Sunday, 25 October 2009

Vote for the BEST Zombie Award

Vote for the book that you think should win the BEST Zombie Award for 2009. The small photos shown below will link to larger photos and descriptions to help you decide. Then select your favorite and vote using the poll here on the right side of the page. After you vote, be sure to leave a comment telling us what you like about this time of year, for a chance to win a little goodie bag.

Here are the candidates:

The members of the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team were invited to make themed books for the BEST Zombie Award, using any of the upcoming holidays as inspiration: Halloween, Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, Bonfire Night, etc. The award will be given to whoever gets the most votes! So check out the books then vote for your favorite using the Poll located in the right sidebar. Everyone can vote, tell your friends to vote, spread the word! Voting will close on October 31st.

Leave a comment to tell us what you like most about October & November festivities! We will select one random comment to receive this little goodie bag consisting of a BEST postcard, 2 Etsy pins, and 2 little Halloween notebooks (from MyHandboundBooks).

Friday, 23 October 2009

Blog Interview: Bastiano

Name: Sebastian Alvarez

Company/Etsy Site:


Location: Sweden

How long has your Etsy shop been open? Since December 2008.

How did you get into crafting? I have always been surrounded by artists and crafty people and I grew up with a curiosity for making things, experimenting. When I was a child, I used to play with my father's tools and tried to invent kind of abstract toys with movement and involving some mechanism, using pieces of wood. I was also making small bags with left over pieces of leather from the time when my parents were making sandals, belts and bags in the hippie times.

How did Etsy come into your life? I started with making a notebook for my own use, just because I couldn't find the kind of a notebook I like. Then some of my friends saw it and liked it and started ordering notebooks from me for themselves and in the end, they advised me to open a shop in Etsy. So really, it has been a bit of a snowball effect.

What was your involvement in the crafting world before stumbling upon Etsy? Before opening my shop in Etsy I was working in Argentina and later in Spain with my father who is an artist and a sculptor and makes a living with stained-glass (some pictures of my work are available at by assignment for architects and other clients. Also, with my father we made many other kind of crafts with different materials like wood, metal, polyester, etc for interior designers and architects. Since moving to Sweden I've been working on my own, trying to create a job for myself rather than struggle finding a so-called regular day job which is incredibly difficult here for a foreigner like me.

Do you have a day job? No, currently I only work with my notebooks and am starting now with shoulder-bags.

Tell us about your shop: Does anyone help you? At the moment my shop is very small, I have a few listings only because I've been taking my time for with each and every notebook and this summer I was quite inactive with my crafts due to travelling and then moving flats. At the same time I sold all the notebooks I had in the shop, so it's currently a bit empty but I'm trying to update it as soon as I make new things. I'm obsessed with details, so I give each creation the time that it requires. Also, I've started making shoulder bags, using recycled materials as much as possible - that is a line of crafts I want to add to my shop.
My girlfriend Redi is helping me to keep my shop and craftmaking going. Without her encouragement I wouldn't be making crafts today. She not only supports my desire to do crafts, but also helps me with commercial advice, marketing, sales and editing my texts in English because my English is not very good. Also, very often she gives me very good ideas when I get stuck in the process of making or sometimes helps me see details from the aesthetic point of view, notice things that I didn't see before while being immersed in the process of making a notebook. She has a degree in English Language and Literature and is now doing her PhD in Gender Studies. She is passionate about photography and sometimes also helps me with taking or editing photos of my notebooks. As a researcher she writes a lot and takes notes all the time, so she is really my most loyal "customer" because now she only uses bastiano notebooks:)

What advice would you give to newbies on Etsy or in the crafting world? Make your crafts in the way you like it for you, not thinking so much about how the potential client may like it. Keep it personal, experimental, weird and simple to find your niche. And try to communicate with the materials in order to find out how to show the beauty of their natural properties to the people, in that way crafts have life and character and this is what the people like.

What's the most challenging part of your crafting? Discipline and focus. I'm always also interested in other topics that are not in direct relation with my crafts, like philosophy or learning about geeky IT stuff like Linux, so it can be challenging at times to balance all these interests.

