Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day Musings

(Edna St. Vincent Millay)

Ah, spring, lovely spring! The trees are a-blooming, and I just bought a pot of pansies, deep purple with little yellow centers. I put them just outside the front door so I could smell their fragrance and generally admire their velvety splendor whenever I leave the house. 

On the occasion of this Earth Day, I am reminded that it was nearly a year ago that I decided to change my approach to making my books, and use only reclaimed and remnant leather. Instead of making life more difficult, as idealistic enthusiasms sometimes do, I found that it opened up a new world for me creatively as I happily whipped up ever more odd and eccentric journals -- it turns out that worn, overlooked leather and I go together. So in my efforts to be kinder to our dear Mother Earth,  I benefited, as well. I'm sure there's a moral in there somewhere.

And now, a poem for the season by Emily Dickinson:

A little Madness in the Spring

Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown -
Who ponders this tremendous scene - 
this whole Experiment of Green - 
As if it were his own!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The New York Hat -- 1912 -- Mary Pickford and Lionel Barrymore

For your viewing pleasure, here is The New York Hat, a fine short film directed in 1912 by D.W. Griffith. This is a story in which Mary Pickford's character is given a tres chic hat which excites a great deal of comment.  Lionel Barrymore makes quite an impression (at least on me!) as the dashing vicar:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A New Old Look

I've been pondering tea lately. Not the kind in a cup, but the kind one uses to give an antique look to paper and fabric. There is a definite allure to tea-staining, but I've always steered clear of it because of the acid in the tea, which isn't so good for paper. Fortunately, I've discovered a way to neutralize the acid, and I've been tea dyeing everything in sight. What happiness!

A new coptic stitch journal, called "Evening in Paris," made of tea-stained pages, a woman's vintage red leather glove, and a French song, Envoi des Fleurs:


A guest book made with antique linen, reclaimed leather, and tea-antiqued pages:

Currently in residence at my Etsy store.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Puttin' On The Ritz

Last night, I dreamed I was Louise Brooks. I was on stage, wearing a really excellent flapper dress, and dancing to Puttin' On The Ritz. Hmmm....I wonder what that means. Anyway, it was fun!

Here is Clark Gable doing his version in the 1939 film Idiot's Delight

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Poem to Read Out Loud: "A Birthday", by Christina Rossetti

A good poem for February, methinks:

A Birthday

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow-shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these,
because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life is come,
My love is come to me.

~Christina Rossetti

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Mystery Solved

I love to read a good mystery, curled up in a deep armchair with a box of restorative bon-bons nearby, and recently I managed to solve a small mystery myself. Nothing involving a murder, which is perhaps a good thing.

The other day I was leafing idly through one of my books on bookbinding, when I noticed a small, blurry, black-and-white photograph of a coptic stitched book (yes, this is a bookbinding mystery, Dear Reader :). 

On the cover of the book were some cross-stitchings that seemed to be part of the binding. And unfortunately, even though it was a very instructive book on bookbinding, in this case there was no explanation of how one would do that sort of stitching. Where is Sherlock Holmes when you need him? 

I became determined to solve the Mystery of the Cross-Stitch Coptic Binding, so I got out my needles and a couple of recently pressed book covers, and commenced my investigations.  And at last I think I've done it! Turns out it was a variation on a multiple-needle coptic stitch pattern I've been using for years for my books with wooden covers.  I just had to do a little criss-crossing with the needles, and voila! Here is the result:

I used reclaimed, walnut brown leather from a vintage bomber jacket for the covers, and stitched it together with sky blue Irish linen thread.

 On the inside covers are ephemera stickers with Italian and French handwriting:

I named this journal / sketch book "Blue Skies". It's currently residing on the shelves of my Etsy store.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Baseball Journal

While waiting for my book covers to dry in the press (see previous post), I finished my second baseball-themed journal / notebook. This one is called "Pop Fly":

Its covers are made from a well-worn, vintage Carlton Fisk catcher's mitt, and a bit of reclaimed bison leather. On the first page is a reproduction of an 1888 baseball card with a photo of Monte Ward of the New York Giants.  I loved this little photo! In it, Monte Ward is clearly in a photography studio, manfully reenacting a slide into home base. 

This journal is residing on the shelves of my Etsy store.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Here is my lovely old book press, in its temporary home in the living room:

I've been waiting with great anticipation for the contents to finish being pressed. Inside are the covers for two new journal/guest book/delirious products of the imagination, which I started working on yesterday. More on that to come anon, but I'm thinking at the moment that they (and some other books I'm thinking about) will have to do with my favorite cities: Paris, New York, and Venice.  

That little black blob in the background on the right is my faithful bookbinding dog, Gretta, who does no actual bookbinding herself, but is a very devoted companion and keeps me company while I work. She is at present hoping for a dog biscuit.
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