Monday, 30 March 2009

Journal Inspiration

This week I decided to blog about one of my favorite books out there. It's chock full of inspiration for every journal keeper (beware: it'll also really make you want to go to France). It's Sara Midda's South of France, A Sketchbook. This book is organized by month as she describes a year spent in the south of France. I find this book so inspiring and never gets old.

I've selected some of my favorite ideas that I've grown to incorporate in my own journal keeping over the years. First, make little color swatches of things around you. Look at an object, or the sky, or a landscape and try to match the color with watercolor or colored pencils, and label what it is. Not only is it a great way to capture a memory, it's also a great way to use some inspiration when you're back home as a reference for other projects you may need a color scheme for. No one designs more gorgeous color palates than nature, so try to capture it in tiny little swatches. I love how on this page she also incorporates some pattern.

Another favorite exercise is to draw every day objects, like these sugar cube wrappings. For me, one of the exciting aspects of traveling in another country is the joy of seeing how different their every day objects are from my own. She also paints things like numbers from houses and different types of olives. These are simple things that are quick to put into your sketchbook while sipping a coffee at a cafe or when you stop to rest your feet at a local market.

I never tire of this book. I pick it up often and flip through it and think of it when I'm out with a journal. Paint an olive, describe what it tastes like, describe where you are while you're eating it, years later it will bring you right back to that cafe. I find it's easier to remember the big things, but it's the little things that more easily slip away and yet, the little things are what make traveling so special.

This last photo is of the gorgeous end pages. I just love how the text is making its own pattern. I couldn't resist sharing it. Pick this up from your local library, or buy it for your home. I promise, it'll inspire you!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Blog Interview: ElvieStudio

Lori Vliegen

Company/Etsy Site:


Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

How long has your Etsy shop been open?
Since August, 2008

How did you get into crafting?
I really can't think of a time that I wasn't creating something with my hands! As a kid, I used to make macrame plant holders, stitch clothes for my troll dolls out of Kleenex, and embroider owl pillows for my bed. One year, all of my friends got Barbies for Christmas, and I got a candle making kit. I was thrilled!

How did Etsy come into your life?
My daughter first told me about Etsy, and then a good friend of mine opened a shop and encouraged me to do the same.

What was your involvement in the crafting world before stumbling upon Etsy?
I have mostly created work for personal use, gift giving, and community organizations. I loved helping with school play costumes, Brownie activities, and after-school art programs. Before our Calligrapher's Guild became inactive, I spent many years chairing several different committees and holding office.

Do you have a day job?
Not at the present time.

Tell us about your shop: Does anyone help you?
My shop currently offers a variety of handbound, hardcover, blank journals with batik fabric or bookcloth covers. At present, I'm also offering a selection of hand-lettered ACEO's.
All of the work that you see in my shop has been handcrafted by myself, although my family and friends help me tremendously by donating their feedback and encouragement!

What advice would you give to newbies on Etsy or in the crafting world?
I really feel like I'm still a newbie, but what I've learned so far is that you should do what you love. If your heart's not in your work, it will show in your final product.

What's the most challenging part of your crafting?
There are so many wonderful things that I want to create...I have an awfully hard time prioritizing!

Do you show your work locally?
Not at the present time.

Famous last words?
"Measure once, cut twice...or is it the other way around?!"

How did you get interested in bookmaking?
I have been a lettering artist for many years, and while taking a workshop, we made a simple book to showcase our letterforms. I was hooked immediately!

How long have you been crafting? Bookmaking?
I think that I've been crafting from the time I was allowed to use safety scissors.
The bookmaking bug bit me about four years ago.

What is your favorite stitch/technique?
I love to do longstitch variations.

What is the one tool or supply that you couldn't live without?
My teflon bonefolder!

Materials you use for your books?
Currently, I'm loving the combination of fabric and buttons for the covers, creamy Italian Velata paper for the pages, and a fun color of waxed linen thread to sew it all together!

What inspires you?
Basically everything! But, I think that I'm most inspired by artists willing to share their artwork and their process with others. That's one of the many things that I so appreciate about BEST!

Who is your crafting hero?
My mom was my first "craft buddy", and she has encouraged and nurtured my creative spirit every step of the way!

