Kindles, iPads and other tablets may be moving books to the digital world, but two Salmo artists are taking their passion for handmade and bound books on tour.
Nyla Raney and Jenn Hamm met in the early days of Salmo roller derby.
“That was I guess a few years a go now, back when it was just starting out,” said Hamm. “There were three to five of us skating around in the gym learning how to skate on roller skates.”
Hamm found out that Raney – like her – was an artist and approached her about the Speaking Volumes tour and project.
Both women began making books in their teens and early 20s.
Raney – who grew up in the Kootenays – made books when she was 16 or 17 years old when zines – small circulation publications of self published work usually reproduced by a photocopier – were popular.
“There was a whole bunch of girls at that time who were doing zines at that time in Nelson,” said Raney. “That was my introduction to making books. Photocopying and with a sewing machine we would sew them up because we never had a stapler big enough.”
Being creative was a common thread for the pair through out their lives.
Raney attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax and was active in visual arts in Vancouver for five years before moving to the Okanagan.
“When I lived in Vancouver working on art was primarily what I did,” said Raney. “It was easier to do fine art there and then I worked for the Blinding Light Cinema so I was totally immersed in it.”
After becoming a mom, Raney moved to Penticton with her partner and kids.
She was involved in a group exhibition of work from female artists primarily from the Lower Mainland called Country, horse and wagon.
Raney is also a musician. She plays cello and toured and played with Vancouver band Loscil.
“When we were in Penticton I did a lot of music. We did a lot of shows and that was my focus then,” she said.
Like Raney, Hamm has been creative since she was a teenager.
“I’ve been into art ever since junior high school I guess,” said Hamm. “I always liked it. I always wanted to pursue it.”
Hamm attended the Alberta College of Art and Design, where she began studying book making with Wendy Toogood.
“She was the first person who really inspired me to make books,” said Hamm. “I’m really excited because we’re going to see her in Nakusp when we bring the Speaking Volumns tour there.”
Raney and Hamm began the tour, where they travel through out the West and East Kootenays teaching workshops on how to make handbound books and also teach about book arts.
“As an art form I love that books are a little item that you can have, and coming from more of a zine background I like the fact that they really represent people taking control over their medium,” said Raney.
At the end of the tour Raney and Hamm will be displaying their collection of handmade books in Trail in October.
For more information on the Speaking Volumns Book Arts Tour visit their blog at speakingvolumestour.blogspot.ca.