2020 Summer Institute – CANCELED

ANNOUNCEMENT: As of April 24, 2020, the Summer Institute 2020 program has been canceled. Please contact with any questions and refer to the Wells College Updates on COVID-19 for the Campus Community page for more information.


CANCELED: Week 1 — July 12 – 18, 2020
• Writing & Setting the Times – Tia Blassingame and Tonya Foster
• All New Alphabets – Clare Jones
• Macrostructures of Punctuation: Bookbinding for the Self-publisher – Woody Leslie
• Reduction Introduction: Reduction Woodcuts on the Vandercook Press – Val Lucas
• Poured and Shaped Paper: Large Sheet Formation – Heather Peters
• Books in a Box – Jenna Rodriguez

CANCELED Week 2 — July 19 – 25, 2020
• Typecasting and Monotype Composition – Michael & Winifred Bixler / The Bixler Press & Letterfoundry
• Vegetable Papyrus: making sheets and ornamental sculpted objects
– Tracey Cockrell
• Single Sheet Books: Imposing, Printing, Editioning
– Amanda D’Amico
• Leather Binding Fundamentals
– Karen Hanmer
• Light, Paper, Print: Experimental Photographs from the Natural World
– Nick Marshall
• Vandercook Week: Maintenance and Presswork
– Paul Moxon

Week 1 — July 12 – 18

Writing & Setting the Times
– Tia Blassingame and Tonya Foster
July 12 – 18, 2020 — For those interested in creating and setting their own text, this class combines creative writing and introductory letterpress techniques. After workshopping their writing, students will use excerpts to learn typesetting and become familiar with studio tools, inking, press operation, and presses. Students will refine their writing skills as they gain experience working with antique printing press and metal typefaces. Image-making techniques as methods for creating backgrounds, texture, and accents for the writing will be introduced. The workshop will close with a hybrid creative writing/studio critique that examines the written and printed craftsmanship. Students will leave with an editioned broadside or chapbook, and one copy of work created by their classmates.

A book artist and printmaker exploring the intersection of race, history, and perception, Tia Blassingame often incorporates archival research and her own poetry in her artist’s book projects for nuanced discussions of racism in the United States. She holds a B.A. in Architecture from Princeton University, M.A. in Book Arts from Corcoran College of Art + Design, and M.F.A. in Printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design. Blassingame has been an artist-in-residence at Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, and the International Printing Center New York (IPCNY). Her artist’s books and prints can be found in library and museum collections including Library of Congress, Yale University, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cornell University, Swarthmore College, and State Library of Queensland. Blassingame is an Assistant Professor of Book Arts at Scripps College and serves as the Director of Scripps College Press.

Tonya M. Foster is a poet and essayist who is currently completing Thingification::Mathematics of Chaos, a double-sided book that will be published by Ugly Duckling Presse early in 2021. Her writing and research focus on ideas of place and emplacement, and on intersections between the visual and the written. An Assistant Professor in Writing & Literature and in Graduate Writing at California College of the Arts, she is the author of A Swarm of Bees in High Court (Belladonna*, 2015), the bilingual chapbook La Grammaire des Os (joca seria, 2016), and is a co-editor of Third Mind: Creative Writing through Visual Art.

All New Alphabets – Clare Jones

July 12 – 18, 2020 — Learn historic and contemporary techniques for creating unique alphabet books for children, adults and readers of all kinds. If you like to work with letters and get imaginative, this is the perfect class for you. This course will explore various handmade processes of designing and developing novel letterforms using drawing, painting, stamping, and collage. Students will create new alphabet books for the language of their choice, taking inspiration from alphabet innovators ranging from Dr. Seuss (author of “On Beyond Zebra” in the 20th century) to Sequoyah (developer of the Cherokee syllabary in the 19th century) to Charles Barbier (creator of “night writing,” the precursor to Braille) as well as the fantastical imaginations behind illuminated manuscripts and codices throughout the world. Over five days, we will plan our alphabet books and create the final structure. Participants will leave with their own individual alphabet book as well as a group of alphabet books produced in the workshop.

