Laser Cutting in Massachusetts

As mentioned in a previous post, I collaborated with FreeFall Laser located in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts for the cover page of Surveillance—my tunnel book project. 

Sarah Pike of FreeFall Laser was great to work with and efficient as she typically focuses on each specific customer with a personalized service. 

Our initial communication started with a brief consultation by email describing the project from which Sarah asked for samples of the page with printed images on the exact substrate chosen for material testing.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Inside my artists’ book  Surveillance —a mock-up.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Inside my artists’ book Surveillance—a mock-up.

My images for this project were reproduced on Moab Entrada Rag Bright paper. This is a double-sided archival acid and lignin-free, 100% cotton fine art paper. My question was “would this fibrous paper be a problem for the CO2 laser cutter”?

Double sided images need to be precisely registered for the desired effect to be successful. After figuring out the perfect registration, I sent a package with ten double-sided printed copies, hoping no difficulties would arise during the laser-cutting process.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Consulting with Sarah Pike for the cover of  Surveillance  FreeFall Laser in Massachusetts.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Consulting with Sarah Pike for the cover of Surveillance FreeFall Laser in Massachusetts.

When the work for Surveillance was completed, I promptly decided that picking up the work directly from the studio would naturally give me the unique chance to socially meet with Sarah in person. The plan for the first phase of my journey was to visit FreeFall Laser after I crossed back into the US following my two month stay in Canada. 

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Sarah Pike showing me around FreeFall Laser.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Sarah Pike showing me around FreeFall Laser.

Sarah’s approach combines artistic experimentation with technological experience to create exceptional work for fine artists, designers, conservators, bookbinders, artisans, woodworkers, and museums. It was a tremendous experience to see Sarah’s studio and her state-of-the-art CO2 laser cutter.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Sarah’s studio and her state-of-the-art CO2 laser cutter.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Sarah’s studio and her state-of-the-art CO2 laser cutter.

I was so excited when I picked up my precision cut covers that we discussed the distinct possibility of laser-cutting the binding for my creative project. I could not fathom cutting the exact holes for the electronics and faux camera another 8 times through binders board. What a life saver!

Visiting FreeFall Laser provided me the opportunity to observe some of Sarah’s own art work—what a treat! A lot of her art work is laser cut marquetry in wood veneer. Sarah also designed a beautiful sample book to demonstrate her CO2 laser cutter capabilities.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Sarah’s sample book demonstrating the capabilities of her state-of-the-art CO2 laser cutter.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Sarah’s sample book demonstrating the capabilities of her state-of-the-art CO2 laser cutter.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Sarah’s art work using laser cut marquetry in wood veneer.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Sarah’s art work using laser cut marquetry in wood veneer.

On my initial contact with Sarah, with due diligence, I wanted to view some samples of artists’ books or bindings created with the help of FreeFall Laser. 

© 2019 Sarah Pike. Laser cutting of the   The Radiant Republic   by  Sarah Bryant  at FreeFall Laser.

© 2019 Sarah Pike. Laser cutting of the The Radiant Republic by Sarah Bryant at FreeFall Laser.

© 2019 Sarah Pike. Laser cutting of the   The Radiant Republic   by  Sarah Bryant  at FreeFall Laser.

© 2019 Sarah Pike. Laser cutting of the The Radiant Republic by Sarah Bryant at FreeFall Laser.

© 2019 Sarah Bryant.   The Radiant Republic   by  Sarah Bryant , built entirely out of language found in Plato’s Republic and Le Corbusier’s The Radiant City.

© 2019 Sarah Bryant. The Radiant Republic by Sarah Bryant, built entirely out of language found in Plato’s Republic and Le Corbusier’s The Radiant City.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux.   Reason Belief Truth   by  Thomas Parker Williams , binding, French split goat skin, laser-cut binder's boards; edition of 12.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Reason Belief Truth by Thomas Parker Williams, binding, French split goat skin, laser-cut binder's boards; edition of 12.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux.   Reason Belief Truth   by  Thomas Parker Williams ; laser cut painted with ink and watercolor; letterpress printing (hand-set type, polymer plates) by Mary Agnes Williams; marbled paper.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Reason Belief Truth by Thomas Parker Williams; laser cut painted with ink and watercolor; letterpress printing (hand-set type, polymer plates) by Mary Agnes Williams; marbled paper.

Wynn Bullock images © 2019 Bullock Family Photography LLC. All rights reserved .  Wynn Bullock:  Relativity: Wynn Bullock and Albert Einstein , edition of 15; published by 21st Editions; binding by Peter Geraty and Julia Rabin with production assistance by Tim Faner.

Wynn Bullock images © 2019 Bullock Family Photography LLC. All rights reserved. Wynn Bullock: Relativity: Wynn Bullock and Albert Einstein, edition of 15; published by 21st Editions; binding by Peter Geraty and Julia Rabin with production assistance by Tim Faner.

Wynn Bullock images © 2019 Bullock Family Photography LLC. All rights reserved. Wynn Bullock:   Relativity  , 9 bound and 9 loose, platinum estate prints, 1 signed vintage silver print.

Wynn Bullock images © 2019 Bullock Family Photography LLC. All rights reserved. Wynn Bullock: Relativity, 9 bound and 9 loose, platinum estate prints, 1 signed vintage silver print.

