Big Jump Press

Penland box making is the best box making.


I am in North Carolina deep into a two-week box making course at the Penland School of Craft. Two weeks! Bliss!  Students actually have the time not only to learn or refresh their skills on basic box forms, but also to design and produce independent and innovative enclosures. We’ve got a table covered with small collections that people have brought. Shells. Bones. Measuring tape. Doll arms. Tiny clay vessels.

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We’ve just wrapped up week one, and with a variety of structures under our belt, things can start to go in a direction that I usually don’t have time for in a workshop setting. And I can’t wait. After week one, we’ve got a lot of projects underway. Jamie Karolich is creating an enclosure for a set of prints.


Sara White, my excellent assistant, is building a partitioned clamshell for some Mokuhanga tools and blocks.


Allison is hard at work on a box for these beauties.


And I am making my own projects as I demonstrate bits and pieces. Like this partitioned box:


That slides into a slipcase.

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Oh, boxmaking. How I love you. We’ve even got time to delve into geeky box details that usually I don’t have time for, even at home. Like cutting windows:


And making book cloth:


And trying out new tricks, like using legos to build partition boxes:


And, finally, a chance to release all of my obsessive box models into a setting where they can all be useful at the same time. Geeky victory.

photo 1

Every day our central table gets more and more interesting as people lay out their work.

photo 2

Four more full days of working in the studio to come. Stay tuned for more amazing results from Allison, Jamie, Larry, Selene, Sara, Betsy, Jen, Edgar,  and Amy. I can’t wait to see what happens.

photo 3


21 comments on “Penland box making is the best box making.

  1. Peggy Seeger
    August 17, 2014

    Thank you for sharing that. Gives me a sense of what a class at Penland is like?

    • Big Jump Press
      August 18, 2014

      Hi Peggy! I’m glad you liked it. Penland is absolutely wonderful. Hope you can get here sometime!

  2. bobblesse
    August 17, 2014

    Wow, that’s very exciting, what wonderful work you and the students are doing. Jaime Shafer, the new fellow at the Black Rock Press, is going to be at Penland for a couple of weeks beginning next week, I think. She’s wonderful, I just met her last week. Vicki and I leave for Italy on Sept. 7, let’s keep in touch.

    • Big Jump Press
      August 18, 2014

      Hi Bob! I’ll leave things in good order for Jaime! Have a safe trip! Looking forward to seeing you on the other side. . .

  3. Jody
    August 17, 2014

    Looks like heaven to me. A lot of beautiful work here.

  4. lgpaperarts
    August 18, 2014

    What fun! I am teaching a two day box class at The Clearing next week and I would love to show them what your group is accomplishing! Great job! Warmly, Nancy

    Sent from my iPad Liberty Grove Paper Arts


    • Big Jump Press
      August 18, 2014

      Thanks Nancy! Have a great class next week! May the box gods go with you.


  5. Melanie
    August 18, 2014

    Ridiculously inspiring…giving me all kinds of ideas for making boxes for these origami paper dresses I’ve been making. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

    • Big Jump Press
      August 18, 2014

      Neither can I! Thanks Melanie! Good luck with the boxes for those dresses.

  6. Phiona Richards
    August 18, 2014

    I would have loved to have been there, but it was the same date as my holiday in the UK. I’m hoping to come on one of your courses when you get back. Loved the article, I think I need to put Penland on my wish list.

    • Big Jump Press
      August 18, 2014

      Hi Phiona! Too bad you couldn’t make it this time, but I look forward to seeing you soon! Penland is so much fun. I’ll tell you all about it when I see you!


  7. sjdonaldson
    August 19, 2014

    ooooh looks like a perfect two weeks! 🙂

  8. sappling
    August 19, 2014

    A box-maker after my own heart. I think you would like this:

    • Big Jump Press
      August 19, 2014

      Sappling! (also Sarah?) I learned this from YOU!!! I couldn’t remember where I had read it and now here you are! Thank you! It is the BEST trick. This is the first time I’ve used it and me and my students are ALL OVER the legos. I only wish I had more of them. I had to buy them on ebay, 20 for £5 (!!!) because I couldn’t find any children to steal from. Thanks for the top tip of my box making year.

      Best wishes,

      • sappling
        August 19, 2014

        Also Sarah 😉 Using Legos was my top tip, too, when I taught boxmaking at the Center for Book Arts. I’m so pleased that it’s spreading. I even use them for bookbinding now to make sure the covers are lined up when I attach them.

      • Big Jump Press
        August 20, 2014

        Legos are going to change my life!! Thank you!!!

    • kathyhamre2014
      April 20, 2015

      What a brilliant idea! Thanks so much for sharing it.

  9. Jackie
    February 22, 2015

    Penland Yeah!! I took a long stitch binding class there and it changed my life! Beth Schiable taught the class, such bliss! It’s a totally immersive experience, so go with an open heart and CREATE! Love this blog, thank you so much for sharing!

    • Big Jump Press
      February 23, 2015

      Thanks Jackie! I loved teaching at Penland and want to get back there as soon as I can. Especially now that there is a new paper/book studio. mmmmmmmmm

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This entry was posted on August 17, 2014 by in Bookbinding, boxes, Workshops and Teaching and tagged , , .
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