Sunday, November 28, 2021

Getting ready for 2022

For those of you, or your friends, who still like to keep an agenda on your desk! These 2022 desk planners look super classy and they're also very practical. (Available on Etsy.)
Each one features my own, original marbled paper on the covers. The spine and corners are faux leather. Inside, a monthly calendar for 2022 with a two-page spread for each month on brownish paper, with a few extra pages for personal info, contacts, notes, etc.

Saturday, October 02, 2021

Recent Workshops

Seems like I should start every blog post apologizing for such long delays between posts! At the moment, I've just come to post a bit about some of the workshops I've been conducting recently. Last week, I taught a workshop called "Tricky Books and Boxes." We made a little video to demonstrate the tricky boxes.

For the tricky books, we started with a few little structures that involve mostly folding and a little bit of cutting. There was a one-sheet folded book, a non-cyclic tetra-hexa-flexagon, a little woven accordion that opens two different ways, and a panel book. For the panel book, we used a template created by Cathryn Miller of Byopia Press, which she has posted to her blog and she kindly permitted me to share it with everyone in my workshop.
After all that, we also made a Jacob's Ladder book.
And the last book we made was this, which I'd seen on Alisa Golden's blog, for which she includes the name "Flat-Style Australian Reverse Piano Hinge" binding. It is also basically the same as a technique I learned from Emma Fraser, who lives in Scotland, and we named her book the "Secret Scottish Rubbish Binding" since we were using repurposed papers at the time. So this structure has some international representation.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Making a book in 6 videos

I made a few little videos while I was making a book. These videos don't show every single step in the process, of course, but it hits the high spots. The file compression was a bit much, I think, so the quality is fuzzy. Maybe someday I'll try it again and see if I can make better-looking footage!

Monday, May 03, 2021

Craft Nova Scotia Virtual Pop-up Market

In lieu of the traditional in-person craft shows, Craft Nova Scotia has been working extra hard to promote its members during this past year. Thank you, Craft NS!

Right now, and until May 5th, CraftNS is hosting a virtual pop-up market with a curated selection of work from its members. Here are a few of my own items that are included in this collection. Click on these photos for full descriptions, more photos, and purchasing!

Hardcover Journal

Hardcover Notebook

Tiny Leather Journals

You can have a look at the whole collection here, and maybe find something for yourself, or for your mom perhaps! Visit the Virtual Pop-up.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Craft Pays Me podcast

Recently I had a great conversation with Duane Jones, host of the Art Pays me podcast, for episode 5 of the Craft Pays Me series. (Seriously, I used Zoom for the first time, to do this!) The podcast is available at

About the Craft Pays Me series:
In response to the current global crisis, Craft Nova Scotia's current focus is on how to make use of available digital technologies to help maintain and grow the craft industry on a regional level. Our goal is to facilitate online showcases, and to assist our members in reaching national and international audiences through innovative use of online marketing and social media platforms. Working with content creator Duane Jones, who currently produces a podcast called “Art Pays Me”, we are excited to be producing a mini-series of craft-focused podcasts using Duane's expertise.

The "Craft Pays Me" podcast will include six episodes, produced bi-weekly in January through March 2021. We will introduce six craftspeople from varying backgrounds, and representing a cross section of mediums (wood, metal, glass, leather, clay, textiles, stone & bone, and visual art) and skill levels, from emerging, mid-career, and master artisan levels.

Previous episodes are also online, and the sixth and final episode will be available in two weeks. Find all of them at

Friday, February 12, 2021

Designer Craft Shop Online

Craft Nova Scotia has launced a sparkly new online shop at I'm happy to have some of my handmade leather journals available there. Currently there are about a dozen juried members of Craft Nova Scotia with work now available to purchase through this new online shop and it continues to grow!

Currently available from MyHandboundBooks:
Everyday Journals Leather Notebooks
Sketchbook Writers Journal

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Old Spine Linings

I like finding interesting things in the spines of old books. Of course, after sewing a textblock there is often paper glued to the spine and it is entirely invisible once the book has been cased. I've taken workshops over the years where much fuss is made about what to use for spine linings and how some types of paper are perfect for this purpose and others are not. That is certainly true sometimes and hand binders can take the time to think about that nowadays, I suppose. Though, evidently, in commercial binderies a hundred years ago, when full editions of books were being made by hand, they used whatever paper they had for the spine linings and it was not unusual to use offcuts or scraps from the bin. So, we often find printed material in there when we're repairing books now. A few lines from The Winter's Tale, why not!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Dealing with a window

Here is a little demonstration of how to cover a board that has a window in it. I am not going to include all the steps of making this book. I am just dealing with the window.

First of all, there are a few ways to do this. The method I am using here is just one option. This method should work with most covering materials. Before you undertake a project, though, it is always best to practice with the materials so that you know how they behave.

Here is my case. As you can see, the back cover already has the covering material in place. I have another piece of the cover material cut and ready for the front.

Spread paste on the back of your cover material, and put it onto the front cover, like this. Right over the window.

Flip it over, trim the corners and turn-in the head, tail, and fore-edge.

Now, the window. Cut an X in the middle of the window. Be careful that you do not get too close to the corners. Leave a little bit of the paper uncut in each corner. Here is the window, after I cut the X.

Now you can gently fold in each of the triangle pieces. Do not worry about the corners too much. For this step, just leave the corners alone. Here, you can see that I have the four triangles pasted down, but the corners are still loose.

Flip over the case and use a bone folder to gently push the cover material into the corners.

Now the outside is finished.

