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Fall Newsletter 2018

Renny Russell featured binding
and Artist Statement

page 1-2

RMC Workshops and Events

page 3

Book Arts News

page 3
Binding by Renny Russell

Upcoming Workshops and

 Dear Rocky Mountain Chapter Members,
page 4 Autumn greetings!

In this issue we return to featuring both member

Current and Upcoming Events
bindings and an interview with an RMC
and Exhibitions
member. On page one and two you’ll see
page 5
bindings by New Mexico writer/illustrator/
photographer/silversmith/bookbinder Renny
Tour of Your Bindery and Russell, along with his artist statement. He uses
Interview with owner Luann his skills in both silversmithing and bookbinding
Wood, to create captivating bindings with Southwest
page 7 style artistry.

On page 7 you’ll find an interview with Luann

Wood, owner of Your Bindery, a trade finishing bindery in Denver. Your Bindery hosted our last few
workshops, including Ethiopian Binding, taught by Karen Hanmer. We are so grateful to have had that
wonderful space to hold the workshop. She talks about the work they do in a trade bindery and about
the challenges and rewards of owning it.

Also, check out the details on the 2nd triennial competition and exhibition OPEN • SET on page
seven. It is a great opportunity to submit your design binding and participate in an outstanding event.

Bindings and Artists Statement:

Renny Russell

The vintage cast iron tools I acquired spoke

volumes about an era when craft was more
important than profit. Nestled in my chair
between the 100-year old Jacques Board Shear
(with delicate pin-striping!) and the Hickok Job
Backer, I imagine their journey. They have been
wonderful companions and a true inspiration.
Through my studio window to the west the high
Savanna desert stretches for 80 miles to the base
of the San Juan Mts, and behind my house to the
east, the high peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mts.
Beckon. A Bookbinders Nirvana!

As a writer, illustrator, and photographer, I have the good fortune to bind my own work. And as a
silversmith, it was a natural evolution to inlay bindings with silver, copper, Turquoise, Garnets,
Mexican Fire Agate, and Lapis Lazuli. Each binding instructs me. I follow. When finished I’m humbled
by the power of the craft. I forget where I am, who I am, as the days pass dream-like. 

Invariably when a binding releases me, I’m rarely
content with it— even when acknowledging that
perfection is a mirage. I step back, breath, and
wait while the next binding incubates. I build a
box, line it with my hand dyed silk, and place it
on the shelf next to the previous one, and regret
that they gather dust.

I appreciate the opportunity to share my work in
the Guild’s Fall newsletter and hope that in some
small way I can make a contribution to a craft that
we must perpetuate as part of a historical
continuum. And for all of us, it’s an awesome
responsibility to do the best work that we possibly

Happy binding!  

Renny Russell, Publisher, September 2018

Animist Press & Book Bindery, Questa, NM

RMC Workshops and Events

The RMC Denver workshop on Ethiopian

Binding with Karen Hanmer took place at Your
Bindery (see interview with owner Luann on
page 7) on September 8 and 9. Karen was a
prepared and skillful teacher that not only guided
us all to completed bindings without a rush, she
sprinkled us with lots of helpful bookbinding tips
and did it with humor and grace. This structure
features linked sewing and laced on wooden
boards. The leather strip end bands are sewn into
the textblock. Some participants had time to
decorate their bindings with blind stamping -
simply impressing cold metal tools. It’s a strait
forward and primitive technique, but yields
beautiful results.


Denver area RMC members gathered in August to discuss plans for the year ahead and for a work
session so that those who signed up for the Ethiopian Binding workshop could practice the sewing
technique involved. During the planning part, it was decided that in early 2019 we will offer a series of
classes on cover design techniques.
The tentative plan is:
1. Debossing and Embossing on Paper – Kim Hetherington
2. Attached Things - Karen Jones and Richard Pollock-Nelson
3. Inlays and Onlays - Lang Ingalls
Keep a look-out for emails from co-chair Karen Jones regarding details

Book Arts News

“Almost Endless” - Deborah Horner’s time working with Alicia Bailey and others on Alicia’s
installation piece
When I received the group invite Alicia sent out about spending some studio time with her to work on
her new piece, “Almost Endless,” I knew I wanted to be involved, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. On
the afternoon I helped, three others were also helping. I was amazed when I realized the scope of
Alicia’s concept! And by the amount of paper that Alicia had decoratively printed in the past and was
using for this project. After Alicia explained the stitching process we were to use to construct the units,
we got to work. Then time passed quickly as we all engaged in a combination of ‘art talk’ plus some
‘stitch and bitch’ while we worked. A fascinating aspect of “Almost Endless” at that point was that the

ultimate configuration of the piece was still open-ended. I admired Alicia’s willingness to respond to
the constructed materials and installation site at a later time. I couldn’t wait to see “Almost Endless” in
the Spark Gallery exhibition, wondering what its final shape and format would be. How would the
sense of individual pages play out in the final installation format? And I was not disappointed in seeing
the result - wonderful!
Submitted by chapter member, Deborah Horner

