Open House at the Austin Book Arts Center

The city’s epicenter of old-school book tech invites you to visit!

Open House at the Austin Book Arts Center

You should be warned, citizen, that the Austin Book Arts Center is a hotbed of disruptive technology.

In this rapidly churning, Internetted age in which we’re constantly checking Facebook when we’re not tweeting about the last thing we pinned before updating our Tumblr’s colorful Instagram sub-collection, a book, an actual physical object that’s handcrafted and filled with OMG printed words, well, that’s one hella rebellious thing, isn’t it?

And now there’s a perfect place to get your retro-bibliorevolution on, comrade, as far as constructing one of those old-school objects that have been the repositories of knowledge since before the Library of Alexandria was accidentally burned to the ground by Julius Caesar in 48 BC.

(Well, no: Of course those were mostly scrolls, those Alexandrian knowledge-repositories. We exaggerated allusionwise just to give the more educated among our readers a chance to feel all satisfied with themselves, until this moment, for “catching” our “error.” Hail Eris!)

Anyway, listen: If you’ve read this far, you’re likely to be someone who’s interested in making a book of your own. Not a mass-produced trade paperback sort of thing, but a lovingly printed, carefully blocked, hand-stitched, limited-edition volume of whatever content you deem most worthy? Maybe you even want to fancy up the cover of it with some bona fide letterpress work?

Then the new Austin Book Arts Center is definitely the place for you.

Note: They’re having an open house this Saturday, Sept. 12, from 10am to 5pm, at the Flatbed Press World Headquarters wherein the ABAC spacious studio is located: 2832 E. MLK #114.

You can meet the people behind this glorious endeavor – the executive director Amanda Stevenson and board-of-directors chair Mary Baughman and others – at this open house. And, we reckon, you can meet a few of the other instructors there, too.

“Our teachers are drawn from local private businesses,” says Stevenson, “they’re professionals in their field. The Austin area has so many talented, skilled people working in the book arts. And eventually we’ll be able to feature guest teachers, nationally known masters of the craft who travel the country and provide workshops.”

Note: Before coming to ABAC, Stevenson worked for seven years as curator at Houston’s Printing Museum, where she was responsible for organizing exhibitions, managing collections, and running the education programs. Even before that, she worked at the Center for Book Arts up there in New York City.

Yes, this is no operation started by hopeful tyros: This is a center grounded in years of experience and skill.

And board chair Baughman? She’s a founding member of Austin Book Workers, and one of the originators of the Book Arts Fair held for 20+ years at Laguna Gloria Art Museum. Not to mention her 39 years’ worth of book-based work at the Harry Ransom Center.

So, again, you can see the solid foundation of this Austin Book Arts Center. You can see a literary future forming itself in page after page, due to these champions of classic technology.

And what sort of students are the faculty of seasoned bibliotechnicians going to be helping? Well, yourself, for one, whatever sort of person you are – if any of the affordable classes appeals to you. If really getting into the process appeals to you.

“A lot of people taking the classes, the letterpress and bookbinding, they’re graphic designers of one kind or another,” says Amanda Stevenson. “And they want to get ink on their hands, and to wear an apron, to be thoroughly involved in the physical process of making a book.”

And how about you, dear reader? Ready to set aside the rigmarole of the pixel-stained link-clicker for a brief, satisfying journey among the art of books?

We’ll see you there, ink at the ready.

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