Friday, 28 May 2010

Blog Interview: Pauline Paulette

Welcome back to a new interview this week! Today you are going to learn more about a relatively new member: Paola from
Pauline Paulette. She joined our team less than half a year ago.

Hi Paola, nice to meet you! Where do you work and live?
I live in Torino, (Turin in English) in Piedmont in Northern-West Italy. It's the city that hosted XX Olympic Winter Games in 2006. There’s more than FIAT, Cinquecento and Juventus FC here; some people say it’s a gray city, but I can assure you there’s a lot more than that…

How and when did crafting and bookmaking come into your life?
I grew up with bookbinding, I remember starting to play with marbling at 6, and using cardboard, glue and decorated paper to make a doll’s house at 7. I started hanging around in my father’s bookbindery as soon as I learned how to walk, and I enjoyed creating with paper from the beginning.
At the age of 15 I said to my father: “Dad, I want be a bookbinder like you” and he answered: “well, if you’ll be of the same opinion in 5 years we will be able to talk about it”.

So, after high school, I started my training in bookbinding and book conservation in a very personal way. I am bench trained by my father, working in the bookbindery with him, and doing anything that was necessary. We work also as book conservators. In our bookbindery we are 12, and it’s like family for us. I also am a part-time Student at University studying biblioteconomy, library science and conservation.
Moreover I took classes of bookbinding and book conservation at the Centro del Bel Libro in Ascona, Switzerland. I’m honored to say I was Edwin Heim’s student, I learnt so much from him and from all the guest teachers of the Centro (one of them was Alain Taral, “the book ebanist”).

Sounds like you are a really lucky person, learning from your own father, and knowing your way so early!
You’re right, I’m lucky, but that isn’t a bed of roses: I’ve chosen to grab this chance and I worked hard to achieve results. I’m still working hard every day to maintain high quality work and results, learning every time something new to be able, someday, to take my father’s place and “lead” the bookbindery. It means that my job will be a continuous positive challenge, but that’s another part that I enjoy about a creative and hand-crafted job.

Tell us a little more about your shop: What exactly do you make and sell? My shop is quite new (I joined Etsy on august 2009, but I set up the shop only on February 2010) and for the moment there are journals in different sizes and styles, and some leporello photo album.
I’m planning to list some other notebook and exercise books and new types of photo albums and Leporello books, always according to Pauline Paulette philosophy, which is to create with unusual bookbinding material (such as felt, that I used for many journals) or usual material in a unusual way, without sacrificing functionality nor quality. That is also my main challenge, cause unusual material sometimes involves technical variations as well as new tricks to find.

What do you think is the best book you ever made? Is there such a thing?
In 2007 I went to France with my father, who was invited at the VIII biennale mondiale de la reliure d’art to receive one of the prices. When I heard that next edition theme was Mother Goose tales written by Charles Perrault, I decided to enter the competition. My personal challenge was to finish the book, to prove myself that I was able to make a “dignified” fine binding. The project took 3 months, and the binding process was 5 full days long, starting from the sewing (only the on-lay work took 8 hours to prepare the material and cut the pieces and 3 hours to settle). I was very satisfied with the work, it was the best I could do and I was feeling it was quite good. I’ve had won the challenge with myself, three months later I discovered that it wasn’t the only thing I won with that binding…
It was amazing to receive the “gourmand de la reliure” prize for 2009 competition, at 21, it’s still one of my best memories

Do you have special plans for your crafting and your shop for the future?
I want to improve my skills and learn a little bit how to use different materials, maybe combining other craft techniques with bookbinding. I’m quite attracted by printing techniques, polymer clay, wood and metal wire… Who knows? Maybe I will find a way to use all this in my personal bookbinding style…

All the best to you and your new shop then!

And if you want to learn more about Paola, check out her blog at, where you can find a lot of links to other sites on Facebook, DeviantArt profile, Tumblr, Indiepublic… and so on. You might also want to take a look at her portfolio at or go directly to her shop on Etsy.
Edit: Here are a few more photos of the workshop that came in late:

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Collaborative Book Arts Project

So I've had to take a break from Tuesday posts because I'm swamped with preparing massive amounts of books for a Festival this weekend. BUT, I thought I'd take a break from that and give everyone a glimpse at the Collaborative Book Arts Project that members of BEST have been working on.