Upcoming Workshops and Classes


Alicia Bailey workshop at Arts Students League of Denver
Narrative Treasure Box - November 10, 11
For details:

@ BAL (Book Arts Leagues)
Variable Length Fold Book with Jeff Becker
Sat Nov 3, 1-4pm
BAL @ Ewing Farm in Lafayette.
In this class we'll make two accordion fold books. The first will be a simple fold book with wrap
around cover.With the other variation it's easy to add page after page without changing the dimensions
of the book. The structure is a simple one that's quite adaptable. Easy and elegant.

American Academy of Bookbinding
Peter Geraty
Parchment Over Boards — November 5 - 9
Construction of a historical 16th century style binding in parchment over boards that is usually done as
a “quick” binding, and a modern update that is worked more methodically and is a good basis for fine

The "Other" Tooling Technique — November 12 - 16

Hand-tool books in the least amount of time possible - used for application on fine leather edition work,
and for one-of-a-kind leather bindings.
Visit for more information and to register or call Katy at 970-728-8649

New Mexico
Truth or Consequences
Priscilla Spitler, Hands On Bookbinding, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Upcoming / Fall 2018 Bookbinding Workshops
Classes focus on sound structure and use of materials for bookbinding.
Casebinding Refined in Leather
November 17 & 18 (Saturday & Sunday) $235. includes materials
An introduction to leather work on two rounded case bindings.

More Structure for Artists Books

December 1 & 2 (Saturday & Sunday) $195, materials included.
Two non-adhesive structures ideal for artist books.

Please visit Priscilla’s website for further details on each workshop, and for registration
details. Email questions or other inquiries to:

Santa Fe
Santa Fe Book Arts Group Workshops available for BAG members

Current & Upcoming Events & Exhibitions

Colorado Springs

Binders Keepers: Maker Faire – Binders Keepers will be displaying and demonstrating the craft of
bookbinding. Please come see us! Our next meeting is: November 10th, 2-4pm
A bookbinder's enthusiasts group that meets every other month at Library 21c, new Creative Space.


OPEN • SET 2020

Registration and Details below and on:  
It’s time to register for the exciting 2nd triennial competition and exhibition OPEN • SET featuring the
work of Russell Maret for the SET category! Deadline to enter: May 1, 2019

A Tour of Your Bindery in Denver, CO, and Interview with owner Luann Wood

The Denver area Rocky Mountain Chapter summer workshop on Ethiopian Binding, taught by
Karen Hanmer, landed on my birthday weekend. And I have to say, best birthday ever!

The workshop was held at Your Bindery in Denver, owned by Luann Wood, a new member of
our chapter. Though trade finishing is her business, she is interested in learning hand binding,
and she has attended local RMC gatherings and workshops. Recently, she has hosted
bookbinding workshops in her bindery, the latest being Karen Hanmer’s workshop. The space
was perfect for the event – a big room with spacious high tables, stools and plenty of space to
spread out, a central location with good parking, an eating area and kitchen, and an inspiring
setting amid all the bindery equipment and activity.

Luann and her son, Aaron, gave us a tour. Aaron runs the letterpress/die cutting/laser printing
business in the same building. We learned about what they do at a trade bindery.

There is a machine that picks up gathers, stacks and stitches with wire “staples” and folds into
saddle stitch books; there is a room devoted to case-binding where a gluing machine glues both
sides of end sheets and is placed on the book, then is placed in a heat activated “smasher” that
nips the book and impresses the hinge groove; there is a shrink wrap area; there is a hydraulic
guillotine, and a multiple drill area.

All the machines have names. A German punch machine is “Henry Skids”, and his sister is
“Sadie Skids” (since they both live on skids). A pre-gathered book is put in place; a few sheets
are kicked in at a time and holes are punched, after which it is taken to “Moby” (short for
mobile), where it is hand-hung, crimped, and manually fed a wire coil, one book at a time, from
a big roll of coiled wire, then cut.

A separate room housed the PUR Perfect Binding machine. I learned that there are EVA
(Ethylene-vinyl acetate) or PUR methods to perfect binding. PUR (Polyurethane reactive
adhesive), though requiring a more expensive process and adhesive, is stronger and far more
flexible, and more able to lay flat than EVA perfect bindings. It is a non-reversible adhesive that
is not affected by heat or cold, and thus, the spine cannot be rounded.

