Beyond the Classroom

As an MFA student in book art and creative writing at Mills, you’ll have access to unmatched resources to support your craft and creativity.


 

Since 1932, the Eucalyptus Press has been the imprint of the Book Art Program at Mills College. In its early days the press published a wide range of books by Mills faculty, students, and administration. Today the Eucalyptus Press publishes broadsides by well-known contemporary writers as well as books and publications generated by visiting artists like Helen Mirra or the Polish literary movement “Liberatura.”

The creation of broadsides is a core component of the Book Art Program. Students print broadsides as they learn the techniques of letterpress printing or study the history of typography. Graduate students, teaching assistants, and staff produce broadsides by writers reading in the Contemporary Writers Series, which brings national and international writers to campus.

Students in the MFA in Book Art and Creative Writing Program have access to a variety of presses in both the Eucalyptus Press and the adjacent graduate studio. The presses include two Vandercooks, a Chandler & Price platen press, an etching press, and an 1860 Albion handpress, along with hundreds of cases of metal and wood type. The studios are available 24 hours a day, with many hours of on-site support by our teaching assistants and our studio manager.

The Eucalyptus Press was established in 1932 by Professor Rosalind Keep. Professor Keep and her student assistants set type and printed many small projects, including a literary magazine. Some of the type and equipment is still in use in the Mills book art studios today.

Students can apply traditional methods to contemporary letterpress projects using metal type—some dating from the 1930s—in a wide range of styles and sizes. Students also have access to a large-format polymer platemaker if they choose to combine computer typesetting and design with relief printing.

The use of metal type continues to play a central role in the teaching of letterpress printing and typography at Mills. The Book Art Department offers significant type resources, all of which are accessible to graduate students in the MFA in Book Art and Creative Writing Program. While students have the option of using digital type for their projects, handset metal type remains the most popular way for our students to produce text.

Mills studio resources include a broad range of wood type, all of which is available to students for their printing projects. Graduate book art and creative writing students might explore early 20th-century avant-garde typography, set titles for their broadsides, or create 21st-century experimental work.

In addition to the Eucalyptus Press, students in the MFA in Book Art and Creative Writing Program have exclusive, full-time access to the graduate studio. This studio includes Vandercook presses, a Colts Armory platen press with metal type, and individual work spaces that provide students with significant assets to complete their creative projects.

Book art and creative writing graduate student Kate Robinson locks up a form using handset metal type on one of the two Vandercook presses in the graduate studio. Our dedicated graduate studio provides students with the space, time, and resources to complete a broad range of creative projects in addition to their graduate theses.

This large, light-filled studio houses equipment and materials for both contemporary and traditional binding. Our traditional binding equipment includes French handmade presses, sewing frames, and tools bequeathed by the daughters of noted fine hand-binder Florence Walter.

Internationally renowned book artist Julie Chen teaches a class in the bindery. Graduate students develop their individual projects based on traditional and contemporary binding styles. As with the Mills book art studios, students have 24-hour access to the bindery to work on their projects.

Book art and creative writing MFA students in the binding class develop a wide range of models while they hone their binding skills. The various contemporary and traditional structures they are taught then become the basis for individual and collaborative books.

The Heller Rare Book Room in the F. W. Olin Library at Mills College houses printed books from the 15th century to the present and is the location for the Mills Center for the Book. The center offers lectures, exhibitions, and workshops led by visiting or local book artists and historians.

Welcome to a Creative Space for Book Artists.

Students will enjoy a variety of resources to support their learning, including:

  • A dedicated, shared MFA graduate studio, where you’ll have exclusive, 24/7 access to individual work spaces and a broad range of letterpress, printmaking, and bookbinding equipment, including Vandercook presses and a Colts Armory platen press with metal type
  • Our Book Art Pocket Gallery, which provides opportunities to curate exhibitions of your own and other's work
  • The Eucalyptus Press, with two Vandercook presses, a Chandler & Price platen press, an etching press, an 1860 Albion handpress, hundreds of cases of metal and wood type, and a large-format polymer platemaker to combine computer typesetting and design with relief printing
  • The Florence Walter Bindery, containing equipment and materials for contemporary and traditional binding; our traditional binding equipment includes French handmade presses, sewing frames, and other tools bequeathed by the daughters of noted fine hand-binder Florence Walter
  • The Heller Rare Book Room in the F .W. Olin Library, with a broad and deep range of rare antiquarian and contemporary books, and the library’s Center for the Book, which offers lectures, exhibitions, and workshops led by book artists and historians
  • The Book Art Club, whose student members have organized activities like the Protest Postcard Printathon and the Bay Area Bindathon, which produced blank journals for people in prison classes, adult literacy programs, and youth writing groups
  • The Mills College Summer Institute for Book and Print Technologies, which attracts advanced practitioners of book art from around the country for two weeks of master-class workshops and artist presentations on campus
What Can I Do with an MFA in Book Art & Creative Writing from Mills? 

Our alumnae are highly innovative artists and writers who combine multiple genres and media, from performance art to printmaking. They actively exhibit, perform, and publish their work across the country. Below is a sampling of the activities of a few of our graduates.

  • Nora McKinnon, MFA ’16, uses letterpress printing and innovative hand-bound structures to create books that address imperialism, surveillance, and gender.
  • Printmaker Ariel Hansen Strong, MFA ’15, founded Cloudship Creative, a vendor of printed goods and handmade journals, and teaches at Interlochen Center for the Arts.
  • Emji Spero, MFA ’14, works as an editor and designer at Timeless, Infinite Light, a small press in Oakland, and recently published a limited-edition artist book through the press.
  • Mirabelle Jones, MFA ’13, creates artists’ books that seek to end the silence and stigma surrounding sexual assault and rape.
  • Book art by poet Lyall F. Harris, MFA ’12—the first graduate of the program—can be found in numerous special collections across the nation.