The History of the Art of Origami

One of our most popular workshops, especially for children, is the Origami making workshops. Whether it is bookmaking or flower-making, it is a fun way for the little ones to create some craft work and learn a new skill. 

The craft of Origami is popularly known as the art of paper folding and originates from Japanese culture. In modern times, it is used to characterize all forms of paper folding regardless of the culture it originates from. Japanese culture brought origami up to be a very high class art form. The art form has been passed down orally for generations.

Paper was invented in China around 105 A.D., and was brought to Japan by monks in the sixth century A.D. Handmade paper was a luxury item only available to the wealthy, and paper folding in ancient Japan was strictly for ceremonial purposes, often religious in nature.

By the Edo period (1603-1868), origami had become recreational as well as ceremonial in Japan, which means it consisted of a lot more cuts and folds.

An early origami folding technique

According to sources, the earliest reference to a paper model type in Japan is from a short poem by Ihara Saikaku from 1680. The poem mentions a traditional butterfly design used during Shinto weddings. Folding filled some ceremonial functions in that time period in Japanese culture; noshi,  a kind of ceremonial origami fold were attached to gifts to express “good wishes”. This evolved and developed into a form of entertainment. 

Paper Cranes at WNYBAC

According to the PBS documentary, BETWEEN THE FOLDS, the first known written  instructions for paper folding appeared in 1797, with Akisato Rito’s Sembazuru Orikata, or “thousand crane folding.” Orikata was the name used to refer to paper folding art before the 1800s when it morphed into origami. 

But the art of paper folding is not just concentrated in Japan, it was also a growing art form in Europe. The tradition of paper folding in Europe dates back to the 12th century or possibly before, when the Moors brought a tradition of “mathematically based folding” to Spain. The Spanish further developed paper folding into an artistic practice called papiroflexia or pajarita. By the 1800s, kindergarten-aged children in European countries such as England and Germany, and children in Japan were learning paper folding.

In the early 1900s, Akira Yoshizawa, a well-known master at origami, and others began creating and recording original origami art works. Akira Yoshizawa was particularly responsible for a number of new creations in modern origami, such as wet-folding and the Yoshizawa–Randlett diagramming system. His  inspired a new age of the art form. During the 1980s, origami enthusiasts began systematically studying the mathematical properties of folded paper. This led to an increase in the more complex nature of origami models.

Some Origami Flowers made at WNYBAC 

Modern forms of origami are most concerned with the challenge of folding one square piece of paper without using cuts and glue, like we do here at WNYBAC. The most common origami creations are the paper crane and boat. We create even more unique and beautiful origami pieces like at the Kids’ Origami workshop we had last weekend where the participants made beautiful paper flowers pictured above.

With such a rich history, it is no wonder why origami is still a very unique art form. And if you manage to look closely around our store, you might be surprised by a few origami pieces sitting around!

Edible Book Festival 2019

It is time to reflect back on one of our most treasured traditions here at WNYBAC, our annual Edible Book Festival, which held on March 30th! A fun fact about this holiday is that it is traditionally celebrated by libraries on or around April 1, to honor Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the author of Physiologie du gout (The Physiology of Taste), who is generally regarded as an early “foodie”.

The Edible Book Festivals began with the Books2Eat website in 2000 and is now celebrated internationally. The event was initiated by Judith A. Hoffberg and Béatrice Coron. The official website Books2Eat.com says that along with celebrating the previously mentioned author,  April Fools’ Day is also related as “the perfect day to eat your words and play with them as the ‘books’ are consumed on the day of the event.”

Edible Book craft created by Erdene Dominguez inspired by the novel Warriors by Erin Hunter

Edible Book Festivals around the world typically feature creatively crafted food projects that are inspired from famous books and stories. These books may physically resemble the books they are inspired from, refer to a specific aspect of a story, or they might incorporate text from the book. There are judges assigned to select winners to receive special prizes. There are popular prize categories tailored to each establishment. At WNYBAC, we have categories of our own such as: Most Book-Like, Best Tasting, People’s Choice, The Best Presentation and Funniest & Punniest.

The People’s choice voting station

This year’s Edible Book Festival was a huge success. The center was full of supporters and friends of all ages participating in the cake judging, the raffle table and even in the studio with the letterpress! 

