A Good Day to Stay in and Make Books

It was a sloshy wintry day in Tieton today, one degree above freezing, which made the walk to and from the book arts studio messier but less treacherous. Tieton is situated fifteen miles west of Yakima near the confluence of the Tieton and Naches Rivers, and it was a typical agricultural town into the 1970s, when it slid into economic depression with the decline of its fruit warehouses.

IMG_0369.JPG A sloshy wintry day in Tieton

A Seattle resident, Ed Marquand founded Paper Hammer Studios in Tieton in 2007, and since that time he has launched seven other artisanal businesses that huddle close to the town square. His goal is to revitalize the regional economy by "combining creative and professional skills, connecting with local resources to build successful businesses involving art, design, hospitality, and recreation." These business all fall under the umbrella company Mighty Tieton, which includes Paper Hammer Studios.

Paper Hammer is where the 250 copies of the Collector's Edition of the Amon Carter's landmark publication on the watercolors of Charles M. Russell are getting their covers and slipcases.

IMG_0370.JPG A stack of handmade slipcases weighted down to dry in the book-arts studio; the weights are bricks thickly wrapped in heavy packing paper.

IMG_0375.JPG One of the first hand-assembled covers for the Collector's Edition is pressed under bricks while drying.

IMG_0377.JPG Two leather covers, out from under their bricks.

IMG_0379.JPG Book artist Melanie Brauner glues the first cover to a book block. The glue is polyvinyl adhesive, or PVA, an archival glue that is relatively new in the art of bookmaking. For centuries, bookmakers used glues made from animal hide and wheat paste, both of which have Achilles heels: Hide glue crystallizes as it ages, becoming increasingly stiff; it is acidic as well, so it eventually burns into a book's pages. Wheat paste remains flexible and is great with paper--but many a book held together with this adhesive has been destroyed by hungry bugs with a taste for paste.

IMG_0380.JPG A fresh union of book block and cover!

IMG_0382.JPG Brauner places the freshly glued book into a "standing press," where it will stay for six hours to dry. PVA dries quickly, but not so much between leather covers, which retain a significant amount of moisture. This copy is a prototype--before full-line assembly of the books begins, the leather covers will be transported to another location, where the title, authors' names, and museum logo will be stamped in gold foil on their spines.

Both editions of Charles M. Russell: Watercolors, 1887-1926 are going to be truly special. But this Collector's Edition is in a class of its own. The retail price is guaranteed through December 31, 2015, so the wise book lover will preorder a copy now! Come 2016, the book's price will be driven by market demand. If you have any questions, email will.gillham@cartermuseum.org; to order either edition of the book, email sales@cartermuseum.org or call 817.989.5007.