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
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