Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Center For Book Arts

When it came time for me to decide what class to start with first, I couldn’t help but think of when my husband and I planned our wedding.  With help from my sister (check out her craft blog at Gardner’s Basket), we put a lot of time and effort in designing all the details, including creating our own stationery.  We had printed our invitations on regular laser printers, so I thought about being able to learn the skills to make invitations that you find at high-end stationery stores.  After spending quite some time on the internet learning about the different types of stationery, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to learn about letterpress printing.  After another round of searches, I came upon The Center For Book Arts (CBA).

CBA is a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to – you guessed it – the book arts.  The book arts include everything related to bookmaking: bookbinding, letterpress printing, papermaking, and other associated arts such as calligraphy and box making.  CBA is a great facility – it’s an art gallery, bindery, printshop, education facility, and book arts community center.  It’s really a resource for anyone (artist, novice, or admirer) interested in the book arts.  I feel lucky to have it in my neighborhood, and I never even knew it existed before my internet search!

Since my day (and sometimes night and weekend) job is being a lawyer, I needed flexibility on when classes are offered.  Fortunately, CBA has weekday, weeknight, and weekend classes.  The price for classes starts at $150 for a one-day (6-hour) weekend class and go up from there.  Members ($50 for annual membership) receive discounts on classes and events.  All materials are included except for basic hand tools (like scalpels and bone folders).  For convenience, CBA offers a kit containing all the basic bookbinding tools for $38. 

If you think you may be interested in the book arts but don’t want to pay a lot for a class, CBA offers several events for a suggested admission fee of $10 for non-members.  The first is the Book Arts Lounge, which is a hands-on workshop held the first Friday evening of the month and features some of the arts that are taught as full-length classes.  The second event is the Professional Development Workshop, which offers advice for artists on topics such as finances and tax preparation, portfolio consultations, and social networking/advertising.  Other events include Artist Talks, Center Broadsides Reading Series (usually poetry), and last, but certainly not least, the annual Holiday Fair and Party.  I’ve never left the Fair empty-handed and have bought several gifts others have enjoyed. 

The bottom line: CBA has something for everyone.  Even if you don’t want to take a class or attend the special events, I recommend dropping by to take in the current exhibit in the gallery (free admission).  You may change your mind!

The Center For Book Arts
28 West 27th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10001
(212) 481-0295

Pros:  wide variety of classes and events for all levels of interest and availability
Cons:  full-length classes are a little pricey due to the time and equipment required

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Welcome to Patently Crafty!

I grew up in a very “crafty” environment.  From my early tween years, I spent my weekends helping my stepmother with her craft business and attending various craft shows on the Eastern Shore.  During the summers, my sister and I would visit my aunt and uncle in Virginia, where we would inevitably take a trip to the local craft store to pick out a “20 minute project” that ended up taking the whole week to complete.  As I got older, I even ventured to make my own jewelry to sell in my stepmother’s booth at the craft fairs.  But then I went away to college, moved to DC to be a microbiologist at NIH, and attended law school to become a patent attorney.  There was little time for crafting.

As a patent attorney now living in New York, I work with scientists every day to learn about their new pharmaceutical inventions.  But I missed having an outlet for my creativity.  My husband, therefore, encouraged me to take advantage of all the artistic opportunities that the city has to offer.  So, I ventured out into The City That Never Sleeps to rekindle my former crafting life.  

It immediately became clear that the options for arts and crafts classes were limitless, and I started taking a variety of them at different venues.  However, with so many options, it occurred to me that busy people like myself might want to do something creative but would not know what they would enjoy or where to go to learn how to do it.  It would be great to have one source where people could go to read about the options and quickly determine whether it would be something that they would want to try.

This blog will review both the art/craft and the teaching venue to become a source for those wanting to explore a new art or craft hobby.  To review the art/craft, I’ll consider the financial investment (scale of $ - $$$$), the time commitment (scale of T - TTTT), the space requirements (scale of O - OOOO), and any special skills that are required.  Since I will be expanding my craft repertoire, I will be providing most reviews from an introductory perspective.  As for the venue, I’ll describe the atmosphere, instruction method, costs, other interesting points, and a summary of the pros and cons.  Although most of the venues will be in New York City, I will try to take classes in some of the national craft stores. 

I hope you come back to learn about all that the arts and crafts world has to offer and decide to take a class or two.  You’ll be amazed at the satisfaction that you will feel when you complete your first project and the pride that you will have when you receive your first compliment!  If you do try one of the arts or crafts discussed in this blog and/or know of a place in your area that you would recommend for lessons, please feel free to share in the comments.