The first time I took a formal class in traditional bookbinding, it was a class on using letterpress in hand bound books. The teacher, Kathleen Walkup, stood in front of the class with an old, hardcover book in one hand, and a box cutter in the other.
Permission to Rebel
Kathy took the box cutter, opened the book and slit the paste down paper with one purposeful stroke.
The entire room resounded with an audible, and collective, sound of shock. We all looked at her with shear amazement for about 10 seconds, then some people applauded, others nodded in solidarity, and still some laughed nervously while looking at the door as if they were waiting for the "book police" to burst through at any moment.
It was the first time I had seen someone intentionally destroy a book. But the catch was that she wasn't destroying it, she was repurposing it, and eventually asked us to do the same.
The day I decided that I was going to be a book artist, I also decided that I was going to create my own definition of what that meant. I LOVE and ADORE traditional book art and traditional bookbinding techniques, but that's not the kind of book artist I wanted to be.
I spent years looking at book art that felt like magic. After graduating from Mills College with my MFA in Creative Writing and Poetry, I worked for my professor, Julie Chen (www.flyingfishpress.com) as a studio assistant, We spent hours everyday making books. Binding, gluing, folding, sewing, cutting, fusing, and creasing, until there was no more magic.
And before you let this sadden you, I have to tell you that the moment the magic was gone is the exact moment that I found my entry into a world that had otherwise seemed inaccessible. Moving beyond the magic of book art was the way I gave myself permission to enter into that space of creative rebellion. It was the way I allowed myself to love something for exactly what it was and not for what I thought it was.
I had learned all the rules, the traditional way of doing things in book art, and I could now break those rules and do what my creative energy was asking (begging) of me.
My First Act of Rebellion
So after 5 years of being an outsider in the book art world, I stepped into it fully. I embraced my love for it, the awe that I had come to acquire, and found the magic I needed in order to plot my own course. This is how Book-in-A-Day came to be.
This is how I decided that I wanted to be a bookbinding teacher and what my teaching style would look like. I took up the mission to demystify bookbinding and book art for people who may otherwise not have access to this form of art, people who live simply, but with intention like me, and people who want nothing more than to create something that makes them feel purposeful in the world.
It was through this first act of rebellion that I found my voice, my path, MY MAGIC.
Teaching What You Love
Now, I spend my days making handmade journals for fun, for practice, and as prototypes for classes I'm teaching. My latest three journals were made in preparation for the online class Hacking The Color Wheel: Art Journaling for Creative Rebels.
Like all of the classes I teach, this one combines my love of color theory and color psychology with bookbinding and art journaling. I think we should all teach what we love and I found 13 other teachers who agree with me and asked them to join me. You can read about them HERE.
I get inspiration from lots of places, but one of the most magical sources of inspiration is from my students. I love watching how they take my basic tutorials for a book and create sacred vessels for their art, their words, and their dreams. It's one of the best parts of what I do.
Where do you get your inspiration?
My hope is that you will join us if you haven't already and get inspired by the beautiful work of the other students. That you'll come with your personal creative energy and an open heart and see where the lessons take you. Join us and see what the teachers ignite in you, see how your art changes as you begin to think of color in a new way, and ultimately, experience your own creative rebellion.
I'm Kiala, a student of life first and foremost. And I'm also a published poet, book binder, fountain pen collector, Life Alchemist & Intuitive Soul Guide. I make things, paint things, and write things. I love teaching & empowering women to live with intention. Please, grab a cup of your favorite warm drink, a fountain pen, and your favorite journal. Let's connect!
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