Book Arts Collaborative – What We Do, Who We Are

The Book Arts Collaborative is a makerspace in downtown Muncie where community members and Ball State students learn about letterpress printing, book binding, and artist’s book design and publishing. We offer community workshops in basic book arts skills and classes leading to finished projects. Check our Events page to register for upcoming workshops. We are also the home of  Book Arts Collaborative Press.


Book Arts

Book arts is an engaging, cross-disciplinary field in which we create such objects as hand printed and bound artist’s books, letter-pressed greeting cards, broadsides, and other print ephemera.

Book Arts starts with the history of the book  (paper making, moveable type, codex bindings, etc.)  while working toward the realization of student and community participants’ own projects and goals. The program encourages students and community members to work together.  We provide professional equipment and education, but participants provide the sparks and energy that power communal creativity.


Letterpress is one of the oldest traditional printing techniques. Paper is printed or lightly embossed by inked type, blocks, or plates.  Advancements in letterpress allow a wide range of methods for creating images from traditional wood and lead type to 21st Century computer design on polymer plates.  The Book Arts Collaborative puts these tools in the hands of makers.  We currently house eight 19th and 20th Century presses, 72 sets of type, and several cases of vintage advertising images; these are supplemented by the phenomenal collections of our community partners, Tribune Showprint Posters, Inc.


Book Binding

Book binders might create something as simple as an accordion folded page or a hand-sewn, hard-covered book with a leather spine. Book design is open to a wide range of materials and fabrication elements derrived from the basic notion of pages or “leaves” and protective covering material.  The Book Arts Collaborative offers lessons on a variety of binding techniques while encouraging creativity so that participants can create artist’s books and journals that meet their own needs aesthetically and functionally.

Meet the Book Arts Collaborative Staff


Rai Peterson  teaches American and Modernist literature, queer theory, history of the book, and bookbinding classes in the Department of English.  Her scholarly publications focus on American and British women writers in Paris between the World Wars, but she frequently returns to the topic of her doctoral dissertation, E. E. Cummings.  She likes to experiment with contemporary variations on classic designs as a book-binder, and she is an apprentice printer.  Rai held the H.D. Fellowship in American literature at the Beinecke Library, Yale University. She is writing a biography of Solita Solano.  Her previous immersive seminars have focused on Paris in the 1920s and Hoosier author Kurt Vonnegut.


Colleen Steffen wrote features at four daily newspapers in three different states for 13 years before a stint in PR, a master’s in English literature, the appearance of a current 9-year-old, and an obsession with a little girl who disappeared from New Castle in 1913, which resulted in a literary agent and a book manuscript. This is Colleen’s fifth year teaching full-time at Ball State University, where she has led student journalists on five travel-abroad experiences, including to the Olympics in Russia and Brazil, as well as on somewhat tamer (but definitely smellier) adventures manning a student newsroom at the Indiana State Fair. Originally from Kentucky, daughter of a one-time newspaper pressman, she is thrilled to have found a use for all the vintage ephemera she hoards from local flea markets.

As a professional librarian, Amy Trendler spends a lot of her time around books. Well-versed in helping researchers find and access the content in books, she is excited to be exploring the art and craft of the books themselves with the Book Arts Collaborative. Since 2005, Amy has been the Architecture Librarian at Ball State where she supports student and faculty research in the College of Architecture and Planning. Before joining the University Libraries staff she worked with researchers, curators, and interns as a librarian at the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicago. Amy holds master’s degrees in art history and library and information science from the University of Illinois.


Kim Miller is the owner/operator of Tribune Showprint Posters, Inc., our community partner who is conveniently located in the same facilities as we are.  A former public school art teacher, Kim taught kindergarten and middle school students before striking out on her own as a printer.  At Tribune, she prints letter pressed posters for local and national events as well as invitations, drink coasters, and other letter pressed products.  Kim is also a silk screen artist who runs a t-shirt printing business “in her spare time.”  Kim is the shop manager at Book Arts Collaborative, which means she oversees use of presses, type, and other tools as well as teaching screen printing workshops and advising students on their projects.


