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Festival where books judged by their covers



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Seeing books at Foothill College is nothing unusual. But the books that will be displayed on campus this weekend are a far cry from the average library.

Woven books, books made from match boxes and even edible books will come to Foothill on Saturday as part of the fourth annual Book Arts Jam. The event, sponsored by the college and the Bay Area Book Artists organization, brings experienced bookmakers together with those who are curious about the art form for a day of exhibitions and demonstrations.

This year's event focuses on getting more novices involved in bookmaking: Several hands-on projects will let visitors leave with handmade books of their own.

"I think people are hungry for ways to be creative," said Kent Manske, a book artist who teaches printmaking and other book-arts classes at Foothill.

Art books are works of art unto themselves, combining text and images in various ways. They can take shape as traditional books, scrolls, stitched pages or numerous other formats. Though some artists debate what exactly constitutes a book, many have chosen a simple definition: If the artist says it's a book, it is.

Some book arts, such as letterpress printing, require training and heavy equipment. But other books can be made from something as common as a matchbook or as simple as a single sheet of paper. And it's not just for the accomplished artist, Manske said: As evidenced by the recent surge in scrapbooking, many people are searching for ways to display their photographs, travel souvenirs, letters and memories. Book arts might appeal to people who are looking for an artistic way to tell their stories, he said.

"Most people won't pick up a paintbrush and start painting," Manske said. "But people are comfortable with collage and writing and assembling things."

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED

Book Arts Jam will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road in Los Altos Hills. The event is free. Parking is $2. Talks and panel discussions will be held throughout the day, including "Confederacy of Spirit: Artists in Collaboration" at 11 a.m. and "How my Book Happened" at 2 p.m. For more information, visit www.bookartajam.org.

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Copyright ©2004 San Jose Mercury News. All Rights Reserved.

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