Guilty pleasure?
Dark Belgian Chocolate!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

An Abecedarian of BEST members: G

We paused the “Abecedarian” series to show off the books from the last book swap and to introduce the Edible Book Festival. I will try to continue the postings for this series every 1-2 weeks to introduce you to members of the Etsy bookbinding team (BEST), moving from A to Z. Today’s letter is “G” and we have a group of 4 great shops to greet you today.

To make your own “wordle” click here

Gretchen of GHBooks is away on vacation, but she had some gorgeous goods in her “sold” items, including this Red, Green, and Gray Splotches - Blank Book:

The Gilded Quill brings this book “fresh to you from the magical world of green herbs and gardens”:

Geraldine of gnewfry uses polymer clay and found elements in her work, as in this handmade journal...Indian Princess:

Susan of Green Chair Press combines letterpress, poetry and bookbinding in her work. Here’s a fun book from her shop: A Good Read, flip book:

Now go greet these great gals in their Etsy galleries!

Monday, 23 March 2009

What to do with all these blank books . . .

Today’s installment of my “what to do with all these blank books” series will focus on “trail maps.” This is something I first learned about taking a Nature Journaling class at Rhode Island School of Design. I then read about trail maps in one of my favorite books on keeping a journal, A Trail Through Leaves by Hannah Hinchman. (I’m sure that book will be the focus of its own post one of these days.)

Trail maps are a great thing to do if you’re going for a walk or a hike. I make a point of bringing very few tools with me, often just a pen, or maybe a little brush to push the ink around with. You don’t want to bring too much with you, basically what can be in your back pocket, or in your hand. The idea is to go along on your walk and make a map of the journey by noticing things along the way and stopping and drawing or writing about them.

Maybe you jot down a note about the beautiful birdsong you’re hearing, walk a bit, then do a quick sketch of a flower you’re passing by. Doing this adds another level to your hike. Now, granted, this isn’t good if you’re with someone who wants to keep moving, or if you’re trying to burn calories, but it’s great if you want to notice things you’d otherwise walk by. It gives you a great excuse to take your time, to pause during your hike when you see a little splash of color that you want to investigate, or if you see a small animal come into view that you want to watch. I like to try to meander across the page of my journal, so it feels more like a journey.

I’m not great at drawing, but I like the process of observing and taking the time to focus and notice things. That’s one of the reasons trail maps are so fun for me. Not only are you noticing things you’d otherwise walk past, but you’re also not pressured to draw the perfect fern, but rather just draw it quickly and move onto the next thing.

The two photos are from a hike I did on Kauai in January 2008. We did a few hikes on that trip, but the one during which I made this trail map is so much more memorable, I can look at it and be right back there at that overlook.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Book Swap #6 - GHBooks

Our last swap book feature is from Gretchen, of GHBooks. She made this pretty Dragonfly Journal for our swap using a hardcover pamphlet structure with a soft spine. Gretchen says it is the first time she has made this type of book. The pages inside are a nice mixture of papers that coordinate so nicely with the cover paper and fabric, in creams, muted browns and blues.

Check our to see more of Gretchen's work.

See all the books from Book Swap #6.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Book Swap #6 - Matchboxbook

Our elusive friend known to us as eb, or matchboxbook, sent this interesting specimen for our swap. You might have to look twice at these photos although it was difficult to photograph; hopefully you can see what's happening.

He says, the book is sometimes called an impossible book. I originally had the idea of an impossble book before I knew there was such a thing and before I ever considered an "art career". I learned to bind books from an art school class, and my impossible books were enabled. The book for the book swap is from a show a few years back. It was a group show titled, five times five, and the book has five colored lines running through it--one for each member of the group. The paper is Arches text wove and the cloth is linen. Some people describe the books as an "inaccessible text", but I prefer to think of them as accessible with a little bit of work. Other examples of his "inaccessible texts" can be seen here.

Visit eb on Etsy, at

See all the books from Book Swap #6.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Book Swap #6 - MyHandboundBooks

The next swap book is from MyHandboundBooks, otherwise known as Rhonda. (I have written these in 3rd-person format previously but it is awkward, so let's just face facts: I'm writing my own description here!)

The book I made for the swap is a hardcover pamphlet structure with a dark green suede leather spine. I marbled the paper used on the covers. That is one of the first marbled papers I ever made, actually. The textblock is a single section of about 50 pages. I've used a wide variety of papers for the text block. The paper that is used on the inside of the covers and for the first couple pages is some handmade paper that I made by recycling my green paper scraps. The rest of the papers are a mix of plain, lined, decorative, and other handmade papers.

