Arkansas art educators learned the fine skills of book making during an intensive artWAYS summer workshop at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Peter Scheidt, assistant professor of woodworking and furniture design, taught the workshop on basic book making July 11-15 at the UA Little Rock Windgate Center of Art and Design.
“I really enjoy teaching other art educators,” Scheidt said. “It’s a fun, low-key atmosphere but I’m still always amazed at the level of production and amount of energy they approach every day with. Everybody created a lot of work and was also able to connect with the other participants to share stories and strategies from their own classrooms. I personally find it valuable to connect with educators from all over the county and state (even Texas this time!) and learn about the programs that are feeding into UA Little Rock.”
The artWAYS workshops, which are funded by a generous grant from the Windgate Foundation, provides a weeklong immersive visual arts summer program for art educators and high school students. All housing, meals, and art materials are free. At the end of the workshop, educators typically receive 30 hours of professional development and a certificate of completion.
The participants included Maribeth Anders of Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School, Heather Beckham of Pinnacle View Middle School, Delexious Curtis of Sylvan Hills Junior High School, Sarah Higgins of Episocopal Collegiate Middle School, Paola Lozano Ruiz of Pinnacle View Middle School, Katherine Purcell of Bryant High School, Catherine Rodgers of Catherine Rodgers Contemporary Art, Chris Swaty of Joe T. Robinson High School, Jessica Taverna of Little Rock Central High School, Matt TerAvest of Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School, Gina Utley of Atlanta High School, Jared Welborn of Little Rock Southwest High School, and Sean Williams of Maumelle Charter High School.
The goal of the summer program is for art educators to take the skills they learned with art professors at UA Little Rock and implement them back into their own classrooms. Several of the teachers are also participating in the Thea Foundation’s Arts Reconstruction program, which provides funding for teachers to purchase equipment and supplies needed to add bookbinding to their classrooms and programs during the next school year.
“I hope participants learned some skills to take back to their own classrooms, but I also hope the class was personally enriching for the participants,” Scheidt said. “As a teacher it’s a super valuable experience to return to a student mindset and recharge creatively, especially during the summer!”
During the weeklong program, participants learned six different types of handmade book structures and then used those skills to create their own versions and combinations. They learned how to construct pamphlets, accordion or folding books, Japanese stab stitch bindings, long stitch binding, coptic binding, and built slip covers for books.
“Bookmaking is a really scalable and approachable way to get into craft,” Scheidt said. “It can be approached from lots of different angles with all sorts of tools and materials. Books are such a tactile object they offer all sorts of opportunities for sculptural approaches, not to mention adding content. There’s definitely the ‘right way’ to build a book, but there doesn’t have to be a ‘wrong way.’”