Alice Birdsong Book Arts seeks to honor the tradition of making fine books by hand. Hand-sewn books are made using papers decorated by the book artist using eastern and western techniques, including marbling, suminigashi, paste papers, nature-dye-salt printing, batik, and stamping. She also uses decorative papers from many others countries. Books are bound by hand, using a variety of techniques, such as Japanese stab-binding, case binding, Coptic binding, long-stitch and cross-bound techniques. It also seeks to help preserve the tradition of journal writing, one that has been part of the Smith family for many years.

Birdsong Journals are sold at three stores in historic downtown Madison, Indiana. They also are sold at the Kentucky Guild’s shop in the Old Town section of Berea, Kentucky, and at the first retail shop to be opened by Indiana Artisan. This new shop, which opened April 26, is located in the French Lick Resort Hotel, French Lick, Ind.

The artist is an Exhibiting Member of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen, and she is an Indiana Artisan. Moreover, the Kentucky Guild recently juried her as a textile artist for her shibori and batik scarves.

Books can be custom-made. In addition, they can be ordered from the artist by email or phone contact.

Birdsong book arts grew out of Alice Jane’s love of books, music and birds. In 2009, she went to her first workshop at Larkspur Press, Monterey, Ky., where Gray Zeitz and Carolyn Whitesel taught her to make books and decorate paper. When she retired from her profession as a therapist in 2011, she embraced bookmaking and continued to learn from workshops at Larkspur, Pygmalion Arts Supplies, Bloomington, Ind., and the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, N. C., where Arianne King Comer inspired her to branch out into batik, fabric and Yoruba Nigerian design. She studied shibori with Judi Jetson, also at the Campbell Folk School.

At Indiana University, she studied photography with Henry Holmes Smith and later with C.J. Pressma, Louisville, Ky., and she still photographs.  Her BA was in creative writing, studying with William Wilson, and she worked in journalism for a few years. She has kept a journal since the mid-1960s. After retiring as a therapist, she has been writing for RoundAbout Madison.

Her studio is in her home in the woods outside Madison, shared with her spouse, Leonard Miller; their Australian Shepherd, Abby; five cats and three cockatiels and Matisse, the conure.

In 2014, “Blue Hydrangea,” a dye-nature-salt print, won “Best of Mixed Media” in the 14th Regional Art Fair sponsored by the Madison Art Club. She often uses dye-nature-salt prints to cover books or to frame as prints.

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