It Starts with the Book Exhibit

Selections from the ABC@PM collection

January 9 to February 28, 2021
at Antenna’s Reading Room Gallery
3618 St Claude Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117
Find out more about viewing the in-person exhibit here.

It starts with the book, my personal sense of bookness. Then the fun begins: different materials, different structures, different patterns, different sequences, different differences. Not merely containers of story and information; singular works of art in which the physical—the materials, the structure, the manipulation—becomes integral. -Bill Stewart, First Person, Very Singular

During our current health crisis when physical touch is limited, an artist book is a rare and sacred token of intimacy: a book made with skill by hand, with its form integral to its function, so that it might be handled with joy and care by its readers. 

For the in-person exhibit, It Starts with the Book, currently installed in Antenna’s Reading Room, we selected 20 books. We picked 5 titles from these 20 to highlight below, chosen for their unique binding structures and materiality.

Please enjoy the following selection of 5 artist books. Use the slider tool on each image to reveal more information about the bindings. Each is accompanied by a brief description and a tutorial encouraging you to make your own books at home.


Anchored, 2017

Jessica Spring used the repeated folds in the star book to build on and reinterpret a childhood rhyme. Both the text and the ornamental patterns the text sits on are letterpress printed with metal type, on antique nautical naps. 

Make your own star book using this tutorial by California-based artist Monica Holtsclaw.

Matchbook, Vol. 4, 2017

New Orleans-based book artist Friedrich Kerksieck publishes the collaborative Matchbook poetry periodical semi regularly from his studio in New Orleans. He finds old match books and carefully disassembles  them to become tiny books. Some of the content is letterpress printed.

Make your own match-book with this tutorial posted by Grace Bonney of Design Sponge.

What’s Happening With Momma?, 1988

Clarissa Sligh is a giant in the artist book field, and has been making artists books since the 1970s. Many of her books center on themes of race and racism within the United States. What’s Happening with Momma? is noteworthy for its unusual and innovative combined-accordion structure and how it supports and intersects with Sligh’s telling of family memories.

Make your own accordion book using Booklyn’s tutorial.

Psalm 13-20, 2014

Psalm 13-20 was printed in a series of books created for Crane Giamo’s thesis project while studying Book Arts at The University of Alabama in 2014. This book exhibit’s Giamo’s own poetry, which intermingles with hand-painted brush strokes of iron-oxide and acrylic medium throughout. The book was bound by sewing through pre-punched holes in the covers and folios. Known as the Japanese stab binding, this book binding method originated in the 17th century. 

Make your own Japanese stab binding using Booklyn’s tutorial.

The City for the Trees, 2012

The pamphlet structure is the basis of all other forms of Western bookbinding. This saddle-stitched, or staple binding, is a modernized example of a pamphlet structure, which is simply a gathering of pages folded in half and sewn up the middle. Amanda D’Amico added depth and artistry to the pamphlet structure with sculptural pages that enforce the content. 

Make your own sewn pamphlet using Booklyn’s tutorial.