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Posts tagged ‘erin zamrzla’

100 years is a long time

Last week, on December 12, 2012, Laura Sorvetti and I went to San Francisco to join the Book Club of California in celebrating 100 years. Since its founding in 1912 the Book Club of California (BCC) has printed fine editions focusing on California history and literature. It was started by a group of book collectors, sellers, scholars, writers, printers and entrepreneurs. It was a fun field trip!

Laura recently joined The Book Club of California; first as a member, then as a director on the board. She said that for a long time she had admired the organization from afar, but then after working with Catherine Trujillo on the Pressing Forward exhibit last spring, she was ready to jump right in and get involved. Laura said, “The first time I visited the club rooms on Sutter Street and met many of the gracious and passionate members, I couldn’t express how excited I was: “I found printing-book people like me!”"

The celebration was held in the Julia Morgan Ballroom at the Merchants Exchange Building. Many were dressed in period garb. I loved looking out at the sea of hats and imagining that I was visiting another era, an era when they served poached celery as an appetizer…

Photo of BCC Centennial  Menu



















Here’s more from Laura:

Any Californian who makes it to their 100th birthday is in pretty good shape. The Book Club, on their hundredth-year birthday, is still remarkably young, and it is the members who maintain that youthful and passionate character. Even at the centennial luncheon, a time for reflection and maybe a pat on the back for making it this far, the invited speakers were already planning for the next hundred years. While they acknowledged the importance of continuing the traditions of The Book Club, they are considering how we can gracefully move into the 21st century future, participating in the continued history of the book & fine printing in California. Smart move, sustainably speaking. I am looking forward to contributing to the next century’s work.

And just think: in another hundred years they’ll be telling the story of our historic luncheon.

As part of the centennial celebration, Kennedy Library hosted an exhibit about the BCC called Pressing Forward. You can learn more about opening reception — Tom Killion talking about his woodcut process, Erin Zamrzla showing us how to make handmade books — in an earlier post.

It’s a hit! Pressing Forward exhibit opens

At the outset of planning an event it sometimes feels the day will never come. When it does, it is almost unbelievable. It’s happening! It’s all coming together! And it did, on April 5, when months of collaborative hard work between Special Collections and University Archives with the Book Club of California resulted in a bustling opening celebration for Pressing Forward: The Book Club of California at 100. Highlights included a talk by woodcut artist Tom Killion, the announcement of Book Collection Competition winners and a Science Cafe centered around bookbinding.

You can see the exhibit on the 2nd floor in the Learning Commons, which also includes photographs of members with their personal libraries. Visit our exhibit pages if you’d like to learn more.

BCC Centennial Keepsake by Bryn HobsonCollaborators collaborating
Kennedy Library’s Catherine Trujillo and Peter Runge, along with a group of student collaborators, made it happen. Art and Design student Bryn Hobson had the honor of making the Centennial Keepsake for the event (left). His installation “Flight,” is a magical part of the exhibit that has floating pages ascending to the sky. See more photos of his work at the exhibit on

Whenever I spoke to Cate or Peter about the exhibit, I sensed it was a labor of love. At different points they headed to BCC’s hub in San Francisco to get to better know the people and the organization (and possibly the coolest headquarters for bibliophiles ever), worked with local collectors on documenting their libraries and launched a Book Collection Competition. Phew!

Talk by woodcut artist Tom Killion

Tom Killion, whose work has been featured in the BCC gallery among many others, was the featured speaker. He talked us through the stories of his woodblock prints: the inspiration he finds outside in Northern California, who he’s hiking with when he stops to make sketches that inform his woodblocks and how his artistic process works. Here is an excerpt from his talk that focuses on the how-to of Japanese woodblock art:

Winners of the Book Collection Competition

The opening celebration also recognized the winners of the first annual Book Collection Competition! Collected themes included illustrated horse novels of the 1970s and literature of the American West.

