Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Closing the Sale Follow-up #3

I continue to hear from B.E.S.T. members in response to my call for images of their giveaways. Thanks so much everyone and keep them coming!

Hilke Kurzke of Büchertiger Studio and Press (a.k.a. buechertiger on Etsy) gives away a number of small gifts when she makes a sale:
The red bookmarks are almost always included: They are hand cut hand stamped lino prints that I designed as a bookmark with some space for notes. I am not sure people notice what it is meant to be since it is just part of my usual packaging.
When I remember, I add one of the other gifts with everything I ship: There are tiger striped match books which I add to most of my packages at the moment. Usually I write on the first page a short note like: "For small notes. Tear here" (because there is a hidden easy tear spot).
With larger orders I add one of the more fancy bookmarks seen on the lower left, sometimes I add some Etsy buttons I still have, and with the smiley oracle I ship some smiley oracle ephemera: There are bookmarks, keyrings, and huge smiley paper confetti.
And of course I add a business card. I have several different ones, at the moment I am using a type that is handmade. All my cards are blank on the backside, and I write a small thank you note there.

I love the variety of gifts sent by Hilke - they all reflect both her brand and her personality. And on top of that, they showcase her creativity!

Keep the pictures coming (I really don't get tired of them, promise!) Send me an Email with photos and I'll include them in (hopefully) another follow-up post next week. Be sure to include your name and a link to your Etsy shop.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Crafting for a Cause

It's cold and damp outside my window, and it doesn't look like this weekend is going to be any warmer. But that's fine, because while I'm waiting for Spring to spring I know I've got one weekend left in March, aka US National Craft Month, to put my crafty talents toward helping people in need. How's that you say, crafting for a cause? That's right! Join the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team in making soft cover books for the Chicago Books to Women in Prison organization. CBWP provides books to women in prison and they are in great need of blank books to distribute for journaling. BEST is organizing a craft drive to get binders to make and donate soft cover journals for CBWP to distribute. Want to join in? Great! Here's the details:

Book construction

It's important to note there are restrictions on the kinds of books CBWP can accept:
Only soft cover journals are allowed, covers may be up to the weight of soft cardboard (think cereal box board) but no heavier. NO plastic coil bindings are allowed. No sharp binding fasteners should be used (heavy staples, brads, etc.).

If you're not sure what to make or want to encourage some non-bookbinding friends to get into the act check out the great resource we have in the BEST blog Tutorial page. Check out the Japanese Stab Binding page for a slew of great resources.

Even if you're an experienced binder, consider using the tutorials (or your own know how) to teach friends and family to make books to contribute. BEST member Ruth Bleakley has a wonderful write up of the CBWP binding event that she held earlier this month, check out her blog for details and ideas!

Where to send your completed books
Once you are done you can send your book directly to the CBWP at:
Chicago Books to Women in Prison
c/o Beyondmedia Education
4001 N Ravenswood Ave, Suite 204-B
Chicago IL 60613

But before you pop them in the mail, we'd love to see what you made! Share a link to a picture of your book(s) in the comments section, and let us know about any special crafting events you hold to make books for CBWP. I'll be back for a post later in the Spring showing some of the good works made and donated to CBWP. Happy crafting!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Closing the Sale Follow-up #2

In the past week, I heard from two more B.E.S.T. members who wanted to share their giveaways.

Cheri of Paper Fetish Designs (a.k.a. Paperfetish and PaperfetishToo on Etsy) gives away matchbook notepads that she attaches to a customer's purchase with ribbon:

I love that she writes a personal note inside the book - it's a nice touch!

Katie (a.k.a. katiemcelroy on Etsy) told me about her elegant paper tags:
I always include a little pack of star tags with each of my Etsy sales. The tags have my Etsy website stamped on the back, so when they're used, the recipient knows where it came from.
I also include a few of my small, square business cards in case they want to spread the word. I also use one tag to write a little thank you note for each package I send.
Just like Cheri, Katie writes a personal note in her giveaway. Gift tags are a great idea because they're a promotion that keeps on giving - your original customer gets something useful and passes on your name/shop on to someone else.

Keep the pictures coming - I know you're doing something cool! Send me an Email with photos and I'll include them in (hopefully) another follow-up post next week. Be sure to include your name and a link to your Etsy shop.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Blog Interview: RuthBleakley

Welcome to another edition of BEST interviews. Today you will get to know more about Ruth Bleakley. In her Etsy shop she sells her blank journals, big and small, as well as small books filled with her illustrations and pictures. She has a second shop under the name Concertina Press where she sells nautical wedding invitations and personalized stationary.