But, we still have to finish the inside of the cover. I have applied the paste-down to the back cover and I have another piece of paper ready for the front cover.

We need to cut a window in this piece of paper before we glue it to the book. If you like measuring, you can do lots of careful measuring here to figure out exactly where to cut the window so that it aligns perfectly with the hole in the cover. Or, as I have done, you can carefully place the paper underneath and trace the window.

Now you can cut out the window. It should be bit bigger than the square you traced, about 1mm larger. You can discard this little cutout.

Spread glue on the back and place it onto the cover. Now the inside of the case is finished.

Here is the book, complete with pages.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Zhen Xian Bao on screen

I have written here previously about Chinese Thread Books, or Zhen Xian Bao. Of course, most of us learned about these wonderful folded books via Ruth Smith's research, which she published in A Little Known Chinese Folk Art: Zhen Xian Bao in 2012. It's an obscure Chinese folk art from a specific region of rural China, now popular with a niche group of folks who are interested in folded books.

Imagine my surprise, as my daughter and I were watching a movie at home this evening, and a Chinese Thread Book appeared on screen.

So, although Dolittle didn't quite become the smash hit they were likely hoping for, I am now a fan of this movie because they used a Chinese Thread Book as a prop! A nice little surprise in these quarantine times. Here are a couple of screen captures from the movie. These few glimpses occur between 1:10:50 and 1:11:00.

I have made a few of these over the past few years and you can see some pictures if you want to scroll through earlier blog posts. But more exciting, I acquired a real one a couple years ago. So, here are a couple photos of the real one that I have:

I mean, really it doesn't make much sense for Dr. Dolittle to have a Chinese Thread Book given where they originate and what they were typically used for. It does look nice on his desk, though.

If you're interested in learning more about these books and their Chinese origins, Ruth Smith has written a book of instructions as well as a book about the history. I believe you can purchase from her directly if you contact her through Instagram, username: foldedsecrets

Also, I hope you've had a great World Book Day!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse, a film directed by Robert Eggers, was released in October 2019. It was filmed nearby and I got to make their prop books. The entire film was shot on black and white 35mm film and is referred to as a psychological horror film. I watched it recently and I think that's a good categorization.

Here are a couple of the books I made for them. The colour photos were taken on set during filming. The black and white images are screen captures.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Last Year

Every year I start by apologizing that I have not been updating my blog. There were a few things last year that I had intended to share here on my blog, though.

Hedi Kyle Workshop
I had the pleasure of attending this workshop last June. Hedi Kyle was in the neighborhood and conducted a workshop at NSCAD. She introduced several techniques and structures and folds that she has come up with over the years. Some of the things we did are included in her book, Art of the Fold, but she also had us doing some newer things too that aren't in that book. So that was a good time. Here's a sample of some of the things I made in that workshop.

Centre for Craft Nova Scotia
As usual, I taught a number of workshops at the Centre for Craft Nova Scotia over the course of the year. This included bookbinding, box making, and marbling. So, here are a few pictures taken during those workshops, showing what the students accomplished.

'Know How' Instructor Exhibit, Morgan Conservatory
Last year, the various instructors teaching at the Morgan Conservatory were invited to submit work for a small exhibit called "Know How," which was on display there last summer. I made these two books for that exhibit. They are both full leather, split-board library bindings. The larger book is a classic 1980s detective novel by Teri White, called "Bleeding Hearts." The smaller book is a blank companion journal, made to match.

Cleveland Museum of Art
When I was in Cleveland to teach at the Morgan Conservatory, I had a chance to visit a Medieval Monsters display at the Museum of Art. Much of the exhibit consisted of illuminated manuscripts like these.

Every day projects
In between the workshops and such, I spent most of my time just doing the work, day to day. This included making journals to sell in a couple of shops, hand binding lots of theses for local university students, plenty of book repair (mostly cookbooks and bibles), a few small editions, custom boxes, etc., etc.

I've probably forgotten something interesting, but that's a little taste of 2019 and a few examples of stuff that I could have posted about here on my blog, if I had been more organized. Onward into 2020!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Reinventing the Slot and Tab binding

Back in July, I went to the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland, Ohio to teach a workshop. The workshop was called "Reinventing the Slot and Tab Binding." I first encountered a slot and tab binding, many years ago, when I got Alisa Golden's book, Creating Handmade Books. I really liked how it came together. The idea is simple enough and once you get the hang of it, making a book with this technique is quite easy and great for folks who don't want to do a lot of sewing. It looks like it has signatures (sort of) and it opens up nice and flat.

However, I was never quite satisfied with the cover options and I didn't like how the spine tended to 'creep' as the textblock gets thicker. And since it was a fully exposed spine, this 'creeping' was, well, fully exposed. If you've ever made one of these, you probably know what I'm talking about.

So I decided to seriously look at the binding to see if I could make it more satisfying to me. In the end, I came up with a number of variations. I was most interested in finding new cover options. And because of the spine 'creep,' I also wondered if a little spine backing might give it a more traditional shape. I don't really care for exposed spines anyway, so it didn't bother me to cover it up.

So, in July I took all this to Cleveland and taught a keen group of students how to make some of these variations. We did a simple wrapped cover version that looks like a basic pamphlet. We did a thicker one, with the exposed spine, with soft paper covers. Then we did two hardcover versions, one with a flat spine and one with a forced round. Then we made a simple slipcase for our set of books. It was a lot to do in just a 2-day workshop, but most of the students got everything done.

It was a lovely weekend. The students were really enthusiastic and my time at the Morgan Conservatory was great fun, as usual! Here are some photos taken during the workshop.