Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Each year I make a Christmas book. Just one, always one of a kind. This is my Christmas book for 2008.

The pretty covers are made from the front cover of a recent Lee Valley catalog. Inside, the pages are a mixture of mulberry papers and carstock in bright green, yellow, red, and white. And two beaded bookmarks to finish it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2009 Planners and an Art Journal Test

I think there were a few people waiting to see if I would make any more 2009 weekly planners. Well, if so, I did finally make some more and they are available in my etsy shop. And this will likely be the last of them for now. For those who really like to plan ahead, I've also done some 2-year monthly planners for 2009-2010. In other news, one of my books has passed an intensive art journal test recently. EWian collected 14 journals and put them all through the wringer. Judging the books' suitability for various art media, watercolours in particular, and comparing size, structure, transportability, and several other factors. Check out their website: with some great comparison information if you are looking for a new art journal.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Pink Sale

Maybe it isn't the most festive promotion, but I am having a little PINK sale in my Etsy shop, nonetheless. So if you like pink ink you should get a Yink, I, I mean, if you like pink books, you could get one at a 30% discount. I'll continue the sale until the end of December, or until I have no pink things left!

I realize my Etsy shop is suffering a bit, showing symptoms of near starvation, in fact. But I am working on some new items and will be infusing new life therein very soon.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Japanese paper!

The Japanese Paper Place is well known to me even though I've never had an opportunity to visit the physical store - all lovers of Japanese papers will seek out the sources and this is THEE place to get Japanese paper in Canada. Can you imagine having 637 different sheets of Chiyogami all for yourself? Well, here I will increase the chances of me getting 637 such papers in my hands. Over at the Japanese Paper Place online store, they are having a little contest to win this pot of gold!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

So that's why I was busy

Because the fine people at Etsy asked me to be their featured seller and I wanted to have lots of things ready! It was kinda fun staying up really late to pack up orders although there is no doubt in my mind that I'd rather be making books than packing & shipping them! And here is a photo of some books made recently. The one on the bottom is over 30cm square (12"x12") and really thick. The one on top is about 7cm square (3"). I had such a wide range of book sizes that I just had to take a photo.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sweet Giveaway ends tomorrow

My absence from blogging does not mean have been slacking off - quite the opposite, in fact! And I do intend to share some new things really soon. In the meantime, I wanted to remind eveyone that the Sweet Figments giveaway closes tomorrow. There are 30 handmade goodies up for grabs, including a handbound leather journal made by me. Hop over to the Sweet Figments blog to find out how you can win! And just some qucik photos for now of things I've done recently. A hardcover stab binding with some pretty awesome red and black fabric for the covers: Some new earrings: And my small leather notebooks in lots of new colours:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Limp bindings from Tallinn

I recently received Limp bindings from Tallinn by Monica Langwe Berg. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful book. She has examined a set of limp leather bindings at the Tallinn City Archives in Estonia and in this book she reveals them to us with photos, diagrams, and terrific descriptions. In addition, she juxtaposes a series of contemporary interpretive bindings by professional bookbinders from Sweden and Estonia. The book itself is lovely too, with medieval style illustrations, offset print, gorgeous paper... and I just found out that there was a limited edition of 100 bound using a limp leather structure - how perfect!

Check out the last issue of The Bonefolder to read her teaser article about this book.

Monica Langwe's website:

Friday, November 14, 2008

More headbands

After I saw PiedCrow's tutorial for sewing headbands, I decided I could not delay any longer. I learned to sew headbands way back, like 5 years ago. At that time I did a few, but stopped and eventually decided I would never remember how to make them. Iris's instructions were great - it all came back to me. Just like riding a bike. So thanks for doing that Iris! These are all full leather bindings. With two of them I decided to make the covers a bit more three dimensional by adding raised letters and a crane.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Virtual Trunk Show - Trans Canada Etsy Team

Everyone is invited to the TCET first Virtual Trunk Show! This is part of the "Around the World" Trunk Show that is being hosted by Etsy. Teams from different regions around the globe will be participating. Thursday, Nov 13th, at 10:00pm Eastern in the Etsy Virtual Lab. These team members will be presenting their work:
  • MyHandboundBooks
  • Enthral
  • RikRak
  • DesignbyRJ
  • PaisleyBaby
  • PinkfireDesigns
  • iHeartThatDance
  • StringmeAlong
  • Intuibead
  • TanisAlexis

