Friday, 29 January 2010

Blog Interview: Bibliographica

Welcome back to the BEST blog interview series. Today I have the pleasure to introduce you to Louise, on Etsy she is also known as Bibliographica. - To meet her live and in person you would have to go to Waiheke Island, New Zealand. We just barely missed her 1st Etsy-Birthday which was on January 27th.

Hi Louise, nice to meet you, and congratulations to your one year old shop! Tell us a little about it: What do you make and sell?
I make journals, books and sketchbooks by hand, and use predominantly recycled materials to do so. Everything is made by me, and is unique – I’ll never repeat the same journal twice although I could attempt something similar. I also sell my photographic prints which are botanical collages and contain old letters, postcards, fabric, miscellaneous paper ephemera relative to the object, and flora and fauna native to NZ.

Do you have a favorite material or technique among those that you use?
The paper I use has varied over the years but I have found I prefer the Incisioni Cartiere Magnani paper or Fabriano’s amazing Eco paper. Both are lovely to work with and have beautiful surfaces which respond well to most mediums. This way you can please everyone! I like to hand tear and tea-stain my papers, which I then lay out flat on a plastic sheet and then press when dry. I like things to inspire the artist or writer. Not everyone likes tea-stained pages though. So it’s not something I do all the time. It’s good to have a mix.

I love to make really grungy rustic leather covers and I love to find bits of leather for that part. I have so much and sometimes it will take me a long time to find the right piece that works. I like to find bits that have straggly corners or natural formations that I can leave there and use to my advantage without having to cleanly cut it to size. I like things to look a bit imperfect, have a bit of an edge. I love to Coptic bind, it’s a beautiful process and very rewarding when it works well. A particular enjoyment is to look at a selection of books I have made all in a row.

What part of the process of making a book do you like best?
I like the part when I have made all my marks and incisions, the panels are ready and I’m set to sew. That’s my favorite part of a Coptic bind. With closed spine bindings, I like to pull the book out of the press and open and close it lots of times, polish it up and finish it off with embellishments – which takes time as I have lots of bits and bobs lying around!

What inspires your work? Do you have a special way or place to go where you get ideas?
I’ll visit all sorts of sites, bookbinding museums, galleries, online libraries. I love to go to junk or thrift stores and scour the shelves, I get so inspired. Books don’t necessarily make me want to make books, I see an old leather Chesterfield couch and want to sit in it – that might inspire me to make a book that is equally as nice to write in as the couch is to sit in. It’s about a complimentary thing I suppose. I love anything old and different!

How and when did crafting and bookmaking come into your life?
I have kept a journal since I was 12 years old, writing all sorts of things to myself; I grew to adore my journal particularly when traveling; I’d sit in cafes with it and write screeds over coffee. I always write with a 0.05 Staedtler pen, as I am left handed and it doesn’t leave a smudge. If I liked it a lot I would make my writing ridiculously small towards the end so I could prolong its life; all the words would be squashed together.

I made my first book when I was about 19; it was a Coptic binding with vintage postage stamps on the panels. I still have it and it’s full of ramble. :) I was studying photography at the time and took an elective in book arts. Over the next several years I made a few books by looking at the way my bought journals had been made. I found over that time that I wanted a particular kind of journal; a leather one that looked old and worn. I was so inspired whenever I saw anything like this. It made me want to write about anything, freely – it unblocked fear. I found my Staedtler pen only looked and felt really wonderful on particular papers and I so looked forward to writing in a journal that fitted that description. But they became hard to find and very costly when found! I started making my own at this time, also to put my photographs in.

It was while I was studying for my Honours Degree in Photography that I took a couple of evening classes in Bookbinding which really got me going. I took to it like a sponge and became addicted to making books. I didn’t sell my first one for another year as I wanted to keep them all! I had all these books everywhere and thought maybe I should let them go. I would give them away as gifts quite a lot. I started selling them at markets before I began on Etsy.

