images such as flowers, clouds, ocean, ships, birds, and fire I express deep connectedness to the natural world. I create and paint combining discarded objects and my memories and wide-ranging emotions which arise from journey, exploration, and transformation. Creative processes empower me as I reflect on personal experiences and universal themes such as dislocation, separation, multiple identity, and intriguing events of synchronicity.

Barbara Adams Hebard, Melrose, MA, USA


Clamshell box structure; spine brown goatskin gilt tooled with title and single rule; boards covered with hand-stamped Venetian paper; exterior walls covered with hand-made marble paper. Box interior; left tray lined with color printed collage made by the binder; silver colored metal crucifix; right tray lined with decorative paper made by the binder with acrylic paint; a glass bead secures a silver-colored metal disk holding a cloth relic embedded in Lucite. 12” x 10” x 3.”

The clamshell box resembles a quarter-leather style book with marble edged text block. When opened, it is revealed that the book is actually a reliquary displaying a relic of St. Anthony. The collage on the left tray contains the universe with angels and crucifix and can be used as a devotional focal point. The right tray, lined with a background meant to evoke the brown Franciscan habit worn by St. Anthony, also displays a third-degree relic. Anthony, the patron of lost things, is dear to bookbinders because the first missing item that he recovered was a book of Psalms.

Barbara Adams Hebard was trained in bookbinding at the North Bennet Street School. She worked as Book Conservator at the Boston Athenaeum for 18½ years before becoming Conservator of the John J. Burns Library at Boston College in 2009. Ms. Hebard writes book related articles and reviews, gives talks and presentations, exhibits her bookbindings nationally and internationally, and teaches book history classes. She is a Fellow of The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Professional Associate of The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, and Overseer of the North Bennet Street School.

Dorothy Krause, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA

Hanging Out

Paper pages toned with walnut ink, red leather, red jeweled paper fastener, rubber necklace. 8.8 x 5.7 x .6 cm.

This miniature artifact was made in Florence, Italy from pieces of an old book on Michaelangelo. Held together with leather and a jeweled closure, it became a sculptured necklace -- a wearable reminder of the journey.

Krause is Professor Emerita at Massachusetts College of Art, author of Book + Art: Handcrafting Artists' Books and Digital Art Studio. She has been a Visiting Artist or Artist in Residence at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the American Academy in Rome, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, the Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University and currently on Oceania Cruise Lines. Her work, which is in the collections of more than two dozen museums, combines traditional and digital media in large-scale mixed media pieces, artist books and book-like objects that bridge between the two forms. View more works by the artist at

Paula Krieg, Salem, New York, USA

Phone Blook

This blook is constructed with a traditional case binding: book board, book cloth, decorative cover and end sheets. The block of the blook made from a solid piece foamcore that contains a compartment hidden under what looks like a page of math formulas. 22 x 16.5 x 2 cm.

No student was ever handcuffed while studying the quadratic equation. While I believe that the overwhelming majority of educators denounce the in the recent handcuffing and humiliation two students, one who was in possession of a phone, and the other a clock, it occurs to me that some students might feel a bit safer having a way to caring these items around incognito. A Blook which has a compartment for a phone/clock hidden under a list of must-know mathematical formulas seems like a classroom friendly solution. Submitted, therefore, is this phone blook, an idea which just might catch on.

Paula Beardell Krieg has making artist books and teaching book arts for 25 years. Krieg is drawn to the building of books as a way to explore how the relationship of elements evolves into structure. This same interest in deciphering relationships has most recently including a revisiting of formal math concepts and connecting them to artful expressions. View more works by the artist at

Carolyn Leigh, Tucson, AZ USA

Al-qirq Checkers Draughts +

The Al-qirq Checkers Draughts + blook box and playing board are constructed with acid-free Davey binder board and Tyvek hinges covered with acid-free commercial book papers plus Ph-neutral PVA glue, Faber Castell Pitt pencil, Golden and Daniel Smith acrylics; box sealed with Golden Archival Gloss Varnish; box and board finished with Renaissance Wax; game pieces are bottle caps plus aluminum sheeting, BBs and acrylics; giclée printed pamphlet. 36.5 x 19.5 x 4.5 cm.

The Al-qirq Checkers Draughts + blook contains a board for both international draughts and American checkers. The American board uses the colors of the US and Mexican flags to represent the international border and the divisions that color our borderlands. The lid of the box has a game board for Al-qirq, the Arabic game that preceded draughts/checkers. A form of that game came to the Americas as Alquerque. A variant, Awithlaknannai, is recorded for Zuni Pueblo, NM. That board is on the inside of the box lid. The game pieces are bottle caps with BBs inside so they rattle during moves. These games are essentially war games, so the BB shot seem appropriate. Their colors: silver and gold for Sonora, México, copper and black (coal) for Arizona, USA represent the mineral wealth that drove the development of the two states. The box contains a pamphlet, Al-qirq • Alquerque • Draughts • Checkers, with the history and the rules for the games.