Luann’s son, Aaron, runs his business, KSB Die Cutting, LLC, from the same location. He did
hand binding for a while before starting this business. He has huge electric Windmill and Kluge
brand letterpress press machines that can do things like die cutting, hot stamping, printing, and
embossing, and a couple other machines that do creasing, microperfiing, corner cutting, and
index-tab cutting. It is a time-consuming set-up, so he only does big runs. He also has a large
laser cutter that can etch into most surfaces. When I visited, he was about to start a job of
“debossing” on stainless steel coffee cups.

In addition to Luann’s son, her husband, Curt, and sister, Kristen, also work there as production
managers– truly a family affair. The place is clean, bright, and well organized. Miss Kittycat,
their mascot/brand, is playfully featured on their website.

I was curious about how Luann got into the business and what it is like to run a trade finishing
bindery, so I asked her if I could interview her. She agreed, and the interview follows.

Luann interview 10/4/18

P-Thank you, Luann, for agreeing to do this interview.

I love your place. It is so friendly, and such a nice

environment. Thank you for having us there for the
Rocky Mountain Chapter Ethiopian Binding

L-It’s been fun having the different classes there. It’s a

break away from what we do every day. Getting to
know you people has been such a pleasure for myself
and Kristen [Luann’s sister]. We enjoy the friendship
in this group.

P- I like the community of bookbinders. I think they are good folks. It has been fun for me to
be a part of this world.

When I was at your place, I was excited about seeing all the equipment and all of your work. I
feel like I should have gone into something like a trade school, or something that is about
making things, instead of going to college. I feel happy in that kind of world.

L-I agree with you. That’s kind of what happened to me. I was pushed to go into accounting. I
was supposed to get a degree in accounting management at University of Utah and be a CPA.
In taking the classes, it just wasn’t there.

I had a teacher in junior high who was the coordinator for outside print activities, and he
would take a couple of us to local print shops in Salt Lake. I remember the smell of type wash –
to this day I love the smell of type wash.

P-Maybe that junior high visit had something to do with how you got here. But you wouldn’t
have known it at the time.

L-I had no clue. That was back in the late 60’s. We didn’t go into any of the big places. They
were just small family-run shops. I guess at that point it made an impression in some way. Here
I am at a family-run business.

P-Did you go ahead and get an accounting degree?

L-No, I married my high school college sweetheart and thought being a stay-at-home mom was
going to be my future. And being raised Mormon, that is what Mormon girls were supposed to
do. It didn’t work out, so we got divorced. My mom’s family had moved to Colorado, so when I
got divorced I came to Colorado. I truly liked Denver. I got into print. I was in in-plant printing
for a few years, and I was a partner in a union print shop for a couple years. I ended up
staying friends with my ex-business partner when I left the partnership. He sold the print shop 8
to a plumber and the print shop is doing really well now. After he sold the print shop he came
to work for me here in the bindery until he finally retired.

P-How did you get your business started? Did your past work experience prepare you to take
off on your own?

L- I thought I did at the time. I felt that I had enough experience. I did pre-press in print. I ran
the presses. The two shops that I worked in were small enough that I learned all of the different
facets, so I felt confident enough that I could run a bindery. I like running a press to a point, but
I actually really like the assembly of the finished piece.

When I left the partnership, I told my partner that I wouldn’t compete against him in printing. I
like to do binding. He thought that was great.

I was really nervous. We started in 1986, 32 years ago yesterday. Curt [her husband] and I had
a two-car garage, and we decided that we’d finish off our garage and that is where we would
start and see if it would work out. We were in our garage for three years. We bought a collator,
a small cutter, a drill, folder, and worked that for three years and then decided, this is a point
when we are going to move out and pay rent. That was scary. Since then, every few years we
look at the services and what the printers are doing in Denver and add services. It has grown.
We’ve been here [in current space] for 11 years.

I met Curt when I was still in print. He was an auto mechanic. I was a printer. In the 80’s I
ended up working for my grandparents, who sold offset printing equipment. I was an office
manager. When they did installations in small presses I would go out and train the new
equipment owners how to run an AB Dick, or what my grandfather sold, which was called a
Davidson. When we built the garage, I quit my day job working for my grandparents to do the
bindery work full time. He was doing mechanics during the day, and at night he would come in
and help me. It got to the point that we decided that the bindery was strong enough, financially,
to support our family. He quit his day job and I taught him how to do bindery work. He is one
of the production managers. So is Kristen.

P- And your son, Aaron, works there doing letterpress. His letterpress equipment is very
different than what I’ve seen before. His machines are so big and do so many things. What do
you call what he does?

L-He still calls it letterpress. He does everything that can be done on a letterpress. He prints;
he die cuts. He really enjoys what he does too, If he didn’t have to support his family, he would
do some really creative things.

P- Is it difficult to find people to service your equipment?

