UA Book Arts students win “Distinguished Book Award” at the MBS Competition


Tuscaloosa, Alabama—Master of Fine Arts students Alana Baldwin and Caroline Anderson at the School of Library and Information Studies won the Distinguished Book Award from the Miniature Book Society (MBS) in August. MBS is a juried competition for writers, illustrators, editors and publishers of miniature books.

Anderson’s “Song of the Valkyrie” and Baldwin’s “Less than Human” were two of the three miniature books chosen this year.

The University Libraries and the Alabama Center for the Book sponsored these students and encouraged them to submit their work in the competition.

Participants created a bound book that was no greater than 3”x 3”, and designed it so that it told the story in a convincing way.

Steve Miller, professor and MFA coordinator, worked extensively with Anderson and Baldwin on their project.

“We teach our students how to make technically excellent and conceptually solid books,” said Miller

Book artists have been making traditional miniature books for centuries and Miller said, his students have put a modern twist on a historic tradition.

Tony Firman, the MBS Competition Chair, was greatly impressed with the level of work the two graduate students submitted in order to compete with seasoned book artists and win the Distinguished Book Award.

“When you consider that these awards generally go to well established book binders for fancy leather bindings, you realize that your students are truly exceptional,” said Firman.

Books that are chosen will be included in the MBS traveling miniature book show that will be exhibited across the nation. In May, the University Libraries sponsored the MBS traveling exhibition and the Kate W. Ragsdale Memorial Miniature Book Collection at the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library.

The MBS is a national non-profit organization that promotes all aspects of the book arts with a special emphasis in miniature books.

Contact: Julessa Oglen, Office Associate II, 205/348-4610,
Source: Steve Miller, professor and MFA coordinator, 205/348-1525

In Memoriam: Glenn House Sr.

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On September 14, 2014 The University of Alabama and its Book Arts Program lost a great friend and colleague, Glenn House, Sr. Many of you knew Glenn, or may recognize him from his discovery and popularization of Alabama Kozo Asian-style paper. In 1974 Glenn began teaching letterpress printing classes in the School of Library & Information Studies at UA. He retired as a SLIS professor in 1991 Those first classes eventually developed into the MFA in the Book Arts Program that flourishes to this day. Glenn set up the Lost Arch Papermill, as part of the Book Arts Program, and in retirement he came back to us every year to spin yarns about his beloved Kozo, and tales of his hometown, Gordo, Alabama. He and his wife Kathy Fetters set up two type shops and an art gallery in that small town, and became mentors for generations of Book Arts students who wanted to print their thesis work in Gordo. Glenn was a charismatic artist in letterpress, clay and painting. He knew no strangers, and saw as a significant part of his mission to help others learn to make books. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Photo courtesy of Kathy Fetters

Book Artist Sarah Bryant Led a Printing Workshop

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MFA students received a sneak peek of what’s in store for the semester

Tuscaloosa, Alabama—The School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama recently held a pressure printing work shop for incoming and returning students in the MFA Book Arts program to kick off the new semester. The two and a half day workshop was held August 26-28 and was led by MFA alumna, Sarah Bryant.

Bryant’s work has been featured in collections and exhibitions in universities and museums across the U.S. and abroad, including Harvard, Yale, and the King St. Stephen University museum in Hungary.

The students in the graduate program were introduced to a type of printing called pressure printing. Pressure printing allows students to use objects such as, leaves, tape and fabric to create patterns on paper that can be used as a backdrop. At the end of the workshop, the prints the students created were bound together and each person received a copy of the finished work.

“Pressure printing is a more experimental letterpress technique where instead of using the press the way it is made to be used, we’re kind of playing around with more variable impression and pressure to create a more painterly surface with more tones,” said Bryant.

“It is kind of unusual for people who are used to printing one color at a time. It gives us a little bit more spontaneity and freedom sometimes,” she said.

Students were given the freedom to use anything that inspired them and some even used newsprint and rubber gloves to create their prints during the workshop.

“I like pressure printing when I can use it in a really deliberate way. I think it can be a texture or it can be used in combination with a wood cut or a polymer plate. I like it as an ingredient, so it is nice to play around to see what is possible,” Bryant said.

Bryant is very comfortable using uncommon objects to create pieces and encouraged the students to think outside the box.

Becky Beamer, a returning student, said, “I would like to try pressure printing in my own work; I think it is interesting to selectively use pattern material in whatever you’re printing and use negative space in an interesting way.”

Steve Miller, professor and MFA coordinator, was greatly impressed with the workshop.

“It was a robust way to start the semester,” he said. “It had the unintended consequence of all of our students mixing it up. It was great for the program.”

“Sarah is one of our superstar graduates in the MFA program that worked really hard and has intuitively followed opportunities and created a tremendously successful reputation in life,” said Miller.

She was awarded the Artist Book Prize by the Minnesota Center for Book Arts in 2011 for her book entitled, “Biography.” The Artist Book Prize is considered the highest prize awarded in the book arts field. Bryant graduated from UA in 2008 with a MFA in the Book Arts program and taught as an instructor at UA in 2007 and 2011.

The MFA program has several more workshops planned for the semester, which include Cuban artists Alejandro Sainz and Omar Sanchez in September and October.

Contact: Julessa Oglen

Phone: 205-348-4610

New Havana book collaboration

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Our team of five graduate students plus Book Arts faculty in a working conversation with artist Alejandro Sainz during our collaborative book project at the Taller Experimental de Grafica, Havana, Cuba. Feb 11, 2014

Alabama Kozo papermaking

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Part 1, scraping of the paper mulberry bark before drying. Part two will be making the amazing Alabama Kozo sheets. Feb 21, 2014.

Visiting Artists

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April 17 and April 18, 2014, visits, to the program by Katie Baldwin (above, 4th from left) showing her print work, and Suzanne Sawyer of Atlanta Print Alliance demosntrating sculptural techniques in hand papermaking. Two tremendous talents.