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blog A Day Giveaway

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am participating in the Blog A Day Giveway extravaganza over at the Sweet Figments blog. There are 30 prizes to be won from 30 different Etsy sellers. All you have to do, is pick one of the Etsy sellers represented and post about them on your own blog, or your MySpace page, or anywhere else that you can link to. Then go back to the Sweet Figments blog and put your link in the comments there. Easy! And it is called "Blog a Day" because you can write up a new blog post every day and enter your name every day for multiple chances to win!! Definitely check out all the cool stuff and get your name in, you might even get a leather journal from MyHandboundBooks!


I'd like to feature one of the other Etsy sellers right now! If you like unique and beautiful jewelry, check out MuseACDonline on Etsy, a design house with a mission. Their shop profile states that "we create fabulous ornaments and clothing that make a person feel good to wear them. We want our piece to be your favorite piece. There are many other clothiers out there. There are also a lot of jewelers, but we want to be your MUSE... we want you to wear one of our accessories, or items of clothing and feel inspired."
Shown here are a pair of earrings by MuseACD.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Newest issue of The Bonefolder

The Fall issue of The Bonefolder was published last week. I was looking forward to this particular issue because of the Bind-O-Rama component. The past four years, they have hosted this online exhibit, with a different theme each time:

2004 Springback
2005 Millimeter binding
2006 Flag book
2007 GBW Anniversary Catalog

For the 2008 Bind-O-Rama, submissions were accepted for books made using any of the binding styles previously featured in The Bonefolder. So quite a mixture, including: the springback binding, drum leaf binding, the tunnel book, the millimeter binding, the flag book, the limp vellum binding, a twined binding, and some others. You can download the PDF to see all the books, including a springback binding that I made.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Giving, in different ways

Check out the covers on these books. The pictures are from a calendar full of Japanese scenery, and so pretty! The pictures were sent to me by Jay, of Loopy4Ewe, an Etsy friend. Are those "stepping stumps" on the first one?! Jay saved the pictures for me, thinking that I could put them to good use so here they are! Two of them, anyway, I still have more to work with. Thanks Jay! Jay is participating in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer event, so I am giving this book with the red umbrella and cherry blossoms, to her fund raising efforts. I have the book for sale in my Etsy shop and will make a donation when it sells. Changing the subject a little bit, I am giving away this leather journal as part of the Sweet Figments Blog-a-Day holiday fun! There are 30 items being given away, and it is easy to get your name in the draw.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

More about Coptic Sewings

I had a few people ask me about the Coptic endbands after my previous post. I answered a couple of emails, responded to an inquiry through Flickr and just now also in the comments here on my blog. So, I'm going to post about it again and maybe answer questions for a few other people too.

I have seen instructions for sewing Coptic endbands in just one book, "Making & Keeping Creative Journals" by Tourtillott. I found the instructions difficult to follow, and I'm not sure that I actually ended up doing it quite the way it was described, but I had some success with it. There may be a better resource - if anyone has a suggestion - please share. Edit: "Headbands: How to Work Them" by Jane Greenfield is apparently a better resource! thanks for sharing that, Marloes.

One of the other questions was, would these endbands help stabilize the book's spine and prevent it from skewing diagonally. The short answer is, Yes. And if this kind of skewing is a problem for you, keep in mind that this kind of chain stitch binding is not well suited to big or thick books. So if you are making a really big and thick book with many signatures, an unsupported and exposed chain stitch is not a good choice. On the other hand, when used on a smaller slim book, the unsupported, exposed, chain stitch could be perfect!

This question also led me to my bookshelf, to refer to Szirmai's descriptions of the early and late Coptic bindings because I seemed to recall that these bindings were not really meant to have exposed spines. In his description of the early multi-quire Coptic bindings (pre 7th Century), Szirmai describes one example which had leather strips pasted across the spine, then a larger piece of leather pasted over the whole spine surface, obviously completely covering the chain stitching. And in the later Coptic bindings, Szirmai writes that the chain stitch bindings of that period had cloth pasted to the spine for stability. Usually a coarse blue cloth, pasted directly onto the spine and extended on both sides and pasted to the outside of the cover boards.

Here is a beautiful example of a leather-covered spine, from Kaija, Paperiaarre. Thanks for finding that perfect example for me, Astrid!