Do you show your work locally? I haven't participated in any fairs yet but I do show my work to interested friends and friends of friends, thus relying on word of mouth quite a lot.

Famous last words? “If there were only one truth, you couldn't paint a hundred canvases on the same theme”.
Quotation of Pablo Picasso

How did you get interested in bookmaking? Making for myself a notebook that I wanted to have but couldn't find in any store and by any other crafter. I love the challenge of experimenting with making new things.

How long have you been crafting? Bookmaking? Crafting, since my childhood. Bookmaking, since the springtime of 2008.

What is your favorite stitch/technique? I don't know the names of techniques. I started by trial and error, analyzing how different kinds of books are made, experimenting and improving my techniques little by little.

What is the one tool or supply that you couldn't live without? Creativity. This is the main tool that gives you ideas and can help you make anything you need to realize your ideas.

Materials you use for your books? Papers, recycled envelopes, thread, glue, recycled fabric, coffee from my breakfast, eggs.

What inspires you? Many things inspire me for my crafts, some of them are constant things, like properties of materials, everything vintage, art, even music, and other things are temporal, at the moment I'm very inspired by two concepts I want to develop: one is the "fusion" I see between folk styles from North of Europe which is where I live at the moment and folk styles from South-America where I am from. And the other concept is my ongoing research about the link between Eco-friendly habits and the Open Source Software philosophy.

Who is your crafting hero? My father. Everything I've learned about art, crafts, and the sensitivity for all these things is thanks to him. He is very talented and his skills are with such a level of perfection and beauty that I cannot reach. But I try anyway.

Guilty pleasure? Learning about Linux operative system since it takes a lot of time, but I don't really feel guilty for my pleasures, they are part of what inspires me too.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Tools of the Trade: Outside Calipers

All sorts of calipers are handy for bookbinding, but today I am most enthusiastic about outside calipers. I happened to find a great one (left) at an antique market this past weekend. This is a tool that I use when making boxes. Box making is something that often goes hand in hand with bookbinding because many of the same materials and techniques are used. If you're working on book conservation, or repair, it is often wise to box a book so that it will be nice and safe!

The first thing you'll need to know before you start making a box is the dimensions of the object to be boxed. Calipers come in handy when measuring the thickness of old books. Books can warp over time depending on the various conditions they've "lived" through, so it's important to measure the thickness of the entire book and make a box to fit the thickest measurement.

My outside calipers have a screw mechanism that can be loosened or tightened until the tips are resting upon the thickest dimension of the object. Once the tips have found their position, the caliper can be removed from the object and then the distance between the tips can be measured with a ruler.

If you look closely at the tips of the two calipers, you can see that one pair is rounded while the others (the new pair) are flat and come to a point. I was excited to see this because it is so much easier to measure accurately between two flat tips than between two round tips. Although I should mention one word of caution. If you're using pointed calipers be sure that the tips don't scrape the book you're trying to protect!

Ah! Nothing like precise measuring! :)

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Photo Editing: White Backgrounds

For the longest time I was frustrated with images that came out discolored. Especially the white ones. That crispy snow scene or drawing on white paper always ended up gray. This is the one click solution for those who can't or don't want to become involved in more complicated photo manipulation gymnastics.

ArtKitten.Etsy.comFirst, to understand what causes the problem. The camera can only make two adjustments--how long the shutter is open and how wide the aperture opens. Of all the metering and measuring of color and brightness of a particular scene, in the end the camera can only accept one setting for shutter speed and one setting for aperture. Digital camera's are more complex, but either way it still ends up being a game of assumptions and averages. The typical decent photo is assumed to have so much light and dark, which averages a certain amount of gray. To properly replicate this "classic" gray there is one setting for shutter and aperture. The computer in the camera is programmed to calculate the proper setting from its sensor readings of a scene. The game goes awry when a scene is not typical in color or light. In the case of much white, the camera only knows to strive for an average gray, which pushes the white scene into grayness. Light sources cause the same problem. Camera sensors read natural light as cool and light bulb light as warm, but the problem is that the camera doesn't know when it is encountering which kind of light. This is the reason there is daylight and tungsten (light bulb) type films, and digital cameras have settings for inside and outside shooting.