I was content to get back to work, after my informative conversation with Sarah. Next phase—prepare the boards by covering them with Canapetta bookcloth, measure all the positions of the holes... so Sarah could make my vision a reality...

Williamstown, Massachusetts

After two months holiday back home in Ottawa/Gatineau, Canada, we got back on the road and entered the US on September 25th. Knowing the route we would follow, I communicated with libraries of universities and colleges for an artist visit to Special Collections and present my artists’ books. 

My first stop was at The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute commonly referred to as The Clark in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The Clark is one of a small number of institutions that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. The Artists' Books collection includes over 4,400 titles that represent a wide range of creative activity dating from the 1960s to the present.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA.

As I walked in The Clark, I noticed an installation of books. Allan Sekula, a thoughtful and thought-provoking artist, photographer, filmmaker, writer, and teacher amassed over decades a library that informed his prolific body of work and reflected his wide-ranging personal and professional interests. In 2015, the Clark library acquired the 15,000-volume library through the generous gift of the artist’s widow, art historian and professor Sally Stein. The collection, as shelved in the Manton Research Center Reading Room, is both an archive that maintains Sekula’s organization of the material in his personal and work spaces and a visually stunning art installation that allows varying levels of interpretation of format and content.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux.  The Allan Sekula Library    by   Allan Sekula is an archival and research collection of volumes, which is held in the Library of the  Clark Art Institute  in Williamstown, MA.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. The Allan Sekula Library by Allan Sekula is an archival and research collection of volumes, which is held in the Library of the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux.  The Allan Sekula Library    by   Allan Sekula.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. The Allan Sekula Library by Allan Sekula.

I met Susan Roeper, Director of the Library, in the lobby of this wonderful mid-century designed building. I presented to the library my artists’ books  and with great pleasure, my book Ambivalence is joining City Shields (acquired in 2002) and Faux-pas (acquired in 2011) as part of the artists’ book collection.

I got the chance to see a remarkable exhibition entitled Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow while visiting The Clark. This exhibition organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and curated by Sue Canterbury, The Pauline Gill Sullivan Associate Curator of American Art, investigates the little-known work of Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe (1889-1961).

© 2019 Louise Levergneux.  Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow  at The Clark.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow at The Clark.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Photo of Ida as part of the  Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow  Exhibition .

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Photo of Ida as part of the Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow Exhibition.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Still life with Fruit, oil on canvas 1926 by Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Still life with Fruit, oil on canvas 1926 by Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe.

The angst of unfulfilled promise infuses the exhibition while the thirty-five paintings, prints, and photographs give insight into Ida O’Keeffe’s life and reveal the artist’s mastery of color and composition. Despite numerous challenges, the talented modernist explored realism and abstraction from the 1920s through the 1940s. As the sister of the renowned artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986), Ida dealt with sibling rivalry that resulted in a family rift and the effect it had on her life and professional aspirations.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Ozark Lime Kiln, 1938, oil on canvas by Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Ozark Lime Kiln, 1938, oil on canvas by Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Star Gazing in Texas 1938, oil on canvas by Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Star Gazing in Texas 1938, oil on canvas by Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. My favourite painting by da Ten Eyck O’Keeffe Variation on a Lighthouse Theme VII, 1931-32, oil on canvas.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. My favourite painting by da Ten Eyck O’Keeffe Variation on a Lighthouse Theme VII, 1931-32, oil on canvas.

After viewing the Ida O’Keeffe exhibition, I meandered outside to get a sense of the buildings and landscape of The Clark. The white marble Museum Building opened on May 17, 1955, after a three-year construction period.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. The Museum Building re-conceived by Selldorf Architects in 2014; executive architect Gensler oversaw implementation of the renovations. Improvements included the addition of more than 2,200 square feet of new gallery space; a thoughtful renovation of the existing galleries; and installation of new lighting and environmental controls

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. The Museum Building re-conceived by Selldorf Architects in 2014; executive architect Gensler oversaw implementation of the renovations. Improvements included the addition of more than 2,200 square feet of new gallery space; a thoughtful renovation of the existing galleries; and installation of new lighting and environmental controls

The Clark's 140-acre campus encompasses a landscape of expansive lawns, meadows, and walking trails. The sweeping redesign of the Clark’s 140-acre grounds by the landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand included creation of a three-tiered reflecting pool; upgrades to and expansion of walking trails; green roof systems; planting of some 1,000 new trees; and creation of a new entry drive and landscaped parking areas with water-permeable surfaces that feed into a rainwater and snowmelt collection system.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. The landscape at The Clark.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. The landscape at The Clark.

This was an incredible day and a feast for the eyes and mind. My day started by a visit to FreeFall Laser cutting service in North Adams, Massachusetts which I will talk about in my next blog post.

On my way to Philadelphia, PA to see more artists and collections.

Montréal, Québec

While in Canada for the month of August, I planned a trip to the Eastern Townships in Québec. This was naturally a delightful week of visiting longtime friends and talented artists. 

© 2019 Louise Levergneux.  Conteurs d’eau  exhibition by François Chamberland at Galerie Art Plus in Sutton, Québec.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Conteurs d’eau exhibition by François Chamberland at Galerie Art Plus in Sutton, Québec.