There are about 20 participants and each participant was asked to create a page for a book based on the book's theme. There are four books that will be bound and sent to a gallery for display and purchase. The theme of each book is a poem written by one of the members of BEST. Each group has 5 or 6 people in it and each person made a page for every member of the group as well as an extra for the gallery piece.

I'll be showing the pages of the books throughout the next month so you can see all the amazing creativeness that BEST members put out!

Today I'll spotlight 3 pages that were based on this poem:

by Jennifer Borges Foster
For you she builds a house of spices and sleigh beds,
of anise and armrests, of typewriters happily clacking
their teeth at the blowsy dawn. She builds boxes and ladders,
kneelers and coffins, stocks hardtack and swatches of cloth.
There is a history of horses and husbandry here,
a history of holiness and excess, of morning and mourning,
of days that never wake. For you she builds a body, a list
from hip to waist, a weight in breasts best set to anchor
the architecture of your mouth. On leaving she
lives in a biscuit, peeking through the gnawed-out windows
at the robins who dumbly clutter her roof.
She is vaulted and volleyed by the long-armed god
of her father; holed up and hoping you’ll come rob
the stockpile she’s been hoarding for years. Her letters to
you are written in steam, apparent only on nights
when the windows drift open. For you she builds a house
of hallways, one easy to wander when she is gone.


   Prints by Tim Fredrick

Mixed media pages by Kristi Oliver

Mixed Media Pages by Jennifer Borges Foster

"Each signature is slightly different -scraps of fabric were sewn on to cotton paper, then I cut out a bird shape on the cover. Each bird has handwritten pages from an old (1898) botany book or fragments from an equally old map. Inside the signature there is a hand-printed erasure of my original poem Husbandry.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

What couldn't you live without?

Is asking a bookbinder what their favorite tool is as difficult to get an answer as asking a parent which is their favorite child? Is it like asking an artist to choose what their favorite colour is? Turns out that getting an answer to the question was not as difficult as I suspected.

It's taken me this journey to figure out what single bookbinding tool I cannot live without. Actually as I type this, I'm hesitant to commit to naming just one item. So for now I will rely on my fellow bookbinders for their thoughts.

While speaking to Steve of StevesBooks , I found out that he cannot live without his bone folder. Here is why: his son hunts and gave Steve a shoulder roast from an Elk he had gotten. Steve was looking at a particular bone, and it fit his hand perfectly to use as a folder. Steve has used it on every single book he has made since then. Its the perfect tool and always makes him think of his son, pleasant memories!
I also spoke with TealStripes and the bookbinding tool that cannot be lived without is their self-healing cutting mat. No one wants to cut into their carpet or desk and since it is self healing, it can take all the abuse of a bookbinder. I can completely relate!

Erica of Parksideharmony absolutely cannot live without her quilting ruler and cork-backed metal ruler. Every book that Erica has made was cut by hand --- cover paper, book board, inside cover sheets, interior pages. The quilting ruler makes measuring so much easier!!

I love my cork backed ruler for the exact same reason, but could I name it as my favorite?

Nikki of deconstructartichoke could not live without her spatula. She shared with me, “I don't use it for every book, but it's the only tool I use that I can't figure out another tool to use. Actually, I have a funny story to go with it. In my book, Collapse, I made a huge mistake: The only little book that's eight pages is the last book. The other books are four pages--easy imposition. “When I printed the last book, I didn't get the imposition right. Oh, no! I was going to have to buy more paper, reprint the last book, and then Collapse was going to be late for this show that it was in. But then I thought, wait a minute, maybe I could weave the pages together (I had taken a class with Claire Van Vliet where I learned a bunch of woven structures.). So I cut a hole in the middle of one page (along the spine), and then I cut along the top and bottom of the other spine (along the other page). I rolled the second page (the one with slits at the top and bottom), and using the spatula, I threaded it through the hole on the first page. Voila! It worked! So the spatula is the one tool I can't live without”.

