In the Studio: Creating a Plant Compendium

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Students from the Stamps School of Art and Design course “Florilegium: Creating a Plant Compendium” visited the U-M Library’s Book Arts Studio, wielding local plants they’d collected and a poem by Carl Lavigne.

A page created by letterpress printing. Photo by Alan Piñon.

Lavigne is a writer from Vermont and a recent graduate of the U-M Helen Zell Writers’ Program. His work appears in Guernica, Joyland and The Cincinnati Review.

The Book Arts Studio at the library provides programming and outreach designed to support book arts-related education, scholarship, and creative projects within the U-M Library and the various departments and colleges on campus with interests in the book arts; artists’ books; the production of handcrafted fine art and literary books; and teaching related to the book’s materiality, cultural presence, and historical precedence.

Their goal: to bring the two things together, using the studio’s equipment and tools, in a broadside — a sheet of paper printed on one side only — that interweaves the science of botany, the art of creative writing, and the craft of letterpress printing.

Kyle Clark talks with students in the Book Arts Studio. Photo by Alan Piñon.
Students from the Stamps School of Art and Design course work in the studio. Photo by Alan Piñon.
Photo by Alan Piñon.
Photo by Alan Piñon.

The students worked with Kyle Clark, interim manager of the Book Arts Studio to use the equipment. Clark’s conservation philosophy is rooted in an appreciation for craft and a desire to uphold the integrity of the book, author and the work of the craftsperson while also ensuring the book’s long-term useability by library patrons.

“In addition to conservation,” Clark says, “I have a love for book arts and teaching. Helping others learn the art and crafts associated with the book is something I’m passionate about.”

Kyle Clark talks with students in the Book Arts Studio. Photo by Alan Piñon.

The broadsides the students created became part of their final projects, accordion books of prints, drawings, and paintings from their field observations, photographs, and studio work.

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This article was originally published by the U-M Library.