The Next Chapter for Handmade’s Book Exchange

Posted On December 8, 2010

Filed under Handmade Philly Events

Comments Dropped one response

A book has many forms

Post holiday mania, 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.”

Celia's Book: Sewn Art

McCleary proposed a similar project, incorporating a much 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 business cards bound together by their box. The artists would create the first alteration, then mail it off to the next group member, who would incorporate their own artistic perspective before sending it off again.

The Adventures of Dudley

The Adventures of Dudley

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.

The following dates and locations are confirmed. Please check back for future listings.

HELLO BLUEBIRD-609 Penn Avenue, West Reading, PA

Feb 3, 2011 – First Thursday Opening

Sunday Feb 20th, 2011 – Closing reception

SQUARE PEG DATES, 108 South 20th Street in Center City

March 4th – First Friday opening 5pm-8pm

*HAVERTOWN LIBRARY, 525 W Chester Pike in Havertown

April (Dates TBD)


-Dana Henry


One Response to “The Next Chapter for Handmade’s Book Exchange”

  1. MaryJo Rosania

    Thank you for posting this!
    Times will be sent out this weekend!!

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