Stitched! Science Cafe

Earlier in the day, bookbinder and author of At Home with Handmade Books, Erin Zamrzla, drew a crowd of eager crafters who she led in a hands-on bookbinding experiment. She crafted individual packets of materials for everyone that included a how-to guide (which doubled as a folded envelope), needle, thread and recycled materials that became pages of a book. There was spontaneous applause when everyone realized she had handmade one for each of them!

Here’s a short video overview of Stitched!

See photos from the opening celebration on Flickr.
See photos of Stitched! Science Cafe on Flickr.

More about Tom Killion.
More about Erin Zamrzla.

– Karen Lauritsen

Stitched! Science Cafe with Erin Zamrzla

You can make this! Our next Science Cafe is offered in conjunction with the spring exhibit Pressing Forward: The Book Club of California at 100, and is a Japanese bookbinding workshop with Erin Zamrzla. Erin is a designer who began binding books over ten years ago and since then has developed her skills working with a variety of bindings and materials, creating hundreds of books. Erin’s work has been featured in ReadyMade magazine,, Design*Sponge,,, and Her first instructional book on Japanese bookbinding, At Home with Handmade Books, was published in 2011.

Erin and I met when we both lived in Santa Monica. I had recently made good use of for my wedding and realized that I could also use it to find artists in the area who may be interested in teaching art and design. I found her work on Etsy and was so excited when she agreed to teach courses (at UCLA Extension, where I worked at the time). Now she’s coming to Science Cafe!

UPDATE: Watch the highlight video from Stitched! See photos from Stitched!


Where did your interest in handmade books begin?
I first learned bookbinding as part of my undergraduate graphic design studies. When I later taught the same bookbinding course as a graduate student, I created sample projects to show in class. By the end of the semester I had more hand-bound books than I knew what to do with. I listed them on Etsy and as each book sold, I made another one. This started everything. Although, my Mom recently discovered a miniature book that I made as a child. It is bound with yarn and illustrated with markers. So, perhaps it all really started in grade school!

Photo of Japanese stab bookbinding by Erin ZamrzlaWhere and who do you look to for inspiration?
Much of my inspiration arises from materials. I love searching through vintage ephemera and every kind of paper, including that which is destined for the recycle bin. The materials themselves often inspire a new project. I also find inspiration through other forms of art and design, particularly graphic design, package design and interior design. I am always inspired by things that are well designed, whether by nature or by humans.

Are there any popular misconceptions about bookbinding?
Upon mention of ‘bookbinding’ people often think of standard case bound, or hard cover, books. Most are unaware of the huge variety of other techniques and materials used to bind books, some of which have been used for centuries.

Photo of a handmade accordian bookYour husband is also an artist and designer. Do the two of you ever collaborate on projects and if so, what do each of you contribute?
Although we share a studio, we tend to work on our own projects. The exception is my most recent published book, in which Ben and I equally shared the role of photographer. For day-to-day projects, we often ask one another for an opinion on whatever we happen to be working on at the time. Ben is my tech-guy and we joke that I’m in charge of the purchasing department.

You’re working on a second book. Can you tell us about it?
This second book continues and expands on the projects introduced in “At Home with Handmade Books”. It is an instructional book, and will include photos of each project as well as detailed instructions for creating the books yourself. The projects focus on traditional Japanese bindings created with interesting and/or repurposed materials. In many ways this book is similar to the first, but introduces twenty to thirty completely new projects.

Contents of envelopes in bookbinding kitWe’re excited to welcome you as our Science Cafe guest in April. What do you have planned?
I am excited as well! I plan to teach a simple traditional Japanese stab binding. Anyone can learn! I plan to bring a mixture of recycled papers and all of the tools and materials needed for each person to create their own small hand-bound book.

<< Here are our materials for Science Cafe!


Erin will be at Kennedy Library on April 5 from 11am – 12:30pm. Find event info on Science Cafe. Return that evening for the Pressing Forward opening reception and talk with woodcut artist Tom Killion from 5-7pm.

See you there!

Photo of envelopes of bookbinding kit