I could not pass through Montréal, on my way back to Ottawa, without a stop to visit Guylaine Couture and an introduction to a fantastic book binder, Cécile Côté. 

What a lovely day of touring Cécile’s independent studio. Cécile recently moved her studio in her home on the Island of Montréal. Her new studio space consist of three substantial rooms full of equipment and tools for producing her exquisite work. The congenial atmosphere is one of a dedicated artist to her outstanding craftsmanship.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Details of Cécile Côté’s studio in Montréal.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Details of Cécile Côté’s studio in Montréal.

As I entered her home, the aroma of freshly baked quiche was in the air. Guylaine Couture dropped by to spend time sharing ideas and recent work with me and Cécile. The three of us conversed about artists’ books and binding as we enjoyed « nous avons dégusté » a marvelous quiche, corn on the cob and a salad prepared by Cécile.

Guylaine Couture has been producing artist's book for several years. This artistic form allows her to create works in which the content and structure merge to make the message more powerful.

After years of creating drawings, gouache and collages, a short binding workshop positioned her on the trail of artist's book. The latter has become her main discipline although Guylaine continues to generate works on paper.

Guylaine is obsessed with reusing printed documents. Her work attempts to divert this abundant material too easily discarded. The artist reflects at length on the visitor's reaction to the book and develops her work so that emotions are present at first sight. For Guylaine, the "reader" must live an experience.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Guylaine Couture’s new artists’ books in the form of Zines.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Guylaine Couture’s new artists’ books in the form of Zines.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Guylaine Couture in Cécile’s Studio.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Guylaine Couture in Cécile’s Studio.

Cécile Côté works diligently under the imprint Relieur at Atelier de reliure Cécile Côté. As a binder Cécile includes: binding of art, accordion albums, notepads, greeting cards, and ex-libris in her production.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Cécile demonstrates her taste for colour and design in the staircase leading to the garage, another filled studio space.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Cécile demonstrates her taste for colour and design in the staircase leading to the garage, another filled studio space.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Cécile’s studio situated in the garage of her home. This space is for types and heavy equipment.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Cécile’s studio situated in the garage of her home. This space is for types and heavy equipment.

It's Cécile’s passion to design and manufacture unique art bindings whose execution follows the language of the words they carry. In love with typography, the artist allows words to guide her choice of materials, styles, textures, and sensations to be created. "Meaning and matter, tradition and modernity, merge into an original expression where the sight, the touch, the sense of smell and the meaning of words converge."

On her blog, Cécile shows us her craft as she gives life to a damaged bible.

© 2010 Cécile Côté. One of the great pleasures of book repair is that there is a "before" and an "after". And these phases are even more remarkable when the book is significantly damaged. /  « Un des grands plaisirs de la réparation de livres, c'est qu'il y a un "avant" et il y a un "après." Et c'est d'autant plus remarquable quand le livre est très abimé. »

© 2010 Cécile Côté. One of the great pleasures of book repair is that there is a "before" and an "after". And these phases are even more remarkable when the book is significantly damaged. / « Un des grands plaisirs de la réparation de livres, c'est qu'il y a un "avant" et il y a un "après." Et c'est d'autant plus remarquable quand le livre est très abimé. »

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Cécile reading the poem from her book     T for Trouchie   , full goatskin leather binding with doublures of the same leather and suede flyleaves. Decorated inlay. Original text is letterpress printed from polymer plates by binder. /   T for Trouchie   , reliure plein chevre avec garde bord à bord du même cuir et gardes volantes en daim. Textes originaux imprimés sur papier BFK Rives et papier japon Iwami sur une presse manuelle avec plaques en polymère.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Cécile reading the poem from her book T for Trouchie , full goatskin leather binding with doublures of the same leather and suede flyleaves. Decorated inlay. Original text is letterpress printed from polymer plates by binder. / T for Trouchie, reliure plein chevre avec garde bord à bord du même cuir et gardes volantes en daim. Textes originaux imprimés sur papier BFK Rives et papier japon Iwami sur une presse manuelle avec plaques en polymère.

© 2011 Cécile Côté.  T for Trouchie  by Cécile Côté.

© 2011 Cécile Côté. T for Trouchie by Cécile Côté.

After a pleasant inspiring afternoon, I was invited to rejoin them next year for a week filled with ideas and tips on artists’ books and binding. What a treat, looking forward to absorb knowledge from these wonderful women artists.

Ottawa, Ontario

My up-coming publication Surveillance underwent many design sessions before its creation. The theme being on surveillance, I wanted to produce an artists’ book that would involve the reader in an alternative way. 

First, the thought process of finding the correct binding to properly present my artists’ book. After an active year of collecting images that would bring home the fundamental idea behind the project, I was ready for its conception. I chose, collated, sized and ultimately transferred the images into a layout in Photoshop. This step is always painstaking, since the choices are endless but results matter to bring to fruition the imagined piece. Once the book has been thought out, the essential work of deciding on size of the book, its presentation, the layout, placement... Then the printing phase follows. 

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Printed pages for  Surveillance .

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Printed pages for Surveillance.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Folding the accordion pages of  Surveillance .

