Sunday, January 16, 2011

Handmade Philly Collaborative Book Project

CONTACT: Ruth Schanbacher, Community Coordinator

Handmade Philly and

(267) 222-0934

Handmade Philly will debut their Book Exchange exhibit, the first public display of the group’s collaborative work. The 16-piece book-art set, composed by Handmade Philly artists, will travel to various locations starting January 2011.

Handmade Philly member, Jen McCleary ( —a mixed media/graphic artist whose work includes digital imagery fashioned into collage and jewelry—developed the concept behind the “Book Exchange” after working with an artist-friend on an altered book project. “Working collaboratively taught me a lot,” McCleary recalls. “[The project] helped me let go and work more intuitively.”

McCleary proposed a similar project, incorporating a larger pool of artists, to the Handmade Philly group. By April of 2010, 16 Handmade Philly artists signed on and two “Book Exchange” groups were formed. Each member began with a “book,”—made, bought or found and as loosely defined as a stack of index cards bound together by their box. The artists would create the first alteration, and then mail it off to the next group member, who would incorporate their own artistic perspective before sending it off again.

By November, all books had been returned to their original proprietor. “I had forgotten what [my book] looked like, it had been gone for such a long time,” McCleary admits.

The altered books reflect the range and diversity of talents in Handmade Philly, often incorporating multiple mediums within a single page. Check out and you’ll see a range including collage, painting, fabric weaving, found objects, mementos and photographs, pieced and bound together in a series of distinct artistic narratives. My personal favorites include a button-zipper-fabric-and thread collage found in the book of Celia De La Cruz, an accordion-fold “purse” book unraveling into multiple single-wrapped pieces, and a resurfacing of antiquated (thank you GPS) roadmaps.

The books will be on interactive display and audience members are encouraged to hold, touch and experience their contents. “Usually an art exhibit is, ‘Stand back and don’t touch,’” McCleary points out. “We want these books to be accessible to the public—a hands-on exhibit.

(Please see below for event dates, times and locations.)


· Allison Ostertag
· Celia de la Cruz
· Chrissy Fragment
· Colleen Coyer
· Jan Cohen
· Jen McCleary
· Joan Phillips
· Julie Kelso
· Lauren Meakim
· MaryJo Rosania-Harvie
· Melissa Frueh
· Nicole Bruno
· Rebekah Buchanan
· Ruth Schanbacher
· Traci Nelson
· Victoria O'Neill


LOCATION: 609 Penn Avenue, West Reading, PA 19607

Phone: 610.750.6642 (shop office phone)


OPENING: Feb 4th, 2011 6-9 PM

ARTISTS’ CLOSING RECEPTION/MEET AND GREET POTLUCK: Sunday Feb 20th, 2011 (this event is for handmade philly members, community members, PA artists and friends of Hello Bluebird to meet and get to know each other….it should be a great networking event.)


LOCATION: 108 South 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Phone: 215 360 5548


OPENING: Friday, March 4, 2011 @ 6 PM


LOCATION: 1601 Darby Road, Havertown, PA 19083


PHONE: 610-446-3082

INSTALLATION: April 4-29, 2011
Ruth Schanbacher
Community Coordinator

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