Rob Miller is the co-owner of Tribune Showprint Posters, Inc. and our unpaid, go-to consultant on all things printing, equipment, tools repair, and heavy lifting.  By day he is a transportation engineer, but during most evenings and weekends he helps us acquire presses, solve problems, figure out vintage equipment, welcome guests, and teach printing workshops.  A Ball State alumnus, he developed an unhealthy interest in letter press printing about half a dozen years ago, and we are all the richer for it.

Tales for Two Cities

A new entertainment project known as Two-Town Theater Co. will begin its mission of “telling tales for two cities” this fall. The two cities are New Castle and Muncie.

The idea for Two-Town originated with Dick Willis who taught and directed plays in New Castle for many years, and who has continued to direct in Muncie, primarily at The Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities.

The board of directors of the not-for-profit theater company has selected Madjax in Muncie as its home base. Madjax, at the corner of Madison and Jackson Streets, is a project to reclaim a former commercial laundry building as a place for “makers” to create. The building is home to a bookbinder, a print shop, a robotics lab, a microbrewery and now, a theater group. Artists and craftsmen will also be housed in the 88,000-square-feet building.

Willis is eager to produce plays in New Castle again and is excited about the library auditorium. “It has been challenging to create designs for stage settings that will be portable and that will work in both venues,” he says.

The inaugural season consists of six plays and accomplishes one of the main goals of the group: to produce plays old and new, classic and contemporary.

Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” is the first production scheduled. Two-Town will tell the story as Shakespeare wrote it, exploiting the confusion caused by two sets of identical twins, but will set the play in the wild American West.

Auditions are 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10 and 3-5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11 at the New Castle-Henry County Public Library. In Muncie, auditions are 2-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 12-13 at Madjax, 515 E. Main St. Parts are available for several actors/actresses in their 20s, some older men and women, three can-can dancers and other roles for various ages.

Two-Town Theater invites actors, dancers, and singers from Muncie and New Castle and the surrounding communities to audition for all the plays. Backstage workers – set builders, costume builders and people with other skills – are encouraged to join in for the new project. Two-Town is a “communities theater.”

The following plays will complete the inaugural season:

• An original musical written by Willis and Sherrie Hancock Burke (in 1960) is an energetic spoof of the college musicals popular in the 1920’s.

• The winter show is “My Three Angels” by Sam and Bella Spewak, set in French Guiana in 1905 at Christmas time. Three convicts from Devil’s Island use several unorthodox methods to help a distressed family have a happy Christmas.

• Tennessee Williams’ classic, “The Glass Menagerie,” will be presented in February. The poetic drama examines the disappointed lives of a faded Southern belle and her two children during the Great Depression.

• Two-Town Theater organizers are excited to produce “Fixing Up,” a lively, hysterical, prize-winning comedy by Muncie playwrights John and Jenni Marsh. The title suggests fixing up an old house as well as fixing up several romances.

• The season concludes with Oscar Wilde’s comedy, “The Importance of Being Earnest.” Wilde was at the height of his comic genius when he wrote his most famous work.

For information, send inquiries to: Two-Town Theater Co., PO Box 1944, Muncie, IN 47308, or text or call Dick Willis at 765 465 1244, or email him at, or contact the theater’s email at

– Information provided by Two-Town Theater Co.


Cintas Initiative Appoints Urban Planner


Muncie’s effort to revitalize and repurpose the former Cintas building received an important boost this week.  Earlier today, John Fallon, Executive Director of Sustainable Muncie Corporation, announced the appointment of Scott Truex as the organization’s Director of Facility and Program Development.  Truex, a faculty member in Ball State University’s Department of Urban Planning, has extensive experience in working with communities throughout Indiana to revitalize themselves and develop their potential.  Continue reading Cintas Initiative Appoints Urban Planner