The set up for the event started early on Saturday as our team here worked to make the store spacious enough to not only display the edible book contenders, but to be able to make it easy for all the guests to get around. 

The calm before the storm
Edible Book Contestants setting up their book craft before the event

There were 28 Edible book entries in total, 19 for the Adult category and 9 in the Youth category. There was so much variety ranging from the Great Gatsby to Fahrenheit 451 to A Pickle of Ice and Fire. 

A Pickle of Ice and Fire by Gina Maria Klienmartin

But other than the Edible book contest, there were more activities going on at WNYBAC. Our Guests were purchasing raffle tickets to win one of the many prizes being offered, such as exclusive tickets to shows playing at Shea’s and The Irish Classical Theater, a free one-hour massage at Therapeutically Well, and so much more.

In the studio, guests could make their own edible book letterpress card as well as learn a few things about printing. And also located in the studio, was a make your own “Sploosh” (salsa) station inspired by the book Holes by Louis Sachar, and a button making station inspired by the event itself.

The Studio activities at the Edible Book Festival

At the end of the night, the winners were drawn and everyone gathered to hear the results. The awards were graciously sponsored by multiple local Buffalo businesses. The most book-like awards, sponsored by Valu Home Center and Quality Bindery, were awarded to Fahrenheit 451 by Ciah and Stephanie Courtney and Bibliophyllo by Donna Stepien. The best presentation awards, sponsored by PIA and Explore Buffalo, were given to Warriors by Erdene Dominguez and The Great Gatsby by Lara Martini. One of the new categories, Funniest and Punniest, sponsored by Telesco Creative Group and The Brewroom, was awarded to Dead Seaweed Scrolls by Galvan Kleinmartin and The Long Quiche Goodnight by Toulon O’Connor. The Best Tasting awards, sponsored by Fat Bob’s Smokehouse and JJ’s Casa di Pizza, went to Lion Witch and the Wardrobe by Ava Courtney and Sing Bird by Tyler Stover. Last, but not least is the Peoples Choice award presented by M&T Bank. This year, it was awarded to Don’t Let the Pigeon Eat the Bus by Nella Darrell-Sterbak.

All the winners of the night!

Soon after the awards were given, everyone started to dig in to the edible books. We found some of the entries were a mix of vanilla and chocolate cake, one was very minty, another was very pickly, and one entry was entirely made of Cheerios!

As the food was eaten up, the crowd began to reduce and just like that, another Edible Book Festival had come to an end. It was a good event and we are definitely excited to see what Edible Books we will get to exhibit next year!

Women’s Month Spotlight: Christina Agos

The month of March is known and celebrated as Women’s History Month in the United States. This month, we chose to spotlight some of our female members who have contributed to the growth and artistry present here at WNYBAC to celebrate this year’s Women’s History Month!

Meet Christina Agos, an active member of the WNYBAC Board of Directors and one of our consignment artists. She has been involved with WNYBAC for about 5 years now. She said, “It started with an interest in browsing the store and taking workshops, and it grew into a love for the preservation of the book arts and also for the organization and their mission.” She started volunteering to be more involved with Book Arts and steadily made her way to the position she holds now.

Christina’s craft is letterpress printing, which she actually learned taking workshops with us when she was making invitations for her wedding. She enjoyed it so much that she bought Millie, her platen press, and turned part of her basement into a studio space. She found a way to connect it with her knowledge in Graphic Design. “ I enjoy combining old and new technology by designing on the computer and then printing that design by hand.

Christina hard at work on a WNYBAC letterpress

Christina describes herself as a “Mompreneur” and she wants to make her letterpress craft a full-time commitment. She has reached a point in her life where she is not afraid to learn new things and meet new people. She said she is glad she pushed herself to learn about WNYBAC instead of just being to afraid to put herself out there.

Christina’s advice to women this Month is to never stop striving to learn new things. Women need to put themselves out there, even when it seems scary. She states, “You never know what might inspire you and where it could lead!”

Women’s Month Spotlight: Sweety Kabra

The month of March is known and celebrated as Women’s History Month in the United States. This month, we chose to spotlight some of our female members who have contributed to the growth and artistry present here at WNYBAC to celebrate this year’s Women’s History Month!

