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Chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla books

>> Monday, March 29, 2010

This weekend I finished a set of three custom books. I couldn't be more pleased with the way they turned out. My friend Diana asked me to make personalized journals that she will give as a gift to the parents of three little girls (the youngest of the sisters was just born this month!).

When Diana and I talked about the concept for the books, she knew she wanted the books to be feminine with a brown and pink color scheme. But neither of us were interested in making them too girly. We also wanted them to be similar, and to form a cohesive set, but did not want them to be identical. The Japanese blossom papers were a perfect fit. I was able to find similar blossom patterns with cream, pink, and brown backgrounds at Paper Source, as well as bookcloth in the same colors. The guards and endsheets were made from light pink paper that matched the book covers.

I cut a recessed area into the front cover of each book, where I attached a custom-designed nameplate with each girl's name. Each book has 160 pages, providing plenty of room for journaling, collaging, scrapbooking, and doodling. I used the Coptic binding to stitch these books together. Pink waxed linen thread in a shade darker than the papers on the spine makes for a subtle contrast while still maintaining the color scheme.

And a side note: When I look at these books, I can't help but think of Neapolitan ice cream. Chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. Classic flavors, stunning color combination.

To read my posts about the books in progress, click here and here.


linenlaid&felt interview on the BEST blog

On Friday, I was the featured bookbinder on the BEST (Bookbinding Etsy Street Team) Blog. My interview (which you can read right here) touches on my formal artistic training, my study abroad experiences in Italy, some of my current work, and a little bit about my husband and our dog. I've included one of the questions from the interview below, along with some bonus photos of my handbound wedding invitations and my wedding guestbook.
Is there a book you've made that is especially important to you?

My favorite books that I've made are my wedding guestbook and my wedding invitations, which were actually little three-page handbound booklets, that I made for my July 2009 wedding.

The wedding was hosted in a 1930s Art Deco movie theater in Charleston, SC, where large murals adorn the walls. Those murals inspired my illustrations for the invitations. The first page served as the invitation to my wedding. The second page invited guests to the rehearsal dinner. The bottom portion of the third page could be detached along the perforation and was used as the reply postcard. The designs were printed on a pearlescent paper with a linen texture. I taught Tony how to stitch the Japanese stab binding, and together we made 200 of these little books.

I made my guestbook during a letterpress class that I took my last semester of college. I used a pressure printing technique to transfer a subtle lace pattern to each of the pages in different shades of blue and green. A more distinct lace pattern was used to decorate the first and last pages, on which I also printed our names and the colophon with handset type. I printed a lace pattern onto strips of darker green paper and then cut them out to make the decorative scalloped-edge guards.

If you're interested, you can see more photos from our wedding, including a photo slideshow, here.

Special thanks to fellow BEST member Hilke for putting together the interview on the BEST Blog. Read my entire interview here.


Books on craftgawker today

>> Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another one of my books is featured on craftgawker today. It's my large Coptic-stitched journal with a bright floral patterned paper used for the covers. I bought this paper at Frontier, one of my favorite shops in downtown Athens, GA. This is only the second book I've made using the paper, even though I've had it for a few years. I've been saving it for something special, and this book is it. I think the detail shot of this book really shows how fun and vibrant the paper is, which isn't quite as evident when photos of the entire book are viewed on a computer screen. Although the print is small, it packs a powerful punch and is best enjoyed when the details can be appreciated. You can view my Etsy listing for this book here, or check out my craftgawker gallery here.

I was also excited to see a book by Erin Zamrzla (who I featured in a blog post yesterday) up on craftgawker today. It's a planner that she made for herself. The pages are sewn onto straps made from repurposed book spines, and the covers are made from chip board.


Artist Feature: erinzam

>> Sunday, March 21, 2010

A few weeks ago, my husband and I picked out a few items from erinzam's Etsy shop. I came across her work earlier this year, and I've had some of her handmade books on my wish list ever since. When our order arrived, it certainly did not disappoint.