Hi Ruth, nice to meet you! Tell us, where do you work and live?
I live in a small coastal town in Massachusetts. Sometimes it feels tough to live outside of a city but I'm fortunate to have a nice craft community where I live, and Etsy is a wonderful portable community for creators of art and craft. I found the Etsy forums to be a great resource when I first began selling my crafts online in 2007 and also later in town.
Massachusetts is the state where American Pilgrims first landed - the town I live in is at least 400 years old, and my house was built in 1805 (I often find interesting glass bottles and odds and ends while digging in the garden)

Have you thought about incorporating them in some way in your books?
Haha, I've never considered this, as they are a little unwieldy, but I've cleaned off several of the bottles and put them in my house for decor. I have considered using bits of sea glass I've found on the beach in a book, but I've yet to figure out how...
Do you have a day job different from being an Etsy seller?
My day job is working at a wonderful little stationery shop where I design wedding stationery, personalized notes and business cards - the sad news is, the shop is closing since the owner is moving away. I'm taking this chance to start a custom stationery design business under the name Concertina Press. if any of you folks need nice business cards - get in touch!

I also teach bookbinding at a community school. - I absolutely love it! - I love the moment when people "get it" and it is so neat to see what everyone comes up with, their own styles expressed on the canvas of a book cover. I think it also is my way of creating a bookbinding community where sometimes I feel like the lone wolf.

What do you call yourself, a bookbinder, a book artist? Is it difficult to decide on a label?
I always have difficulty deciding on a label for what I do since it seems like in general, bookbinding is such an arcane art that many people don't know what you mean when you say "book artist" or even "book binder". When you say you "make books, by hand" they think you mean you decorate the covers - when you further explain that you actually fold and sew the pages together with a needle and thread, then cut the covers, put on the papers and cloth then glue the whole thing together usually people are amazed! So I suppose I use the term "book artist" more often simply to distinguish that I'm not a commercial book publisher.

Tell us a little more about your shop and your crafting: What do you make and sell? And is there someone who helps you with the shop?
I'd describe my style as vivid, colorful and playful. I love Japanese papers like Yuzen and Chiyogami with colorful prints. I make everything on my own, although I've been known to force visiting friends to help me do things like stack signatures or make pins or magnets. Besides journals, I also make a lot of notebook sets, and last year bought myself a 1" pinback button maker which I also use to make magnets.

While my online footprint suggests that my main gig is creating miniature books, in fact I most often make larger sized books. I started with miniatures for the simple reason that supplies were a lot more affordable at a small scale and I was a poor student when I started my Etsy shop. It's funny because I've made and sold maybe 15 miniature books (and Etsy is an excellent venue for me for those) but I've created and sold hundreds of full sized journals at craft fairs and local stores. My Etsy shop is where many of my one of a kind items go that are too delicate to be sold at craft fairs, like the ever popular moth journal, a collaborative effort by my friend Christina and me, where she illustrated the moth and I decorated the covers.
Please show us a book of which you think it is special. Maybe there is a book that's connected with a story?
Here's a wonderful commissioned piece I made for a guy named Matt who had commissioned many books from me for his friends over the years, until finally his partner said "you know what, it's time Matt gets a book of his own, he loves your work" - but her challenge was that Matt had just consigned one of his all - time favorite pairs of pants to the rag pile, would it be possible for me to incorporate them into a book? I used them to make book cloth and created a charming square shaped travel journal with hand-sewn vintage brass buckles (I thought they complimented the pants nicely), hand marbled endpaper that I made, a secret pocket, a unique exposed binding inside the book - I went all out because Matt had commissioned me to make many books over the years, I wanted him to have some of my nicest work.

Do you have special plans for your crafting and your shop for the future?
I've been adding some marbled paper to my Etsy shop, a continuation of my bright and colorful style - while you can find plenty of gorgeous handmade marbled papers on Etsy, I've yet to find many in the bright colors that I love, so I've started making my own.

Outside of Etsy I'm experiencing a turning point in my life where I've decided I want to make my art and craft my main focus, priority and (hopefully!) source of income. I've already put together a line of journals and notebooks to be wholesaled and some of the items I sell at my Concertina Press Etsy shop. If you know of any cute stationery or book shops in your area I'd love for you to give me the contact info so I can send along a catalog. I'm crossing my fingers that 2011 will be the year I get established in more brick and mortar shops across the US.

And finally: Do you have a favorite book about books, one that you would recommend?
While it's not exactly about books, but about a companion craft, The Ultimate Marbling Handbook by Diane Maurer-Mathison is my go-to guide for all marbling patterns - unfortunately it's out of print, but my husband won husband-of-the-year-award by acquiring a copy for my birthday last year.

Thank you for taking your time for this interview!