Meet Sweety Kabra, one of our Studio Volunteers & Teaching Artists. “Yes, Sweety is my birth name given to me by my grandparents and I kept it,” Sweety said about her unique name. She is from India and moved to the United States 2 years ago after getting married. Love brought her here to Buffalo. She has come to love Buffalo over time and she could not have hoped for a better place to call home.

“When I moved here I had no connections, no family, not many friends. But I had my interests and likings,” Sweety said about finding stuff to keep her busy here. She had been involved in some paper crafts when she lived in India and had instructed a couple of workshops. She hoped she would find activities and events here that will interest her.

Sweety hit a changing point when she got the opportunity to attend some Art Fairs and Craft events here in Buffalo. She said it immediately made her realize that she wanted to do something in the Arts field. This ultimately led her to apply for a volunteer position with WNYBAC. Once she was accepted, she started volunteering and assisting teaching artists during workshops. So far, it has been a year and she has been lucky enough to get so many opportunities to learn, assist, conduct and organize workshops and Craft events with us at WNYBAC.

Some of Sweety’s Art Designs and Crafts

Sweety’s craft work consists of paper crafts, personalized gifts and Henna designs. “My motivation to pursue arts come from the fact that hand crafted things are beautiful and unique. I feel that I can portray my feelings and emotions through my art and spread joy and happiness in the world,” she said regarding her artistry. She has a couple of upcoming Henna workshops later this spring, which you can find on WNYBAC website.
She thinks being very persistent about what she wanted to do and pursuing her passion for arts was a good choice. “I was also fortunate to meet like minded people at WNYBAC [who] considered me and gave me an opportunity.”
Sweety wants to use her art to spread the happiness and love around her and share beautiful designs from another part of the world here in Buffalo.

Sweety designing Henna on a customer

Looking towards Women’s History month, she states that as a woman in the world the possibilities today are endless. “[As a woman] You just have to stick to your passion and keep believing in yourself. Most importantly you have to have a support system, someone who believes in you and gives you that confidence.” Sweety appreciates WNYBAC because we give her a lot of inspiration, and it is all thanks to the many amazing women who work here.
“I want to take this opportunity and congratulate every woman and wish them a Happy Women’s Month!”

Women’s Month Spotlight: Katy Sloan

 This month, we chose to spotlight some of our female members who have contributed to the growth and artistry present here at WNYBAC to celebrate this year’s Women’s History Month!

Meet Katy Sloan, our Studio Volunteer & Teaching Artist working every week to create  custom handmade prints. She has been with us since last summer and loves coming in to work on little projects to perfect her printing skills.

Katy was born and raised in Buffalo and returned here from SUNY New Paltz, New York, where she was working on finishing up a BFA in Printmaking and a BS in Art Education. She originally enrolled to become an art educator, but her love for printmaking made her choose to study printmaking as well.  Her day job is working as a student educator in a photography class at Williamsville East.

Now every Saturday, you can see her working on Mandy the Mangler creating a variety of different handmade prints, marketing materials, and merchandise for the WNYBAC shop. She also loves the process of learning how to typeset. She said working here has given her the chance to learn the process of letterpress printing and she appreciates the technique behind the complicated art form. Volunteering here also gives Katy experience working in a professional space. “My favorite thing to do here is learn!”

This Women’s Month, Katy has been working extra hard creating a new project to unveil to celebrate and empower women.

Katy Working on her Women’s Month Postcards Project

“I am creating a series of postcards that contain quotes from famous women throughout history,” she explained about her project. Her goal is that people see these quotes from famous women and are reminded that women are out here everyday working hard and being successful.

One of the finished Postcards!

Katy said it is important for her “to look back on where [her] gender has been, and remember how much [women] have progressed in our quest for independence and recognition.” This project is meant to encourage women to push boundaries and work to fulfil their goals and dreams.

Katy’s advice to women this month is to reflect on their achievements and feel proud; then get out there and achieve more!

Women’s Month Spotlight: Alexa Joan

This month, we are spotlighting some of our female members and artists to celebrate Women’s Month!

Meet artist Alexa Joan, one of our beloved consignment artists and members here at WNYBAC! A Buffalo native and longtime entrepreneur, Alexa has been a part of our community of artists here for over 5 years now. Her husband, Edreys Wajed is part of the board of directors at WNYBAC, so she has been connected with us for a number of years.

