Sunday, August 11, 2019


Have you ever wondered how other book art groups get started and how they operate? Our member from York, England, Margaret Beech, recently shared that her local group, Quarto, just created a blog. Along with that blog address ( we asked Margaret to share how Quarto came about.

“It grew out of a calligraphy group meeting in Newcastle who were interested in making small books after taking one of my workshops. The group was founded in September 2001. There were 14 original members and around 20 now, but more like 14-16 regulars. Seven of those original members are still involved. We do have a postal member in Melbourne, Australia. She was visiting a calligraphy exhibition in Durham and met one of our members and took an interest.

Quarto meets from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. four times a year. Every meeting starts with a morning ‘workshop’ from a member, then a packed lunch, usually followed by the book exchange. We do all consider the heart of the meeting to be the book exchange. We sit round a very large table and everyone is expected to talk about the how and why of the making of their book. In the afternoon we will have another ‘workshop’ (from a member) – something not very challenging as we begin to run out of steam. Very occasionally we have brought in a workshop tutor for a whole day session. Paul Johnson has been twice to inspire us. One of the original ‘rules’ of Quarto was that if you attend the meeting, you should bring a book for the exchange. That still applies although not so strictly adhered to as at the start. We have a shared lunch annually during the meeting. This year it will be in October to celebrate our 18th birthday.

We don’t have officers or fees to pay as we get the room courtesy of one of our members who is a prof at the University.  We have always had one member willing to co-ordinate meetings, keep in touch, and bring tea/coffee etc. In the future we are hoping that that job will be shared three ways. Our membership covers a wide geographical area, by UK standards. We meet in Sunderland (northeast coast of England) and people travel from 30 miles to the north, from York 75 miles to the south, and one member comes by train from Leicester which must be 150 miles or more. On the whole, most of our members live in and around Sunderland and Newcastle.

Several of us teach workshops in our own right and some may participate in exhibits with their calligraphy group although many fewer of our members are calligraphers now. In the past we have been invited to exhibit as a group at calligraphy festivals. Over the years we have had various collaborative projects where everyone contributes to a finished book for each member. Because we only meet four times a year these collaborations could take several years to be completed.

I organized a transatlantic exchange with NORBAG members in 2008. Twenty-six book artists took part and we were given the full color treatment in Bound and Lettered in the Dec. 2009 issue. It’s quite natural that over 18 years we have become friends and we do consider that the connections and friendships we have made are just as special as the things we have learned from each other.”

The photos below are examples of some beautiful exchange books created by Quarto members.

Four Map Fold

Accordion with signatures and cutout embellishment

Accordion with cutout tops

Castle book

Circular book

Double accordion

Exploding box

Flag book

Hermit crab

Layer book

Origami fold book

Tag and pocket book

Tunnel book

Thank you very much Margaret for the information about Quarto and Jo Duncan for sending the wonderful photographs from your very talented book artists.

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