Falling Into the Moment: What the Book Arts Collaborative Means to Me


By: Nikki Kendall


The first time I heard about the Book Arts Collaborative, I was sitting in a fiction writing class. Our professor informed us that we were to spend two class times in a Book Arts Collaborative workshop, a type of mini-immersive learning experience. And I can honestly say that I am very thankful he provided us with that opportunity.

Upon setting foot in the Book Arts Collaborative shop, I fell instantly in love—in love with the smell, the environment, the comradery, how artsy it was. And now that I have actually begun the full immersive learning course, that love has grown. Every time I walk through that door, everything else ceases to exist. Not only does the class demand it, but I want it to be that way, want my focus to be solidly on the class. I can just leave everything from the outside world at the door and allow my shoulders to relax, just completely destress for a short time. Everything else will be there for me to pick back up on my way out.


It has only been a few weeks, I will admit, but so far, even more than the environment and comradery, my favorite part of Book Arts Collaborative is when I am working on a project, particularly the sewing aspect of it. When I’m sewing a book, I can just clear my mind, focus on making each stitch and fall into the soothing rhythm of it; nothing else exists to me in that moment, only the combination of needle, thread, and paper. And with the next step of the process, the binding of it to board and decorative paper while shaping it into a finished product, I can feel a mixture of joy and pride, that I am able to make something so beautiful, that I did make something so beautiful. I will admit that my first casebook was not perfect, and that I still have a ways to go, but I know that with every stitch, every binding, every book, I will only get better, and my enjoyment of it will continue to grow.

Overall, this is one experience that I am happy to have not missed out on, one that I feel will help me to grow, not only in creativity and imagination, but in confidence of myself and with others.  I know I look forward to the rest of the semester with both devoted eagerness and with a touch of sadness that it will be over soon in the face of the next stage of my life. Regardless, though, I know I will always look back on this time with fondness, and hope that many others will be able to experience the same magic of the Book Arts Collaborative that I am currently able to. It is a reward I could never have fully expected, but will always be thankful to have received.

This piece was written by a Ball State University student and member of the Book Arts Collaborative in Muncie, Indiana. The Book Arts Collaborative is dedicated to preserving and promoting the apprentice-taught skills of letterpress printing and book binding through community interaction. It's not just what we make that matters, but how we learn from one another to make it happen.