Dan Essig

Dan Essig came to the Chicken House following his studies at the Penland School of Crafts in Penland, North Carolina.


Dan Essig's Handmade Books

The information below is from Dan’s website, a particularly interesting and subtle site which showcases his very interesting book creations:  http://www.danielessig.com/:

‘Daniel Essig creates wooden-covered art books and book-based sculptures. Using a fourth-century binding style known as Ethiopian style Coptic, he creates mixed-media book structures that incorporate unusual woods, handmade paper, found objects, fossils, and mica. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where he has a studio at the Grovewood Gallery. 111 Grovewood Road Studio,Asheville,NC, 22804


From http://www.shakerag.org/workshops/2010/essig/

Wooden Books – Mica Pages- Workshop Taught by Dan Essig

Course Description Developed as early as the fourth century, this Ethiopian binding style has withstood the test of time. The elegant sewing structure, combined with the use of traditional wooden covers and alternative mica pages, opens a wide range of possibilities for both the beginner and the advanced bookbinder. After first creating a miniature structure using only paper and mica, the class will move on to the wooden covered book. Using a variety of manual and power tools, participants will drill, shape, and smooth book covers. A combination of paper and plate mica will be used for pages. The mica is a material designed for lamp shapes, but it also works well as an element in book arts and collage. Finishing includes sealing the wooden covers with milk paint and a coating of wax as well as adding a leather closure. As time allows, Daniel will share various features he includes in his own bindings and sculptural books. Many of Daniel’s books are featured in the Penland Book of Handmade Books.

Artist’s Biography Daniel Essig is a studio artist and instructor living in Asheville, North Carolina. Daniel has taught book arts workshops at Penland, Anderson Ranch, Iowa City Center for Books, Columbia College, and Oregon College of Art and Craft, among others. He has received the North Carolina Visual Arts Fellowship Grant. Dan exhibits his work nationally and his work is in numerous private and public collections; recently his work has been purchased by the Renwick Museum of the Smithsonian and the Charlotte M. Smith Collection of Miniature Books at the University of Iowa Libraries. Many of Daniel’s sculptural pieces are featured in The Penland Book of Handmade Books. For more information about Daniel, visit his web site at http://www.danielessig.com.

Artist’s Statement Some people use my books as journals and fill them up with words. I don’t write in my books. For me, the books themselves are journals, visual records of my life and work. I am interested in traces of the past, ancient binding styles, reliquaries, distressed finishes, and found objects. Since I was six or seven years old, I’ve been collecting small objects. I have seashells and interesting rocks that I collected at the beach on childhood vacations; I’ve stored up seedpods, rocks, bones, shells, bits of rusty metal, nails, animal teeth, fossils. They represent periods in my life, even just days or moments. I keep my collection of relics in drawers, bottles, and boxes within a single small room in my house. The space has the feel of a German Wunderkammern, a “cabinet of curiosities.” I often sit in the room and scan my collection, seeking just the right object to inspire a new book or sculpture. A symphony conductor who collects my work once told me that he hides my books in a basket every evening before going to bed so they won’t be stolen during the night. Until fairly recently all books were prized possessions — medieval libraries chained books to the shelves to prevent theft. In those days each volume was crafted with precision, elaborately decorated and embellished with precious stones and metals. I aim to make my books just as precious as those medieval manuscripts. Most my work has a Coptic book at its heart. The binding was first used in the fourth century, in Ethiopia. I became interested in the healing aspects that the books played within this culture which led in turn to a fascination with the magical and healing properties employed in both Reliquaries and N’Kisi N’konde figures.