So you are a photographer by training?
I have a BA (Hons) in Photography, and graduated with distinction. Photography is my passion; I’m a bit of a black and white purist at heart. I have an old Rolleiflex Twin Lens 6 x 6 camera from 1952, and still use it. It’s been to Paris and outside Henri Cartier-Bresson’s front door. I worked in the professional photography industry in Australia before returning to New Zealand to pursue my own creation – at the time I wasn’t sure what I was getting up to. I experimented a lot when I came back with all sorts of ideas. Once I had it I got on a roll, and I suppose eventually things took shape; you just let it go where it goes. I do photographic work as well as craft markets on the weekends.

Is there one book among your works that you are especially proud of?
I made a book once which I called ‘Blowin in the Wind’. The endpapers were the authentic vintage sheet music from Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’, and it had my image of a dandelion of the same title on the inside cover. I sold it on a trade website here in NZ, to an avid Bob Dylan fan who loved it so that worked out famously.
My most favorite book however that I have made was my ‘Journaling Gypsy’ which sold last year on Etsy. It had a tiny baby version of itself on the front panel.

Thank you for sharing your stories with us! There is just one bit of information left I would like to ask (I always like this bit): Please explain your Etsy-name to us.
Bibliographica stemmed from a thought about me as a book or thesis. So it’s the bibliography of me. I’m an avid collector of things, and have always been drawn to old books, paper ephemera, photographs, postcards – especially with beautiful ink fed handwriting on them… I am a bookbinder, photographer & bibliophile and it seemed that Bibliographica fit all these things.

Thanks again!
If you want to see more of Louise's books, check them out in her shop!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

The New Member Blogs Page!

Etsy Member Blog Name
Anagramforink :
Anticovalore :
Blue Roof Designs
Booksbystephen :
Buechertiger :
Cinderlisadesign :
Conduitpress :
Deconstructartichoke :
Donnalda :
Feeding The Lake :
Flurrsprite :
Greenchairpress :
Karleighjae :
kathrynmcelroy :
Kreativlink :
Kristincrane :
Kupokiley :
Ladyartisan :
Lapaperie :
LifeStoriesBooks :
Lizziemade :
MakingMyRent : 
Moonbindery :
Moonlightbindery :
Myhandboundbooks :
Mylanderbooks :
Nauli :
OliveArt :
Palepink :
Paperfection :
Paperlion :
Paperspirit :
papierdier :
PerkyProse  :
PixelPoint :
Prairiepeasant :
Readwritebooks :
Re:paper :
Surfbunny :
Swirlingtree :
Thecraftykitten :
The Orange Windmill: 
The Vespiary :
Tickerfinch :
Tortagialla :
Weebindery :
Whiteravenarts :
Windyweatherbindery :
Winzy Design :

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Bookmaking Kits and Tutorials Part 3

Did you know that you can use basic kitchen staples such as tea and coffee to antique papers to use for the covers and/or pages of your books? With a minimum of supplies, you can get effects like this:

Book by redpumpkinstudio

and this:

Book by ladyartisan

Two members of BEST have tutorials on their blogs for staining paper with tea and/or coffee. Ladyartisan has a tutorial here, and redpumpkinstudio has a tutorial here. Their methods are slightly different with very interesting results. Try them out and share the results with a link here in the comments section.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Blog Interview: Books by Stephen

Welcome back to another BEST interview. Today we make a virtual travel to Saint Louis, Missouri, to meet Stephen Lott, creative head behind Books by Stephen. You can find him on Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook by searching for "booksbystephen", and he is also blogging at
Hi Stephen, thank you for this opportunity to ask you some questions. Let's start with your books: What kind of books do you make? What materials do you use and what techniques are your favorite?
I started bookbinding by learning how to make flat back case bound books. I also enjoy the challenge of making a rounded spine book now and then. Since learning how to make Coptic sewn books, I have enjoyed this process. I want to experiment with and learn new Coptic sewing. More recently, I have enjoyed painting Arches text weight paper and finding ways to use this in my books. I enjoy creating a whole book with the painted paper as the signatures once I have enough of them, and I would like to do more with the painted paper by using some printmaking techniques.
In addition to books, I enjoy creating box structures from time to time.

