Talin Bookbindery Enhances Sturgis Traditions

By Marion Weeks, Community Outreach Coordinator

Sturgis West Ship’s Log

Over the past seven years, Talin Bookbindery has created nineteen specially designed books for Sturgis. Examples of their fine bindings can be found at the heart of Sturgis nautical traditions.  During orientation when freshmen sign the Sturgis Ship’s Log and graduation when seniors sign out, they are entering their signatures in books meticulously created by Talin to reflect antique ship logbooks.

Jim Talin and Pamela Talin-Bryant

Talin Bookbindery is a hand bookbinding business located in Yarmouthport. The shop opened in the late 1970’s and is co-owned by Pamela Talin-Bryant and her brother James Talin. Their business specializes in restoration and fine bindings, but they also create bindings for single books.

You can learn more about the history of Talin Bookbindery here:

Old-Time Art of Bookbinding Practiced at Yarmouth Port Bindery

Talin makes all of the marbled papers used in their bindings and offers marbled papers for sale to other binderies and retail clients.


Talin Bookbindery Becomes a Sturgis Sponsor

Sturgis’ relationship with Talin Bookbindery began with the original Sturgis Soundings, a compilation of book reviews by faculty, staff and students. In 2008, former Sturgis English teacher Gretchen Buntschuh and I created the first edition of Sturgis Soundings.  Gretchen was the one who dreamed up the idea. Amy Peterson, Tech Support, offered her excellent graphic design skills to create an old-fashioned nautical theme complete with an 1861 chart of Barnstable Harbor. Printed on the masthead was a quote from Charles Scribner, Jr: “Reading is a means of thinking with another person’s mind; it forces you to stretch your own.” When Gretchen and I invited faculty and students to submit book reviews, we always felt like we were on a fishing expedition, never knowing what we might catch when we cast our net. Whatever the catch, here’s how we described it: “These reviews represent the various interests and enthusiasms of the Sturgis community.”

Sturgis Soundings published three issues from 2008-2010. In December 2009, we learned Gretchen had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  We quickly decided to show our support for her by creating a special issue of Soundings entitled All Time Favorite Books. When we invited the Sturgis community to write about their favorite books for Gretchen, we received a great outpouring of wonderful reviews.  The cover featured a tribute to Gretchen written by Alicia Fenney, Class of 2003, who had been inspired by Gretchen to become an English teacher. Once the issue was ready, we decided to bind it with the previous two issues as a collection of Sturgis Soundings.

We knew Gretchen had worked for Pacific Book Auction in San Francisco and had a keen interest in rare books. So we asked Talin Bookbindery to bind the collection in the style of a rare book with hand made marbleized end papers. When Pamela and Jim Talin learned about Gretchen’s diagnosis and uncertain future, they rushed to complete the project in record time. We were able to present the book to her during the last week of January, one week before she passed away on February 1, 2010. Gretchen was thrilled by the gift and the great show of support from her beloved Sturgis community.

The following message was printed in her obituary:

Gretchen Buntschuh

Gretchen Reed Smith Buntschuh, 72, was a poet, an educator, a lover of the arts and of beauty. After a fierce but short battle with pancreatic cancer, Gretchen passed away on Feb. 1, 2010.

Upon marrying her first husband, Charles Buntschuh, and beginning a family of what would become three daughters, she began her professional career as a secondary school teacher in Massachusetts. Later, with her second marriage to Charles Falk and a move to California, she delved into the elite world of rare books, working at Pacific Book Auction. Her love of language, literature and the beauty of books and fine arts was truly mirrored in these professional years.

Yet Gretchen, an educator at heart, was drawn back to the classroom and began working at the Lycee Francais La Perouse in San Francisco. Her exceptional ability to motivate students and colleagues alike and to inspire and bring out the best in all who were around her hallmarked her professional life.

Her latest pride was her work at Sturgis Charter Public School in Hyannis, where she excelled not only in the teaching of creative writing and thinking, but also proved herself to be an excellent administrator and exceptional leader, playing a pivotal role in establishing the school’s charter certification and International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

Beyond education, Gretchen had an immense passion for poetry, which she both read and wrote avidly. A romantic and an intellectual, a friend once said she “danced through the language,” creating beautiful imagery with her eloquence. She started a poetry writing group and organized poetry readings with published and aspiring authors. She also loved the theater, performing at different times throughout her life with various theater groups on the East and West Coasts.