Try to use the camera's adjustments first and use photo editing software for clean up. Most photo programs have an auto adjustment feature, and this feature can solve the majority of problems with one or two clicks. In photoshop I think there is an auto levels, auto color, and auto contrast. In paintshop pro it is called one-step photo fix under the adjustment drop down menu.

Kristin has allowed me to use an image from her recent article as a before/after example of one click editing (in this case one click and one slider push). The image on the top has the gray caused by the camera's confusion of what neutral gray should be. The lower image has been edited and is more like the whiteness of a drawing on white paper.

First the automatic photo adjust corrected the overall black/white/gray confusion and then the saturation slider pushed back the resulting blue shadow that swept across the page. Now try these simple adjustments on your snow scenes, drawings on white, and objects sitting in front of light colored backdrops. Seeing the power of using these quick fixes then makes it easier to play with the other more subtle image controls.

In a real hurry? Try using the camera's built-in flash and see if you can live with the front-on lighting. Colors are usually accurate, because the camera is calibrated to the flash, so it knows what to expect.

submitted by eb, matchboxbook

Sunday, 18 October 2009

An Abecedarian of BEST members: UVWXYZ

Today we will complete our Abecedarian with the tail end of the Alphabet!

Beth of UberArt is currently focused on creating guest books for weddings and special events. Here is her Twilight Meadow Journal Guest Book:

Kate of uniformity believes the constrictions of using what's around you results in the best artwork, and as a result likes to make her work from as much found material as possible. Here she has used a promotional postcard for this Baltimore CAP colorful city rounded edges notebook:

Cindy of UsefulBooks has an unusual process of creating unique covers, layering tyvek and kraft paper to create a strong, flexible and water-resistant material, as seen in her Leonardo's Giant Crossbow Sketch Upcycled Journal:

Jen of veronicapress combines handmade paper, letterpress, screenprint, etching, and drawing in her work. Deer wood book:

Whimseys uses machine embroidery and stitching to created unique covers for paperback books: RED HAT SOCIETY:

Niko of WhiteRavenArts includes artist's books from White Raven Bindery, printmaking and photography, and White Raven Press comics in her shop. Her artist’s book Aeryn Daring Lives Up To Her Name Handbound Handprinted Lithograph Book includes hand printed lithographic prints:

Windowseatbooks has experience with bookbinding, printmaking, photography, drawing, painting, and digital media. Her Large Speckled Blueberry Eco Journal is made with unique thick Recycled Paper Panels from another Etsy seller GreenPost:

Wendy of windyweatherbindery pairs traditional methods with a contemporary design aesthetic. Here is her Small Hardcover Book - Red and Green Parasols:

Meredeth of yatsu (notuboc) has been printing her own lined paper for her lined journals: pink stitches, lined journal:

Zibboon began her bookmaking career after a class in Italy. Arcaico - Polka Dotted Journal:

Thank you for sharing this journey through the alphabet with me as we met all the members of the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team. I know some shops have been missed, for reasons of vacation, shop inactivity, or joining BEST after their letter was featured. If you are a member of BEST and have not yet been featured in the Abecedarian series here, please convo me through my etsy shop before November 1. I plan on doing one more “catch up” post to include those who have been missed.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Blog Interview: Baghy


Company/Etsy Site:

Blog (coming soon):

here(Romania)and there(Portugal)

How long has your Etsy shop been open?
February 18, 2009 - whoa, how the time flies!