Clare Jones earned her MFA in Poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and her Graduate Certificate in Book Arts at the University of Iowa Center for the Book, where she studied calligraphy with Cheryl Jacobsen. She has taught book arts workshops in New Zealand and the United States. Her work and teaching has been supported by the Fulbright Program, the College Books Arts Association, and the University of Cambridge. You can find out more about Clare and her work on her website, www.clarejonespoet.com.

Macrostructures of Punctuation: Bookbinding for the Self-publisher – Woody Leslie

July 12 – 18, 2020 —

This class is geared towards writers who want to take production methods into their own hands and learn how to design, print, and bind their own zines, chapbooks, magazines and more. We will begin by learning basic book structures and binding techniques. Then we will shift our attention to learning digital software for book design with a focus on print production for these basic structures. All the while, we will discuss how books can structure our writing, and vice versa, looking at countless examples of experimental writing, visual typography, and verbo-visual texts. Ultimately, each student will produce and bind a small edition of books of their own design.

Woody Leslie is a multidisciplinary artist who constructs large homes for tiny ideas. Equal parts book artist and writer, he writes specifically for the book form. The results are large edition verbo-visual artist’s books, chapbooks, and other publications themed around autobiographical micro-memoir, and visual typographic constructions. Born and raised in Northern Vermont, he now lives on a one acre homestead in Western Kentucky, between the Tennessee and Mississippi rivers, where he tends a large garden, bakes bread, and makes pickles.

Reduction Introduction: Reduction Woodcuts on the Vandercook Press – Val Lucas

July 12 – 18, 2020 — Kicking the Vandercook proof press out of its comfort zone, we will use this versatile machine to print perfect editions of multi-layer reduction woodcuts. The design of this press allows for accurate registration and consistent inking over multiple layers. Students will learn the basics of carving relief prints in wood, tool care, ink mixing, and setting up to print an edition on the Vandercook. We’ll begin with a small 2 or 3 color reduction, then graduate to a larger block for a print with as many layers as desired.

Val Lucas is a working artist running Bowerbox Press, a studio in Monkton, MD, focusing on traditional letterpress printing and woodcut art. After receiving a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Val began collecting and restoring letterpress equipment; her current work involves woodcut processes combined with hand-set metal and wood type to become editions, commercial products, and artist’s books. She teaches at Towson University and offers workshops in printing and bookbinding.

Poured and Shaped Paper: Large Sheet Formation – Heather Peters

July 12 – 18, 2020 — In this experimental papermaking class, students will gain an understanding of sheet formation in various sizes, from large poured sheets, to deckle boxes, and smaller western style papermaking. In the course of the week, we will work with a variety of different fibers and techniques to create unique poured sheets. Additionally, we will focus on paper as a sculptural medium, shaping the wet pulp and sheets to pieces that transcend the idea that paper must be merely flat. Techniques such as pigmenting, layering, and inclusions will also be covered. Students will leave this course with an in-depth understanding of the many applications that handmade paper can contribute to an artmaking practice.

Heather Peters is a multimedia artist and educator. She received her BFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and her MFA from Mills College in Oakland. She consistently exhibits her work in both gallery and collegiate settings, and has given lectures on a variety of artistic and academic pursuits. Her work is an investigation into the nature of paper and book structures, creating works that speak to the history of information and the human touch by incorporating painting, writing, and movable paper and book structures. She currently teaches Book Arts at San Diego State University.

Books in a Box – Jenna Rodriguez

July 12 – 18, 2020 — This course will cover 3 complex bookbinding structures. Each day we will learn a new structure as well as learn how to make a box to house all the structures. We will use a variety of paper ephemera to fill the pages and demo a couple different image-making techniques. By the end of the week you will have a unique set of handmade books housed in a box, and a set of tools to create a variety of artist books in the future. Come with little or no experience!

Jenna Rodriguez is an interdisciplinary artist & farmer on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. She is currently teaching studio art and art history classes on the high school and college level in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She was the 2016 Book Arts and Printmaking Artist-In-Resident at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago. Prior to Lillstreet she was the Victor Hammer Fellow at Wells College in Aurora, New York where she taught undergraduates papermaking, printing, and bookbinding. She built a papermaking studio at Wells with the assistance from The Edward Foundation Grant. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2013 where she received a MFA in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts. Her work lives in library collections all over the United States that includes Michigan State University, Yale University, Art Institute of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon University, and UCLA.