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Folding the accordion pages of Surveillance.

A double sided printing job is never easy, registration is a whole other world, as you know. One has to remember that paper sizes are never perfect. I have typically found that 8.5” means 8 3/8”. This naturally means that all images and text on the verso need to be moved to the right at least 1/8” or more depending on your printer. It takes a while, but once the images and text are ideally placed on the verso, the work is done! But don’t forget to check your registration marks for every sheet or page to be printed so not to waste ink and paper. 

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Cutting boards for the binding of  Surveillance .

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Cutting boards for the binding of Surveillance.

Once more, my creative thinking wants new experiences and working with a new binding. After deliberation my choice was the tunnel book binding. But, how will it work with the content and the electronics. How to bind with electronics? ...

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Figuring out the binding cut-outs to fit the electronics.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Figuring out the binding cut-outs to fit the electronics.

When in Austin, last Fall, I met with Natalie Freed and presented my idea and needs for Surveillance. Natalie was excited and open to all the requisites for the book, keeping in mind the possibilities and limitations of the materials involved. This was a great experience and Natalie was fantastic and knowledgable.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Natalie Freed’s sample of the possibilities of electronics in artists’ books.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Natalie Freed’s sample of the possibilities of electronics in artists’ books.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Solving other dilemmas to fit size of the fake  security camera as part of the binding.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Solving other dilemmas to fit size of the fake security camera as part of the binding.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Natalie Freed working on the electronics.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Natalie Freed working on the electronics.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Natalie Freed’s finished work for  Surveillance .

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Natalie Freed’s finished work for Surveillance.


Natalie Freed works at the intersection of education, hands-on making and technology. Natalie was incredibly excited about coming up with ways to teach challenging STEM concepts through expressive crafts, especially textiles and the book arts. Natalie graduated with an M.S. from the MIT Media Lab in 2012, received her B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science with a concentration in Arts, Media and Engineering from Arizona State University, in 2009/2010. Freed moved to San Francisco in 2012 for a fellowship in the New Media Studio at the San Francisco Exploratorium. Then joined Lick-Wilmerding High School’s Technical Arts program, where she started the new Computing track and taught computer science and digital fabrication.

At this pivotal point after months of travel and other activities between our meetings, Natalie and I dovetailed our separate deliverables and the book is ready to be assembled. Oh! Wait, it’s a tunnel book binding and I require seeing through the cover to the inside pages!

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Mock-up of cover cutting for  Surveillance .

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Mock-up of cover cutting for Surveillance.

By pushing the boundaries of my work and creating a tunnel book, I had to meticulously cut all the little windows in the cover page. Another process that would take an eternity. Unable to carefully cut to my OCD standards, I researched for a creative company or artist that could precisely cut the front page, which was my next step, since smaller laser cutters would tear into the fibrous paper. 

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Third mock-up of the cover and inside pages for  Surveillance .

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Third mock-up of the cover and inside pages for Surveillance.

I fortunately found Sarah Pike from FreeFall Laser, who works remotely with clients across the country on custom laser-cutting projects. Her approach combines artistic experimentation with technological experience to conceive exceptional work and always looks forward to becoming a part of the creative team. Collaborating with Sarah was another outstanding experience. Sarah uses a state-of-the-art CO2 laser cutter to precision cut and engrave wood, paper, acrylic, fabric, and much more, up to 1/4 inch thick, to convey one's unique vision into a reality. Sarah, used custom settings that optimized my selected substrate and helped develop the finished look for Surveillance.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Sarah Pike’s laser cutting result after trial run.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Sarah Pike’s laser cutting result after trial run.

After 2 weeks, the job was done, and it’s waiting for pickup. Traveling in Canada at the moment and shipping the pages back to me in Ottawa, Ontario, would be astronomical in cost. Therefore, a visit to Berkshires in Massachusetts in the Fall is in the works.

FreeFall Laser was born when Sarah Pike left the safety and security of a successful academic career and jumped off the proverbial cliff to start her own business. Sarah is a practicing artist with years of experience in bridging technology and the artistry of the hand.

I’m looking forward to finishing the first copy of Surveillance in its entirety and presenting it to Library Collections.

If you have projects you are having difficulties encompassing electronics and/or precision cutting situations, I suggest working with both Natalie Freed and Sarah Pike. For me it was a genuine pleasure!

© 2019 Dale Rogers. The hatching of small Hummingbirds in my friend Dale’s backyard, Avimor, Idaho.

© 2019 Dale Rogers. The hatching of small Hummingbirds in my friend Dale’s backyard, Avimor, Idaho.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Sorry for the delay on this post, I was literally in the woods of The Uinta Mountains in Utah, for a week with no connection to the outside world. Slowing down and resting, was good!

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Quakin Aspens in the Uinta Mountains.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Quakin Aspens in the Uinta Mountains.

During my stay in Salt Lake City, I reached out to local artists working in book arts for a studio visit.

