By Kate Devine
Welcome to Asbury Park Bazaar's Meet the Maker AP series where we highlight local artists and makers that are part of the Asbury Park Holiday Bazaars being held Saturdays & Sundays, Dec 3-Dec 18th, noon to 5 pm, in the Grand Arcade of Convention Hall in Asbury Park.
Today's #MeetTheMakerAP is artist Leah Passafiume of Leah Gae Press. Leah creates coptic stitch sketchbooks and notebooks in a variety of sizes with patterned covers, as well as letterpress and silk screened prints. She handcrafts unique and practical works of art, that you can fill with your own doodles, poetry, and thoughts. Find her work at the holiday bazaar on December 17th!
1) Tell us how you got your start
I started my business my senior year at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, while majoring in printmaking. I had taken a book binding class where we learned how to do the coptic stitch, and I fell in love with the process and began making books in my spare time. The hobby became my small business when my sister Julia Passafiume Designs and I began to attend craft markets together. Now the two of us spend most of our weekends traveling around to various shows.
2) What motivates you as an artist?
My family has always appreciated handcrafted things. They are my biggest motivation behind not only handcrafting my books and prints, but supporting other makers too!
3) Where did you grow up and where do you live and work now? What is your favorite part about living here?
I grew up in Wall Township. My father would take me to Asbury Park when I was much younger to photograph the charm of the transitioning boardwalk, and Tillie before he was taken down. I've always loved this town so I'm extremely lucky to have landed a job as a graphic designer for one of Asbury's small businesses, and to be a vendor here with my own business on the weekends. My favorite part about living here is seeing how much people care about Asbury Park and how locals are putting their all into reviving the town.
4) Walk us through a day in the life of your workspace
A day in the life changes constantly, depending on what I'm currently at work on. While making prints I am in an extremely messy, shared studio, running a Vandercook Printing Press or pulling prints from a silk screen. If I'm binding books, I usually sit with a cup of tea and my dog, binding as many books as I can while watching one of the Harry Potter movies. It is hard to say which environment I like more!
5) What are you most looking forward to at the bazaar?
By far my favorite part about vending at the Asbury Park Bazaar is the community of makers I get to take part in. Everyone is so talented and supportive of one another. It makes for such a happy little family.
6) Why should people support events like The Asbury Park Bazaar, and shop small and local during the holiday season and all year round?
Personally I always appreciate receiving local and handmade presents more than others because I know what goes into them. The people behind small businesses do what they do because they love it! It's nice to support someone doing what they love!
Be sure to stop by and say "hi" to Leah and shop her goods at the Asbury Park Holiday Bazaar on December 17th. To find out more about Leah Gae Press, visit www.etsy.com/shop/leahgaepress