That sounds like you have a head full of ideas and inspiration. Where does it come from?
I find inspiration all around me. Probably the biggest source of inspiration for me is finding a way to incorporate ephemera or other vintage materials into my books. Playing with color and texture is also a motivating factor in my work.

My Mom gave me a large tin of old buttons a while back and I enjoy finding ways to incorporate those into my work. I love the idea of using something old on a project; I think about the fact that the user of the book will be giving new life to the button, old book cover, or a cut out image from a book.

How and when did crafting and bookmaking come into your life?
My mom's side of the family has quite a bit of creative energy - musical and artistic talent. I always knew that I possessed these talents too, but it took me several years to find my niche. In 2004, I visited an art exhibit in which an artist used an x-acto knife to cut out small squares from large sheets of white paper. - It looked like a cityscape. My mind went back to the x-acto knife kit that my great grandpa gave me when I was a child. I decided to pull that out once again. This, along with some watercolor paints led to the creation of stained-glass-like greeting cards made of paper.
In 2006, I went to an art fair and discovered a
local book artist. I loved her work! As we talked I learned that she offered classes at her studio. I took one class, then another, and was hooked.

Do you have a day job different from being an Etsy seller?
In second grade, my teacher was telling us a story about what she had seen on her way to work. My hand shot up in the air, and I asked her where she worked. Surprised, she informed me that teaching was her job, to which I replied, "You mean you get paid for this?" I didn't intend it to be an insult. Quite the contrary. She made teaching look like so much fun - all the colorful bulletin boards, the mounds of school supplies, not to mention her witty sense of humor. Until that moment, I assumed that teachers lived at school - in the teacher's lounge; I just figured that they "volunteered" in much the same way that parents do. At that moment I decided I wanted to be a teacher. Currently, I am in my thirteenth year as an elementary teacher. The last nine of those years have been as a second grade teacher at an independent school in St. Louis. My school community has been quite supportive of my bookbinding endeavor; I would not be where I am today without their support and feedback.

Is there one book among the many that you created one that you think is special?
Yes, it is called "Our Dreams For the World" - let me tell you its story:One of the units taught is my class in "Coming to America". One of the things we do in this study is to use old hats, scarves, and pieces of fabric to dress students up as immigrants from long ago. Near the end of the unit, students receive a passport that features this photo, and they create a fictional character. Each student also receives a handmade journal (bound with binder rings) covered in fabric. This year, they are getting fabric from their grandparents; one child obtained part of her grandmother's wedding dress for the project.
In the journal, the children write a historical fiction account of being an immigrant 100 years ago.
This study happens to overlap with our focus of Martin Luther King. Several years ago, I created the book "Our Dreams For The World". It reveals my students in their costumes as well as their dreams for the world. (The sticky note in the picture hides the name and secures the privacy of my student.)
The end sheets are made using a book that we study early in the year; it focuses on diversity and culture throughout the world. A few of these books were made; one was sold at our school auction and helped to raise money for financial aid. I was honored and proud to have made this contribution.

This is indeed a beautiful book. Thank you for showing it to us!
Thank you for featuring me and my books in this interview.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Tools of the Trade: Rust Removal Failure

Well folks, I'm embarrassed to admit, as it turns out, I'm not much of a scientist! Maybe next time I'll complete an experiment before I share it!  In my last post I wanted to test a couple rust removal theories, and chances are they would have been successful, but I got busy and forgot about my little containers.

I did check them on day two (top photo) and day four (above). Yuck! On day two the rust seemed to be flaking off nicely, but four days seemed to be far too long. Later in the week when I rinsed the containers out I was left with poor mutilated needles that were mostly eaten away beyond repair!

I'd say if you're going to try to remove rust in the future, do as I did and try your method on something that isn't valuable to you. Better yet, follow Bob or Patrick's advice! In the comments for my original post Bob recommended Ospho, a product that can be found in most hardware stores, and Patrick recommended soaking rusty objects in coke. I have actually heard of the latter method, and I'd be confident in trusting their suggestions!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

BEST Carnival Challenge

All BEST Members are invited to create a book for our first Carnival Challenge!