How did you get into crafting?
Well... should I count the little paper dolls I made in kindergarten? I always liked to try to make new things. Each time I see a handmade object I wonder, couldn't I do one too? I wish I had time to experiment with a lot of different media. I keep shopping for materials and have my house full of beads, leather, wool, clay, paper, you name it, I've got it! Bookbinding still remains one of my favorite things to do - because the process is so interesting and I smile thinking that people write their thoughts in it as I did in my diaries. My first costumers were friends and friends of friends and I love to see their journals - some became sketchbooks, some diaries, some art books or photo albums. It's like they have a personality of their own and that is why I am fond of each journal I make.

How did Etsy come into your life?
I can't remember where I saw this site first but I felt in love with the beautiful items right away! There aren't many fairs where I live and I found in Etsy a non-stop fair where I can discover little treasures made by wonderful artisans.

What was your involvement in the crafting world before stumbling upon Etsy?
I used to make books before Etsy but just for fun. Since I opened my Etsy shop, bookbinding gained more importance in my life - now I just wish like everybody else to be a full time artisan and quit my day job. Before it was just a hobby, now it's also a business, but I still love it like in day 1.

Do you have a day job?
Yes, but not for long I hope. I am a web designer, I love what I do, but crafting beats that cause I can actually see a real object coming out of my hands, not a virtual one, and that makes me feel great. I love to make my environment, to personalize my home with handmade stuff made by me or other fellow artisans.

Tell us about your shop:
Does anyone help you?Yes, everybody helps me! Specially bringing me little charms or a nice peace of leather they found in a shop, "look what I found for your books" - it's very nice of them and sometimes I feel it's a group work.

What advice would you give to newbies on Etsy or in the crafting world?
Well... I'm a newbie myself, I try to learn tips and tricks as much as I can but it still feels like I am only scratching the surface. My advice is that they must not be disappointed if they don't have much sales - and remember that advertising is equally important to the quality and beauty of your products. It's like talent and work - you can only get somewhere with both of them. Every artisan should try blogging, twitter, facebook, flickr.

What's the most challenging part of your crafting?
- Oh, crafting is easy - selling is hard! The thing I like most in making my books is choosing the cover color and embellishments to match. What I find quite challenging is writing custom initials on the cover, as I offer this feature for some of my works. They must be perfect because the notebook is not mine anymore at that time so I can't blew it. But I've had no complains so far.

Do you show your work locally?
There are very few fairs and I tried once to display my work at a Local Art Gallery but they were soon damaged - dirty pages and all - and I hate to see my notebooks like that since I put a lot of care into them.

Famous last words?
The voices made me buy that...

How did you get interested in bookmaking?
I saw different Art Books on the internet ( and that made me look at journals from another perspective - as interactive art objects. I tried some Art Books myself but I could never sell those - they are to dear to me. I get attached to my Etsy journals as well and feel weird when I see them go.

How long have you been crafting? Bookmaking?
I think I started bookmaking about a year ago and couldn't stop since :)

What is your favorite stitch/technique?
I like longstitch, and longstich likes me. It just seems such an easy bookbinding technique and looks nice on the spine. I also like coptic stitch and on my to-do list learning new stitching techniques is a priority.

What is the one tool or supply that you couldn't live without?
The ruler... I'm sorry, should've said something more fun, but it would have been unfair not to mention it just because it's just a plain object. It's really useful and I couldn't live without it (love you, Ruley)!

Materials you use for your books?
I used to use fabric but now I'm all into leather. I just love its texture, its luxury appearance, its smell, its shine, its durability. Also, I love polymer clay, it is such a versatile medium and I can do anything I have in mind with it. Also, my newest hobby is making recycled paper with leaves and flowers - I gather all the nice fallen petals from my garden, then I dry them for future use. I already started to make journals using my handmade paper and plan to make more. I think they are romantic - plus, I get to recycle all the paper that would go to waste otherwise.

What inspires you?
My blank books don't really have a subject, but I tend to use nature elements - like flowers, leaves, trees... and usually enhance their geometric resemblance - the snail becomes a spiral, the buds little circles... Then it's all about playing with shapes and hues.

