We’re delighted to welcome our friend Mel Kolstad back to the site today to share a recent collage workshop she hosted at the Fond du Lak Public Library.  Mel is a huge supporter of libraries, and her collage work often uses discarded books for material and inspiration!  Enjoy– Erinn

Book Spine Collage at Fond du Lac Public Library

by Mel Kolstad

For the second time in 16 months, I had the good fortune of teaching a “Crafternoon” at the Fond du Lac Public Library.  I love teaching these workshops because: a) They’re well attended; b) they’re at “my” library so I don’t have to travel; and c) I love our library and would gladly help them out in any capacity.

Whenever I facilitate a Crafternoon (I don’t really “teach” these classes – I just give a brief tutorial and let the workshop-goers do their thing), I like to incorporate books into the project.  For my first Crafternoon, we made accordion books.  This time around, we took the spines from old books and paired them with vintage handwritten letters and postage stamps to create wonderful, one-of-a-kind collages!

The idea of creating these collages came from another library project – a frame that I created for the donor plaque hanging in our new-ish Express branch of the Fond du Lac Public Library.  Jill Quillian, a very talented calligrapher, was asked to write out the names of the donors, and I was asked to complete the frame.  I had already amassed quite a collection of book spines from various places, so I didn’t have to search long for the inspiration.  Here is that finished product:


Jill Quillian, former library director Ken Hall, and I pose for a newspaper photo with the finished donor plaque for the newly completed FDLPL Express branch

As I was trimming the excess book spine material from this piece, it struck me how beautiful these old linen book covers were, and I saved all of those little scraps.  I then made this piece, which was purchased as a going-away gift for Ken Hall (see above photo), the retiring library director.  I was thrilled that once again, one of my book spine projects had a library tie-in!

When I was consulting with our library staff last year as to what sort of project I’d like to do for my upcoming workshop, I had chosen another book idea. But this past summer I had created yet another book spine collage and remembered how much fun it is to do, and changed my mind about the project.

I’m so glad I did!  As you’ll soon see, the workshop-goers did a TREMENDOUS job of creating their own collages – and every person’s creation is entirely her own!  From these collages of mine as an example…

…Came some pretty spectacular and inventive collages!  And that’s one of the best parts about using something as common as a book spine as a medium – everyone’s got a different idea of how to utilize this object.  Some people worked in a linear fashion, like I do; others took their collages in a completely opposite direction.

What a wonderful way to spend a freezing February afternoon!  I can’t wait ‘til my next “Crafternoon”!  🙂   Oh, and last, but not least – a SUPER shout-out to the fabulous Nancy Groff, Circulation Supervisor at the FDLPL, for amassing many, many book spines for this project!  😀

Note: The FDLPL’s “Crafternoon”  was inspired by a similar program at the New York Public Library that’s run by Maura Madden, who wrote, Crafternoon: A Guide to Getting Artsy and Crafty with Your Friends All Year Long.

All photos © Brian Kolstad.  All rights reserved.

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