We ordered a Geek Book, which is made from a vintage computer card and green bar computer paper and it ties shut with a button and string closure. We were even able to choose the eyelet color used for the closure, and I think the orange looks great with the blue and gray cover. We also picked out a Long Stitch Mini Tag Book, a little book made from a manila inventory tag.

I also have to mention how fantastic the packaging was for these books. Everything was so well coordinated. The address labels and receipt (complete with hand-written thank you note) were well designed, and matched the blue bubble wrap that ensured the safe arrival of my order from California to Virgina. A variety of assorted colorful stamps added a personal touch to the envelope. And best of all, she included a pin featuring one of her illustrations that was cleverly attached to a little tag. I honestly felt like I was opening a gift when this package arrived. I think that extra handmade touch is one of the best parts about ordering items from Etsy.

I will hold on to her business card that she included. I can definitely see myself coming back to order from her shop in the future. I also really like her books with chalkboard and egg carton covers.


Bookbinding Etsy Shop:
Painting Etsy Shop:
DIY Etsy Shop:
Her husband's Etsy Shop:


A working weekend

I've spent the majority of my weekend working on custom orders. I have a photo album and a wedding guest book in the works, but the one I've been focusing on is the series of three books that I first mentioned here. I still need to finish the covers and then sew them together (I'll be using the Coptic stitch), but they are almost complete. I'm really pleased with the way they're coming together so far; they might be my favorite books that I've made recently. Stay tuned later this week for photos of the final products.


Bookbinding Etsy Street Team

>> Tuesday, March 16, 2010

1. KarleighJae :: Leather lambskin journal
2. MyHandboundBooks :: Teal suede leather diary
3. anticovalore :: Mini book earrings with green leather
4. greenchairpress :: Walking: original artist book
I recently joined the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team, also known as BEST. The team is a community of Etsy sellers who make handbound books, and I'm excited to join these talented book artists. I'm especially looking forward to their upcoming collaborative book project and the next book swap in May.

You can view the team's blog right here (or by clicking the "Etsy Bookbinders" link on the left side of my blog). The blog is definitely worth checking out; it includes interviews with featured sellers, bookmaking tutorials, books from the book swaps, and more. BEST is also on facebook, and to find books made by BEST members you can search "bookbindingteam" on Etsy.

I've been browsing through all the Etsy shops of BEST members, and I wanted to share a few of my favorite books here. There is such a fantastic variety of styles and materials, and it's inspiring to see what others are making. And the four images below all show books made from found objects: game boards, cigar boxes, paint samples, and beer boxes all repurposed into book covers. Very cool!

5. BooksByStephen :: Upcycled Sorry game journal
6. odelae :: Vintage cigar box journals
7. Re:Paper :: Custom beer box books
8. itsalljustmenagerie :: Paint swatch mini journals

9. windyweatherbindery :: Book with yellow green diamonds
10. GHBooks :: Blank book with purple shimmering paisleys
11. buechertiger :: Green, gold, and black leather journal
12. PrairiePeasant :: Moonlight Snow accordion book

13. MaryJaneHenley :: Mesquite wood and rattlesnake book
14. WeeBindery :: Orange leather journal with jade button
15. parksideharmony :: Italian paper guest book
16. PurplebeanBindery :: Striped buttonhole blank journal



>> Monday, March 15, 2010

In addition to my handmade books, I just added a few of my prints to my Etsy shop. You can view them on Etsy by clicking here. I would love to hear what you think of them. I have a poll below where you can vote for your favorite (anonymously), but feel free to leave a comment too if you have anything else you'd like to share about them.


Iridescent and Golden Coptic Book on Craftgawker

I had another one of my books featured on craftgawker today! It's my Iridescent and Golden Coptic Book, which is one of my favorites that I've made lately. The blue bookcloth is iridescent and silky smooth, the pages are slightly textured and pearlescent, and the endsheets and guards are made from gold paper. You can view the Etsy listing for this book here, or visit my craftgawker gallery here.


Mantel Makeover

>> Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ever since we moved into our apartment, the display of artwork and objects above our mantel has been in a constant rotation. We'd never been quite satisfied with it, so my husband and I would rearrange it every few months, only to decide that it was still in need of a makeover. I think this time we've finally got it right.

