02 Sep 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 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 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.