Sunday, 28 February 2010

Bookmaking Kits and Tutorials Part 5

Today's post will provide a few links for tutorials and kits involving working with leather. Leather is not a material I have worked with much in bookbinding, but thankfully it is a material several of our members are very skilled with.

Karleigh Jae of the same-titled shop has recently added some video tutorials on working with leather to her blog. They include How to Iron Leather, Leather Cover for Coptic Stitch, and How to Make a Raised Design on a Leather Cover. Thanks Karleigh Jae for sharing these videos on your blog--you have demystified some aspects of working with leather for me!

If you would prefer buying a kit to make your first leather journal, check out MyHandboundBooks where Rhonda has this Make Your Own Leather Journal--Bookbinding Kit. She notes that no previous bookbinding experience is necessary to make this book.

If there are other members of BEST who have tutorials or kits related to leather, please post your links in the comments section.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Blog Interview: PrairiePeasant

Welcome back to this week's BEST interview. Today you are going to meet Laura, also known as Prairie Peasant. She is living, working and creating in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. She is blogging about her creative journey at, go there to read more about the background stories of her many creations.
Hi Laura, thanks for taking your time for this interview. My favorite questions first: Is there a story behind your Etsy-Name?
I am from the Canadian prairies and you could describe my work as bricolage, creating with whatever is at hand. I'm using the term peasant to describe the resourcefulness and creativity as exemplified by people who, because of lack of wealth and resources, had to make do with what they had.
I try to use recycled or repurposed materials wherever possible. I love transforming something that might otherwise end up in a landfill into something beautiful, functional, and one-of-a-kind.

Reducing the amount of trash by re-using old materials is a wonderful idea. Do you have an example for what kind of trash you use, and how?
I retrieve atlases from my local thrift shop - where they don't sell, so special volunteers save them for me :) -, and I gladly receive donations of unwanted paper from offices that are cleaning up. It's really not hard to use repurposed materials once you start.

Tell us a little more about your shop, what do you make and sell?
It's probably easier to say what I don't make—I haven't worked much with leather yet, although I'm always looking for a new challenge! In my PrairiePeasant shop I sell one of a kind books, cards and envelopes (anything paper). As I already mentioned, I try to use recycled or repurposed materials as much as possible. I am also starting to play with making softcover fabric journals. I love working with fabric and sometimes it's hard to choose between paper and fabric for new creations.
I do have another shop where I sell fabric and fiber items, but I haven't devoted as much time to this venture yet as I do to PrairiePeasant.

What is the one tool or supply that you couldn't live without?
For supplies: paper, paper, paper!
For tools: I take so many of them for granted: my bone folders, x-acto knife, paper cutter....and then when I craft with a friend and forget to bring something I realize just how attached I am to all my own tools and how they feel in my hands!

Do you have a day job different from being an Etsy seller?
I have a part time job in health care as an Occupational Therapist. This is a job that requires a lot of creativity and problem solving as I try to help clients function to their fullest potential, and no two clients are ever the same. Working part time has allowed me to be there for my children in their preschool and now after school hours and to maintain some balance in my life.
When did crafting and bookmaking come into your life?
I can't remember a time when I wasn't creating something, even in my youngest years. I discovered bookmaking through my local calligraphers guild and now bookmaking has definitely superseded calligraphy, although I still participate in the calligraphers guild.

Do you have a favorite among all the books you made so far?
Two of my favorite books were books I made for my husband when each of my children were born (they are 13 and 10 now). He wanted a journal for each of them, where he could write letters to them as they grew and developed into their own special person. As newborns, their hand and foot prints were placed directly into the books for safekeeping.
Do you have a special source of inspiration?
I love to use materials in unconventional ways. I look at everything around me and think “could I make a book with this?” My husband and daughters provide inspiration to me with their suggestions and challenges.

What's the most challenging part of your crafting?
Finding regular time to create, and perhaps more importantly, finding time just to play and see where that takes me.

What do yo do when you are not working,for Etsy, or for your other job?
I have too many interests! I like that Etsy allows you to be as active as you choose, so when life outside of Etsy is too hectic, it's OK to take a break from the shop. I am active in my church. I treasure time with my family, including traveling and enjoying nature. My kids have inherited some of my interests and I love crafting with them (I wouldn't have made a good hockey mom). I love learning new things, and attend all kinds of workshops when I can. PhotoShop and photography are other distractions. I am part of a small quilting group that meets monthly to “challenge” each other and makes quilts for charity. You might find me listening to folk music, audio books or CBC radio while I work in my studio.

Thank you again, for taking your time to let us in behind the scenes of Prairie Peasant!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Congratulations to RedPumpkinStudio!

RedPumpkinStudio is the winner of the BEST Fool's Cap Award for 2010! Congratulations Jen!

Jen's Harlequin Boxes received the most votes in our poll so she is hereby awarded the BEST Fool's Cap Award for 2010 which includes unlimited bragging rights, permission to use the Fool's Cap Award graphic on her own website, and this little feature here on the Bookbinding Team blog.

The Harlequin Boxes that she made for our Carnival Challenge are a wonderful representation of carnival spirit. The trick boxes open and close in different directions and contain an array of quirky and confusing little books. As she states in her description of this piece, it "is inspired by carnival's anarchy, disguise, mystery, games, and wonder."

