A Letter to Our Students
Past, Present, and Future
It seems I’m always pondering about bookbinding in one aspect or another. Over the years it has pleased me enormously to discover how many other people also think about bookbinding—perhaps not as obsessively as I do—but at least some of the time. It would be lonely without kindred spirits.
When I started Cat Tail Run Hand Bookbinding in 1991, I little imagined that a life-long journey had begun. Starting first as only a bookbindery, Cat Tail Run quickly became a place where interested folk would come seeking instruction in the craft. Over time, what began as simple one-on-one instruction has grown into the entity we call The School for Bookbinding Arts, offering well over a dozen workshops each year in our on-site instructional facilities.
The concept behind our workshops is one that I developed as a result of my own experiences during my bookbinding apprenticeship and internships. I came to believe that bookbinding could be effectively taught through short, focused courses within a carefully designed curriculum. In this way, people who were interested in the craft but who were unable to apprentice full-time could still gain competence and satisfaction in bookbinding by taking classes and then devoting regular periods of time to practicing what they learned. I have been gratified over the years to see my instincts in this were on target as I have watched our students learn and enjoy bookbinding, with quite a few working in the field of book repair and some going on to institutional conservation training.
The School for Bookbinding Arts is a place where those of us with a love of the book can continue the traditions of a craft that has been practiced continuously for hundreds of years and shows no sign of becoming obsolete. If you’ve never studied with us, please consider taking some of our workshops. I know your hands will enjoy the feel of the craft, and your brain will be challenged as you come to understand how something as commonplace as a book is at the same time one of mankind’s most elegant, delightfully complex, and versatile inventions. Most of all, we will enjoy having you with us on our journey—we still don’t know where it’s going, but we can absolutely say there appears to be no end in sight.
Jill Deiss, Bookbinder