Carolyn Leigh is a painter, book artist and author with studios in Tucson, Arizona, USA and Sonora, México. She taught Scientific Illustration and Photography at the University of Arizona until she joined her husband as a tribal art dealer in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. She is the author of Art Dealer in the Last Unknown and New Guinea Tribal Art eGuide, plus, and Her multiple formats pulse with intense colors and dynamic forms that shape-shift between figurative and abstract. Her work is represented in collections in the USA, Europe, Mexico and the South Pacific. View more works by the artist at

Charlene Matthews, Los Angeles, CA. USA

Traveling Dominos

Leather case, leather lining, airplane linen headbands. Metal snaps. Edge blind tooling. Original vintage pencil and vintage lacquered/gilt Domino playing cards. 6.25 x 3.75 x 2.5 cm.

I found the original leather case with the cards and pencil, but the case was too decrepit to repair, so a new one was made. The headbands are of a specific design to hold the book in a semi-closed position when opened, so the cards do not slide out on their own.

Charlene Matthews in a professional Bookbinder in Los Angeles. View more works by the artist at

Jana Pullman, Minneapolis, MN

Rounded clamshell box

3 quarter leather clamshell boxes with rounded spines with false raised bands and handmade marbled paper. The trays are wrapped in a cream-colored book cloth to give the appearance of pages of a book. 22 x 15 x 4 cm.

When I first saw a photograph of a rounded spine clamshell box I wanted to make one. I have tried several variation of making this type of box and enjoy the look of it. I have a blog post on making this here.

Jana Pullman began working with books in 1983 while pursuing her BFA and MFA degrees in Art. She is currently the owner of Western Slope Bindery in Minneapolis, specializing in custom binding and repair of books. She focuses her artistic energies on fine binding and participates in book exhibitions. During many years of working in book arts, she has been a printer, papermaker, bookbinder, illustrator, conservator and instructor in the book arts. View more works by the artist at

Susan Joy Share, Anchorage, Alaska USA

Hooke’s Eye

All panels of Hooke’s Eye fold to the center with a gatefold. Cut-outs and punches show under-layers in the title and interior panels. Text appears on the foredge to simulate the pages of a book. Enclosed within are illustrations and sculptural insect parts to be assembled and arranged theatrically. This folder construction is made from laminated layers of hand and machine made paper, crayon, pencil, hairpins, wire and inkjet prints. 17.8” x 27.9” x 2.5” (closed).

The piece was inspired by Robert Hooke’s Micrographia (1665), a descriptive, illustrated science book from the University of Iowa Libraries. The meticulous, detailed illustrations, poetic language, binding and decorative introductory pages caught my eye. I was most intrigued by Hooke’s simultaneous investigations of the microscopic and the telescopic, sparking the imagination. In the wings of insects, he saw possible clues to human flight. My fantasy blook illustrates a white featherwing’d moth carrying a man to the moon.

Susan Joy Share has made books since the mid-1970’s, with a focus on their movement, sound and transformation. She has exhibited, taught and performed nationally and internationally. Share is included in collections at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Anchorage Museum and the Jaffe Center. She worked in book conservation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Historical Society, and The Brooklyn Museum. Share received grants from the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska State Council on the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts. She created public artwork for Anchorage’s 1% for Art Program. View more works by the artist at

Jenifer Wightman, Brooklyn, NY, USA


Asymmetric book with 19 signatures; Artist Proof (edition of 19, in process); 2014. 23 x 36 x 8 cm.

Tree is a sculptural interpretation of a notable 1990 diagram published by Carl Woese in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. In a brilliant scientific move, Woese and his colleagues compared the ribosomal-RNA shared by all species and constructed a diagram that depicts genetic variation between species as they diverged over time. This genetic Tree of Life, was constructed as a book with 19 signatures representing major branches of organisms. For example, the red signature marks the branch that includes all animals. Pages are left blank to suggest the unknown writings of the next-generation of species - a 'future conditional': What will have been.

winning TITLE

Two modified clamshell ‘books’ wired with Electroluminescent (EL) tape and lit by a solar panel or AA battery pack; Artist Proof; 2015. Each clamshell is 15 x 23 x 3 cm.

In a flurry of electron jabs, hooks, and blows, winning TITLE is a bookish battle between a battery pack and a solar panel to illuminate text. Each TITLE’d spine is lit by either a solar panel (weighing in at $12.99) or a battery pack (two AA batteries weigh in at $2.50/pair). The live bout played out at the Center for Book Arts (April 2015): six gruesome knockouts left the battery pack in a financial black-out (6 bouts x $2.50/pair of AA batteries = $15.00); the solar panel won the TITLE!

Jenifer Wightman is a scientist specializing in greenhouse gas mitigation strategies at Cornell University. She teaches Sustainable Systems at Parsons. Her art practice began in 2002 and employs scientific tropes to incite curiosity of ecological phenomena. She is interested in forming an ecological rationality by reflecting on the co-evolution of a culture and its supporting ecosystem. Her work is in the collections of the Austrian National Library, Bodleian Library, Bodmer Museum, Cambridge University Library, Danish Royal Library, Gutenberg Museum, and Library of Congress. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. View more works by the artist at



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