The Art of the Book / Workshop Instructor / March 2016
Fresh Milk Art Platform, Barbados
As part of her month-long artist residency at Fresh Milk in Barbados, Sonia taught a four-part course on book arts. One full day a week, her class of twelve students from a variety of backgrounds, ages, and artistic practices to learn about how to make books and generate content for those books.
In week one, she introduced the concept and history of book arts and they started with basic folded structures such as the concertina, which they were tasked to fill with an alphabet of their own design.
In week two, she delved into small presses, zines, and chapbooks, introducing students to simple bound structures such as a pamphlet by making our own poetic anthology together under the name “Fresh Verse.”
In week three, they explored more complex and sculptural folded projects such as the hexaflexagon, flag book, and tunnel book to create playful collaborative and non-linear narratives: an “exquisite corpse poem” as an accordion book, and an exploration of regional slang in a snake book.
For their final week, the class dipped into the world of fine binding, each student completing two multi-signature blank notebooks to record future creative endeavors: a an exposed spine hardcover book, and a softcover leather notebook.
Students who took the class say:
“As a book lover with a deep interest in books as beautiful art objects, I leapt at the chance to participate in Sonia Farmer’s Bookmaking workshop at Fresh Milk. Taking us from simple bookbinding techniques to more complicated book construction, Sonia’s guidance was clear, playful, eye-opening and most of all fun. Many of the methods and tools she introduced to us during that workshop are now part of my own mixed media art practice where multilevel construction is also an integral step in my methodology.” – Llanor Alleyne
“Sonia is a wonderfully approachable, knowledgeable and friendly educator. She created a safe and creative space that was a true delight to explore book arts within. The syllabus was significantly varied and informative enough to keep our very seasoned cohort of artists suitably entertained and delighted throughout.” – Nerys Rudder
“I must say that Sonia’s Art of the Book class was a definite forerunner in all the classes I have ever attended. It was insightful, informative, and thoroughly enjoyable. She took us through centuries of her subject, right up to the present day, covering diverse countries, and a myriad of techniques. We not only were exposed to much that we never knew before, but during the packed sessions, she led us through many practical exercises, providing us with all the materials required, while encouraging us to use our imagination. We were all inspired by her passion and total commitment to her work.” – Deanne Kennedy