Leslie Marsh, Bound & Blended

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I’m quite sure I was born with the urge to create. Like most of us, I drew, colored and painted as a child, moving on to pottery, macramé and other tactile arts as a teenager. My grandmother was a prolific seamstress, and I used to draw patterns that she’d incorporate into quilts. She also inspired me to do my own stitching handwork. I helped paint sets for the theater crowd in high school and always thought I’d go to art school.

Except I didn’t.

I pursued another interest: English and my love for books. I worked as an administrative assistant fresh out of college, then a copy editor and managing editor. The written word was my focus and arranging them in a way that was easily read and understood, my job.

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That’s not to say that I gave up entirely on art. I still painted and sketched a little, though mostly to entertain my kids. I learned to sew, making costumes and dolls, stitching samplers for our walls, pin cushions, quilts. . . And I collected old things – daguerreotypes, tins, and all sorts of functional items that were no longer used in a modern world.

Later, I blended my creative interests with my love of books. I’ve often said that blogging changed my life. It opened the world to me, and I spent countless hours sifting through the web sites of artists whose work I admired, asking questions and attending informal workshops. Without even being fully aware of what was happening, I was being remolded into an artist, taking inspiration from a wide variety of influences.

Judy Wilkenfeld taught me that personal history could be assembled into beautiful tomes that might compel a viewer to learn the story behind a creation. Daniel Essig inspired me to strive for perfection. Stephanie Lee showed me how to mold metal. Michael DeMeng, to problem-solve. From India Flint I learned to coax color from the landscape. So many teachers, hand-picked to help me create the work I wanted to make.

All of the inspiration led me to where I am today. I am a book artist. Mostly, I create books with metal covers. Often, their pages have been dyed using leaves I find in my surroundings. I incorporate many of the odds and ends I find at flea markets and antique stores into the covers of my books. My studio has been described as much like that of a 1900’s inventor, as if “Johnny Depp might poke his head in the door, outfitted in his Tim Burton-inspired Willy Wonka costume.”

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My work can be found in private collections around the world and in galleries in all corners of the United States. Recently, Baylor University acquired one of my books for their book arts collection, which functions as a teaching tool for both studio artists working in the medium as well as various disciplines outside the arts.

I also teach workshops across the U.S. I love spending creative time with the people I meet at my workshops and sharing my knowledge with them.

I hope you can join me in Lancaster, Pennsylvania April 22nd – 24th when I teach bookmaking through Art of the Journey. We’ll be making 3” x 4” soldered, Coptic bound books. I look forward to getting to know you there and sharing my love of books with you!

Written by: Leslie Marsh, www.leslie-marsh.com