Michael Holstein's Profile

About

I make my "slow books" by hand, one by one, using fine papers, often Japanese and Italian papers when I can. I like to use marbled papers from a variety of faraway places, and even when I'm lucky, papers that paper makers have made for me. One of my paper suppliers told me that the handmade papers I include in my books will not be available in another 10 or 15 years—the younger generation is not taking up the craft: it’s too hard, too demanding. She said my books will help preserve the paper makers’ art.

I have exhibited in galleries and university libraries, and my books have been purchased by university special collections and by book collectors as well as people looking to own or give hand-made books. Every one of my books is slightly different, even for the same title, because I choose different cover material, different stock for the text block, or I’ll use different colors on pages, different…

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  • Male
  • Born on April 22
  • Joined September 29, 2010

Favorite materials

a guillotine paper cutter, several small knives, binders needle and thread, a paper hole poker for stab bindings, a book press that my neighbor built for me in exchange for my binding two of his illustrated autobiographies in original covers, the sharp little scissors on my army knife, a multicolored lead pencil that I bought abroad, handmade papers, marbled papers, local handicrafts when I travel that I can embed into my travel poetry book covers, archival glue and doublesided archival tape

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About

I make my "slow books" by hand, one by one, using fine papers, often Japanese and Italian papers when I can. I like to use marbled papers from a variety of faraway places, and even when I'm lucky, papers that paper makers have made for me. One of my paper suppliers told me that the handmade papers I include in my books will not be available in another 10 or 15 years—the younger generation is not taking up the craft: it’s too hard, too demanding. She said my books will help preserve the paper makers’ art.

I have exhibited in galleries and university libraries, and my books have been purchased by university special collections and by book collectors as well as people looking to own or give hand-made books. Every one of my books is slightly different, even for the same title, because I choose different cover material, different stock for the text block, or I’ll use different colors on pages, different glues, or just be in a different frame of mind.

I have been hooked on books ever since I started reading my father’s Zane Grey novels, and I never go anywhere without a book. I was first inspired to make books by hand by the books that William Blake crafted, etching his writings into copper plates and then hand-colored the pages with his wife. Fortunately, I lived in a community that has three professional book makers who share their tools and expertise. I’m a member of a calligraphy guild and co-editor of our newsletter, and I count letter forms as my friends.

I have retired from college teaching, having taught variously at the Universities of Minnesota and Texas, Fordham University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Oregon Institute of Technology, and the Southern Oregon University. I lived in the Shakespeare destination city of Ashland, Oregon, but I have recently moved to Portland, one of the true book cities in North America. I am also a performance poet as well as a book artist and enjoy giving dramatic readings of poems.

As I work, I listen to baroque music, and I take green tea breaks. I enjoy seeing how my books turn out. They often surprise me, especially when they mature in their various incarnations into works of art. Good. My goal is to make beautiful books, sometimes unusual books, that feel good to hand and eye, that read well, and that will last for centuries.

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