Victoria Birth, Book Repair Supervisor at the Material Acquisitions Department of Brigham Young University, was keenly interested in meeting. Instead of a rendez-vous at her private studio, Victoria invited me to visit the Harold B. Lee Library for a tour and get together with some colleagues.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. The Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. The Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Inside the Harold B. Lee Library.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Inside the Harold B. Lee Library.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Meeting with (left) Christina Thomas Maloy, Conservator, of Rare Books and Manuscripts, (middle) Chris McAfee, Head Conservator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, (right) Victoria Birth, Binding Supervisor at the Material Acquisitions Department.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Meeting with (left) Christina Thomas Maloy, Conservator, of Rare Books and Manuscripts, (middle) Chris McAfee, Head Conservator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, (right) Victoria Birth, Binding Supervisor at the Material Acquisitions Department.

The Harold B. Lee Library is a research library containing slightly more than three million volumes located in the arid Intermountain West. The library consists of a main library, as well as separate business, museum and learning resource center libraries. All repair work is properly handled by the Harold B. Lee Library’s Book Repair Unit located in the main library. The library additionally has a Conservation Lab responsible for the treatment of its special collections material. While separated physically within the main library the Lab collaborates with the Book Repair Unit as needed to help establish and improve treatment standards, order specific supplies, and provide advanced training.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. The Harold B. Lee Library’s Book Repair Unit.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. The Harold B. Lee Library’s Book Repair Unit.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Victoria Birth, Binding Supervisor in front of her desk at the Harold B. Lee Library’s Book Repair Unit.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Victoria Birth, Binding Supervisor in front of her desk at the Harold B. Lee Library’s Book Repair Unit.

The Book Repair Unit where some of the Harold B. Lee Library’s 6,000,000 volume collection gets repaired, is overseen by Victoria Birth and faithfully executed by competent, part-time staff of students.

Victoria equally creates book arts: Evenings Wasted and Pigeons Poisoned was produced in 2018 to meet the thesis requirements for her MFA Book Arts degree at The University of Alabama. 

Evenings Wasted and Pigeons Poisoned is a tribute to the work of Tom Lehrer, a musical satirist whose work came to light in the 1950s. This book showcases ten of his songs, paired with illustrations representing the juxtaposition of lovely music and disturbing subject matter. The introduction is a comprehensive account of Lehrer’s life up to and during his performance career giving context to his calling. This book is intended to show the viewer how multi-faceted Lehrer and his work is while bringing a guilty and uncomfortable smile to your face.

© 2018 Victoria Birth. Evenings Wasted and Pigeons Poisoned cover and slipcase.

© 2018 Victoria Birth. Evenings Wasted and Pigeons Poisoned cover and slipcase.

© 2018 Victoria Birth. Detail of Evenings Wasted and Pigeons Poisoned.

© 2018 Victoria Birth. Detail of Evenings Wasted and Pigeons Poisoned.

© 2018 Victoria Birth. Detail of Evenings Wasted and Pigeons Poisoned.© 2018 Victoria Birth. Detail of Evenings Wasted and Pigeons Poisoned.

© 2018 Victoria Birth. Detail of Evenings Wasted and Pigeons Poisoned.© 2018 Victoria Birth. Detail of Evenings Wasted and Pigeons Poisoned.

© 2018 Victoria Birth. Detail of Evenings Wasted and Pigeons Poisoned.

© 2018 Victoria Birth. Detail of Evenings Wasted and Pigeons Poisoned.

© 2018 Victoria Birth. Detail of Evenings Wasted and Pigeons Poisoned.

© 2018 Victoria Birth. Detail of Evenings Wasted and Pigeons Poisoned.

While at the Harold B. Lee Library, Victoria and I met with Christopher McAfee, the library's Head Conservator of Rare Books and Manuscripts.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Chris at his work station in the conservation lab of the Harold B. Lee Library.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Chris at his work station in the conservation lab of the Harold B. Lee Library.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Staff hard at work at the conservation lab at the Harold B. Lee Library.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Staff hard at work at the conservation lab at the Harold B. Lee Library.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Work space and paper storage at the conservation lab.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Work space and paper storage at the conservation lab.

I met Chris McAfee, in 2010, then an instructor in bookbinding and artists books of the Marriott Library Books Arts Program at the University of Utah.

Chris received a BFA in printmaking in 1993 from Brigham Young University where he began learning to bind books. Subsequently in 1995, Chris was awarded an MFA in bookbinding from the University of Alabama, where he began learning book conservation. He has spent the last 20 years conserving and preserving books, documents, photographs, and other artifacts.

As a bookbinder, book artist, and book and paper conservator, Chris is knowledgeable and experienced with archival materials, examinations, and treatments. 

© 2018 Christopher McAfee. Frankenstein

© 2018 Christopher McAfee. Frankenstein

© 2018 Christopher McAfee. Frankenstein, seemed to Chris like an obvious choice for his following book after  City of Saints .

© 2018 Christopher McAfee. Frankenstein, seemed to Chris like an obvious choice for his following book after City of Saints.

City of Saints is the first Mormon steampunk novel, an action-packed story with clockwork mechanisms, steam-coaches, and a futuristic vision of the 1859 west. Gears, pipes, and moving parts combine to share a glimpse into the story’s inner workings.

I am intrigued that the formation of such a work is not executed by the book artist alone, but by the combination of writer, artist, and reader. The writer gathers a narrative and the artist forms a design, but the book is not complete until the reader forms a vision as they react to the design and recite the story.

© 2018 Christopher McAfee. City of Saints, click  here  to view the mechanism at work.

