Two years after discovering the Carmel Guild of the Book Arts, we had enough knowledge, and without doubt plenty of materials since enthusiastic trips to Flax and Britex and Ganes Bros & Lane filled our cars with creative loot, and plenty of hubris, we opened the book studio in the Barnyard in Carmel, California.
Floyd, our buddy from Salinas, brought us whitewashed barn wood for the interior walls. We sanded and sanded, exposing artistic scratchings, love notes, hearts with arrows and messages from the past.
We and the other fifteen artists with reduced square footage rent were the monkeys in the Barnyard zoo, a public arena with regular hours where we must behave like merchants, not artists, do our art and be willing to
commune with customers about whatever it was we were creating, scraping, sewing.
From the lush Barnyard gardens, let’s walk up the open stairs to a red tiled hallway. Lean over the dutch door, observe us at work in 1976 at the workbench with a tiny hammers tamping the soft white threads of hand bound books flat onto book boards. Or looking out the back window at the Stuyvesant Fish Ranch, an open vista of green hills that mark the entrance to Carmel Valley, stirring a pot of fish glue.
The pounding and the fishy aroma propel our quilting artist neighbor out of her digs to the front door of the book studio. She flings the door open and bustles past the phantom me and gives us a piece of her mind regarding our noisy and smelly activities before she whirls around and floats back to her studio to bury herself among the protective and muffling piles of fabrics. She nicknamed us the “Polished Apples.” We never knew why why.
Look. I still have the sign, painted by yours truly in one of my favorite fonts of all times, Legende. We had the chop made in Chinatown San Francisco. Loosely translated, it says “a place where two young women make books.” We hope it says that.