Here's how it works:
Make a book that reflects some aspect of the carnival season. Traditions vary locally, do whatever feels right for you: Whether your books has venetian China masks, or is designed for Brasilian Samba Dancers is up to you.

Have your book finished, photographed, and listed in your Etsy shop by Thursday, February 11th. Tag your article with "BESTcarnival" So that it can easily be found by searching.

Multiple entries are allowed as long as they are truly different entries (not just different colors for the same general book design).

The books will get presented on our blog on February 12th with an image. Readers can vote for their favorite book in an anonymous poll. The winner is determined on the day after Mardi Gras, on Ash Wednesday (February 17th). We give out the award to the bookbinder who made the most popular book. The award includes: a special blog feature on Friday February 19th, unlimited bragging rights, and the right to display the fool's cap graphics on his/her own website.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Bookmaking Kits and Tutorials Part 2

We began this series last week with kits and tutorials on simple folded books. Today we'll progress to slightly more complex structures.

Lizzie, of LizzieMade has a tutorial on her blog on making a Concertina Mini Scrap Album. Here are Part One and Part Two.

If you are interested in learning some inventive folded book structures designed by Hedi Kyle, check out the shops of marcadeartspress and greenchairpress

Marcadeartspress has a tutorial and printable cover design for sale to make a Blizzard Book:

Greenchairpress has a kit for sale with instructions and materials to make both a Blizzard book and a Crown binding book:

These structures look like a lot of fun! It's time to get out the bonefolder and paper!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Blog Interview: Bibliophile

Hello and welcome to another blog interview here on our B.E.S Team Blog. Today I have the pleasure to introduce you to our teammember Bley who runs the shop Bibliosophy. She lives and works in Dayton, Ohio, USA. She is also blogging and you can find her writings here at

Hello, Bley! Please explain your shop's name to us. Bibliophile means book lover, right?
Yes, but while bibliophile is my Etsy username, my shop is called "Bibliosophy," a made up word based on two Greek roots, meaning "the study of books."

How and when did crafting and bookmaking come into your life?
I have been making art for as long as I can remember, and my days do not feel complete until I have created something. Bookbinding has always had a fascination for me, partly because I love to read books, and partly because I love to create useful things. After college I was able to pursue my own artistic interests, and that is when I was really able to focus on binding.

What kind of books do you make? What materials do you use and what techniques are your favorite?

My work is slowly evolving. I started with Coptic bound books and worked mainly with used children's picture books, turning them into new blank journals. From there, I have expanded to include journals with ceramic covers, journals with used encyclopedia covers (which often have lovely embossed details), and recently I have been working with fabric-covered journals sewn onto leather tapes with a binding of my own devising. I love exposed spine sewings, so I don't work much with case-bound books; I feel that the decoration on the spine is the most interesting part of a hand-bound book.
I love to find new uses for blank books and incorporate the use into design features: such as using the oilcloth on the covers of a cookbook to make it more practical in a kitchen.

Do you have a specialty product line?
My cookbook journals are pretty unique, I think. I calligraphed the interior pages into recipe templates so people can include their favorite recipes and covered the front and back with oilcloth to make it wipe-able and useful in the kitchen. And the Coptic stitching allows it to lay flat so you can easily read your recipe!

I am surprised that you don't mention your clay-cover books. I think they are pretty special, and love the idea. Do you make the covers yourself?
Yes, I make the clay covers myself, and these are some of my favorite books. The process is much more long and involved because I do not own a kiln myself, and many factors remain out of my control with these. But, when I get the chance to work in the clay studio, I love making sets of covers for future books. Clients enjoy them too; I had one ordered for use as a guest book at a wedding, and others plan to use them for their most special memories.

What do you do when you are not making books?
I have the best day (and night!) job in the world as the stay at home mom to a one year old boy, and a new one due in March! It keeps me busy, but I love to squeeze my own personal art time in. My formal training was in art history and art education, and I taught studio art for a couple of years. I became interested in bookbinding after graduating from college, and am largely self-taught. I would love to attend some historical bookbinding workshops someday as my family allows.