As part of a wedding gift for my husband, I bought a Dolan Geiman gift certificate (which came with some neat coasters -- see top right photo -- because of a special promotion they were having at the time.) A few months after the wedding we finally had a chance to sit down, browse Dolan's Etsy shop, and pick out a new print for our apartment. We selected the print "Map Blue Highway Yellow Cornhusk." Since getting it framed, the print anchored the design of our mantel. (By the way, Dolan just launched his spring line of artwork, as I wrote about yesterday. Check out his new work here.)

The colors in the Dolan Geiman print nicely compliment the color scheme of my mom's painting, so we moved it above the mantel as well. The framed photograph on the left is one that my husband bought from an art student at Hillsdale College. The red vases are from Crate&Barrel, which we bought with a wedding gift card. I made the raku-fired piece of pottery during college and the vintage camera came from an antique mall here in the Shenandoah Valley. The two glass jars are filled with antique letterpress type (which was part of a wedding gift from two great friends, along with an antique tabletop letterpress machine).

Above you'll see my husband, Tony, and our dog, Riviera, checking out our new arrangement. Tony and I adopted Rivi in August from the animal shelter. She's a seven-year-old brindle bullmastiff, and she's truly the sweetest dog I've ever known. And yes, she's almost always sticking out her tongue.

Some other highlights from the odd little zone in our living room that once housed a fireplace include:
  • an antique projector found at a Michigan rummage sale;
  • a stack of old books from Athens, GA and Baltimore;
  • a vintage fan from Detroit;
  • one of my mini monoprints, an old photo of the Brookfield Zoo, and a letterpress postcard held in place by button magnets that I made;
  • and a letterpress poster featuring a Vonnegut quote. It was made by Tony and Chase on a recent trip to Typecast Press in Baltimore. You can read all about it here.

Tony and I have also been thinking about photographing the rest of our apartment and putting together a photo tour to post here. It would be sort of like the Design*Sponge sneak peaks, although I'm not promising our apartment can compare to any of those amazing homes. I've also been thinking about posting pictures of my little studio as well. What do you think? Would you be interested in this?


Artist Feature: Dolan Geiman

>> Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dolan Geiman has become one of my favorite contemporary artists, which is made more interesting through a series of coincidental connections. I became familiar with Dolan's work when we met him at the Uptown Art Fair the summer Tony and I were living in Minneapolis. His work stood out to me because it was so different than everything else on display, and his aesthetic and color palette really drew me in. I grabbed one of his promo postcards (which I later made into magnets for my fridge) and signed up for his mailing list.

About a week later, when Tony and I were both offered jobs at The News Virginian and we knew we would be moving to Waynesboro, VA, I received my first e-newsletter from Dolan. It was then that I learned that he grew up in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, not far from where Tony and I currently live. Before we moved, I sent Dolan an e-mail asking him all about Waynesboro. He kindly responded with a wealth of information, ranging from sharing tidbits about our future co-workers, filling me in on the local lingo, and directing us to some great hiking trails. He really got us excited to explore our new town and the surrounding area. And aside from the Minneapolis and Virginia connections, toss in the fact that he currently lives and works in Chicago (close to where Tony and I grew up), and you've got an amazing trio of serendipity.

Dolan's artwork is inspired by his rural Virginian upbringing, which I can really appreciate now that I'm familiar with the area. His tactile pieces often combine painting, printmaking, collage, and assemblage of found objects. I strongly recommend visiting his Etsy shop, or checking to see if he will be exhibiting at a local art fair near you. While it's great to see his work online, nothing can match experiencing it in person. (I was excited to see his artwork up close a second time when he exhibited at the Fall Foliage Festival in Waynesboro.) And best of all, his new spring line of artwork just launched TODAY on his Etsy. I've included a sampling of some of my favorite new items in this blog post.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a feature on the Dolan Geiman artwork that Tony and I own. We recently got our print framed, which inspired us to rearrange all of the artwork in our living room and give our mantle a much needed makeover.

