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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, Coudal.com, Design*Sponge, BoingBoing.net, Craftzine.com, Makezine.com and NOTCOT.org. 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 Etsy.com 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!

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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!

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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