Alexa has been creating jewelry for about 10-15 years. She started with beaded jewelry and wire-wrapping type jewelry before she decided to label herself as an artist and begin creating her own personal artwork. Alexa said she calls herself an artist because she wanted to “[free] myself from the judgement and subjectivity of other people telling me ‘art is only this.’” This put her on the developmental path as an artist, to look for “different things to draw on and execute her meditation-type abstract work on to.” She created the beautiful Fleathers earrings that became part of the WNYBAC store and sit on display. They are hand-painted, hand-cut, one-of-a-kind, original earrings.

The idea for Fleathers came from her husband, who is also a visual artist, when he suggested she start painting on leather. “I fell in love with drawing on leather and I started creating earrings.” Alexa said that the purpose of them to her was to create something “new and different and exciting, something that might be visually pleasing but also pretty sexy and fun to wear.” She also found that there is actual need for these types of earrings because they are big and not too heavy on our ears.

As a part of the WNYBAC community and a member since our inception, Alexa has been coming to workshops, her friends’ exhibitions and to support local gallery openings. She has always enjoyed the activities that WNYBAC has had to offer, from opportunities for teaching or learning, to opportunities to exhibit work or support others.

Alexa believes Buffalo is a perfect place to run a business now more than ever before, and she believes the art scene is booming and it is a good time for artists here.

She said, “As a female business owner I think we need to do more of (business ownership) but we are in a really good position to work together and to really make huge statements and huge strides not only in Buffalo, but nationwide and throughout the globe. And as an artist again there’s just a lot of opportunities and recognizing that creativity and sharing of yourself—of your creativity, not only benefits you, but benefits others, is something that I think allows people to breathe a little easier when it comes to creating things.”

Fleathers Earrings displayed at WNYBAC

This Women’s Month, Alexa leaves us with three things we should internalize: Firstly, we should, as women, understand that it is okay to be selfish in the respect of self-care because if we are not ourselves well—mentally and physically and spiritually—we can’t help anyone else. Secondly, we should create and share. It’s important to create worlds where we share whatever we can, whatever we have, because it is of help to someone and it is an inspiration to someone else. And thirdly, we should just support each other, share that love, share that creativity.

See more of Alexa Joan’s work and practices on her website! 

Farewell To Our Apprentices

This past year the WNY Book Arts Center did something new. We received a grant to hire two apprentices for a year long training program. If you’ve been reading this blog, then you’re already familiar with the work of one of our apprentices. That would be me. Hi, I’m Branwyn, I came in as an intern last year, applied for the apprenticeship, and have been working at WNYBAC ever since.

Our other apprentice is Zach. While I’ve filled the role of marketing apprentice, Zach has worked as the studio apprentice. This means we’ve each had very different roles here at WNYBAC throughout the year. Read on to learn more about what we’ve been up to this year, and where we want to go from here:


Zach:

Primary roles and responsibilities:

As time went on, I primarily fell into the role of designing/printing a mass variety of things. Of course I helped with other aspects of the grander mission, but most of my time was spent in the screen print studio making pamphlet covers, cards, posters, shirts…anything that will accept ink, really. I also like to think I had the unofficial role of making sure the microwave always worked, considering I would nuke my coffee at least 13 times a day.

Something I accomplished here that I’m proud of:

The Westside print, for sure. As a whole, that was an accomplishment because it was full of aspects I’d never really visited at length before.  The buildings were all drawn by hand (something I never considered myself to be decent at), and the print was 4 separate colors (faux 6 color, if you look at it enough), another task I’d never really tackled. I also ruined a bunch of shirts too, which is an accomplishment in stupidity via not wearing an apron enough.

Favorite part of the apprenticeship:

Really just getting to be in the studio and making stuff, and through that, learning more. I may have not always had an attachment to what I was printing, but at the very least, I became a little bit more skilled each time I did it. Best way to learn is through failure and repetition, and I had plenty of that.

Something I learned during the apprenticeship:

I guess the practical answer would be how exactly letterpress printing works, how to set the forme, blah blah blah. Same goes for screen printing – how to do multi colored prints, what squeegees to use and when, etc. A more personal answer would be patience. Like most things, good work takes good time, and sure you could pull off some decent stuff working at lightning speed, but it’ll never live to its full potential that way. Taking your time, lining everything up, all of that, are so important to creating really stand-out prints. Be patient, mon ami.