© 2018 Christopher McAfee. City of Saints, click here to view the mechanism at work.

© 2018 Christopher McAfee. City of Saints.

© 2018 Christopher McAfee. City of Saints.

© 2012 Christopher McAfee. I was delighted to be introduced to Fantasy and Nonsense or “Tim” by Chris. A wonderful book presentation.

© 2012 Christopher McAfee. I was delighted to be introduced to Fantasy and Nonsense or “Tim” by Chris. A wonderful book presentation.

Christina Thomas Maloy, Conservator, of Rare Books and Manuscripts was also present and talked about the plans for the library and presented some of her most recent work. While conservation dominates Christina’s work, she finds time in her busy life to let her bookbinding imagination run wild.

© 2018 Christina Thomas Maloy. The Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden, a facsimile publication (1977) of her 1906 naturalist’s diary.

© 2018 Christina Thomas Maloy. The Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden, a facsimile publication (1977) of her 1906 naturalist’s diary.

Christina was first trained as a book repair technician while a Brigham Young University student from 2000–2004. She later completed the two-year bookbinding program at the North Bennet Street School in Boston from 2006-2008. She joined the Harold B. Lee Library staff in 2009 as the Book Repair Assistant, and in July 2013 was welcomed as a full time book conservator.

I enjoyed observing the consistencies and changes in the Conservation Lab since my last visit at the Harold B. Lee Library back in 2015. I was also fascinated by the intense commitment to the field and the creative elements of these conservator's work.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Kanarraville’s countryside in Utah.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Kanarraville’s countryside in Utah.

During the month of July, I will be passing through Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan before crossing the border into Canada.

Tucson, Arizona

My initial experience with the extensive work of Barbara Grygutis was on the grounds of the Ohio State University, when I naturally noticed Garden of Constants outside of Dreese Laboratories. Garden of Constants is a series of large free-standing number statues to help commemorate the current construction of buildings associated with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

© 2017 Louise Levergneux. Garden of Constants by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2017 Louise Levergneux. Garden of Constants by Barbara Grygutis.

Instantly taken by the work, I invariably started researching where Barbara’s work resided. I have experienced quite a few of her public sculptures in the last year. I first communicated with Barbara when journeying to Tucson, Arizona, in 2018. That February, we met at her studio and talked enthusiastically about her work and her remarkable accomplishments. Drawings and descriptions of new public spaces for the coming year were shared.

© 2017 Louise Levergneux. I viewed the maquette for  Seagrass V  during my visit last year.

© 2017 Louise Levergneux. I viewed the maquette for Seagrass V during my visit last year.

© 2017 Louise Levergneux. A drawing for  Seagrass V  in Barbara’s studio.

© 2017 Louise Levergneux. A drawing for Seagrass V in Barbara’s studio.

Since then, Barbara has completed Seagrass V presented at the European Cultural Centre in the Palazzo Mora in Venice, Italy. Seagrass V has now found a new home in art-st-urban near Lucerne, Switzerland. A project dedication in April 2019 presented Creosote Lace which accents the 50th Street Light Rail Station in Phoenix.

The public spaces designed by Barbara Grygutis enhance the built environment, enable civic interaction, and reveal unspoken relationships between nature and humanity. She engages the public through her works of art by identifying themes meaningful to each specific site and community.

Back in Tucson this year, unable to pass on a wonderful invitation by Barbara to connect again if I found myself in the area, we created another great opportunity to meet. First we touched base at her greenish cage, as she calls her studio entrance, and then to an excellent restaurant for a fantastic evening.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. The so called greenish cage in the back of Barbara’s studio space.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. The so called greenish cage in the back of Barbara’s studio space.

While in Phoenix, Creosote Lace had to be experienced in person. I was intrigued by the result of this sculpture, since it bears the name of a bush that captured my attention last year while in Gila Bend. The Creosote bush is ever-present in the landscapes of the Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, covering thousands of square miles. Sonoran Desert rains release the many oils in the plant that create a distinctive and unique aroma in the air. Once one smells the fragrance of the Creosote bush, one never forgets — the entire plant emits a distinctive and refreshing odor described by many as "the smell of rain."

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Creosote Lace at he 50th Street Light Rail Station in Phoenix.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Creosote Lace at he 50th Street Light Rail Station in Phoenix.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Michael crossing the line to view Creosote Lace at he 50th Street Light Rail Station.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Michael crossing the line to view Creosote Lace at he 50th Street Light Rail Station.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Creosote Lace by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Creosote Lace by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Creosote Lace by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Creosote Lace by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Panel detail of Creosote Lace by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Panel detail of Creosote Lace by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. A closer look at Creosote Lace by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. A closer look at Creosote Lace by Barbara Grygutis.

Creosote Lace was conceived with the dual purposes of providing shade for commuters while celebrating a native plant which has been living in the Southwest for over seventeen thousand years. The new, accessible light rail station provides crucial access to the Ability360 facility as well as several other businesses nearby.

