I went over to Handmade and Bound at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film and it was amazing. Seriously, amazing seems like too small a word. I'll admit, I was expecting something kind of dorky and cheesy and ill-attended, but no! There were food trucks and performers and nice-sized crowds. I didn't get to any of the demonstrations, because I got caught up talking to the different people who were selling stuff.
There were a ton of 'zines, some self-published books, lots of handmade paper, these beautiful tiny books made into earrings and necklace charms, some fabulous examples of hand-bound books by local artisans, and a whole long section devoted to Austin Peay.
They had a table of books that students had made on the letterpress equipment. One book was made of green canvas and had handmade chain-mail on the back side of each page. It was, as you might guess, about the military. And there was this huge fold-up accordion-type book like probably two feet tall and six, maybe eight feet wide, if flat, that was Hansel and Gretel with these striking woodcut images. I think the gal who was watching the table was afraid I was going to lick it or run off with it or something, because she made a point of telling me that this copy was for Austin Peay's permanent collection.
I asked them if they were going to be back for the Southern Festival of Books, because it seems like a no-brainer that, if Austin Peay is up to all this awesome book-making, they should be at the state's most awesome book festival, but they said they weren't. I vowed to find a way to make that happen for next year, but the truth is I'm not honestly sure how to arrange that. I wonder if I could somehow set the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts up on a blind date with The Southern Festival of Books.
All in all, it was really cool and a great compliment to Southern Festival of Books and an excellent component of Mayor Dean's Artober initiative.