I had also asked Beth of Emerson Bindery (and UberArt) what her favorite too was. What could not she live without when bookbinding? It's her Crop-a-dile. She used to use her Japanese drill punch for her bookboard (which she now knows is a no-no). The drill punch would take her ages to drill through all the way, causing her to break into a sweat. Now, with such ease she is done punching holes!

Although she loves her Crop-a-dile, her dog doesn't feel the same because of the noise. When punching, her dog gets up and leaves the studio every single time. She is willing to make the small sacrifice of companionship for ease of use, he forgives her quickly and returns in a few minutes anyhow.
MyHandboundBooks ' Rhonda admitted that one of the best additions to her bookbinding studio was the pincushion that she purchased on Etsy.
She finds that it works perfectly for her, its heavy so she can pull needles out with one hand without the entire cushion coming with it. In the past she would have to use one hand to hold the pin cushion down and the other to pull the pin out but this heavy pin cushion is perfect for her! Now needles always go directly back into the cushion and aren't left lying around the table!

Such great stories but what one tool can I not live without when bookbinding? I am still at a crossroads between a few. I must have my self healing cutting board, and I've just purchased a Crop-a-dile II. I think my choice is even simpler than that though.

I do have an old rag that I used when I painted, there has bits of paint all over it, making it hard and scratchy in some places. What do I use it for? When gluing with PVA, you have to be careful not to get it on any surfaces you do not want it on, it's not water soluble. When I am applying glue to something and it gets on my self healing cutting board, I do not want to sit the book down on the spot of glue and ruin it.

I use the cloth and the fact that there are hard bits to it and it takes the wet glue right off! When the glue dries on the cloth, it just adds to the crunchy bits to help me clean the next time. I am telling you, after having to scrape my cutting board and get all the glue off, it's wonderful, no more major cleaning days! I learned my lesson after trying every home remedy possible to clean all the glue off my cutting matt.

Thank you to all that participated! Please keep supporting each other and of course local artisits.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Blog Interview: BethR99 / roundtheworldin80pgs

Welcome back to the BEST interview series. Today I have the pleasure to introduce you to Beth Robitaille, living in Brampton, Ontario in Canada. To find out more about her, check out her Blog, follow her on Facebook, and visit her Etsy-Shop, of course.

Hi Beth! How come you are called BethR99?
When I first signed up for etsy I wasn't aware that the user name was the store name, so I was stuck with BethR99. I am soon opening another store called Roundtheworldin80pgs. (I am planning for June 1st.) The store is set up but I have not transferred any books over or listed any new ones yet.

How and when did crafting and bookmaking come into your life?
I was majoring in Photography at OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design) in Toronto and decided to round out things with a bookbinding course. Unfortunately my MS progressed so I was unable to complete my run at University but I continued book binding on my own.

Tell us a little more about your shop and your crafting: What do you make and sell? Is there someone who helps you with the shop?
I am the sole contributor to my store and with all my books. I now focus my time on bookbinding but in my store I still have books along with photography, boxes, portfolios, picture frames, die cuts for scrapbooking or card making, and some de-stash.

The new store I will be opening - Roundtheworldin80pgs - will focus on handbound books by me that use papers I collect or buy from around the world...India, Nepal, Japan, Italy and of course locally found papers. I will continue with lined and unlined journals but Id like to venture into albums or scrapbooks.

Where is the source of your inspiration? Do you have a special way or place to get ideas?
I really like to look at all sorts of art and I draw inspiration even in abstract ways. My favorite photographer and film maker Floria Sigismondi also studied at OCAD and although her work is visually different than mine I really admire her ability to think and shoot outside of the box

What's the most challenging part of your crafting? I always second guess my work and worry about how customers will like their books. I recently filled a custom order for a wedding guest book which is posted on my blog. I was very nervous about how the bride to be would like it, thankfully she loved it!

How does your typical workday look like?
Because of having MS I am not able to work every day, that is the thing with the disease. On days that I am working, I always start by re-organizing my studio area from any mess that I have left or any new supplies I have picked up. Once my space is tidy and tools that will be used are at hand, I put on my old painters apron on and get to work.