The artwork develops the concept of healing through the natural world as a central theme for the station. Creosote bush, also known as Greasewood (Larrea tridentata), has been recognized by the O’odham and other indigenous peoples since the beginning of time. In fact, O’odham tradition suggests that the Greasewood was a key element in the very creation of the world. Even today the creosote bush is the most populous native plant in the Phoenix Basin.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Creosote Lace is fabricated with steel, laser cut and painted, with a silver surface finish intended to evoke the shimmering light of the desert.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Creosote Lace is fabricated with steel, laser cut and painted, with a silver surface finish intended to evoke the shimmering light of the desert.

Creosote Lace combines shadow patterns formed by the delicate creosote leaves and minute blooms to create large abstract panels which, in turn, create shade. The beauty and delicacy of this plant is further emphasized by the spiral shape of the curvilinear panels which float up the approach ramps to the station platform. These spiral shaped canopies emulate the motion of the creosote as it blows in the southwest winds, ever-rooted to the earth. The continuous spiral shapes of the shade canopies also reference the ability of this tenacious plant to send out lateral shoots and, over long periods of time, to create concentric circles of plant families. The distinctive aroma of creosote bush is also a vital part of our desert legacy.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Seeing through Creosote Lace by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Seeing through Creosote Lace by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Looking back at Creosote Lace by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Looking back at Creosote Lace by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Creosote Lace by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Creosote Lace by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Creosote Lace is a tribute to the humble and prevalent creosote bush and to the healing powers that exist in the Sonoran Desert.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Creosote Lace is a tribute to the humble and prevalent creosote bush and to the healing powers that exist in the Sonoran Desert.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Creosote Lace can also be experienced on the sidewalks.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Creosote Lace can also be experienced on the sidewalks.

Another public space I delved into while in Chandler, Arizona, was Desert Passage, Canopy Dreams created in 2009 for the Chandler Gilbert Community College Pecos Campus.

This work of art is a functioning elevated, sculptural pedestrian bridge connecting the new Ironwood Hall to an existing building on campus. This curvilinear, 2nd level pathway meanders 200’ through a grove of Ironwood trees and highlights the natural beauty of the Ironwood leaf. The laser cut design of the shade hoops, natural daylight and integrated, designed lighting, create dramatic shade and light patterns day and night.

The photos below will help to examine Barbara’s piece as if you were actually walking across the pedestrian bridge.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Desert Passage, Canopy Dreams by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Desert Passage, Canopy Dreams by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Beginning of my experience of Desert Passage, Canopy Dreams by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Beginning of my experience of Desert Passage, Canopy Dreams by Barbara Grygutis.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. The interplay between the shadows and the light is always present in Barbara’s work.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. The interplay between the shadows and the light is always present in Barbara’s work.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Looking up.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Looking up.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Halfway.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Halfway.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Looking back.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Looking back.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Observing from below.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Observing from below.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. One last look as I walk away.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. One last look as I walk away.

Interested in the work of Barbara Grygutis, check out what city has commissioned an installation on her website. In the next year, one will be able to research all Barbara’s maquettes, drawings, and information on her work at the University of Arizona Archive of Visual Arts. Looking forward to seek new public art spaces by Barbara Grygutis during next year’s visit.

Downsize or Expand

No, matter how tough things may feel,

there’s always something good waiting around the corner.

Karen Salmansohn

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Texas Paintbrush in the south of Texas, my backyard in April, not bad for inspiration!

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Texas Paintbrush in the south of Texas, my backyard in April, not bad for inspiration!

Last January, when a certain practical side of life interrupted art, I cancelled a few visits in Florida. Since then, I re-communicated with Dorothy Simpson Krause, a local artist and book maker from Ft. Lauderdale, whom I had planned on visiting. In response, Dorothy was generous in emailing me images of her atelier and art work to share with all of you.

In my creative world, a zone, a sacred space is missing — a studio. I identified with my last workroom in Boise, Idaho, as 1/2 Measure Studio, since my space was a third of the square footage of my studio in Utah, but it was comfortable. Now, my atelier has shrunk again! Should I call it 1/16 Measure Studio?

© 2017 Louise Levergneux. Working on my artists’ book “Shadow Me” in my 1/2 Measure Studio in Boise, Idaho.

© 2017 Louise Levergneux. Working on my artists’ book “Shadow Me” in my 1/2 Measure Studio in Boise, Idaho.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Without a physical space to call my own, here I’m working on my artists’ book “Surveillance” in Natalie Freed’s studio in Austin, Texas.

© 2019 Louise Levergneux. Without a physical space to call my own, here I’m working on my artists’ book “Surveillance” in Natalie Freed’s studio in Austin, Texas.

As artists, we learn how to downsize or expand our space depending on our situation. In 2013 Dorothy sold her home of 35 years and gave up her 3,200 square foot studio in New England to move full-time into a condo in South Florida.

© 2019 Dorothy Simpson Krause. Dorothy’s studio in Ft Lauderdale, Florida.

© 2019 Dorothy Simpson Krause. Dorothy’s studio in Ft Lauderdale, Florida.

Dorothy explains her space and how it has not prevented her from creating wonderful large scale mixed media pieces, artist books and book-like objects that bridge between these two forms.

I occupy a compact office/studio. It has adequate counter and storage for minor projects, an Apple Power Tower Pro with 30″ monitor, a 17″ MacBook Pro, an Epson RX680 duplex printer and a 13″ Epson Stylus Pro 3880.