Check out my shop at

See all the books from Book Swap #6.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Book Swap #6 - Flurrsprite

Maiko, the sprite behind Flurrsprite, sent this hardcover journal for our book swap. This is a case bound journal with Japanese paper on the covers. It came with a little note: My name is The Fujiko Book, named after my creator's grandmother. I was made using pretty paper purchased while my creator was visiting her family in Japan. This book should give you a little taste of Japan too!

Maiko's work can be see at

See all the books from Book Swap #6.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Book Swap #6 - Buechertiger

The next book to feature from our book swap is, in fact, two books! From Hilke, known on Etsy as Buechertiger. These two small leather books are made with similar materials. Hilke has used two different closures: one is magnetic and the other closure is made from the bottom part of a snap. The binding is done with both a primary and a secondary sewing. The inside pages are wrapped with striped paste paper and some red "leather" paper.

Visit for more of Hilke's books.

See all the books from Book Swap #6.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Book Swap #6 - Jellygnite

It's time to start featuring the books from Book Swap #6! Ali, also known as Jellygnite, has participated in every swap so far. And here is her most recent contribution. This is a large stab bound book. It is a hardcover album-style book, covered with some nifty vintage 1940s wallpaper. She has added a little window in the cover to peak through to the first page.

Visit if you want to see more of Ali's work.

See all the books from Book Swap #6.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Book Swap #6 - Preview

The sixth book swap has been completed! The books were sent back out to the participants last weekend; thank you to everyone involved. For now, here is a preview of the books. Each book will be featured individually over the next couple weeks.

Participants in this swap:

The next swap is being planned for the end of May so get your books ready! All BEST members are welcome to participate. Check the swap guidelines for more information about how it works.

Monday, 9 March 2009

What to do with all these blank books . . .

Since we’re always posting gorgeous photos of blank books, I thought I’d start an occasional series on filling up all these blank books you've been buying from our great team. My idea is to post a different journal-keeping idea, along with some examples from some of my favorite books and inspiration or from my own journals. Sound good? Hopefully you’ll find it inspiring.
I’m going to start with one of my own journals. One of my favorite things to do when traveling, especially to some place warm and beautiful, is to paint the sunset. Since this can be daunting, especially to me who is not a painter, I limit myself to quick 5 minute paintings and only use a cute, tiny watercolor kit. Allowing myself only 5 minutes per painting frees me from feeling like the painting has to be perfect, my colors painstakingly correct, or in any way finished.

What it does let me do is focus on the sky and the moment, quickly capture the colors in the sky, and focus on how the beautiful colors. It’s amazing how fast the sun goes down when you’re doing 5 minute paintings. It’s also amazing how you absorb the sky and the colors when you’re really focusing on it.

This page is from the journal I took with me to Costa Rica in February 2007. Aaahhhh . . . it was warm there.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Write, Reflect, Rejuvenate

Over on Etsy, this month's theme is taking care of yourself, focusing on things like rejuvenation, wellness, initiating new interests, finding comfort at home, clearing out, cleaning up, gardening, having a dinner party with close friends, starting a journal and redecorating a room.
If you are looking to do any of the above, here is a selection of books from the BEST team that can help you get started!
From Subu, a dreamy recycled notebook:

To help you explore your inner landscape, a travel journal from Kristincrane:

A notebook full of love from JuniperJournals:

A garden-themed book from guildedquill:

Happy, flowered springtime journals from MyHandboundBooks.... :

... and from yatsu:

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

We're Everywhere

Four handbound journalsWanna learn as much as you can about our team, our members, and our work? Well, you can:
And of course, you can always follow our blog (see links at the bottom of the right sidebar).

Sunday, 1 March 2009

An Abecedarian of BEST members: E & F

This is the fifth in a series of blog postings where I will introduce you to members of the Etsy bookbinding team (BEST), moving from A to Z. Today’s letters are “E” and “F“: this will be a shorter post as there are exactly 3 shops whose names begin with these letters.

To make your own “wordle” click here

Enter ElvieStudio and meet the enthusiastic Lori. Her book of life exemplifies an eyelet binding, embossed letters and an effective use of colour.

At FatalAttraction you’ll find filigree jewellery and fine books. Featured here is the fabulous Ideogram, Triangulation and Foresight Journal.

Maiko of Flurrsprite has fabricated this sakura ball handbound book with floating flowers finished with a fancy ribbon.