Champion Demers wood cover books

The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild

Roxanne Lafleur

The Ottawa Valley Chapter of the national Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (CBBAG [pronounced cabbage]), is a volunteer-run organization whose mandate is to create a spirit of community among bookbinders and book artists and the wider book community. Our group promotes greater public awareness of bookbinding and the book arts, and fosters excellence in bookbinding and the book arts by organizing education opportunities and exhibitions.

CBBAG Membership is open to any individual interested in the “art of the book” including bookbinders and book decorators; book collectors, dealers, archivists, and conservators; librarians; calligraphers; paper-makers and paper marblers; letterpress and other printmakers. Members receive the CBBAG magazine published twice a year, book arts related news, preferred rates on workshops — including workshops offered by “sister” guilds, such as the Calligraphy Society of Ottawa. We are encouraged to participate in CBBAG book arts fairs, and may enter the Art of the Book juried exhibitions.

The CBBAG Ottawa Valley Chapter meets on the second Wednesday of each month (September through June). Our meetings are open to both members and the general public and they are free. Each meeting involves presentations on a wide variety of topics and a sharing of ideas and projects. This season, our programme includes Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence; Tricks of the Trade; Part 2 of a report on the 32nd International Association of Paper Historians Congress, an examination of watermarks and information recording; a Wheel Chart Booklet demonstration; Page Design; and more. I always find the meetings to be not only interesting and informative but also fun. Don’t take my word for it, drop by and see for yourself!

Each year, the CBBAG Ottawa Valley Chapter organizes a series of weekend workshops to provide hands-on training in a variety of book arts related skills. Bookbinding 101 is offered every year, to get interested participants up to speed quickly on the basics of bookbinding. Depending on demand and instructor availability, we may offer any of the six core courses for CBBAG’s certificate of completion. The other workshops we offer focus on particular techniques. Still to come this season are one-day workshops on sewn boards binding, rounded boxes, and Coptic binding with wood boards; a two-day workshop on advanced wood engraving techniques; and one of the core courses, Bookbinding I offered over two three-day weekends.

Thanks to the generosity of CBBAG Ottawa Valley Chapter members, CBBAG is regularly represented at events in the region. Since June, we provided information, demonstrations and hands-on activities to all ages at the Ottawa Small Press Book Fair, Culture Days at the Cornwall Public Library, and Manotick's Dickinson Days.

To showcase members’ works, the chapter periodically organizes exhibitions. In February, an exhibit on swap projects will be presented at the Shenkman Art Centre. Each year, we plan a swap where participants prepare a number of elements, such as signatures, to exchange with one another. Each participant then “binds” their collection to form a single work. In order to foster creativity, the techniques, themes and rules vary for each swap project.

On May 14th, we will be hosting the 2016 Ottawa Book Arts Show and Sale at the Glebe Community Centre. This day-long fair is an opportunity to explore and purchase fine handcrafted products, attend talks and demonstrations on the book arts, and engage with book artists and experts.

To learn more, attend a CBBAG Ottawa Valley Chapter meeting or register for a workshop, visit our website. To receive our news, including meeting reminders, upcoming workshops, and book arts related events, email