To some, it may seem crazy to cover up the beauty of a well-formed chain stitch, but if a book is meant to be durable and reliable, then having a binding that is functional and effective should be more important than having an exposed spine. As always, I keep ranting about structures. So now I'm wondering, what's my point? We just need to keep this stuff in mind when designing books. All the different elements have to work together. And if a binding needs support, then support it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

More Halloween Book Stuff

Happy Halloween everyone! Firstly, congratulations to Re:Paper, and the Sugar Skull book who won the BEST Zombie Award! The voting was a real nail biter. The Sugar Skull and my coffin book were neck in neck, always at each others heels, breathing down each others necks! Phew! During the last few days, I've come upon some other books and book-related items that seem appropriate for Halloween. One of my favorite books, read and re-read, love it completely is Shelley's Frankenstein. Etsy seller, Lightreading, made this Mary Shelley art paper doll. Stained and shredded pages from Frankenstein are used to make the skirt, and lots of other materials and textures and images are used to complete her. Also by Lightreading, this is a Halloween room decoration. Described in her Flickr photostream as "paper shreds strung with wire & black feathers and charms." The text is from three books, all in my list of favorites: Dracula, Sleepy Hollow and again Frankenstein. This one seems to be the opposite of my own halloween book, which was the coffin with a book inside. This is a book with a skeleton inside. By Etsy seller,SauvageRavenCreation. This is "Tina, the twisted" - a small wooden book box transformed into Tina's final resting place. I thought this was a terrific Halloween image, very goulish and spooky and such. And also great that it has a spooky book in it. I found this photo on Flickr - the description made me laugh, as it says the old book was "borrowed" (with the quotation marks) from a rare book library for the photo shoot. Hmmm...! This photographer also has a nice photo of Bram Stoker's gravestone and the absolute best Alien costume ever. More room decorations for Halloween - book pumpkins! Looks like the books have been trimmed and opened 360 degrees, then little jack-o-lantern faces attached. I found this image on Flickr and also in context on the same person's blog, RoseyLittleThings, who has done a lot of Halloween decorating if you're looking for ideas.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Halloween Books

The Bookbinding Etsy Street Team issued a Halloween Challenge to its members. The plan was to make themed books to capture the spirit of any of the upcoming holidays: Halloween, Bonfire Night, Thanksgiving, etc, whatever inspired us. Now we want everyone to vote for their favorite. I made a little coffin book, and it has its own coffin!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Using Antique Photographs

I recently fell into a selection of antique photographs. Well, not literally. They were carefully handed to me by my mother, and I did not fall. My mother is involved in a local historical society and they were given these photographs - but the subjects are unknown and probably not local, therefore not of much interest to their group. So, the photos were passed on to me. The pictures are in excellent condition, especially since they are probably 100 years old (give or take a decade). Nearly all the photographs are mounted on sturdy board and show very little wear or fading. Here is my first project with them, simply using the photos unaltered, as covers for a few journals.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada

Happy Thanksgiving to Canadians having turkey or tofurkey from coast to coast. The leaves are turning red and orange and falling all over the ground now. I must have been inspired by the season when I was making this book today, a chain stich binding with autumn flavoured Chyiogami covers: And, on an almost entirely unrelated note, check out the article about the Saint John's Bible project on the B.E.S.T blog. Imagine writing the entire bible by hand, in perfect calligraphic form, illuminated beautifully, using ink you made by grinding pigments, etc etc. Quite a tremendous undertaking. The project has its own website too, at

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Yotsume Toji

"Japanese Bookbinding" by Ikegami was the first bookbinding book that I ever bought and I've always loved its focus on technique and process. I got it the day after my first bookbinding class and I read it cover to cover and gradually made everything in it including all the books, boxes, and scrolls. Just recently I did a few simple stab bindings, shown here, and I still think these bindings are the epitome of style and structure.

Shown right to left: basic four-hole binding yotsume toji; then the embellished corner variation called the Kangxi binding; the third is the tortoise-shell variation called kikkĊ toji; and then the hemp leaf pattern called asa-no-ha toji (which usually includes the Kangxi corners, I think).