Who is your crafting hero?
:) It's a Romanian fellow, Dinu Bodiciu - Gosh, his works are just so creative! When I "grow up" I wanna be like him. Each of his creation amazes me. You can see his works at but wait in line if you wanna inspire yourself from his works! Too bad you can't read the story behind his books, they are really cool. Here's an example of his work:
Dinu Bodiciu

Guilty pleasure?
Greedy shopping for materials.

Thanks everybody for reading my interview and feel free to get in touch with me - I love to interact with people that share my interests. You can follow me on or stumbleupon, where you can find a lot of quality contemporary art I find and like.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Southern Illinois Art & Artisan Center

This is the second article in a series of visits to artisan centers that I encounter while jetting about in my sprinter van. I visited the Southern Illinois Art & Artisan Center in Whittington, Illinois at the end of the summer. When I visited they were preparing for the jury session for selecting artists to represent this fall. Unfortunately the deadline for the season has passed, but there is now time for our Illinois friends to prepare for the next call-for-artists in the spring.

This shop which very much resembles a converted highway rest area (very nicely done, however) is packed full of every conceivable craft with one notable exception. There was only one handmade sketchbook. Well represented are yarn and fiber, carved stone, tapestries, repurposed farm and industrial tools, hummingbird feeders, drawings, prints, wooden toys, jewelry, metal arts, and one sketchbook.

I learned from the visit that there are three other shops that are part of the Illinois Artisans Program. Chicago has the other artisan center, and there are museum stores in Springfield and Lewiston. I told the people there what I was doing, and they were very encouraging and interested in seeing more books. Anyone interested should visit the website where there is more detailed information and application forms. If someone isn't from Illinois, this is still a nice shop to visit. It is just off of I-57 at exit 77 for Rend Lake recreation area. Rend Lake and the Artisans Center are well marked on the highway.

Read the first article in this series about the Kentucky Artisan Center.

submitted by eb, matchboxbook

Monday, 5 October 2009

Filling all these blank books

Sorry for the hiatus in this series on what to do with all these gorgeous blank books you've been buying from all these great Etsy bookbinders. Life got a little busy, doesn't it have a habit of doing that? In an effort to get back into the groove for the fall, here's another installment in my series, this one is on sounds.
What we hear is an important part of any experience, yet one that's often overlooked. When you travel to a new place, whether you're paying attention or not, you're hearing sounds that are new and unusual to that particular place. A good exercise is to sit and listen for maybe 5 minutes, and pay attention to what those sounds are and simply write them down, just make a list. For me, some of those things were the clatter of cups and saucers in a Montreal cafe, or the crashing of waves, mixed with roosters on Kauai. In Istanbul it was the call to prayer 5 times a day. Each place has sounds unusal to your daily life, and reading your description later will bring you right back to that place in a way that a photograph never could. Travel is more than just seeing sights, it's the whole experience.
A few years ago I took a journal keeping class at RISD. One of the most interesting exercises we did in that class was to draw what we hear. We sat for 5 minutes and just listened, and then took out our supplies and tried to capture the sounds.
I also saw in one of my favorite journal keeping books by Hannah Hinchman, A Trail Through Leaves, something she does called sound tapestries. She does little sketches for sounds, and then sometimes puts them together.Next time you're some place new, take out your journal and try to capture the things you're hearing. I'm sure you'll find yourself listening in a whole new way.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

An Abecedarian of BEST members: T

We are travelling towards the tail end of the alphabet. Today I will take you to the members of BEST whose shop names begin with “T”.

Hanna of tangiblepress incorporates historical styles with delicious colours and textures in her work. Gingham and wood hardcover journal:

Courtney of TealStripes is inspired by bright colors, simple designs, birds, clouds, flowers, and words. Her It's Only the Weather - sketchbook contains fun gouache-painted doodles of types of weather:

Thecraftykitten is passionate about paper and fibre arts, and if you look closely you will see both in this image, Peeks of Aqua Square Book:

Items from ThisIsBexx do not contain any animal products and are made with environmentally friendly or recycled materials whenever possible. How I Get My Protein Mini Book for Vegetarians / Vegans (Blue, Tofu):