The condo has a considerable storage space for necessary supplies and ephemera and an outside storage unit for larger art.

I use the counter/bar in the kitchen when I need to spread out. For larger projects, I am fortunate to have access to the workspaces at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts http://www.library.fau.edu/depts/spc/jaffe.htm at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. It is a excellent resource for inspiration and support.

© 2019 Dorothy Simpson Krause. Dorothy’s many filing cabinets.

© 2019 Dorothy Simpson Krause. Dorothy’s many filing cabinets.

© 2019 Dorothy Simpson Krause. Making a book for her Alaska trip.

© 2019 Dorothy Simpson Krause. Making a book for her Alaska trip.

Although my art background is traditional, the computer has become a primary art-making media, a repository of my records and my lifeline to the world.

My work embeds archetypal symbols and fragments of image and text in multiple layers of texture and meaning. It combines the humblest of materials, plaster, tar, wax and pigment, with the latest in technology to evoke the past and herald the future. My art-making is an integrated mode of inquiry that links concept and media in an ongoing dialogue — a visible means of exploring meaning.

© 2010 Dorothy Simpson Krause.  Ancient Mysteries , a pyramid shaped structure was created after Dorothy had an opportunity to work with  Karen Hanmer .  Ancient Mysteries  can be folded in a virtually infinite number of ways, and is housed in a leather slipcase embellished with two triangular pieces of metal.6''x6''x1.5'' 36 pages

© 2010 Dorothy Simpson Krause. Ancient Mysteries, a pyramid shaped structure was created after Dorothy had an opportunity to work with Karen Hanmer. Ancient Mysteries can be folded in a virtually infinite number of ways, and is housed in a leather slipcase embellished with two triangular pieces of metal.6''x6''x1.5'' 36 pages

© 2010 Dorothy Simpson Krause.  Explorations  was created during a trip to Egypt in 2010. Dorothy carried with her, a small book made with paper aged by crumpling and staining with tea, coffee and walnut ink. 6"x5.5", 24 pages.

© 2010 Dorothy Simpson Krause. Explorations was created during a trip to Egypt in 2010. Dorothy carried with her, a small book made with paper aged by crumpling and staining with tea, coffee and walnut ink. 6"x5.5", 24 pages.

© 2010 Dorothy Simpson Krause.  Explorations  was bound with a heavy paper, embossed with symbols resembling heiroglyphics, and was pamphlet stitched with three beads in the spine.

© 2010 Dorothy Simpson Krause. Explorations was bound with a heavy paper, embossed with symbols resembling heiroglyphics, and was pamphlet stitched with three beads in the spine.

© 2010 Dorothy Simpson Krause. Vintage photographs of Egypt were collaged into the pages of  Explorations .

© 2010 Dorothy Simpson Krause. Vintage photographs of Egypt were collaged into the pages of Explorations.

© 2018 Dorothy Simpson Krause.  Apache  began on a trip to Arizona, this small book explores our appalling treatment of Native Americans. Vintage photos of Apache Indians are collaged onto small eco printed tags which are placed into a pocket accordion, designed to fit into a well-worn leather pouch. Closed 5.5″x 3.75″x 1.75″, opened (5.5″x 28″).

© 2018 Dorothy Simpson Krause. Apache began on a trip to Arizona, this small book explores our appalling treatment of Native Americans. Vintage photos of Apache Indians are collaged onto small eco printed tags which are placed into a pocket accordion, designed to fit into a well-worn leather pouch. Closed 5.5″x 3.75″x 1.75″, opened (5.5″x 28″).

© 2012 Dorothy Simpson Krause.  River of Grass  created as part of the Helen M. Salzberg Inaugural Artist in Residence at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts, Wimberly Library, Florida Atlantic University.

© 2012 Dorothy Simpson Krause. River of Grass created as part of the Helen M. Salzberg Inaugural Artist in Residence at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts, Wimberly Library, Florida Atlantic University.

© 2012 Dorothy Simpson Krause.  River of Grass.

© 2012 Dorothy Simpson Krause. River of Grass.

© 2012 Dorothy Simpson Krause.  River of Grass.

© 2012 Dorothy Simpson Krause. River of Grass.

© 2012 Dorothy Simpson Krause.  River of Grass.

© 2012 Dorothy Simpson Krause. River of Grass.

Dorothy eloquently explains her proposal for this prestigious residency and how her production paid homage to Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ seminal book, “The Everglades: River of Grass.


Through our mutual communication and after viewing Dorothy’s website, I’m looking forward to a visit, when life’s magnificent path escorts me back in that corner of the world.

Meanwhile, I’m dreaming of a new set-up in our travel trailer to work anytime a wave of creativity comes along. I have a picture of what is needed using a lift-top with an adjustable lift platform for under our bed. If anyone knows of someone that is handy with tools that can build me an under the bed worktable, please let me know. I will be spending another two weeks in the Phoenix, Tucson, Gila Bend area of Arizona.

I would love to visit some artists’ book makers in the area, if anyone is interested in meeting with me, please email me at louiselevergneux (at) gmail (dot) com. Looking forward in meeting you!

Example of my dream workstation!! but under the bed storage area instead of a pouf!

Example of my dream workstation!! but under the bed storage area instead of a pouf!