Do you have interests and commitments outside Etsy that you want us to tell about?
I participate in an annual event called We Shoot We Score, a hockey tournament that donates to MS research. The event co-ordinator also has MS and manages to organize the event successfully himself. Since I can't play hockey, I sell my books and donate all profits to the cause.

Through the year I also donate some of my profits from Etsy to donate to different charities but there is no definite percentage or amount that is reserved for that.
Introduce us to one special piece of your work. It doesn't have to be for sale, and a photo would be nice.
I have two books that I particularily love. The first is one of the first books I made after the class. I am not normally drawn to pastel colours but this handmade paper (by a fellow student) came to mind when I found the bird paper. I left the raw edges of the paper along the spine to add to the natural theme. I really love its square shape since most of my books are a regular rectangular shape.
My other favorite is one I have recently listed. I suddenly had a jolt of bookbinding energy the evening I made this one. I was particularly nervous about the window in the cover and how the end papers would match up but it all worked out! I had typed the phrase 'what do you think' ages ago and I didn't know what I'd use it for, things came together and here is the journal.

Do you have special plans for your crafting and your shop for the future?
Well as mentioned above I will be focusing on the Roundtheworldin80pgs store and using the paper I have bought from around the globe.
Thank you, Beth, for taking your time, to show us some of the background stories of your shop and crafting. Good luck for the launch of you new shop!
Thank you! I hope to welcome you in "Around the world in 80 pages" for the launch on June 1st.

If we managed to stir your interest, click here to browse Beth's current shop.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Selling Your Handmade Books: Craft Fair Tips

I just realized it was Tuesday and my post hasn't been written! I do have an awesome excuse though. We're preparing massive amounts of books for a booth at a local festival. This goes right along with last week's post and this week's post. I'll actually extend the craft fair posts for one more week and we'll show you some excellent to-dos and displays next week with a few guests. For this week, you get my top five "I-almost-forgot-about-that"tips.

#1- Make a checklist of things to take and stick to it! Don't say "I won't really need that ducktape" at the last moment. You'll end up needing it. For an extensive (almost overwhelming) fabulous list, check out this one written by Susan West. If you have a checklist, you probably won't have any "I-almost-forgot-about-that" moments.

#2- Figure out taxes before you show up at the craft fair. Some places require that you have a tax number and other's just require you to fill out a form while there and mail in the sales tax. This is not something to push aside until the last minute. You need to decide if you'll show the taxes on the price tags or if you'll need a sign stating how much tax is or a sign letting your customers know that taxes are already included in the prices. Here in Utah, I have to send in the sales tax within 10 days after the event. Don't forget to write out the check for it and send it in or you could be fined! The person in charge of the event will have tax information and a form for you to fill out.

#3- Everything you do at the craft fair will represent your business and your craft. Was your email list a last minute handwritten thought thrown out on notebook paper? What will this say about your books? You don't need to go overboard with a large 10" x 10" x 5" thick sign-in/email list book with a fancy feather pen on it's own separate table, but at least make things look nice and not just an afterthought. For my own booth, this has been my ideal which has room for a date, name, email address and comments: 

#4- Customer service might not be on your checklist, so don't forget it! Don't go to the show and just sit behind the table. Don't bring a book to read. Don't stare at the floor while customers walk by. The best things you can do for your business is to be actively involved in it. Hand out your business cards, talk with your neighbors and tell them about bookbinding and how you do it. As people walk by, they'll hear you talking and find interest in your products. Sew a book while you're there. People love to see the process of things and it will draw people in. Smile at people as they walk by, maybe even ask them a question "Have you found anything wonderful yet?" and you can even promote the products of the person next to you and you'll find that they'll probably promote your stuff as well. At one particular craft fair last Autumn, my best customers were the other vendors. Get to know them and they might not only become a fan of your books, but they could be a great source for future shows and advice as well as a potential customer. Don't let good customer service (which is really just being a sincerely friendly person) become an afterthought as well.

#5- Take a day off! Plan to do nothing on the day after the event. Nothing at all. You'll need that time to regain energy and creative motivation! You'll also need to set aside a day to organize all inventory and craft fair items for your next event. You'll probably spend days and days leading up to the event working on making books or creating displays or gathering everything on your checklist. It's a lot of work and you'll need that day afterward to just relax.