Week 2— July 19 – 25, 2020

Typecasting and Monotype CompositionMichael & Winnie Bixler / The Bixler Press & Letterfoundry

July 19 – 25, 2020 – This course offers the unique opportunity to learn typecasting at one of the last remaining hot metal Monotype shops in North America. Students will use the Monotype keyboard, composition caster and the Monotype Supercaster to cast and take home their own text and/or a case of type, including fonts of ornaments. This course will be of particular value to letterpress printers who want to experience the full gamut of metal type—from keyboarding, to type casting, to pulling proofs. Please visit the Bixlers’ website at http://www.mwbixler.com to see specimens of the many Monotype faces available, or call Michael at 315-685-5181 to discuss questions. Students will live at Wells and commute to & from Skaneateles in Wells vans. Limited to five students; no experience in casting required, but letterpress printing experience preferred. Fee includes taking home up to 50 lbs. of cast type. Additional type charged at a nominal per lb. charge.

Michael Bixler has cast metal type and practiced fine letterpress printing and typography since 1965. He and his wife Winnie Bixler established their press and letterfoundry near Boston in 1973, and since 1983 have resided in Skaneateles, NY, where they continue to print limited edition books and provide cast metal type for numerous private presses and letterpress printers around the world. Michael and Winnie are graduates of Rochester Institute of Technology and teaches letterpress printing at Wells College.

Vegetable Papyrus: making sheets and ornamental sculpted objects – Tracey Cockrell

July 19 – 25, 2020 – Ancient Egyptians used the stem of the papyrus plant to make fiber for use in everyday objects. Wild and specially cultivated papyrus was used to make writing paper. Today, papyrus is a specialty material. This class will provide an in-depth exploration of how to make papyrus by layering and pressing slices of fruits and vegetables. Students will experiment with cross-sections and longitudinal slices to highlight the intricate internal structures and translucent colors of the plant material. The first two days of the workshop will be spent learning how to process, press, dry, and preserve vegetable papyrus while experimenting with a variety of plant materials. The remainder of the workshop will be spent producing vegetable and fruit papyrus sheets and using these sheets to make decorative objects. Each student will build a simple botanical press for preserving and transporting finished papyrus sheets.

Tracey Cockrell is an interdisciplinary artist and horticulturalist. Her sculptures and installations have exhibited nationally, including at Boston Center for the Arts, Institute for Contemporary Art in Portland, Maine, and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Her work has been featured in The Art Section, Sculpture Magazine, ArtNewEngland, the Boston Sunday Globe, WGBH tv’s ‘Greater Boston Arts,’ and Maine Public Radio’s ‘Maine Things Considered.’ She teaches in the MFA program at Maine College of Art and is a former professor and dean at Pacific Northwest College of Art. Find out more about Tracey and her work on her website, traceycockrell.com.

Single Sheet Books: Imposing, Printing, Editioning – Amanda D’Amico

July 19 – 25, 2020 – A simple, single sheet of paper contains infinite possibilities, and in this workshop we will learn a variety of structures created by simply folding and cutting. While some structures mimic and are informed by the traditional codex, others contain the potential to become sculptural objects. Students will discuss the possibilities for content these unique structures contain. We will learn how to create custom impositions with digital and analog resources, and explore a variety of simple print processes including spot color laser printing, monoprinting, and pressure printing. By the end of the workshop students will have a small library of single sheet book models with a variety of enclosures. Additionally, each student will develop and produce a small edition of a printed and folded piece.

Amanda D’Amico is a book artist working under the imprint Tiny Revolutionary Press. She is the Master Printer at the Borowsky Center for Publication Arts, and teaches in the MFA Book Arts and Printmaking program at the University of the Arts, as well as at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. She serves on the boards of the Philadelphia Center for the Book and the Soapbox: Community Print Shop and Zine Library, and is the Vice Chair of Events for the College Book Art Association. Her artists’ books are in many private and Special Collections across the country.