 

Future plans:

Oh man, that’s a massive question. Tomorrow? Next week? 5 years? I guess ultimately the answer is to just keep making work I’m proud of, whether that’s through printing, design, or something else. One day I’d like to make a TV show. Another day I want to get into making gig posters. I’d love to do something with radio, which is a separate passion of mine. I have some plans, of course, but I’ve found that talking about plans before they are a reality is never a good thing. For now, I’ll keep my agenda to getting a coffee at Remedy, a bagel at Breadhive, and letting the rest fall into place. (Blatant shoutout to my pals).


Branwyn:

Primary roles and responsibilities:

My main role here was marketing WNYBAC. One of our major marketing initiatives that I’ve managed is the blog. I started it when I first started, and have run it all year long. I also do a lot with WNYBAC’s social media. In addition to just making posts, I have also taken on the role of creating post schedules for our events, so essentially creating basic social media campaigns for a specific event. Finally, I’ve done a lot of outreach to our community in other ways, mostly through mailchimps. I design and send out informative emails.

Something I accomplished here that I’m proud of:

Honestly, I’m proud that I’m helping to train the person who will take over some of my responsibilities once the apprenticeship is over. I originally started here as an intern, and I was one of the first marketing-focused interns we had ever had. So I guess I’m proud that I filled that role well enough that it’s become one we’re going to continue. I feel like I’m leaving a legacy here in some way. And the blog, of course, since that’s also going to continue after I leave.

Favorite part of the apprenticeship:

My favorite part of the apprenticeship was the summer months. Between BookFest, our month-long membership drive and member show, and all the festivals we participated in, there was always something to do. We also had a marketing intern during the summer, who I’m actually friends with from school, so getting to work on projects with her, and develop things like our Twitter personality was a lot of fun.

 
Something I learned during the apprenticeship:

Though it may not have been my primary responsibility here, I did get to learn a lot about typesetting and operating a printing press which was so cool! When I got to set and print things, which usually ended up being small informational postcards about upcoming events and what not, it was a great creative outlet. I’ve been so focused on building my professional resume while I’ve been in college that I haven’t gotten to do a lot of creative projects, so it was really great to be back in an artistic environment.

 

Future plans:

My future plans, first and foremost, are graduating from college with my Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies, which I’ll do in May. And then I guess my options are wide open. If there’s one thing I learned about myself while I was here, it’s that marketing for a non profit arts organization is a really fulfilling occupation for me. So I can certainly see myself working in a similar venue in the future. I haven’t decided if that’s going to be here in Buffalo or someplace warmer, but wherever I land, I know my time here at WNYBAC has prepared me well for my future career.


There you have it. That’s our take on the apprenticeship program, an incredible opportunity for us both. Over the past year, both Zach and I have spent time developing our crafts and working on things we’re passionate about. We’ve learned a lot along the way, and had a lot of good times, from drawing with sidewalk chalk and playing with a plastic steam roller while shooting the BookFest video, to listening to Christmas music while sorting through SO MUCH TYPE in the studio. Every day was a little different. And it sure will be different not working here. But don’t worry, we’ll still be around 😉

 I can hardly believe the apprenticeship is coming to an end. Since I’m still finishing college, the WNYBAC apprenticeship was my first long-term job that was actually in the field I’m going in to. And that was really significant for me. So it is with misty eyes that I sign off this last blog post I will write here. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and here’s to all those interns and volunteers to come. Working here at the Book Arts Center is an incredible experience, and I hope it means as much for you as it did for us.

Mandy’s Story

Once upon a time, Mandy, our beloved Vandercook 4, didn’t live here at the WNY Book Arts Center. When we first moved into our downtown location we only had our 219 and SP20 letterpresses.

Mandy’s story is a story worth telling. Or re-telling, as the case may be. If you care to search far enough back in our blog, you could find the original post published right after we acquired Mandy. Or you could just read this re-telling of the story, which, I promise, will be just as good.

We got Mandy from the Platen Press Museum in Zion, Illinois back in 2010. That’s right, Mandy traveled more than 500 miles to get here. And you know what that means: roadtrip!

Vandercook 4s, the model Mandy is, aren’t all that uncommon. There are still several thousand known to exist. Still, that’s nothing compared to the height of the Vandercook era. Which is why one must occasionally travel 500 miles to obtain a Vandercook 4.

