Book-making workshop provides hands-on outlet for creative expression

The Genesee Valley Cooperative hosted a bookmaking workshop with professional bookbinder, photographer and printer Rebecca Lomuto on March 6. Lomuto’s goal is to “break the barrier between photography and other media, specifically print and book arts.” Based in Rochester, Lomuto teaches at The Genesee Center for the Arts & Education, which offers a wide variety of programs and classes for both adults and kids, as well as facilities and galleries for artists.

At the workshop, attendees learned the step-by-step process of creating a softcover, long stitch journal. In the process of creating their very own journal to bring home with them, participants also learned some finer points and tips for bookmaking.

Lomuto guided students on the different professional and household tools that are used, a few technical bookmaking terms—for instance, a “signature” is a group of pages that go inside the book, whereas a “book block” is a stack of signatures—as well as tips like the more you crease the pages, the better they will sit inside the binding.

Lomuto emphasized the fact that personal preference is an imperative aspect of bookmaking. She noted that imperfection is OK; sometimes it even gives your book or journal character—or as Lomuto called it, a “cute aesthetic.” Second, the journals made in the workshop can be used for any purpose the creator wants and thus, they can design it to fit their needs.

What was so special about this workshop was the mere fact that it has been offered here at Geneseo. Attendee senior Angelica Hadley expressed her belief that the college does not typically offer many creative opportunities such as this workshop on campus. She heard about this particular opportunity through GVC’s Facebook page and was very interested in the event because she holds a certain fascination with handmade books.

Geneseo does have various art galleries on campus and around the community such as the Kinetic Gallery in the MacVittie College Union, the Lederer Gallery in the Brodie Fine Arts Building and the Lockhart Gallery in the McClellan House on Main Street, but they typically focus on the student as an observer, not a creator. Of course, galleries such as these are fantastic for young adults to have access to, but students also crave the opportunity to create for themselves.

Lomuto’s bookmaking workshop did give students that important creative outlet in a very hands-on and interactive class. In order to teach her eager students, Lomuto first described the appropriate steps and then quickly circulated the room, closely guiding students when needed and explaining details along the way. She mentioned that some of the paper being used was hand-made and went on to explain how it is made at Saint-Armand Papermill.

This bookmaking workshop is just one of the “hands-on” activities that GVC offers. Earlier that week, they invited members of the Geneseo community to join them at a dinner which had a variety of vegan-friendly options and they also hosted a composting workshop last month.

Not only does GVC enrich the Geneseo arts scene, but it also actively contributes to bettering the community as a whole through unique opportunities.