Recycled books workshop at Frog Hollow

Bookbinding workshop - recycled books - Elissa Campbell - Frog HollowThis past Saturday I taught a recycled bookmaking workshop at Frog Hollow in Burlington, VT.

With the chosen book structure, I hoped to strike a balance between teaching basic bookbinding technique and imparting an appreciation for not only the usefulness, but also the beauty of recycled materials.

While some of the materials used in the workshop were salvaged from my recycle bin, many of the papers we used were purchased at the ReStore, a Vermont nonprofit with a mission of reducing the amount of reusable items that are thrown in the trash.

I really wanted to encourage participants to think about reuse after leaving the workshop, so I gave everyone resource booklets with information on local Freecycle groups and Goodwill stores.

Frog Hollow recycled book workshop - February 2010

The cover papers were made by weaving strips of envelope security patterns together.

I had a group of 12 women in the workshop and everyone’s covers were so beautiful! It’s amazing how you can give everyone the same materials and yet each person comes up with their own take on the concept.

We used 100% recycled cover stock for the pages of the accordion. Pages were sewn into the valley folds of the accordion – page papers included atlas maps, paper shopping bags, ledger paper, and phone book pages. Small books were sewn with a pamphlet stitch and were sized to fit into the accordion pockets. The covers of the books were made from a variety of materials – flash cards, old manila folders, tissue boxes, and envelopes.

Frog Hollow recycled book workshop - February 2010I was shocked when I found out that not only was the workshop full, but it also had a waiting list.

If I taught the class again, I think I’d modify the structure slightly. The timing of all of the steps was pretty tight and there wasn’t much wiggle room. I much prefer a less-pressured learning environment.

My favorite part of a workshop is the look on someone’s face when he or she notices that a pile of materials is starting transform into book – when all of the pieces really start to come together. I think that’s it’s also the most satisfying for me in my own work as well – that “I’m getting somewhere” moment.

As corny as it sounds, I think I just love watching people learn and being part of their personal growth.

Yeah, I’m a big corn and I’m proud of it.

2 Responses to “Recycled books workshop at Frog Hollow”

By Carol - 23 February 2010 Reply

I’m impressed. The woven covers are a marvellous idea. Gee I’d love to be at one of your classes! Nothing wrong with being corny. You have a lot to be proud of.

By Elissa - 2 March 2010 Reply

Carol –

I wish I could take credit for the idea of woven covers – the idea was inspired by Dennis Yuen’s Shopping B(ag)ook. The weaving part of the workshop took a long longer than I had hoped, but the results were awesome.

Thanks for the kind words – you’re very sweet. 🙂


So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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