Shanna Leino Workshop

A marvelous time was had by all at the 12th Century Coptic workshop with Shanna Leino last weekend, January 17 and 18. The workshop was held at The University of the Arts, and was filled with fantastic personalities, not the least of which was the sparkling and witty Shanna.

Ten students were whipped into action as they made cover boards from laminated papyrus, sewed text blocks with a 4 needle Coptic stitch, pared leather for covers and trim—all this in the first few hours. Shanna’s humor directed them well through each daunting step, and she provided sugary snacks at the appropriate afternoon hour to keep them going.

The students left on Saturday evening with a sewn book in hand, and homework: work on their leather covers! (I didn’t, and was significantly behind the next day).

One of the beautiful things about this particular structure is the appliquéd leather cover. Simple designs were boned onto the covers using a template, and then parts of the design were cut away. Additional pieces of leather, in contrasting or similar colors, are attached to the back, and then stitched, creating an appliqué. There was much excitement about this step, and minds were racing as to what they could do with this. (Hedi was already thinking paper and Tyvek…)

Sunday came, headbands were sewn, covers continued to be worked on, and as the grand finale: a lesson in hardware-making. Shanna demonstrated how to make brass pegs for the books. The pegs are inserted into the double cover after the leather is put on, and combined with a leather toggle, provided a nice closure. Muscles were worked out as the students huffed and puffed to get their pegs made. It was a beautiful site. Denise Carbone was particularly excited about her peg.

In two short days, ten beautiful leather bound books were completed, many jokes were made, and spirits were generally high. You’d be hard-pressed to find a comparable experience. Thank you to the Guild and thank you to Shanna—hopefully she’ll be back in Philadelphia soon!

by Erin Sweeney

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