A skein of bookbinders...

Dominic and Michael have arrived in Auckland ready for a week of masterclasses and the conference, that begins on Friday. Checkout this fabulous Sunday Star Times article by Grant Smithies. How about a 'skein' of bookbinders, Grant?

National Radio exposure...

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Elizabeth Steiner and Beth Serjeant featured on National Radio's Standing Room Only yesterday talking about the Janus Press exhibition at Object Space. The exhibition has been conceived to coincide with ABC2014NZ.

There is still plenty of time to register for the conference however, please note that registrations will close on Wednesday October 22nd.

Here is another wee taster from our eclectic conference programme;


I am one of a growing number of so-called ‘slashers’ as in - artist/printer/binder/teacher. Slashers are part of an emerging trend known as the ‘portfolio career’, which can be a very rewarding career move if you are the right personality type. My schedule varies dramatically from hour to hour, day to day, week to week and I am forced to compartmentalise my time to ensure I get some thing completed before moving to the next task. My income is very lumpy and comes from part time consultancy and business support work and a personal business selling my creative outputs. It came out of necessity but even if I won Lotto tomorrow I don’t think I would do anything different.
When you are a procurement consultant, facilitator, teacher, botanical pencil artist, importer of bone and horn folders, book binder and you’re learning how to letterpress print – how do you brief the designer who is rebranding your business?
Do you try to keep each aspect of your ‘portfolio career’ separate or do you embrace them forming interesting connections and build on them?
Leaves (on trees and in books) grow on branches of trees which are cut down to make paper which is used to make books containing stories formed from words which are made up of individual letters.
Tree wood is also used to make pencils. I use pencils to create images of trees (and other flora) on paper. I also reprint the drawings on paper and bind them into books. I am learning to use type to make words, that make sentences and stories to  accompany my drawings in books and cards.
Sometimes I take old books that are being thrown out and I rip out the pages and fold them to make paper flowers or perhaps even new books.
In everything that I do I want to: educate, connect, encourage, inspire, enhance and transport.

Opening schedule confirmed...

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I'm please to be able to announce our schedule for the opening of the conference on Friday 24th October, full details can be found here

There is just one space left on Dominic Riley's Creative Gold Tooling masterclass, don't miss out!

Here is another wee taster of what you can expect at the conference:


Poetry is what gets lost in translation.—robert frost

I’m interested in the idea of poetic thinking in graphic design—by this I mean the use of nuance, suggestion, playfulness and lyricism. 
I have worked for 20 or so years designing books for literary publishers both in New Zealand and in the UK. Inspired by my work on poetry books in particular, I have become preoccupied with concrete poetry—that in which the physical form of the type carries as much intent as the text itself. Language has such potential for double meaning, for simultaneous hilarity and melancholy, recognition and mystery. When coupled with expressive and sympathetic typography, it becomes that rare territory where type and image and meaning are equal partners. 
Illustrated with examples of design for poetry books from my own archive and pieces of concrete poetry, my talk will explore how this way of thinking can be used in problem-solving, often with delightfully unexpected results.
I will concentrate on two recent projects:
Sentimental Journey, a collaboration between a poet (Kate camp), a book designer (Sarah Maxey) and typeface designer (Kris sowersby) based on the surrealist game The Exquisite Corpse, using expressive typography. What began as something of a folly between friends went on to become a significant and influential project, winning two major design awards.
World Animal, a personal project about deliberately breaking established patterns of perception. Devised by two graphic artists working together from opposite sides of the world (Wellington & Birmingham UK), it has developed into something unforeseen—a new and lateral way of viewing our surroundings, a sort of visual poetry.


Sarah Maxey is a graphic artist. Her distinctive work has graced publications worldwide, including the New-York Times and many literary  books. she worked for Bloomsbury Publishing in London in the mid-90s, and for the intervening years has run her own studio specialising in print design for the arts. she has won numerous awards, most recently the 2011 Purple Pin, the highest graphic design accolade in her native New Zealand and a certificate of Excellence from the International society of typographers. Her work appears inArtists’ Postcards: a Compendium, by Jeremy cooper (Reaktion books UK, 2012), and Cover Up, by Hamish Thompson (Random House NZ, 2007).

Just 2 Months to go...

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It is hard to believe that we are just 2 months out from the conference. The organisers continue to beaver away in the background to create a fabulous experience for everyone. We have everything in place for an exciting weekend to immerse yourselves in the world of book arts and crafts. There are now close to a 100 registrations, this is really satisfying for the organisers to know that all the planning and hard work has paid off. There is still room for anyone who might be thinking of joining our warm and welcoming gathering.