L- Clint, the man who used to service our equipment, recently passed away. His loss is a great
loss to the Denver area for equipment repair. Curt is really good, being an ex-mechanic. We
had to reach out to a company in California. It’s not as easy as it once was. We used to call
Clint anytime and he was right there, even on weekends. The whole community is experiencing
that great loss. We made friends with a maintenance man in Commerce City and still have a
friendship there, thank goodness. We still have a support system going. It’s not as easy as a
phone call anymore.

P-What are some of the other challenges of running your business?

L-The technology of digital print has really changed our world, though we have been able to
work with the digital printed pieces. That, and the digital print, has also changed the volume of
work for binderies in the Denver area. When our orders used to be many thousands, with
digital, you could do a few hundred and not have to buy all that paper or worry about storage.
It’s more of an on-demand world that has come about. Some of the big companies like
Vistaprint are really big corporations and people can get things really cheap. They’ve cut into
the print market in Denver. Those have been our challenges. Even competing against Mexico
and China. People say they can get things for cheaper overseas.

P-How do you deal with that?

L-We’ve been doing perfect binding for 20 years. We first

started out doing small folding and then bought larger folders
so we could do bigger jobs and a bigger variety of folds. We
bought equipment to do high speed punching for calendars
where before we just had tabletop pieces of equipment. Also,
we’ve purchased machines to do more volume faster instead
of a lot of hand-labor work, so we can compete in the market.
We’ve added the service of the short-run hardbound books.
We’ve been doing that for the last five years. I’m trying to
build that up more. Aaron added the laser die cutter. He did
some invitations the other day for a Children’s Hospital big
event where he lasered their logo, a child with balloons.

Another challenge for us is the work force, as I think it is for

everybody. It’s changed over the years. Most of our people
Aaron next to the laser die cutter are 30 [year-olds] and above. They have more of an attitude
of caring about their product. They are proud of what they
produce. In the last 5-7 years, some of the people we hire are
just there to collect a paycheck. I have a feeling that there isn’t a lot of self-pride in the younger

P- Do most printing places do finishing in their own shops these days?

L-That is another challenge for us. There has been the attitude that the print shop can have the
added value and do more of all of the services for their customers in their location, but my
counter comment to that is that I’ve already invested in the capital equipment; I have the
experience, the expertise.

P-It’s hassle-free.

L-I like that one. It’s hassle-free. We stay in touch. We communicate with the production
managers and the estimators really well to keep them informed as to the status of their job and
let them know if we see any glitches. We’re helping them with their quality control. We would
like them to keep that customer. That helps with them sending work back to us again and again.

P-Quality and kind service is worth so much.

L-That is what we really try to stress. Most of my customers feel that way. That is why we are
here 32 years later, by giving them that attention to their project.

P-What do you love about your job?

L-I like the people contact. Curt and Kristen both get people contact, but I am usually the first
person that is the initial contact. I like that. I like solving the different puzzles for bindery,
coming up with solutions and sharing some of the different solutions for solving a bindery
problem or what might be a problem to save the printer money and time. And I get to meet
people like you.

P-Thank you. And now you’re branching out and having some binding classes in your space.

L-I really like putting the classes in there. Richard [Pollock-Nelson-RMC member] was having
paper cut by my competitor a couple years ago. He came to us because we also fold and they
can’t fold. We cut his paper and automatically folded the signatures for him and that started a
conversation with him. He brought in some of his cigar journals he’s done over the years, and
it just clicked an interest that way. [He is teaching bookbinding classes there now.]

P-That’s great, and this space is fabulous!

L-It is great. Kristen was asking when we are going to have another class. I think they will start
again in January.

P- I like your mascot cat on your website. How did that come about?

L-Oh, Kitty Cat. We didn’t always have the kitty cat as a brand identification. We changed over
from traditional EVA glue to the polyurethane glue [for perfect binding]. We name our
machines, so with the PUR-fect binding machine we just jokingly said that it is purrrfect
binding and decided to call it Miss Kitty. Someone brought in a stuffed animal kitty and we had
that on top, and then several years ago our flyer was designed with a kitty on it. It just clicked,
and since then we have been using Miss Kitty as a brand advertising tool. Now, when people
see advertising that has a kitty, people say they know it is us. We pat ourselves on the back.
Nobody else has got Miss Kitty.

P-It’s playful and fun. Thank you, Luan, for sharing your story with me.

The Rocky Mountain Chapter blogsite, , includes a member page http:// and calendar
calendar.html ). If you would like your contact information included or updated on the member page,, please send information to

If you have a picture of your book-work that you would like us to feature in the next issue, please
send it to by January 15, 2019. Also, please send articles, tips, and book related
news and event information to by January 15, 2019, so they can be added to the
next newsletter that comes out February 1, 2019.

Warm Regards,
Pamela Train Leutz, Communications Coordinator