San Francisco Center for the Book – Roadworks

The day was clear and fine in San Francisco, particularly in the sunny microclimate of Potrero Hill. So we spent a glorious afternoon at RoadWorks, a celebration of printing, paper, and handmade book artistry sponsored by the San Francisco Center for the Book.

Everyone loves watching prints being made by steam rollers, don’t they? Especially in the middle of the street.


Inking the linoleum cuts


Linoleum cut, waiting to be inked


Craziest steamroller you’ll ever see


Inked linoleum cut covered by a sheet of paper is placed between sheets of plywood and then covered with blankets before being rolled.

We also learned about the printing process on a much smaller scale.  We cut soft linoleum squares into designs of our own creation, rolled them with ink, and then pressed them onto paper between plates, similar to pressing a hamburger patty. Guess which one is mine, and then guess what I did wrong. I decided that my error reflects my personality.


Maybe the actual print will help.


I am fairly backwards, aren’t I? Or perhaps I was thinking I’d always have a mirror in hand to read my name. My husband, the sailor and visual artist, carved the sailboats.

We also printed our own covers for the mini books we made. It’s very satisfying to “roll your own” cover.


Lovely red ink


Hand-stitched mini-book

Inside the Center for the Book, we checked out the exhibition: Water Paper Stone – A Walk Through Book


Ribbons of lovely handmade paper serve as covers for the walk-through book

From the artist’s (Judy O’Shea) original exhibition proposal on the Center for the Book’s website:

“…wander through an enormous book: 15-foot covers, a 20-foot spine, and pages hanging from the rafters. The primary structure…would be constructed with paper that Judy makes by hand at her Inverness, California studio. Judy invited 17 artists (10 American and 7 French) to contribute the “pages” for this special artists’ book. The pages are as varied as the artists, but are all originally conceived for the site, and have a special dialogue that comes from collective experiences.”

I loved standing among the “pages.”  My favorite page? The 3-D paper stones. Gotta admit it reminded me of the kid’s game, Rock/Paper/Scissors.

“Water Paper Stone” will be on exhibit until December 2, 2014.


Translucent paper stones



The next time you feel like discovering something unusual in San Francisco, take a side trip to the Center for the Book. The steamroller won’t be there, but there’s plenty to remind you that books and paper are much more than the sum of their parts.

21 thoughts on “San Francisco Center for the Book – Roadworks

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Yes, I shouldn’t have fessed up to my mistake. You should have heard my son: “Mom! It’s going to be backwards! Didn’t you know that?” At that point, I decided to embrace my mistake-riddled self.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      I’d put it on the list of cool, less touristy places to visit. They’ve usually got some kind of book-related exhibition running throughout the year. Plus, they offer zillions of ongoing workshops.

  1. Mrs. P says:

    What an awesome place! If I was still teaching in the Bay Area, I would definitely add that to my must go to field trips! And, September is the best time for a SF trip!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Yes! It’s a great place to take kids for a hands-on experience. Digital is the way to go?! Ha! Just touch a real book, one that feels like it never wants to leave your hands!

      It was 90+ degrees here today. A great day to sit under a tree with a tall, cold one.

  2. Vanessa-Jane Chapman says:

    That sounds like fun! I love the sailboats one your husband carved, it’s sooo good! Oh…and…er…yours was also….erm… know… its own way….well at least you tried, that’s the main thing 😉

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Yes, I’m definitely NOT a visual person. I was trying to be a good role model for my son on how to take failure good-naturedly. 😀

      I’ll tell my husband you appreciated his work. He doesn’t get to do this type of thing often enough, and he loves it.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      It’s interesting to think about negative space as well as image reversal while carving. Great exercise for the brain. In my case, however, the old brain failed the fitness test but was pleased to be considered—unique.

  3. viviankirkfield says:

    First of all, San Francisco…awesome city! Second of all, all things writing and paper…I’m addicted to it…I can’t walk into a store that sells anything with writing on it without buying something. What a fascinating day, Jilanne…thanks for sharing. 😉

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      You would have loved this! I missed the workshop where people got make their own paper. There was so much going on.

      Just wait until you see what I’ve got lined up for my next post. I met an amazing wood engraver and his art books at this event. Stay tuned….

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