We acquired Mandy when WNYBAC founder Rich Kegler and friends made the trip down to Two Rivers, Wisconsin for the Wayzgoose at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum. Mandy was a stop along the way back up.

When we got Mandy, to drive her to Buffalo we relied on a u-haul trailer. When transporting a press, the most important thing to remember is to keep it secure. Since our trailer was open top, we also covered Mandy with a waterproof tarp to keep her safe.

Securing the press

Adventures abounded on the trip back to Buffalo. From getting lost, to learning Yiddish, to enduring weather and traffic, all to the accompaniment of great music. The fun, of course, didn’t end once we got Mandy back to Buffalo. Then there was the matter of unloading her, getting her in the door, and getting her down to the studio. As you know, WNYBAC’s studio is in the basement, meaning we would have to traverse a flight of stairs with the 1100 pound machine. But if we did it before with our other two letterpresses, surely we could do it again!

Moving a Vandercook anywhere, but especially down stairs, is a careful operation of lifting, securing, and maneuvering. You should not try this at home! These photos help tell the story of how Mandy made it downstairs:

Mandy’s arrival in Buffalo
Here she comes! 

Almost there!
Mandy’s new home

Mandy, ultimately, made it all the way from Illinois to our basement studio safe and sound. In her home here she is used for everything from teaching workshops and field trips, to pulling prints for our store merchandise. We’re happy to have our little Vandercook 4!

Bookbinding: A Major Part of the Book Arts

Here at the Book Arts Center, we’re well known as a print shop. But what about bookbinding? Just like printing, bookbinding is a major part of the book arts!

Book binding, as the name implies, is the way in which pages are sewn together to create a book. There are many different styles of bookbinding, from the simple pamphlet stitch, to more decorative styles like secret Belgian bookbinding. Different parts of the world have different ways of binding books. For example, stab binding comes from Japan.

                 

Today, these decorative styles of binding are most commonly done by hand binders. Modern bookbinding is divided into two categories. Hand binding, obviously, is done by hand and may be used to bind artist books or to repair old books. Perhaps the most common type of bookbinding today is commercial binding. Commercial binderies use machines to bind large numbers of books, like New York Times best sellers.

Much like we preserve and teach people about original methods of printing by offering letterpress workshops and hand-printed merchandise in our shop, we also preserve and teach people about original styles of hand-binding books. We hold workshops in different kinds of bookbinding, from coptic stitch bookbinding to Islamic bookbinding.

We also offer handbound journals for sale in our shop from our consignment artists. WNYBAC member and consignment artist, Janna Willoughby-Lohr, owns her own business, Paper Craft Miracles, for which she makes everything by hand. Paper Craft Miracles is a lot more than just handbound books. Janna also makes handmade paper, cards, and more. She was inspired to start bookbinding when she took an artist book course in college. Janna says her favorite part of running her business is completing custom orders, and getting creative to fulfill all the specifics of the order.

In addition to running Paper Craft Miracles, Janna also teaches bookbinding. She describes herself as “the Bob Ross of bookbinding,” because very few mistakes one could make while learning to book bind can’t be fixed or covered up with something pretty. She loves to see her students get just as excited about the versatility of bookbinding as she does.

A common question we get here at the Book Arts Center is, do we offer any binding services ourselves? While our shop doesn’t actually do any bookbinding, we have relationships with several Buffalo binderies that do!

One of our members, Kathleen Hartmans, owns Quality Bindery. Quality is a small commercial bindery located in Buffalo’s Black Rock neighborhood. Quality works with the printing community in the Buffalo area to fill printing needs for organizations like Just Buffalo Literary Center, and the Burchfield Penney. Quality also rebound the Deed books for Erie county and completes individual orders for restorative binding in their hardcover binding department.

I love owning our own company and seeing the looks on our customers faces when they see the finished product.” 

– Kathleen Hartmans

Another local bindery we work with is Red Fern Bindery. Red Fern does all kinds of binding, from fine bindings in leather with gold lettering, to making new books, to making clamshell boxes for protection and display. According to Linsey Buchlis, the heart of the bindery is repairing and restoring old books. 

“I feel honored that people trust me with some of their most valuable items and that I’m able to help them pass these treasures on for years to come.”