Now go and check out Ruth's books in her store. And if you are looking for some inside into her making of books, peep into her studio and generally find out more about her, visit her blog at

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Closing the Sale Follow-up

Last week I talked about some of the things you could give away with a book purchase to help enhance the customer experience.

Simona of Antico Valore (a.k.a. anticovalore on Etsy) told me about her wonderful mini book magnets.
"I often, but not always, give a mini book magnet when someone purchases a journal or more than one piece in my shop!"

It’s a great marketing idea –if a customer has your book magnet on their refrigerator, they’ll see it every day. Brilliant!

In the last post, I mentioned using business cards as covers for mini books – that’s what I do. I have a stack of 8.5" x 11" sheets of business cards printed on only one side from a botched print job. I cut the cards into strips and fold them in half to make book covers.

Not only are the books cute, but they also have all of my contact information on them. If you print your own business cards at home, this would be an easy project to do.

I'd love to see more pictures of your giveaways! Send me an Email with photos and I'll include them in another follow-up post next week. Be sure to include your name and a link to your Etsy shop.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Best Fool's Cap Award Winner!

Congratulations to UsefulBooks!

Cindy, aka UsefulBooks, is the 2011 winner of the BEST Fool's Cap Award. Her Inchi Mini Album received the most votes in our recent poll.

Cindy's winning entry is an accordion album for displaying inchie artwork. She says, "I have made this album with a bit of a circus theme for the Bookbinding Street Team's Carnival Challenge. The striped paper reminds me of Teesha Moore's circus creations. I've included my own circus themed "inchies" which in my case are just 1-inch squares punched from a digital collage sheet. For now, they're just glued in with temporary adhesive. Let me know, and I will either affix them permanently or remove them so that this will serve as a blank slate for your creations, as the last photo shows."

The books is just 2-3/8" x 2-3/8" and it has closures on either size so it opens from both directions or folds out completely for display. Inside will hold 24 inchies perfectly framed on a page, more if you use the endpapers and the envelope. There's a coin envelope trimmed, folded and stitched in to form two tiny pockets for storing extras.

This fabulous mini book is available in her Etsy shop!

Congratulations! Cindy is hereby awarded the 2011 BEST Fool's Cap award and unlimited bragging rights as the winner of our Carnival challenge. Display your award proudly!

Thanks to all the participants and to everyone who voted.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Closing the Sale

So you’ve sold one of your books – woohoo! Now what?

Use the checkout process as an opportunity to promote future sales. Aside from business cards or coupons, there are things you can give out that can help improve your chances of earning a repeat customer.

What kinds of things could you give out? Rather than look at the wide range of available promotional products, I'm going to focus on items that have a direct connection to handmade books.

When I sell a photo album, I give the customer a free pack of photo corners. My husband came up with this idea when he heard several customers ask me where they could buy them. He told me that I should just include them with the purchase – that way they can use their photo album as soon as they got home. I buy my photo corners at wholesale from Orange Art.

If someone buys a journal - how about giving them a pen? You can buy pens that have your business name, website, and/or logo on them. I’ve been thinking about getting some nice pens to give out when people buy my most expensive journals. With personalization and shipping, they come to about $4.00 each – I’m willing to spend that on someone who buys an $85.00 journal.

I also give out cards with care instructions, which includes information such as how to store a book or what to do if a botanical inclusion comes loose. I usually get a positive reaction from customers when I tell them that I’m putting a care card in their bag - you make a good impression on your customer by showing that you care about their purchase.

Bookmarks are a good match for journals. You can make them inexpensively by using scraps of paper from other projects. Another option would be to have bookmarks professionally printed with photos of your work on them.

Moo MiniCards could work as bookmarks for smaller books. It’s really easy to get them made because Moo integrates with Etsy and can pull photos right out of your shop.

Moo Cards  10/07/09

Image by Sarah Barker

Lastly, you can give out small handmade books with a purchase. If you’re like me, you have lots of strips of paper that came from larger sheets and are too big to toss. You can easily make a single signature book as a giveaway. You can even use business cards as covers.

Whenever possible, try to have your contact information on your giveaway item. That way, every time they see or use the item, they will be reminded of you and your work.

Do you give things to customers when they make a purchase? What do you do? I'd love to hear about it! And if you have images of your giveaways, let us see them! Send me an Email with photos and I'll try to include them in a follow-up post next week. Be sure to include your name and a link to your Etsy shop.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Blog Interview: JeanLeBaronArt

Welcome again to the BEST interview series. Today I want to introduce you to a relatively new member: Jean LeBaron. She joined our team in January. You can find her on her website, and on facebook, she writes a blog, and of course you can browse her works on Etsy.