A woman of strength and elegance, of boundless energy, a precious friend and mother, Gretchen lived her life with passion and conviction, with generosity and virtue; she will be deeply missed. Her never-ending curiosity for discovering the new, the deeper meaning, and relishing in the vibrancy of life have been an inspiration for all who have known her, as a teacher, a colleague, a mother, sister and a friend.

She is survived by daughters Ingrid, Erika and Lise; four grandchildren, Jonathan, Hannah, Alyssa and Ian; and a brother, Howard Smith and family.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any memorial contributions be made to the Gretchen Buntschuh Memorial Scholarship Fund at Sturgis Charter Public School, 427 Main St., Hyannis, MA 02601.                                       (Gretchen Buntschuh ObituaryCape Cod Times, Feb 4, 2010)

When Gretchen’s daughters requested memorial contributions be made to Sturgis, we suggested a literary scholarship might be a fitting tribute. The Buntschuh family liked the idea and together we crafted the following description:

Skye Kuppig
2016 Buntschuh Award Recipient

The Gretchen Buntschuh Literary Award is given each year to a graduating senior who has demonstrated a genuine interest in literature and gift for language. Students who are strong in English or foreign and ancient languages can be nominated. 

Pamela and Jim Talin generously offered to donate a hand-bound collection of the student’s essays for each recipient and thus, a tradition was born.

Jim Talin, Marion Weeks and Pamela Talin-Bryant with 2017 Buntschuh book

Each spring, Sturgis East faculty nominate seniors for the award. Following thoughtful deliberation, the scholarship committee and English Department faculty decide which senior best embodies the spirit of Ms. Buntschuh’s gift and passion for language. Once the decision is made, we work behind the scenes to secretly gather examples of the nominee’s best essays and creative writing from their teachers. Many hands are involved in the process. After the book is formatted for printing, we send it to Brodeur Printing in Dennis. Once the manuscript is printed, Bob Brodeur passes it along to Jim and Pamela Talin. The book is presented at graduation with the following comments:

“In addition to this $500 scholarship, Talin Bookbindery in Yarmouthport has donated a beautifully hand-bound collection of essays written during (the recipient’s) four years at Sturgis.  Talin hopes to inspire fine young writers to continue writing and to develop an appreciation for book arts and the ancient craft of bookbinding.”

The following video captures the 2017 presentation to Mark Agostinelli at Sturgis Graduation on June 3, 2017. I believe Gretchen would be delighted to know that her award celebrates young writers at graduation and how positively the audience always responds when the book is presented.



Each year, Sturgis purchases a library bound copy of the book from Talin for the Buntschuh Collection in Sturgis East Library.

Buntschuh Collection – Sturgis East Library

The Buntschuh Award has now been presented to eight students:

  • 2010 – Sean Sabella
  • 2011 – Sophia Mitrokostas
  • 2012 – Aaron Meister
  • 2013 – Alicia Pollard
  • 2014 – Benjamin Brown
  • 2015 – Kevin Agostinelli
  • 2016 – Christiane Kuppig
  • 2017 –  Mark Agostinelli

The window pictured behind the photo of the Buntschuh collection (right) was created by Patrick Todoroff of Glass Graphics Studio and installed in Sturgis East Library in August 2010. Patrick and Rachel Todoroff were members of a poetry group that Gretchen started at Sturgis in 2009.

Gretchen Buntschuh Memorial Windows

During one of the group’s meetings, Gretchen read “The Layers” by Stanley Kunitz and sparked an interesting discussion of the poem.  Patrick was so inspired by Gretchen, he decided to create stained glass windows with “The Layers” etched in the glass as a memorial tribute to her life and work at Sturgis.  Sturgis librarians asked the literary estate of Stanley Kunitz for permission to etch the poem in glass. The literary agent and Mr. Kunitz’s daughter, Gretchen Kunitz, responded with enthusiastic support.

Captain’s Log for Eric Hieser

So far, Talin has published a total of nineteen books for Sturgis including the sixteen Buntschuh books, Sturgis East Ship’s Log, Sturgis West Ship’s Log and a Captain’s Log created for Eric Hieser as a retirement gift. In early February 2016, we invited Sturgis students, alumni, current and former faculty and trustees as well as Eric’s international colleagues to contribute messages for his Captain’s Log which is bound like a traditional ship’s log. The book includes 125 letters, notes and tributes from students, parents and colleagues near and far. Quite a few of the messages are included in Farewell Mr. Hieser.

We greatly appreciate the beautiful books that Talin Bookbindery has created for Sturgis over the last seven years.  Their custom bindings, attention to detail and excellent support have certainly enhanced Sturgis traditions.



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