Share your craft fair tips in the comments!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Journal Keeping: Without a Journal!

Journals have many different purposes. Some are used for holding your deepest secrets, some for remembering special details from a trip, and some are used to simply record information. I'm often referring to my journals to find info about things like how early in the summer we went to our favorite lake or if it was too chilly when we did that hike last fall.

Two summers ago I got a great book, Weekend Walks in Rhode Island. Slowly, we've been working our way through these hikes in my small state. Rather than having a journal reserved for these walks, I've turned the book itself into a journal and it's become a great reference.
Each hike I write the date, the time we arrived, how long the hike took. I also try to include what we saw along the way. Were the wildflowers in bloom? Were the seals that migrate through the waters visiting? Should we have remembered to bring bug spray, sun screen, binoculars? I also make note of the directions to get there, if the path was hard to find, I note the landmark to look far or the pretty beach we stopped at on the way home.
Seems kind of dry and boring, I know, but it's actually fun. Each time we break out the book to decide which new hike to try, we also read through the little bits of info from past ones. I think a lot of us are probably good at documenting huge events like vacations, but events you do when you're at home are easily overlooked. I've found that using the guide book as the journal is both informative for the practical information we need, but also an easy way to remember some of the adventures around our home state. It also helps you travel light.
(For those of you in Rhode Island, or close by, I highly recommend this book, it's been a lot of fun. For those of you far way, Rhode Island is a great place to visit!)

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Binding on a Budget- Found Materials

It's that time of year again, time to sweep out the cobwebs and clean out the closets- time for Spring Cleaning! And there's no better time to be on the lookout for some budget friendly bookbinding inspiration. Think of all those lovely things you know are junk but you just can't let go of- what better way to give them a new life and save a few bucks than to craft them into new books! Here's some fantastic budget Found Materials inspiration from BEST members:

Games and toys always have fantastic graphics, and the boards can make sturdy fun covers long after all of the other pieces have been lost. For an extra challenge, try working game pieces into the book- as a clasp or embellishment, or try making some matching bookmarks from the game cards! Pictured here: Lego Journal by Moonlightbindery and Sorry Journal by BooksbyStephen

Old record albums and books are another great source of bold graphics and durable cover materials. Do be careful you're not destroying your roommate's precious collectible first edition or ultra rare treasure- but if you've got a stack of worn, slightly damaged (or lack of a better word) junk- get to it! And if you lack any good albums or old book covers at home, be sure to check out your local thrift shop- and prepare to go retro! Pictured here: Record Journal by Movetheneedle and Rebound Journal by Prairie Peasant

If you're anything like me, you probably have a stack of maps for places you haven't lived in for years- you know, just in case. Letting them go doesn't have to mean putting them in the recycle bin, try using them to cover a fantastic set of new travel journals- for the journey's ahead! And speaking of the recycle bin, don't forget all the treasures lurking there as well! Boxes make fun covers, keep an out out for fun graphic design on products like cereal, beer and international foods. I like to use boxes to try out new binding techniques without investing too much on materials for a practice book. The soft cardboard is especially nice for slotted and sewn-thru cover style bindings. Pictured here: Map Journal by Kristincrane and Beer Box Book by RePaper

And don't be afraid to try out the more unassuming materials laying around the house- as these BEST team members show, shopping bags can become unexpectedly chic covers, and the humble used envelope can become an exotic antidote to the average plain white page. Pictured here: Brown Bag Book by PaperSpirit, and Envelope Page Book by PurplebeanBindery

Last but not least, be sure to keep an eye out for extra little bits that could make fun embellishments- be it the buttons from that shirt you love (but tore last summer), the funky fork that matches none if your other silverware, or that lone earring you've never found the mate to. Pictured here: Watermelon Book by guildedqill

For more inspiration (and why not, you've just saved yourself a ton of money on materials), be sure to check out two excellent recent books on Upcycled/ Found Materials Bookbinding: Eco Books by Terry Taylor (featuring projects from some of the BEST team members) and Re:Bound by Jeannine Stein. Have fun, and happy cleaning! And as always, leave us a note about your favorite found material in the comments below!