Do you have special plans for your crafting and your shop for the future?
I intend to keep learning new binding styles and creating books, but my focus has shifted a little since starting a family, and I am starting to do more portable crafts, such as knitting, which I can more easily squeeze in between family demands. You can check out my blog,, to see some of my sewing, knitting, and bookbinding tutorials.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Bookmaking Kits and Tutorials Part 1

Are you new to the world of bookmaking? Would you like to try some new techniques or materials in your books? In this series of blog posts, I hope to connect you with some tutorials and kits written/created by members of the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team, to help both beginner and experienced bookmakers alike.

Today we will begin with some simpler structures for those new to bookmaking. These folded books are generally quick and easy to make, and lots of fun!

Susan, of greenchairpress, sells a kit with instructions to make 5 different books from a single sheet of paper! The kit also includes preprinted materials to make 3 books with these instructions, and a Word template for printing your own.

Niko, of anagramforink, has written a tutorial on How to Make a One-Sheet Booklet, which is published on the HandMadeNews blog.

Margaret, of marcadeartspress, sells several tutorials and kits for bookmaking. Her Beginners Bookbinding e-book Tutorial includes how to make a sewn pamplet and 2 folded books, including templates and printable cover designs.

Happy folding and stay tuned for more ideas next week!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Blog Interview: Boom Box Bindery

Hello, on this sunny winter day! I am pleased to introduce you today to Monica. Her nearly year old Etsy shop is called BoomBoxBindery. Online, you can find her at and in the real world you can look her up in Orlando, Florida.

Hi, Monica! Tell us, how did crafting and bookmaking come into your life?
I have memories of pre-school craft projects that made a fond and lasting impression on me, so I think I’ve always enjoyed all things art and working with my hands. However, bookbinding didn’t come into play until college, when a friend was taking a bookmaking course. I couldn’t get over how wonderful it was, and ended up turning all of my graphic design projects into books!

What part of the process of making a book do you like best?
My favorite part of making books is when I get to covering. Whether it be paper, cloth, or leather, it means that I’m nearing the final product but there is still time left to enjoy the process!

What do you do when you don't make books. Do you have a day job different from your job as an Etsy seller?
Bookbinding is my day job! I focus primarily on custom books and boxes, as well as book repair. I got a taste of bookbinding under the instruction of Ana Galindo at SCAD in Savannah, GA, but my training in traditional binding and repair is from North Bennet Street School in Boston, MA. My instructors were Mark Andersson (now of Panther Peak Bindery) and Jeff Altepeter.

While bookbinding is my main focus during the day, I’ve started a fun hobby this past year. I’ve been spending my evenings making quilts! Books & boxes are still my favorite things to make, but I’m having so much fun with all of this fabric, I don’t foresee stopping!

And how does working self employed work out for you? Do you miss aspects of working for a bigger company or in an outside office?
I love working from home, and the process of building my business. Days can tend to be pretty solitary at times, which is why I love being a member of BEST. It’s great to have community to correspond with online. Along the same vein, it’s nice to get out and spend some time with people who are in the same boat. I was lucky to find and join a community here in Central Florida that fits the bill! It’s called “It’s Better Together”, and is a group of young entrepreneurs who are doing all sorts of wonderful and creative things!

Tell us a little more about your shop and your boooks: What do you make and sell?
I work from home where our cat, Ollie, keeps me company. He likes to "help" me, especially when I'm sewing books! My husband helps me think of new ideas, and is great moral support!
I like to make all sorts of books, but I usually make rounded or flat back case-bound books. Lately I’ve also been making quite a few clamshell boxes.
Part of the reason I was drawn to bookbinding is because of all of the wonderful materials we get to use! From Japanese Washi to simple rolls of wrapping paper, sometimes I get caught drooling over paper! I also get giddy about fabric. I mostly use Asahi bookcloth, but I also enjoy making bookcloth from sweet cotton prints.

You mentioned that you are also quilting. Do you have any ideas or even plans for combining it with bookbinding? Can we look forward to quilted books?

