Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vintage Buttons

This morning's post brought my order of lovely vintage buttons from Etsy friend (friend of the blog?) Vintage Necessities . I recently made this little red notebook/sketchbook with a vintage button on the cover, and was impatiently waiting for my order of buttons to arrive so I could make more.

These buttons date from the 1920s - 1950s, so many of them are art deco designs. Also, there are a few large, extremely glittery blue and gold buttons from the 1950s, which will make some very glam notebooks!

Here is a photo of some of them:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Leather Journal Giveaway

I know Valentine's Day is over, but in the spirit of universal love and sharing :) I'm doing my first blog giveaway. I'm giving away one of my moon journals (pictured above and below). This one has a medieval replica binding (see this post for more information about the binding), and a quote from Walt Whitman about the everyday miracles all around us.
The quote is on the first page. The rest of the pages are blank, ready for you to fill them.

All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment with this post before the end of the day on Tuesday, Feb. 24th. I'll put all the names in a hat (or hat-like object), and one person's name will be picked. Then I'll announce the winner on my blog. Good luck!
UPDATE: I put all the names from the comments into a hat-like-object, and had my husband draw one out. And the winner is: Kitty!
Congratulations, Kitty!! And thanks to all of you who entered!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

NowPublic Feature Photos

Someone from NowPublic, an online participatory news network, contacted me yesterday to see if they could use some photos of my books for an article on how keeping a journal can help with stress. If you'd like to see the article, click here (to see my photos, you need to click on the little "see all footage" link at the bottom left side of the article).

The NowPublic article comments on a news article from the Guardian Online called "Keeping a diary makes you happier". According to the Guardian article, "Brain scans on volunteers showed that putting feelings down on paper reduces activity in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is responsible for controlling the intensity of our emotions. Psychologists who discovered the "Bridget Jones effect" said it worked whether people elaborated on their feelings in a diary, penned lines of poetry, or even jotted down song lyrics to express their negative emotions."

The studies showed that men particularly benefit from journal writing. One of the scientists involved in the study speculated that it is because men are generally less likely to express their feelings in words. Interesting....

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Adventures in Medieval Bookbinding, Part 4 : Tegumentum Cinereum

For part four of my eight-part series, I decided to make Tegumentum Cinereum (which roughly translates to "ash-coloured", the colour of the original book in the city archives in Tallinn, Estonia).

[for those of you who just joined us, you can find an explanation of my book binding project, plus more of my books in this series here ]

Tegumentum Cinereum (hereafter known as T.C.) has an envelope style front flap, two thin wrap-around straps, and a decorative buttonhole stitch on the spine. The original was created in 1539, and had a parchment cover.

I decided to do my version with a leather cover. Here is a photo of the unstitched cover, next to Monica Langwe Berg's book Bookbinding: Limp Bindings From Tallinn ( my inspiration for doing these bindings).

For the decorative stitching on the spine, I once again dusted off some cobwebby memories of doing embroidery when I was a child. The book spine has long and short stitches, and a buttonhole stitch that goes straight across the middle. Here is my practice buttonhole stitch on a card:

I was aiming at a chunky-looking buttonhole stitch, rather than a finely stitched one. The practice stitching turned out nicely, and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself, that is until I started doing the same stitch on a book spine. It wasn't as easy as doing it on a flexible leather cover as on nice, flat card. Still, I persevered, and in the end, it came out well, I think. Here is the finished T.C.:

And a front view of same:

Next time: Tegumentum Candidum!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Impractical Workers of the World, Unite!

Recently found out about a new organization called Impractical Labor in Service of the Speculative Arts (ILSSA).

According to their website:
"Impractical Labor in Service of the Speculative Arts is a new organization for those who make experimental or conceptual work with obsolete technology....Impractical Labor is a protest against contemporary industrial practices and values. Instead it favors independent workshop production by antiquated means and in relatively limited quantities.
Economy of scale goes out the window, as does the myth that time must equal money. Impractical Labor seeks to restore the relationship between a maker and her tools; a maker and her time; a maker and what she makes. The process is the end, not the product. Impractical Labor is idealized labor: the labor of love."

Their motto is "AS MANY HOURS AS IT TAKES".

Finally, an organization that celebrates those of us who toil away in our dusty little garrets, poking and daubing and putting things together verrrrrry slowwwwwly! Of course I had to join up.

If you suspect that you, too, are an impractical labourer, and want to know more, here is a link to their website:

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What's old is new

I've been creating some replicas of medieval bindings lately, and one thing that struck me about them is how old, and yet somehow "modern" many of them are in design, with their simple, clean lines.
So I've been playing around with using other elements for the covers, including more dramatic colours, and vintage buttons from the 1940s - 1970s. I really like the mix of medieval and and modern elements--kind of a very short history of design, all in one book cover :)
Here, for example, is a little red notebook I just finished. It has a green button from my button stash that I'm guessing is 1960s vintage.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Adventures in Medieval Bookbinding, Part 3: Tegumentum Spadix

The next book I decided to make, following the instructions in Monica Langwe Berg's book Bookbinding: Limp Bindings from Tallinn, is called Tegumentum Spadix (which roughly translates to "chestnut-coloured book cover" which was the colour of the original book).

[for earlier posts in this series, click here ]
The original Tegumentum Spadix dates from 1364. It looks similar to the book I made in my previous post, Tegumentum Rubrum, but has only one layer of leather, and has a hook and eye closure. I didn't know hook and eye closures were around in the 1300s, so I learned something new!
Here's a photo of my version of Tegumentum Spadix:

Think I must be longing for spring to come, as I've been craving bright colours, like this luscious purple that I used for the spine supports. I have various bits of goatskin in bright colours, so I may have to make more of these. In fact, I got so ambitious I made a second Tegumentum Spadix-style journal/sketchbook, this one using the natural edge of the hide, instead of an envelope-style edge: