Behind the scenes of the linenlaid&felt internship

My name is Shannon Rutherford and I am excited to be a guest writer today on the linenlaid&felt blog. I’m an artist from Arizona and moved to Tennessee in March to pursue my passion for the arts. I graduated with my BFA in Studio Arts from Santa Fe University of Art and Design in Santa Fe, New Mexico. My work combines abstract design and bold colors to form visual puzzles of interlocking shapes and lines. I often incorporate traditional hand-drawing with collage, and enjoy experimenting with digital vector art as well.

bookbinding internship

For the past month I’ve had the opportunity to work with Katie as her bookbinding intern. It has been a great experience getting to know Katie and to see her artistic process. I’d like to share what I have learned and the books I have created so far. In total, I have made 12 books by hand and I’m excited to show you the results.

My first introduction to bookbinding came from taking Katie’s workshop at the Nashville Public Library. I met some lovely people in this workshop and enjoyed seeing each person’s creativity shine through in their books. It was a great experience helping Katie setup for this workshop and to see behind the scenes of how she prepares for her classes. Katie’s teaching style made it easy and comfortable to learn at your own pace and it was a fun way to kick off this internship.

The book we made in this workshop features the French Link Stitch along the book’s spine. Inside, I used pages of old sheet music, fashion illustrations, and parts of old maps.

French Link Stitch

Next, I constructed three smaller books made from folded papers — with minimal cutting and gluing of the materials. This mini accordion book opens up and can be hung as a lovely decoration. Not only are they cute to look at but they were also so much fun to make!

We also made this mini book that opens up and can be displayed during the holidays as a colorful paper ornament. I helped Katie by following her instructions step-by-step and giving her feedback. This was to help test a prototype of a new bookbinding kit that Katie has in the works.

handmade book ornaments

The next book I crafted was a pop-up book with hard covers. I got to experiment with different cuts in the paper to create interesting shapes. I also love this Japanese cherry blossom paper. One of my favorite parts before beginning a new book is picking from Katie’s paper collection. Her studio is filled with a wide variety of colorful papers to choose from. I particularly love her hand-made papers which are vibrant in color and rougher in texture. She also has decorative papers with patterns and bold designs. It definitely makes deciding on which paper to use that much harder because they’re all so great!

pop-up book

We then made a beautiful leather-bound journal using the Italian Long Stitch binding that can be seen along the spine of the book.

This next book has been my favorite by far and it is because of the Secret Belgian Binding style. This book looks like a typical hardcover book until you open it. The front cover actually swivels backward until the front and back cover are touching. It makes for a sturdy and functional book with a flat surface perfect for drawing or writing.

Secret Belgian Binding

I also learned how to make small and large pamphlet books, which are handy. They also allow the artist to use the same stitch in a variety of ways.

hand-bound pamphlet

Most recently I learned four types of Japanese stab binding. We used the hemp leaf, noble, tortoise shell, and 4-hole binding styles to make these small books. All of these bindings are versatile and can be adapted to fit both small and large book formats.

 from left to right: hemp leaf binding, noble binding, tortoise shell binding, 4-hole binding

from left to right: hemp leaf binding, noble binding, tortoise shell binding, 4-hole binding

So there you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing what the internship is yielding so far. Not only am I getting a behind-the-scenes look at Katie’s process, I’m also gaining valuable knowledge about what it takes to be a professional artist. Katie has been a great resource. It’s inspiring to see her passion for her craft. She has opened my eyes to the wonderful world of bookbinding and I can’t wait to see what we’ll create next!

To learn more about Shannon’s work, please visit her website, online shop, or Instagram.