Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Making in Mittagong: Sturt Winter School

Ampersand Duck's Sturt Winter School 08 photosetAmpersand Duck's Sturt Winter School 08 photoset

Goodness, we made a lot of booky things last week. Nine keen students, one keen teacher, and we were off. I think the average number of books per person was 13, but that is just an average. If you click on the photo thingy above you should get taken to the set I created on Flickr to see what we did. That link at the beginning of the paragraph will take you to Sturt's own collection of images.

I like this course. I called it Artful Books because I'm not teaching straight bookbinding, nor am I teaching how to make artist's books as such. My aim is to cover some basic structures and skills, as a starting point, or a leaping platform, depending upon the ambitions of the students. I know two of my summer school students --also printmakers -- have started exhibiting their book work; I'd be just as happy to hear that my students have never bought a sketchbook or photo album again.*

I like to build up skills and confidence through the week, so I start on the first day with concertina bindings, which involve lots of play and folding and a bit of stitching. Day two is Asian stab bindings, which involve more folding and slightly more complex stitching, and day three plunges them into the deep end of stitching and glueing with coptic binding and making their own covers.

By day four they're eager for the 'real' stuff, which is making their own hardback sketchbook using traditional Western (that naughty Pell word) sewing onto tapes. And by this time they have built up enough confidence and skills to complete the book in a day. It's a great thing, watching them take their books out from the light weights on the last day and beaming proudly.

Each class I teach seems to have an aesthetic theme, driven by the more confident students. Last time it was print-centred, but this time, thanks to two young art students with a retro bent, and also to a donated bag of lovely old battered books (thanks again, Dale!), we had a vintage book theme. Lots of yummy collage and reconstruction.

Staying at the boarding houses of Frensham was entertaining as well, although they were hideously overheated. They don't seem to be doing a lot for climate change, what with huge heating bills and wide gushy shower roses in every bathroom.

I made a suggestion last summer that they might have a film night or two just to help pass the evenings, and they suggested back that I might like to organise one. So I did. There's a lovely Drama Theatre with a DVD player and large screen, so I brought up An Affair to Remember and Harold and Maude, both of which went down nicely since they're such silly but lovely films in their own ways.

I also gave a wee talk about myself and my work, as did other tutors like Annie Trevilian and Monique van Nieuwland, both of whom have work in the Sturt shop, Annie also showing in the Sturt Gallery (highly recommended for a fab daytrip from Sydney, but only for another week).

I can't teach the next Summer School, but I'm hoping to make it to the next Winter School. The Southern Highlands are a lovely place to be in Winter (although I'm disappointed there was no snow...).

So thanks to my lovely class, who all interacted beautifully and made the week a lot of fun! And thanks, too, to the other teachers and the fantastic Sturt team. I really had a good time. I'm still getting over it! Only a few more days until uni starts again, so I'm going to chill out for the next couple of days with Bumblebee and his mates.

*Having said this, I buy them all the time. Sometimes there's just no time to make these things when you need them.


genevieve said...

Lovely photos! wow, what a lot of work done.

fifi said...

This made me almost throw up with the desire to have been a student in this course!

The Southern Highlands are a joy.

Thanks for the cuppa invite....I will take you up on it when I am not in hyper-mode and entrapped my the family :-)

shing said...

This sounds like such a wonderful, wonderful class!

Martha said...

Oh, the books are so pretty! Now I wanna take your course even more than I did before!

cristy said...

I really want to do this course next year. Must figure out what to do with Lily for the week...

Maybe the year after...