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Mary Beth Boone: Book It

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Book artist Mary Beth Boone has been a professional artist for 35 years.

While attending as an art major in UNCG’s undergraduate school and then getting her masters at the University of South Carolina, Boone made books as a hobby and for gifts. In 1994, she won a grant to go to the Penland School of Crafts where she learned book and paper making.

After learning how to use a letterpress, Boone got her own letterpress.

“They are pretty hard to come by,” said Boone. “If you do come by one, often times they will be messed up so you have to fix them. I’m not all that mechanically inclined, so I was a little bit leery of the process but I actually found one.”

The printer press belonged originally to the Greensboro Printing Company. Owned by Ogden Deal who passed away in 1985, his family sold the printer press to Boone.

Boone’s prints and books often feature plants and birds. She collects natural objects for inspiration such as feathers, wasp nest pieces and seeds from her garden.

“I love pods and things like that. I tend to be drawn to things that are fragile and ephemeral,” she said.

Boone has many artistic talents such as drawing and sewing, but she chose to make books.

“I like putting things together. I learned to sew when I was like 12-years-old and my mom sewed, all the women in my family sewed or did needle craft or made quilts,” said Boone. “My dad built furniture. I was around that all my life, so I’ve always enjoyed taking various components and putting them together.

“You have to do that when you make a book. When you have a blank book like this, it’s really nice to use it. I love making books that have imagery and messages in them, but I also love making books you can then use as journals and they sort of take on a life of their own when someone starts using them.”

Boone’s favorite part of her craft is in the production.

“It’s very rewarding to come up with an idea and then explore it and see what happens through that process,” said Boone. “The business of art is very tedious, but you could work isolated and just do that and some people might be satisfied by that, but I do like my work out there because you learn from letting people see what you’re doing and talking to them about it and that sort of thing.”

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