Leather Binding Fundamentals – Karen Hanmer

July 19 – 25, 2020 – The basic structure of a leather binding has changed little over the past 300 years. The book block is sewn onto supports, the spine shaped, the boards laced on. The book is covered in leather that has been precision-pared for protection, flexibility, and a sumptuous presentation. Students will build a solid foundation in fundamental binding skills: marking up, sewing, rounding, backing, spine lining, endbands, paring and covering; and develop the connoisseurship required to evaluate their work for continued independent study. This course is also a valuable refresher for more advanced students who would like feedback on their technique. Students will complete one full leather binding with sewn endbands and blind tooling as time permits. Additional luxury features will be discussed, along with the evolution of the craft from Medieval to contemporary methods. Please note: This is a fast-paced workshop for students who already have some experience with traditional binding.

Karen Hanmer’s artist-made books are physical manifestations of personal essays intertwining history, culture, politics, science and technology. She utilizes both traditional and contemporary book structures, and the work is often playful in content or format. One of only ten graduates of the American Academy of Bookbinding’s Fine Binding program, Hanmer has studied with many notable fine binders. She holds a degree in Economics from Northwestern University. Hanmer exhibits widely, and her work is included in collections ranging from Tate Britain and the Library of Congress to UCLA and Graceland. An acknowledged leader in the book arts community, she served on the editorial board of The Bonefolder, the peer-reviewed online book arts journal, and is a reviewer for the Guild of Book Workers Journal. Hanmer curated Marking Time, a triennial exhibition sponsored by the Guild of Book Workers. She offers workshops and private instruction to working practitioners and dedicated hobbyists, focusing on a solid foundation in traditional binding skills.

Light, Paper, Print: Experimental Photographs from the Natural World – Nick Marshall

July 19 – 25, 2020 – Since the early nineteenth century, people have been experimenting with capturing images on paper coated with light-sensitive emulsions. In this workshop, participants will explore a variety of methods for creating experimental photograms in and out of the darkroom with the use of expired gelatin silver paper. Through the use of both analog and digital techniques, we will examine the physical and chemical properties of these emulsion based papers to create unique prints that utilize light as a means of recording, mark making, and abstraction. There will be an emphasis on lumen printing, which was developed in the 19th century as a means to document the natural world. Participants will display a selection of the work they’ve made in a pop-up exhibition at the end of the workshop and take home at least 10 prints. This is an introductory level course. The basics of photo chemistry and photographic principles will be covered. No photography or darkroom experience necessary. Supplies will be provided but If you have old gelatin silver paper laying around your house or studio please feel free to bring it. The older the better!

Nick Marshall is a Rochester, New York based artist. His work focuses on the ways in which we experience nature and images through objects and materials. Recent exhibitions featuring his work include trans_late at Plug Projects in Kansas City, Synthesizing Nature at View Art Center in Old Forge, A Matter of Memory at the George Eastman Museum, and Another Day in Paradise at Gravy Studio in Philadelphia. In 2016, he published his first book, “escapes” with VSW Press. He has taught photography courses at Alfred University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Visual Studies Workshop. Marshall has a BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design and a MFA from RIT.

Vandercook Week: Maintenance and Presswork – Paul Moxon

July 19 – 25, 2020 –  Participants will learn all the points of maintenance, cleaning, and lubrication on the presses in the Wells studio and make needed repairs. Next, to become better at troubleshooting we will review the minutiae of make-ready, cylinder packing, imposition, lockup, and roller adjustment of form rollers to obtain proper inking and impression. Then participants will have the opportunity to work on individual projects suitable for the remaining time. Intermittently, we will regroup for demos when issues on press on present a teachable moment. Bravely bring examples of your worst printing to be critiqued in class as well as any photopolymer or photoengraving plates or paper you would like to try; otherwise, all materials will be provided. All levels welcomed.

Paul Moxon is a studio letterpress printer and independent educator (MFA, MLIS Alabama). He has lectured at over sixty book arts centers and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of Vandercook Presses: Maintenance, History and Resources (now in its third edition) and moderates the website vandercookpress.info. Paul is the website editor for the American Printing History Association and has held fellowships at Rare Book School and the Newberry Library. His letterpress work can be found in several public collections and at fameorshame.com.