Pensacola, Florida
Saturday February 23rd 2019


Binders Keepers

By Hana Frenette

Larry Lou Foster is somewhat of a bookbinding legend. Google her name and you’re likely to see a plethora of blog postings testifying to her genius and graciously praising any opportunity to work with her.

When I finally get the chance to speak with Foster, she’s taking a break from ripping the leather off a book from 1750 that she is currently rebinding.

With a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Auburn, a Master of Fine Arts from George Washington University and another MFA in Book Arts from the University of Alabama, Foster really knows her stuff.

Being surrounded by books as a child might also have something to do with her love and appreciation for making and repairing them.

“My real father died when I was very young,” Foster said. “He was an antiquarian book dealer, and I grew up having all of these beautiful old books.”

Foster will be hosting a bookbinding workshop, as well as a paste paper workshop, at the Pensacola Museum of Art. Since many of the extremely large and heavy tools commonly used for binding will be unavailable, Foster is going to teach using the old-school method.

“You will be challenged by the fact that you’ll be using hand tools,” Foster said. “We’ll be making modern adaptations of historical structures.”

However, those wishing to replicate a process they’ve learned don’t have to sneak into a classroom somewhere and operate some ancient piece of machinery. Instead, they’ll just break out the good ol’ needle and thread. And possibly a ruler.

“Those in the workshop will be able to take away two structures with them,” Foster said. “One very simple one, and then one slightly more complicated one.”

People attending the binding workshop will be making book structures most popular from the 16th and 17th centuries.

The paper paste workshop will be held a month before the bookbinding workshop. Foster will teach the class how to make decorative and practical paper, in bold prints, subtle colors, and varying textures. The paper is perfect for mixed media, collages and, of course, the pages in your new handmade book.

The paste paper workshop will be held on Feb. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a break for lunch in the middle. The cost is $65 and will include all supplies.

“Sometimes people don’t want to make a book, because they are thinking, ‘what in the heck am I going to put in it?’” Foster said.

The binding workshop will give participants a chance to use the paper they created in the paper paste workshop. One of the styles of binding that Foster will teach involves sewing.

“Binding now, in modern times, is a glorified Post-it Note, like most paperbacks,” Foster said. “The line that defines a real book is sewing, while most newer books use glue.”

The binding workshop will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 9, with a break in the middle for lunch. All the materials and tools will be provided in the cost of the class, which is $65.

If you can’t make these one-day workshop classes, Foster will be offering a semester long class at Pensacola State College in the fall. Although it will be pricier, since it’s the cost of a full college course, it will be more intensive and offer a plethora of bookbinding options.

“It wasn’t until Mark Hopper and Krist Lein of the PSC Art Department got involved, that it was made into a class,” Foster said. “Not many schools in the South offer any kind of book art classes whatsoever, and I feel like they really deserve a lot of credit.”

Whether you attend the one-time workshop or commit to the semester-long class, you’ll be able to bind books and make paper in no time, as long as you pay close attention to the details. It’s often the little things that affect the finished product,

“It can be very tedious work,” Foster said. “To fold paper, and sew paper and to just put a whole book together.”

WHEN: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Friday, Feb. 10
WHERE: Pensacola Museum of Art, 407 S. Jefferson St.
COST: $65

WHEN: 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., Friday, March 9
WHERE: Pensacola Museum of Art, 407 S. Jefferson St.
COST: $65