If you know of anywhere that you could put up a poster to advertise the event please go to the bottom of this webpage and follow the instructions.

Here is an abstract from Peter Whitehead's paper that he is presenting over the conference weekend:


For centuries stationery has been supplied in a range of formats, from single sheets of paper or parchment, bundles, pre-folded quires, and bindings ranging from basic stitched gatherings, functional leather or parchment wrappers and luxurious and elaborate decorated bindings.  Stationery binding developed as a separate industry but unlike letterpress binding it has received comparatively little study. The bindings frequently dismissed by historians, librarians, and conservators as unimportant, plain and contributing little to the documentary record or the history of the craft.

This talk will introduce the subject of stationery bindings and discuss how styles and techniques developed from the medieval period and evolved into one of the most ubiquitous but least understood binding structures, the springback ledger binding, produced in the thousands in the 19th and 20th centuries.


Peter Whitehead is an accredited book and manuscripts conservator. He completed 4 years training in Library and Archive materials conservation at Camberwell School of Art in 1988  and continued studying bookbinding at London College of Printing and in his first jobs as a book conservator at the Public Record Office, London and later with private conservator Elizabeth Neville. After 8 years working as a conservator and binder in the private sector he returned to the PRO (now The National Archives) to study and specialise in the conservation of bindings in historic archive collections, that is  “Stationery bindings”.  He has since been the manager of conservation at The London Guildhall Library, Canterbury Cathedral Library and Kent Archives and has continued to study the historic bindings in these institutions. He is currently Collection Care Leader at Alexander Turnbull Library.

New Website Content...

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Just added to the website is information for traders. If you are a trader or know any that you would like to see at our conference, please take at look the Trader Inquiries page and pass on to others.

Also added to our home page is the fabulous conference poster designed and printed by Tara McLeod of The Pear Tree Press. There is a link on the page that takes you to a pdf version. Feel free to download it and print for display.

Tara is one of our conference presenters, here is a little more information about him and his presentation:


Discussing recent technology innovations influencing letterpress: photopolymer plates and laser cutting, giving access to letterpress printmaking on a broader scope than with traditional materials.
Showing printed examples of metal types held by the Pear Tree Press of which are now currently popular computer fonts in commercial use. Examples of design using metal and wood types displaying the freeing up of typographic thinking whilst working within the constraints of letterpress technology.


Tara is a multimedia artist with a background in graphic design. His works have been exhibited widely including the Dowse Art Museum and The Alexander Turnbull Library who hold a substantial collection of his work in their Rare Books and Fine Printing Collection. Since 2001 until its recent closure Tara was the designer/printer at the Holloway Press University of Auckland. Pear Tree Press books and prints are collected by major libraries and private collectors in New Zealand, United States, England, Australia and Canada.   His work had been reviewed in Matrix and featured in Parenthesis. He is a regular printer in residence at the University of Otago 's Otakau Press and has exhibited at The Whittington Press, Oxford, England. Tara has the distinction of being the only contemporary New Zealand artist to feature in the book Real Gold: Treasures of Auckland Public Libraries.

Pre-conference presentation...

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The ABC conference experience just keeps on growing. Check out the events page for details of the latest additions that includes workshops, exhibitions and just added a pre-conference presentation by Julie Chen. 

Post Conference Calligraphy Workshop...

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Another post conference workshop announcement:


Three hour workshop in conjunction with the Association of Book Crafts NZ International Conference 2014, Monday 27th October 1.00-4.00pm. Venue: AUT University.
Cost: $65 per person
Many book artists have considerable experience of calligraphy. Some have very little. This workshop aims to cater to both groups by concentrating on the nature of the calligraphic mark. We will look at the way that marks are not only the product of the intersection between mind and materials, but also are heavily affected by the body. It will show how simple changes in posture and grip can drastically affect the quality of line that is created. Different alphabets will be introduced for different levels of skill, but the intention is to expand the calligraphic skills of each participant, in ways tailored to their prior knowledge. Participants will need to bring some basic calligraphic tools and papers with them, but a variety of unusual tools will also be available to experiment with.
Peter Gilderdale is a former president of New Zealand Calligraphers who has worked in calligraphy for over 30 years. He led AUT's Graphic Design department for half of that time. As a calligrapher he has exhibited in England, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand, and has taught workshops in all of those countries. He is also a historian and has written extensively on the history of calligraphy. Perhaps his best known work is his gothic lettering on the wine labels of Marisco Vineyards' 'Kings Series'.
Please register your interest to attend this workshop with Mary Molloy:  ph. 64 09 298 9288