Dolan Geiman: Contemporary Art with a Southern Accent™

Etsy Shop:
Facebook Fan Page: click here


Flashback Friday: Book with handmade paper cover

>> Friday, March 12, 2010

As part of the book arts class I took in Italy, my instructor, Eileen Wallace, also taught the basics of papermaking. I made the rust-colored paper used for the cover of this book. The guards wrapping the signatures of paper are also sheets of my handmade paper, only thinner than the piece used for the cover. The brown paper used for the pages came from a little shop in Cortona and has a subtle striped pattern. I bound this book using the Italian Long Stitch, which is the same binding style used for my more recent leather book. I love how two books with the same structure can have such a different aesthetic based purely on the cover materials.


A set of custom books

>> Sunday, March 7, 2010

I recently ordered these three decorative papers with plum blossom patterns from Paper Source. I will be using them to make a custom set of three books that will be a gift for three sisters. I think the papers are lovely and I'm really looking forward to getting started on this custom order. I'll be detailing the process of making the books here on my blog, and I'll be sure to post pictures of the final product.

For more information about requesting a custom order, please click here.


Mini concertina books on craftgawker

>> Saturday, March 6, 2010

My mini concertina books from my Etsy shop were featured on craftgawker today! Craftgawker is an online gallery of handmade goods, and they feature new items each day. You can view the craftgawker listing for my books right here. And if you have a chance, browse around the site a bit. There are always tons of beautiful art, crafts, and photography on display.


Flashback Friday: Cortona scrapbook

>> Friday, March 5, 2010

I made this album during my summer in Cortona, Italy and it was intended to be a scrapbook. I never ended up adding any of my photos or travel mementos to the book, probably because the book didn't turn out exactly as intended. However, I learned a lot about Japanese stab binding while making this book. For example, the sewing needle should be significantly longer than the book is thick. Seems obvious, I know, but a little foresight on this book would have saved me some headaches and frustration. And I wouldn't have needed pliers to pull the needle through while sewing.

There are a few things I do really like about this book, though. I really enjoy the natural two-tone bookcloth and I wish I would have brought some back from Italy with me. I also like the rough edges of the pages and the torn strips of brown paper that wrap around the cover. The image on the cover is part of a postcard showing one of Cortona's churches at sunset (I believe it is the Church of Santa Maria).

I decided to share this album as my Flashback Friday post for the week because I am about to be making a new series of albums. A co-worker recently asked me to make her an album for her upcoming beach vacation, and I will also be adding some albums to my Etsy shop soon.


Hearts for Haiti

>> Monday, March 1, 2010

A few weeks ago, I bought a gift on Etsy for my dear friend Diana. There is a group on Etsy called Hearts for Haiti, where different sellers can donate their handmade items and profits go toward earthquake relief. I figured my purchases from Hearts for Haiti would be the perfect gift for Diana since 1.) she is always very thoughtful and puts so much of her time and effort toward helping others and 2.) she enjoy handmade things. I love how she always shares in my excitement when I discover a new artist or crafter, and she also supports and encourages me with my own artwork.

The first item I picked out was a hand-knitted coffee/tea cup cozy, made by VeryCarey, that can be used at coffee shops instead of the cardboard variety on take-out cups. Diana and I made quite a few outings to local coffee shops during college, and since her mission trip to South Africa she's become a tea drinker as well. I wish we still lived in the same town; it would be so much fun to go to Jittery Joe's together with some matching kitted cozies.

The second gift was a handmade flower necklace made from fabric and beads. It was created by EverydayDiamonds, a pair of Canadian sisters who make fabric flowers in a rainbow of colors, as well as beautiful jewelry and accessories. I've been enamored with fabric flowers lately. I have several shirts and sweaters adorned with flowers, I sewed my own flowers to use in place of bows on my bridesmaid gifts in July, and I have been coveting the flower necklace my friend Elena received from her fashion-designing sister.

If you have a chance, I recommend visiting the Hearts for Haiti shop on Etsy. And thank you, VeryCarey and EverydayDiamonds, for participating in this helpful cause.


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