I would love to combine the two! Haven’t quite figured out the best way to do it but, one thought that crossed my mind was to make a quilt that had a pouch to hold a book. It could either hold your latest library book, or a blank journal and pen, so you’d be able to snuggle up and read or write! When you’re finished all you have to do is fold up the blanket and it’ll be ready for the next time you’re ready to cozy up with your book! I think I'll have to do some experimenting with quilted books now that you've planted the seed!

Is there a special place where you get your inspiration? My husband works as an Imagineer for Disney, so we get to spend a lot of time in Disney World. I get a lot of inspiration from all of the wonderful set design, costuming, & people watching. I’m also a fan of vintage paper goods, which I collect and use in my work.

Imagineer? I have never heard this word before (please excuse a foreigner). But it sounds like a phantastic and creative job. Have you already made some joint projects with your husband?
I forget that Imagineer is not a typical job title! It is the combination of imagination and engineering coined by Walt Disney for those that would help him create and construct Disney theme parks. My husband, Josh, is an illustrator and graphic designer for the company.

Yes, we have worked on a few projects together. He has designed and screen printed some of my book covers, and we’re thinking of having his designs printed onto fabric that I’ll turn into bookcloth. It is definitely nice to have each other to share creative ideas.

Do you have special plans for your crafting and your shop for the future?
One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to develop an official Boom Box product line. I really enjoy the custom work that I’ve been doing, and I’d like to pull from those projects to create something for my Etsy shop that people will really enjoy. I’m aiming for a series of books and boxes for special occasions and everyday. A longer term goal is to open a bindery/stationery shop with two friends who own a custom design and stationery design company called Orange Blossom Ink. For now that’s very much a dream, but a goal, nonetheless!

Thank you, Monica, for taking your time to talk to me. It was a pleasure learning more about you and your business!
Thanks so much for featuring Boom Box Bindery! For the rest of the month, I’d love to offer free shipping to any of our blog readers who mention this interview.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Tools of the Trade: Rust Removal

When I go to antique stores, I always keep an eye out for old tools. I love the way they look and how good used tools feel. More often than not, these tools are rusty, and while they'd make lovely (but dangerous) decorations, I like to find tools that I can put to use in the bindery!

While in San Francisco at the Guild of Book Workers Standards, I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Tom Conroy about tool repair. He talked about all sorts of tools and repair techniques, and during my session, briefly touched on rust removal. Conroy recommended putting a rusted tool in citric acid for not more than two to four hours to clean the rust right off. He said that the same result can be achieved if you leave a rusted tool in vinegar for around two days. Conroy also hypothesized that Sprite might work just as well, considering it's mostly citric acid. Yikes, somehow that gives extra incentive to lay off the soda for the new year!

I  recently acquired some rusty needles that I'd like to use to test the vinegar theory. I also googled rust removal to see if I had any other household products that might do the trick. I found a recommendation to combine Morton salt and lemon juice for a paste like consistency, which should then be scrubbed on the rust covered object. With all of these things in mind, I've decided on three experiments.

1. Immersing rusted needles in Vinegar, and checking their progress once each day for a week.
2. Immersing rusted needles in Lemon Juice, and checking their progress once each day for a week.
3. Scrubbing needles with the lemon juice & salt mixture (wearing a glove & holding with pliers) for a couple minutes each day, when I check the other experiments!

I just started this morning, so I can only report on the lemon juice and salt mixture. For about three minutes I scrubbed the needles with the mixture and a dry sponge, and it is evident that the red of the rust has been removed, but they are not shiny and new just yet. I'll keep scrubbing, and keep you updated on my findings!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Happy New Year!

Wishing all of our readers and members a wonderful New Year filled with many books (of course!) and blessings too bountiful to count!

Here are a few beautiful books to help you ponder the New Year:

This Book of Good Thoughts by GILDBookbinders could help you remember all the positive things in your life:

This Lucky Diary by Baghy is just the right place to record the most important story, your story:

To add a little whimsy as you record your thoughts, here is palepink's Recycled bike inner tube journal, using a skittle wrapper under the machine embroidery:

As you mark time, consider Swirling Tree's Red and Green Clock Journal:

Perhaps travel is part of your plan for 2010. Here is janettemaher's Leather travel journal indigo blue cruise:

What will you be filling your pages with this year?