-Linsey Buchlis 

Modern bookbinding is also art. While hand bound journals are certainly very beautiful and artistic, some bookbinders even take the artistry of bookbinding a step further. Deb Eck, one of our members and workshop instructors, is one such book binder. This past September, WNYBAC welcomed Deb as an exhibition artist. Her exhibition, “embroidered,” featured a number of intricately hand-bound books, among other artworks. Deb’s lovely books are works of art for display rather than books to be used for reading and writing. She uses embroidery to decorate the spines of her books, sometimes spelling out entire words in the spines, like in her piece A Woman’s Work is Never Done.

For Deb, the question what is her favorite part of book binding is easy to answer: 

 “It’s the sewing. But I also really love taking ordinary materials and making something beautiful, functional and extraordinary from them. Paper is such a commonplace thing, but it has so many possibilities… being able to craft books of my own gives me a great deal of joy.”

Bookbinding, even the older hand-techniques of binding, is alive and well! Bookbinders use their skills for everything from creating and selling hand-bound journals, to restoring old books and running commercial binderies, to creating elaborate works of art. Do you want to learn how to bind books, or diversify your book binding skills? Take a workshop from one of the bookbinding artists featured here, or one of our other talented teaching artists. We offer bookbinding workshops throughout the year and in many different styles of bookbinding.

A hand bound book will certainly be a unique edition to any bookshelf!

 

 

 

A Brief History of Printing in Buffalo

Did you know that air conditioning was invented in Buffalo? As crazy as it may seem, this city, known for its snow, was the one to come up with the idea for the modern air conditioner.

Buffalo can have some pretty hot summers, but air conditioning wasn’t invented for human comfort. It was actually invented to control humidity in print shops in order to make printing more efficient during our city’s hot and muggy summer months. So there’s one Buffalo history fact for you.


  


Buffalo must have had a pretty rich printing history to inspire an invention to make the process more efficient. Back in its heyday of the late 1800s and early 1900s, Buffalo, along with other major cities, operated quite the printing industry. From The Buffalo News to small community newspapers, Buffalo needed printing presses to keep its booming population informed. Some of these print shops live on today, like Gallagher Printing, which was originally founded in the basement of one of Buffalo’s West Side homes. Today these kinds of print shops have kept up with demand by adapting to and incorporating modern printing technology.

Other historically known print shops have transformed into something entirely different over the years. Did you know that a portion of today’s Roycroft Inn used to be a print shop? The founder of Roycroft, Elbert Hubbard, along with the rest of the community of artists at Roycroft, are credited with founding the Arts & Crafts movement in America. Hubbard was originally a printer, though, and, while the Roycroft Campus was transformed into an inn during his lifetime, he maintained his identity as a printer. After the Roycroft Campus transitioned to its new form, Hubbard opened another print shop across the street, this one with 22 presses.  

           
                          1800s                                                                 Today

Buffalo’s identity as the home of the Arts & Crafts movement has always had an influence on the printing culture here. You can see it in the design of Winchell, the first typeface ever designed in Buffalo. When Edward Everett Winchell was designing the typeface that bears his name, he was not shy about incorporating his arts & crafts tendencies, mixing square serifs with almost hand-drawn curves.

Today, the history of printing in Buffalo lives on as a craftsman’s movement. Vandercooks like the ones once used to print daily newspapers are preserved in places like WNYBAC for use in printing limited-run prints and other printing jobs that are shorter in nature, and more suited for the thought that goes in to hand-setting type.

WNYBAC is entering our 12th year as an organization, and our 11th in our downtown home. We started with only 2 founders, 3 board members, and a vision, and we’ve grown from there. At the beginning of the year we added our fourth full-time staff position, welcoming Nicole Cooke as the Assistant Executive Director. We also rely on our interns, volunteers and apprentices who are all just as dedicated to the organization. With each passing year WNYBAC grows our outreach and impact as we seek to continue Buffalo’s printing history and make the book arts more accessible to everyone in our community.

Just like Winchell and Buffalo’s early printers, we’re all craftspeople here at WNYBAC, and dedicated to preserving the printing history of Buffalo. From the typefaces we use, to the presses we maintain, we know our roots with the history of Buffalo’s printers.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our funders listed below, for providing support to WNYBAC's ongoing programs taking place throughout Western New York:

NYSCA M & T Art 4 Moore Zenger Group Evans Bank Community Foundation
Baird Foundation Cameron Jane Wendt Foundation StoryGrowing