In addition to her crazy cubes, Jen also makes some gorgeous journals, and you can see many examples in her Etsy shop. Every journal she makes is unique and reflects her individual style. It is obvious that all her journals have a truly personal touch. Just a couple examples of this:

Thanks to all who participated and to those who voted, and again, congratulations to Jen and her Harlequin Boxes!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Vote For the BEST Fool's Cap Award

It is the time to get your costumes out and parade in the streets, the time for fools and jesters, for shouting, celebrating, and dancing on the street. For short: It is the time of carnival celebrations in different forms all over the world.
To celebrate this season before lent the bookbinding team decided to initiate the Fool's Cap Award.
Today our team members show off their creations and it is your turn to vote for the book that you think should win. 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. Edit: Poll closed

"Carnival Fool's Cap Jester's Hat book" by KarleighJae

"Carnival Jester Leather Journal. Dark Red" by GILDBookbinders

"Carnival Mask Leather Journal" by GILDBookbinders

"the carnival journal and mini book earrings" by anticovalore

"Harlequin Boxes of Books" by redpumpkinstudio

"CARNIVAL CRAZY journal" by PurplebeanBindery

"Carnival inspired coptic journal - pink and orange" by mylanderbooks

"Book in Monster Costume" by buechertiger

"Carnival Journal" by PrairiePeasant

"Carnival (Mardi Gras) Artist Book, Mixed Media" by swirlingtree

"Ice Palace - handbound sculptural book" by MyHandboundBooks

Edit: Feb 18, Final Poll Results

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Bookmaking Kits and Tutorials Part 4

So you've learned the basics of bookbinding, and want to challenge yourself further and add more interest to your books. 2 BEST members have instructional books to help you out!

Hilke of Buechertiger has an Instructional Book on Coptic Headbands for sale in her Etsy shop. Her book has instructions and photos to make 6 variations of headbands.


 MaryJaneHenley has a handmade artist book with instructions for sewing the classic caterpillar stitch for binding book sections together or embellishing book covers. Caterpillar Stitch Artist Book and Instructions:

Are you up for a new challenge?

Saturday, 6 February 2010

A Book?

I wanted to share this amazing form of story-telling. Its called a Katha-Peti or Story-Chest.
It comes from the area of Rajasthan, in North India. Its mostly stories about gods and goddesses. Each painted wooden page opens out to reveal another. Its a beautiful way and form in which to tell a story. (I promise to take better pictures tomorrow!)

This is the Katha-Peti closed and standing.

Here it is, the first two pages/doors open.

A detail of whats inside.

Turning the first block.

The second page and what's behind it.

The second page opens out further.

A detail of how each page has been fitted and the notches on top.

The third page open completely.

Both the pages opened out. A small door is revealed.

A close-up of the doors.

The doors open, to reveal, in a finale, two small idols carved into the back of the structure.

I plan to document the palm leaf book and add them to this post next week. If you have any example of objects that could be books, please share them. I think this could be a great exchange!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Blog Interview: Celestefrittata

Welcome back to this week's interview! Today I have the pleasure to introduce you to one of our Italian team members: Chiara, maker of the items found at celestefrittata. She was born and raised in Genova but I recently moved to Bari to finally live together with her boyfriend. She also writes a blog at

Hi Chiara, thank you for taking your time for this interview. Your shop name sounds funny. What does it mean?
First I need to translate my name, it's something like "Celestial Omelet". It's the way an Italian poet, Stigliani, referred to the moon in one of his poems. I loved this image and the sound of the word and so I borrow it to use it as an internet nickname. Years later when I opened the shop I wanted an intriguing name in Italian and "celestefrittata" seemed perfect to me!

Tell us a little more about your shop and your crafting: What do you make and sell?
My shop is a sort of Magical Stationery Store inspired by the Harry Potter saga. I make and sell a line of 10 different hardcover blank notebooks with screen printed covers, one for each subject taught in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. "The Daily Prophet" line is another one of my Harry Potter inspired projects: I sell screen printed, spiral bound reporter journals and pins that looks like a sort of "Press Pass". I also have a line of "Owl Post" stationery with screen printed telegrams and drawstring mailing bags. - They are the perfect gift wrap for the Harry Potter geek! At the moment I am working on a new series of screen printed stamps and mailing labels to revamp the shop.

Is there a book, maybe a commission, that you are especially proud of?
I’ll never forget the first commissioned book I made for a girl to write her novel in. It had 600 pages and a turquoise cover with one of her original drawing, her name and the title of the book. It was a challenge to bind it, 600 hand torn pages, over 30 signatures to stitch (since then I used to bind at most 160 pages notebooks). I was really pleased on the result not counting the gratification I had in creating a book that is so special for someone.
When and how did you start making books? It happened two years ago, I have no idea why. I've always loved paper and I've always been a crafty person but the only book I'd ever made was a diary when I was 16. Then I asked a friend to borrow me a book about bookbinding and cartonnage and it was love. My first books were Coptic bound, and then I discovered the hard cover binding technique, my favourite.

Do you have a job different from being an Etsy seller?
I recenly graduated in Marine Sciences and I'm looking for a job. Meanwhile I'm working as a graphic and web designer that is another one of my passions, I'm a self-taught designer but I'd love to follow some classes in the near future.

Any plans for squids, fish, and algae, or ships in your works?
Being a marine scientist is a different part of me, for now no squids in my crafts. - But who knows what the future brings? My thesis was about sea urchins and I see they are successful on Etsy. So maybe I will be adding them somehow somewhere sometime.

How does your typical workday look like?
I wake up, have a cup of coffee and check my sales and emails, then I decide what to do. If I sold something I start with binding books or with printing on my gocco machine to restock. Then I prepare the orders for shipping. After lunch I go out to work. When I come back home I check my emails again and answer my Etsy convos.

Do you have a special source of inspiration? As I already mentioned the Harry Potter saga is an unlimited source of inspiration for me, I was completely bewitched by the magical world described by J.K. Rowling and my goal is to recreate that charming atmosphere with my works for those who loved the books like I did.

Thanks for letting us in behind the scenes of your shop!

And if you want to see more of Chiara's work and dive in into the world of Harry Potter, click here to get back to her shop celestefrittata.