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The Fine Art of Nesting

Create your own book for your journal and make it part of our community’s history

By Charlie Westerink

To play and explore in one’s journal is to sit at the Kitchen Table of the Soul— the Inner Hearth— and listen. In our journals we sit with our pain, we celebrate our victories, and, sometimes, we find peace. A journal does more than just diarize your life; journals are portable studios and patient teachers. They are constant and faithful companions. Like nests, the coziest journals are constructed by hand using great care and infinite patience. They reflect our individuality and creativity. They allow us to transcend the present moment and envision a brighter future.

From time immemorial books have played a key role in our development as people, and as humans. Books allow for the transmission of information from culture to culture and from generation to generation. They allow us to take inventory, record debts, track events over time, develop complex thoughts and protocols, and travel to previously unimagined worlds. Without the book, science is impossible and philosophy would look very different. Books are perhaps the most useful tool ever created by humans, and whether you are an active reader or not, they have shaped your life in tremendous, difficult to ignore ways.

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

After all, the book is a fundamental building block in the technological chain that has led us to the internet and our modern day devices. This is evidenced everywhere in the terminology of our technology. You scroll down on your tablet, you swipe left to view the next page, you create a bookmark, and publish a blog post. Books are so ingrained in our culture and way of thinking that we can only understand new technology by drawing comparisons to the book.

This holds true through the entire history of the book. The oldest known books in existence are the Nag Hammadi Codices. These early codices are papyrus leaves sewn into a leather binding. They represent a moment of transition from the papyrus scroll to the paper-leafed book we have today. We saw the same thing again when modes of production improved during the industrial revolution, and again the design of the book was modernized, fake bands were introduced to mimic the familiar cords so often present on in-board bindings, and hollow back case bindings became commonplace due to their modular construction.

The production of books is every bit as humanizing as their consumption. We are perhaps even more human in our construction of books than in our use thereof. What sets us apart from other animals more than the creation and use of tools? The bookbinder’s tools are ancient, yet elegant and refined. Wood, bone, brass, and steel are shaped in subtle ways to match their purpose. A bookbinder is adept not only in work with paper, but also in sharpening knives and chisels, working with wood, leather, fine metals, and a variety of adjacent crafts.

We at the Nederland Community Library believe strongly in the importance of engaging with books as physical objects. Not only does this practice strengthen one’s relationship with the book, it is deeply grounding and meditative. While it is important to slow down, to meditate and reflect, and to listen in the best of times, it is especially important to engage with the present moment, to work with one’s hands, and to interact with the world immediately around us during these turbulent and trying times in which we live. The practice of making and keeping a journal is deeply cathartic. For this reason, and for the love of books, we are pleased to announce a variety of Book Arts programming to unfold this summer as part of our Summer Reading Program and beyond.

Workshops on paper making and kits for bookbinding

We will be offering small group workshops for all ages on topics such as Paste Paper and Japanese paper marbling, non-adhesive book structures, and letterlocking. We will also be distributing bookbinding kits to allow independent work from home for our patrons of all ages and skill levels. These kits contain all the materials needed to bind and keep your own journal, as well as detailed written and video instructions. We are excited to help you build and populate a cozy and comfortable nest that will accompany you through the highest highs and lowest lows of life in the age of COVID. We are also interested in cataloguing your journals once you have completed them, in the interest of archiving this wild and historic time in human history. Kits can be obtained by emailing Cathy Grace or calling the Nederland Community Library at 303.258.1101.

We encourage Peak to Peak residents of all ages, sizes, genders, sexual preferences, colors, races, creeds, religions, levels of maturity, and philosophical or political leanings to reach out and begin journaling with us this summer. Everyone has a story. Every voice has value. What better time than now to discover yours?

Charlie Westerink took a serious interest in journaling in the course of his MFA in the Book Arts at the University of Alabama, where he explored the therapeutic effects of journaling, and of creating journals, through the works of the esteemed Paulus Berensohn. He has worked in conservation and as a private bookbinder for the last several years, and is currently in residence at the Nederland Community Library as a Library Assistant and the Director of the Ned Speaks Oral History Program.

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