Hi Jean. Nice to meet you, and welcome to the team! Where do you live and work?
I live in Beachwood, NJ, at the Jersey Shore. I have a small (96 square feet!)studio in our backyard, and it is filled to overflowing with art supplies and books.

What do you do for a living? Do you have a day-job different from being an Etsy-seller?
I am a full-time artist. In June of 2010, the art and framing store I was working at closed it's doors due to the economy, and I concentrated on marketing my artwork. I am a self-taught artist, working in oils, acrylics, mixed media, and bookbinding.

What do you call yourself: Book Artist, Book Maker, Book Binder - or something else?
I usually say I am an artist. I try not to label myself as "Bookbinder" or "Oil Painter" or other specific terms. I love to explore all the aspects of art, and to me, the lines between artist and artisan and craftsman are very blurred, so why limit yourself? We all have artists' souls, you just have to find what you love, and I love it all!

When and how did you get started with bookmaking?
Even before I started making books, I have always been a book lover.
Bookmaking became my creative outlet this past January, when I had the flu and couldn't go to my studio to paint. I needed something to do that didn't involve the use of oil paints and turpentine, and I decided to try and make a small journal. My first attempt was not something I was too proud of, and it became my mission while stuck in the house to make a book that I wouldn't be ashamed of. From that point, I became hooked, and I haven't looked back.
I am still in the baby stages of my newfound passion of bookbinding, and I look forward to many years of learning and perfecting this age-old art. My newest struggle is trying to learn the Secret Belgian stitch looks so pretty! The thing I like best about bookbinding is I can work on my books anywhere I have a flat surface.

Where is the source of your inspiration? Do you have a special way or place to get fresh ideas between projects? Is it important for you where and how or with whom you work?
Aaaaah. Inspiration. I am constantly inspired. My only wish is to live long enough to complete all the ideas that swim around in my head, and to have the strength and wherewithall to physically create every day. When I need to recharge, though, I go to the beach. I have always lived close to the ocean, first as a child, going to Cape Cod, then I met my husband and we live at the Jersey Shore, even our vacation homes are by the beach, in Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula, between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. I think I have salt water running through my veins!

Tell us a little more about your shop and your books. What kind of books do you make? What material do you use? What is the typical customer you have in mind?

My shop on Etsy is the only online selling tool for my handmade books and journals. I produce one book at a time, never the same book twice, and my targeted buyers are those people that love to handle a finely made book. I make artist's blank books with real canvas covers and artist grade watercolor paper texts; and I make notebooks and journals, for writers, moms, professionals and teens. I use archival or acid free materials in my books and journals, and strive to use recycled or upcycled materials if possible. I make my journals to last a long time, so that the buyers can enjoy them for years. Even though I am fairly new to Etsy, I have discovered a goldmine of fellow artists and artisans, and I look forward to many years of camaraderie and friendships

Thank you, Jean, for taking your time for this interview, and all the best for your new shop!

Click here to go to her shop and have a closer look at her books.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Fool's Cap Award 2011 - Cast Your Vote

It is time again for the voting for our second carnival challenge where we ask everyone to vote for their favorite book. The book with the most votes will be awarded the BEST Fool's Cap Award for 2011. The award includes a special feature here on our blog, unlimited bragging rights, and the right to use the award graphics on his/her own website!

Click these images to see larger pictures and full descriptions then vote using the poll below. The voting closes on Ash Wednesday, the winner will be announced on the day after, March 10th.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Signage Follow-up

Since my last post, I realized something that’s worth exploring in more detail. The information you convey with your signage isn’t the only important thing to consider. You should also think carefully about how you are presenting the information.

It’s easy enough to buy acrylic sign holders or to take some card stock, print on it, and fold it in half. But think about it – signage brings the bookbinder a unique opportunity. You can use your signage as a way to showcase your skills.

For example, look at the sign I showed you a couple of weeks ago:

I tried to style this folded sign like a restaurant menu. It’s covered in Japanese bookcloth and the printed information is attached to the inside of the folder with photo corners. My goal was to create something elegant that would fit in with the style of my work.

The sign also shows that I have skills and ability that could translate to a custom project or something that I don’t currently sell. For example:
  • Portfolios for artists or other professionals
  • Table numbers for weddings/special events
  • Menus for restaurants
  • Photo displays
  • Business card holders
A few years ago, I had someone at a craft show ask me if she could buy my Chiyogami sign. I declined at the time, not realizing that I should have offered to make one for her as a custom order (I was too stuck on losing my sign). The lessons you learn…sigh.

I'm interested in hearing about how you've dealt with signage (from a creative standpoint) and I'd love to see images, if you have them.

Send me an Email with photos and I'll try to include them in a follow-up post next week. Be sure to include your name and a link to your Etsy shop.