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Practicing Coptic Endbands

I've only tried this a few times so recently I decided to practice. I didn't photograph the first practice attempts! But I got a few books done with decent results. Although I'm not sure that I do it correctly, this is how it looks: And since I was in chain stitch mode, I made some itty bitty books too, but without the endbands:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mirror Words

The third item that I currently have at Abecedarian Gallery is called "Mirror Words". This is a small box with a stack of cards inside. The green cards are stamped with palindromic words and phrases. The peach cards are blank. The pencil is included so more palindromes can be added to the blank cards. Small mirrors are embedded in the cover, and also used on the inside of the box. The green and peach paper is some of the paper that I made and the text is rubber stamped.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

To Pack a Bag

"To Pack a Bag" is another one of my items in the Modest in Scale exhibit. This is a hardcover case bound book covered with brown suede leather and embellished with stitching and raised areas to resemble pockets, and decorated with bits of ephemera to suggest a well-traveled bag. I had made a suitcase book for the BEST book swap and it was basically the prototype. It was a blank book with a few pages cut from maps - designed specifically for the swap since we were doing a "travel" theme. The book shown above was made afterwards with some improvements to the construction, and contains a poem that I wrote, called "To pack a bag," laser printed onto parchment paper.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Time for China

There is a new exhibit opening today at Abecedarian Gallery in Denver, Colorado. The exhibit is entitled "Modest in Scale" and features bookworks five inches or less and modestly scaled prints, drawings and paintings. I have three works in this exhibit, including this little book. "Time for China" is a very small book that is shaped like a teabag and also the same size. It is a limited edition booklet that I printed using a set of rubber stamps that I carved depicting all the elements of a perfect little tea party. Abecedarian Gallery is operated by Alicia Baily, an artist whom I met at PBI a few months ago. Besides creating rather fabulous artists books herself, Alicia also spearheads some other very interesting projects through a group called Spondere.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Corrugated Cardboard

Once you leave the realm of archival materials behind you, there is no going back. When I first started making books, I never strayed from archival materials. Gradually, though, I have come to believe that not all books need to be (or should be) archival.

I've heard a bit about a movement in the art world to produce temporary art with the understanding that its existence is transient, temporary, and immediate; it does not need to be preserved; we simply cannot preserve everything, we do not have the means or the space to do so; so just enjoy it now and allow other works of art to take its place when the time comes. In this same spirit, I do not think it is reasonable to expect all books to be preserved and certainly many little notebooks and scribblers just don't need to last hundreds of many little notebooks full of "to do" lists will be of interest to our future generations?

So, these are tremendously non-archival books (which are also not works of art, they are just silly little books that might be fun to use for grocery lists or such things).

Each is made using 10 sheets of cardboard; a mixture of corrugated cardboard, pressed board from sketchbook covers, scraps of Eska board and mat board, etc. I'm not sure what the life span is for acidic corrugated cardboard... 10 years maybe before it begins to deteriorate? There are some varieties of corrugated cardboard that are archival, but I have not made any attempt to find archival materials for these books. All the cardboard used in these books was cut from boxes and boards that were lying around my workspace. The Eska board and mat board sheets were archival, but after lying next to acidic cardboard, they are not archival any more.

I used some of my paste papers to decorate the covers and also used folded strips of contrasting paste papers to make the sewing supports. The books are bound using a technique from Smith's book, "Sewing Single Sheets." It looks nice, creating little Xs on the spine like this:

Also, the books open completely flat with minimal sewing visible on the inside, just a neat pattern like this:

At times, I still like to get serious and do things 'by the book' and use entirely archival materials - but there is lots of room for these more temporary books. Maybe I will just stamp a little message inside, indicating that the book might self destruct in ten years!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Old Mail

I really do save everything. Including old envelopes and packaging materials from everything that comes in the mail (this pile of stuff can get unwieldy since I tend to buy online quite regularly with packages coming in the mail all the time!). So I made myself a new address book and two other blank books, all with materials from the mail. The address book has the inside security patterns from envelopes used as the patterend paper on the cover. This is a casebound hardcover book, the sections are sewn onto tapes cut from a tyvek envelope. The pages are various types of used envelopes that I dismantled and cut to size. This book is for me, but it may show up again elsewhere... The other two books tha I made are both exposed spine chain stitch bindings. The covers are mat board scraps with some used stamps mounted on them. Similar to the address book, the pages are all cut from envelopes and packing papers. These two books are in my Etsy shop.