In the last two weeks I have been having a bit of a book making binge. It is very possibly my favourite skill I learnt this year. We have a book arts tutor who comes in and teaches us how to make sketchbooks and also introduces us to the concept of book arts. This was a skill I had never even considered learning and I am in love. Making books is something that I knew someone must do, and I had seen handmade books at craft shows, but somehow it is a craft I never thought about. I am really lucky to be on a course where we have an experienced tutor come in and show us how to make simple books. I have since tried to learn some different types of binding and without that basic foundation at college I would have given up very quickly. There are so many steps to follow and all of them need to be done in the right order.

My partner and I have been collaborating on a photo book together and so my bookbinding tools have been out inspiring me to make a few new notebooks and sketchbooks. Firstly I decided that the thing that was holding me back from really getting into the Dream Job e-course I have signed up for was not chronic time-wasting or fear of lack of crafty inspiration, no it was the lack of a suitable note book. I have been in a 15 year hunt for the perfect pen and the perfect notebook that will mean I suddenly become eloquent, organised and creative. I have now found the perfect pen, well pens actually - a bic with squishy finger grip and a superfineliner for drawing. I've even found the perfect pencil, but I can only seem to buy them in the Barbican gift shop, so whenever we are at a show they I buy fistfuls of them much to the amusement of the giftshop staff I fear. But the perfect notebook, like the pen I have realised it is not about ONE perfect notebook its about the perfect notebook for the job.

Unfortunately it has taken me 15 years to figure this out and I now have a huge stash of barely used notebooks and pads, none of which was quite right. So I did what any self respecting crafter would do and I customised. I took pages out of a whole bunch of other notebooks and combined them into a new perfectly sized, perfectly random book and I love it. Sadly I have to admit it is still blank. It wasn't the lack of book holding me back.
top left: front cover quarter-binding, top right: random paper combinations, bottom left: vintage fabric end papers,
bottom right: some test pages from the photo book we're making have snuck in as well

Fully Inspired by my triumph we collaborated on this note book for the birthday of a very special overseas friend who loves a good journal. Again this one has a selection of different papers and a quarter-binding. my partner designed the endpapers and they are perfect for our international friend.

Finally, on a very drunken evening I promised to make a sketchbook for a friend who likes to sketch her partner while he sleeps. As inspiration my partner and I did sketches to act as endpapers. Turns out she doesn't remember even asking for a book, but it went down well as a nice surprise gift.

These books have been a real step forward in my binding and I am really loving the quarter-binding AND thanks to the wonders of youtube I learnt to make my own book cloth so I now don't need to be restricted to the rather dull book cloths that at commercially available, and I have a use for the large stash of upholstery weight fabrics knocking about in my fabric stash. I am definitely going to be making a whole bunch more of these in the hope that I can find a craft fair to sell them at over the summer, or revive my etsy shop and put them up there.


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