Friday, December 28, 2007

Books on Bookbinding

Yay! My husband gave me 2 bookbinding books for Christmas. Both of them are by Keith Smith--Volume I Non-Adhesive Binding:Books Without Paste or Glue, and Volume IV Non-Adhesive Binding: Smith's Sewing Single Sheets. I'm planning to make more leather journals this winter, and also play around with making albums from single sheets of art paper, so can't wait to dip into these books! I sat down and made a list of bindings I want to try out, and I'll post some pictures of the books as I make them.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Bonefolder

A new-ish issue of the Bonefolder is available at I love reading the Bonefolder--it has loads of information about book arts, bookbinding tutorials, marketing advice for book artisans, etc. And best of all, it's free!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Crafting Life

I just read an interesting article in the New York Times Online. It's about the handmade movement, and the combination of idealism and entreprenurialism that lead to the creation of craft-focused sites like Getcrafty, Craftster, and Etsy. You can read the article here:

Friday, December 14, 2007

Getting Creative

If you're looking for something to get your creative juices flowing again, here are a couple of suggestions:

One of my favourite websites is Run by Crown Point Press in San Francisco, it includes various segments of the Three Minute Egg, --practical suggestions about thinking creatively. If you sign up, they'll send you a new egg each month.

If you check out my Recommended Books list, you will also see an excellent book by choreographer Twyla Tharp called The Creative Habit. It's all about making creativity part of your everyday life.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Crafting Your Business--Better Photos, Pt.1

I've been experimenting with ways to take better photos of my work. In this series, I'll share some things that have helped me, and might be of help to you in taking photos of your crafts. I'm calling this series the Ineffectual Photographer's Guide to Possibly Somewhat Better Photography :)

Here is a pic of my books using natural light. I used a table next to a big window, and took the shots with the light coming in from the left side. The picture is a little dark, but that can be fixed with photo editing software, as I'll explain below.

Backgrounds are really important, as they can help create an identity for your work. Because I use natural materials for my books, I thought it would be good to use wood as the background. It gives my business more of an identifiable look than the plain white backgrounds I had been using.

A nice background doesn't have to be expensive. I live and work in an old Craftsman style house (built in 1922), so I raided the little storage area under the eaves, and found some nice old red fir boards that I use for many of my photos, like the one here.

I took some pics, then used Photoshop to lighten them up a bit (Etsy has a good tutorial on how to do this: ).
I think I'm probably still being a bit timid with the Photoshop effects, but overall I'm pretty happy with the result. The best thing about using Photoshop is that you don't have to wait for the sun to come out to get good shots. Another good photo editing software is Google's Picasa, which you can download for free.
Just to compare, here is a pic that I took using an Ego lighting system. Natural light be much better!
When I took this, I discovered another issue, which was that you need to use the macro setting on the camera when taking close-ups. Otherwise the pictures will be out of focus and look fuzzy. If you are having trouble with fuzzy pictures, it may be because you need to use the macro setting. On many cameras, it's the button with the flower on it; otherwise, consult your camera's instruction book. Another important thing is to NEVER use the flash--it really makes the item look harsh and unattractive.

So, to recap, here are some things that can improve your photos:

1. Use natural light

2. Use the macro setting on your camera for close-up shots
3. Never use the flash.

4. Use Photoshop or other editing software to make dark photos lighter & brighter.

The quest for Possibly Somewhat Better Photographs will, of course, continue. If you have any other good tips for ineffectual photographers, please leave them in the comments!

Book Press

The book press I use is one I ordered from Gaylord Library Supplies

I would love to have one of the big, old-fashioned book presses, but in the meantime, am using this one. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a reasonably inexpensive (around $200) press. It's really sturdy, and also portable, so I can take it along when I do bookbinding demos. It comes with five pressing boards, and I have used it for books up to 7" x 9 1/2" .

About My Books

I hand-bind all of Moon Bindery’s books in my studio in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.
Hand bookbinding is an ancient craft.
For centuries, all books were bound by hand, the pages folded and sewn together for strength and durability, the book binding materials measured and cut, then the whole thing assembled with paste and patience (it takes me about two hours to bind each book) and a bit of artistry. This art was nearly lost when machine-made book production took over, but in recent years there has been a renewed interest in books that are hand-made, that have a spirit and character that machine-bound books don’t have. Through Moon Bindery’s books, I’m working to preserve and carry on the art and craft of traditional hand bookbinding.

In my choices of materials and colours for binding my books, I am always inspired by the colours and shapes and creatures of the natural world here in beautiful British Columbia, the incredible blending of colours of the sunsets and sunrises, and the spirit of sea, sky and forest.
I grew up in the country, and as a child often went for long walks in the woods. I remember being fascinated by the multitude of textures surrounding me--the rough grooves in the bark of the cedar trees, the crisp edges of the grass blades, and the softness of the needles on fir boughs when I ran my hand along them. I think that's why I'm drawn to paper that has lots of wonderful texture--the handmade paper I use for my book covers often has pieces of bark and leaves and grass in it, and these textures become part of the cover design.

Another inspiration for my designs comes from having curated an exhibition on 19th century books for the Bruce Peel Library at the University of Alberta. 19th-century books often had beautifully decorative bindings, such as the one on this book, Lucile, published in the 1880s. Like those earlier bookbinders, my aim is to make books that are both useful and beautiful.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The BEST Holiday Sale

The Etsy Bookbinding Street Team (BEST) is having a sale from December 7-14 (my shop sale will actually end on Dec. 13th). I'm offering 10% off on all my journals (blank and lined pages) at my Etsy shop

Here are links to all the participating Etsy shops. You can also check out the BEST blog at

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Experiments with Lighting

I've been trying out different lighting sources for my books. As you can't count on having a lot of light in Canada in the winter, I decided to invest in a couple of Ego digital imaging lights. They are supposed to provide soft, even light that mimics natural light.

I've tried them out, and they do create a nice, soft light, but I'm finding that my pictures are too dark. I have a feeling that the problem is with my picture taking abilities not with the lights, though.

Here is a pic taken with the Ego lights, without any extra light in the room:

As you can see, it's toooo daaaark!

Next, I took a pic of this purple journal with a combination of natural light coming in through the window, plus an ego light. Looks better, but still kind of dark. Next time I take photos, I'm going to try fiddling with the white balance on my camera to see it that makes a difference.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Favourite Sites: Evil Rooster

One of my favourite book arts sites is Abi Sutherland's Evil Rooster Bookweb

One thing that I find really interesting about her site is that she is a self-taught bookbinder, and she shares her process of growth from beginner to more advanced bookbinder. The site also includes lots of interesting information, including equipment-making how-tos, recommended books, and bookbinding techniques.