Earlier this summer, I made the drive to the University of Arizona Special Collections Library to participate in a PaperWorks meeting. PaperWorks is a fantastic group of over 200 bookmakers/papermakers (mostly from Tucson, but we have members in Phoenix, Prescott, and even out-of-state) of which I’ve been a member for several years. It’s worth the trip to Tucson every month to attend the meeting. There are always great presentations and interesting people to meet and with whom to exchange ideas. Many members are accomplished in the paper arts, others are beginners.

We had a meeting at Sarnoff (local Tucson art store) early in the summer where members participated in a collage workshop. Last month, the meeting was at the Special Collections Library at the University of Arizona, led by Roger Meyers, Associate Librarian and Archivist. He had the meeting room set up with an array of artist-made books. A group of PaperWorks members had a heavenly time moving around the room examining the books. It takes a bookmaker to know a bookmaker–the excitement over seeing how a book is constructed, having a close look at beautiful artwork, feeling the hand-made paper, reading the text and noting typefaces, was palpable. The room buzzed with exclamations. Members moved back and forth to examine what others had found interesting. Roger is a font of information, answering questions, clearly delighted with our enthusiasm and also clearly loving his job.

Anyone can go to the Special Collections Library, just adjacent to the main library on the U of A campus, and get help from the librarians in finding amazing books to look at. You don’t have to be a student. There’s no charge. There are always interesting displays in the lobby area to get you started. If you go in with the vague request of wanting to look at some unique books made by artists, they’ll be happy to oblige you.

Here are examples of a few of the books we examined:

Pop-up alphabet cover artist-made book

The cover of a pop-up alphabet book by Ronald King, Circle Press

Pop-up A, from Ronald King pop-up alphabet book

The pop-up letter A, with text


Pop-up letter B, from Ronald King pop-up alphabet book

Here's the letter B, with accompanying text

This pop-up alphabet book is a very cleverly designed accordion book. It took me awhile, opening it, closing it, looking at it from different directions to figure out how the artist made it work.


Alliterative ABC cover, book by Michael Kurk, Double Elephant Press

The cover of another accordion style alphabet book, this one by Michael Kurk, Double Elephant Press


An Alliterative ABECDARIUM, Michael Kurk, Double Elephant Press

An Alliterative ABECDARIUM, Michael Kurk, Double Elephant Press, inside page. I particularly love the etching of the animals


An Alliterative ABECDARIUM, Michael Kurk, Double Elephant Press, spread open

An Alliterative ABECDARIUM, spread open, with a few other books in the foreground and background

This book was particularly fascinating to me. In addition to the wonderful illustrations and fanciful text, the accordion spread had magnets, allowing the viewer to open and close each section or spread the whole thing out. It came with a box holder which is also assembled using magnets.


Laura Wait–T-crossed; cover of the book

The cover of a book by Laura Wait, entitled T-Crossed


Laura Wait–T-crossed, inside spread

I love the design of this book. Beautiful hand-made paper, too.


Wherever you live, if you poke around a bit, you’ll likely find a resource for artist-made books at your local university or college or at larger city libraries.

And if you’re in the Tucson area, visitors are welcome at the PaperWorks meetings. Attending a meeting is a great introduction to the world of the artist-made book. Check out the website for details.