Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Carnival Challenge 2011

All BEST members are invisted to participate in this year's Carnival Challenge.

This is 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 is inspired by Mardi Gras celebration, 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 Wednesday March 2nd. 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. But they are not necessarily advantageous because this may split your votes.

The books will get presented on our blog on March 3rd with an image and a link to the the respective listing on Etsy. Readers can vote for their favorite book in an anonymous poll until Ash Wednesday, March 9th. We award the bookbinder who made the most popular book with our BEST Fool's Cap. The award includes: a special blog feature, unlimited bragging rights, and the right to display the fool's cap graphics on his/her own website.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Signage

Signage is a really important part of your craft show booth.

The fact is that you can’t possibly communicate everything you want to tell your customers. You may have lots of people in your booth (lucky you) and you’re unable to connect with everyone. Or perhaps you have a customer who clearly would prefer to shop quietly, without being bombarded with conversation. The best thing you can do is to use signage to act on your behalf.

When considering what kinds of signs to use, start by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. What are the most important things they’d want to know about your work? To be most effective, your signs should communicate information in a clear and concise manner. In addition, your signs should fit in to the overall style of your booth.

For book artists, signage is especially important. You’d think that books are pretty self-explanatory. Who wouldn’t know what to do with a photo album? Over the years, I’ve been surprised by how often customers become confused by handmade books. I think that part of the problem is that I’m usually the only bookbinder at a show and customers have nothing else to compare my work to – this makes it hard for them to understand my prices.

In addition, I think that people become overwhelmed by craft shows and the amount of work that has been collected in one place. This is why signs are so valuable – they can help people focus on your work. Be deliberate in your choices and only use signs that enhance your work - you can have too much of a good thing.

So beyond the obvious (business name, prices, etc.), what signs are useful for a book artist?
  1. Acid-free/archival: This is really important to the customer shopping for a photo album. Make sure people know that you use archival materials that will ensure the longevity of their photos.

  2. Potential uses: Don’t assume that people know why a photo album is a great gift. Tell them that it’s perfect for a wedding, graduation, baby naming, family reunion – you get the picture. The same goes for journals – document travels, gratitude journal, etc.

  3. Page paper information: People have concerns about how paper will respond to the type of pen or media they use. Will it bleed? Does it take watercolors? Make a sign that demonstrates how different pens look when used on the page paper.

  4. Technique/Materials: People like to learn about how a particular binding is done or what country your cover paper came from – it adds to the story and shows how your work is special. I have a sign near my chopstick journals that explains how Chiyogami is made.


  5. Is it one-of-a-kind or part of an edition? This kind of information is important to collectors. Is the piece signed and/or numbered? Is it in any notable collections? All of these things add to the value of your work.

  6. Environmental shots: Signs don’t just have to include words – remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. The image should help a customer see your work in their life. For example, I have a photo in my booth that includes one of my journals and a cup of coffee on a table by a window.


  7. Can people touch your work? Do you want them to wear gloves? If you create books with content, people will want to pick up your books to get a look inside. According to Bruce Baker, people are 4x more likely to purchase work that they have held in their hands - make sure customers know how you feel about having your work handled.
Signs don’t always have to be used individually. Check out this awesome solution by Katie of linenlaid&felt (a.k.a. LinenLaidFelt on Etsy):

Image by Katie Gonzalez

Katie's tack board hangs in her booth at craft shows and includes information about custom orders, binding styles, an artist bio, and samples of materials. The information is presented in a really attractive and easily digestible way. It's brilliant!

What signs are you using in your booth? Is there other information that craft show customers should know about handmade books? I'd love to hear about it!

And if you have images of your use of signs, 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.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

2011 Winter Swap: KarleighJae

These 4 little chapbooks were handmade by Karleigh Jae. Each book has 10 pages of 80lb Smooth Soft White Mohawk Solutions which is wonderful for graphite, ink and mild water mediums. The covers of the chapbooks are made with Amate Bark Paper from Mexico, Unryu paper from Thailand, Lokta from Nepal and a marbled paper from India. The set is tied nicely together with pink waxed linen thread. These make wonderful little gifts! --Karleigh Jae

Karleigh Jae's books are available in her shop here.

2011 Winter Swap: MyHandboundBooks

This is a 2011 weekly planner made with a calendar insert. I added lots of blank pages and some pockets and a bookmark, then bound them together using a deep marble red cowhide leather cover with a strap. The binding is a longstitch sewing, done with white linen thread. A few years ago, I decided to start making planners like this because I couldn't find a weekly planner that was perfect for my own purposes; so, this is my perfect planner and I hope Cindy finds it to be a useful book too! --Rhonda of MyHandboundBooks

Rhonda's handbound journals and notebooks can be found in her shop here.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

2011 Winter Swap: Askida

For my book swap partner, I made a Secret Belgian Binding book with covers recycled from an Ud's soundboard, which is made of spruce wood, using the sound-hole part called "rose." The rose is embellished with recycled pink straw wallpaper from a wallpaper sample catalog. The book is filled with pastel coloured papers.

The Ud (Oud) is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in North Africa and Middle Eastern and also Turkish Classical music. The European version of this instrument came to be known as the Lute. The Ud generally has one to three sound-holes, which may be either oval or circular, and often are decorated with a carved bone or wooden rosette.

The finished book measures 9.5cm x 14.5cm. with seven sections of three folios each for a total of 84 pages. The binding is sewn with straw thread, and the closure is a metal ring and a carved bone bead. I made a linen fabric envelope pouch to hold the book when it's not being used. --Ozlem of Askida

You can see Ozlem's other wooden books for sale in her shop.

2011 Winter Swap: UsefulBooks

I sent my swap partner some very small useful books for putting little things in. Since she lives in the Seattle area, I made her a tiny traveler reversible accordion book, 2-3/8" square, with a map that shows her home town. Made from a single piece of heavy paper, it opens from either side or all the way out.

The other is a purse-friendly notebook made from a manila envelope with a button and string closure. The folded envelope is trimmed at the bottom so that it forms two pockets for storing coupons, receipts and other little bits of paper that inevitably need to be corralled. I hope she enjoys using these! --Cindy of UsefulBooks
Visit Cindy's shop here for more handmade eco-friendly journals.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

2011 Winter Swap: CamilleRiner


As we turn toward longer days I have been thinking of light, light within us and the light that grows at the end and beginning of our days here in the northern hemisphere. My friend sent me the Irish blessing used in this book years ago. I have always liked the way the message speaks about the presence and power of our individual lights. In designing the book I wanted to use something light in weight visually as well as physically and came up with this white hosho paper pamphlet stitch book with slipcase. I liked the clean crispness of the type on this beautiful paper. It reminds me of the snowy scene I see out my studio window.
The blessing is, "May the blessed light be on you, light without and light within. May the blessed sunlight shine on you and warm your heart until it glows like a great fire, so that a stranger can come and warm herself at it, and also a friend." --Camille of CamilleRiner
Visit Camille's shop here to see her handmade books for sale.