Wednesday, December 28, 2005

home works

I’ve spent a little time over the last few nights writing up possible lesson plans for possible classes so that I can loose out my remaining few hours to places that could possibly take me on as a teacher of sorts.

My goals for the rest of the week:
Complete 2 similar Renaissance styled journals
Complete a stack of hedgehogs
Complete the olive journal
Work on ideas for the red journal

That’s a lot of work for the next few days but I’m pretty sure I can start to work on it and get some of it accomplished. Tomorrow of all happiness I get out early- 1:30ish. I’ll be able to take the laptop with me so that I can work in the cafĂ©. I also get out early Friday!!!! This is the week of no hours.

Monday, December 26, 2005

How cool is that!?!

I’m very excited right now! If you head to the etsy homepage, you will see one of my journals as one of the featured items! It’s
HERE!!!! How freaking cool is that!?!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The hint

OKay, so I had intended to update yesterday in the AM, but tiredness and the DayJob got in the way of that, so here's the picture with the hint.
I've removed the picture because I've had several correct answers and I'll be trying this out again, with different prizes.

Friday, December 23, 2005

MOre Matchbook Notebooks and a contest!

I've been scoring big time at work lately; a coworker has been hooking me up with the giant window posters that are a heavy duty paper coated in vinyl. ONe side is pristine white and the other has a printed image. The printed image side is the side I think that is the most intersting. My only issue with the posters is that they are covered in stupid logos. So I'm thinking of creative ways to use those but not have it look like what I'm making is a product from the company. For right now I'm simply hacking those parts off and cutting the chunks of poster that I like.

The 2 posters that I've got right now had large chunks of roast beef on them, since the coworker has been so cool to give me the posters I decided I was going to make him a "meat" sketch book. I cut out a prime cut of the roast beef (c'mon i had to go there.) and folded it over and wrapped it around a stack of essentially trash paper. I've been going through the recycle bin to snag anything with any blanks sides- misprint fliers, unused fliers and other assorted blank on one side papers. They work great for this style of notebooks/journal; because it doesn't lay flat.

I didn't take any shots of the books I gave my coworkers but here's a few shots of smaller books made ofthe scraps from the meat photo. It's the same idea.

Here's a little contest for people:
Can anyone, who doesn't know me in real life or work with me recognize what retail establishment employees me?

If no one answers by the time I wake up I'll post a photo with a give away clue.

The first person to email me (not post a comment here) with the correct answer will receive a set of 3 matchbook notebooks- a combination of meat and special sign covers.

Matchbook notebooks

So these are my latest adventure in alternative bindings using unusual materials. These are all recycled- using signs from a grocery store that have been laminated, special signs, regular signs, anything that was laminated I chopped up into 3 inch by 11 inch pieces. I then used (purchased for the purpose) a large heavy duty stapler (heehheheh laughter of glee- office supplies!!!) to staple in about a hundred sheets of recycled paper.

Things I like about these- it's a really adaptable way of making a cover. If I have scraps of drawing paper or any paper i can stack it and wrap one of these covers around it. i can hide a cardboard piece in the back making it sturdyier than one might think. It's fast. I was able to figure this out from looking at a picture on etsy and adapt the size of my text/paper block to the size of my available cover size. I was also able to make these with a huge assortment of recycled materials. (more on that later.)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Busy busy bee

I’ve been pretty busy in the studio the last few days, which explains my lack of posting. I‘ve had several special orders in which I’ve finished and mailed out.

I’ve been having a few experiments with patterns on the spines of the books; I’m trying to think of them as cross-stitching or as needlepoint. It’s an interesting experiment, because I’m limited to a top to bottom arrangement and angles. I’m going to continue to play with it but I’ve had some very interesting results so far. Some of them are listed below. Some are simply the recent custom orders I’ve been working on.
This is simply a simple 200 page, 10 signature, black thread on golden deer hide with linking.

This is the first of my experimenting with the cross stitchor crewl work style of sewing. It's 200 pages and 10 signatures, natural thread, you can see int eh center where I skipped stations on some of the signatures. i think it adds a lot of dimension tot eh spine.

This is also some of the patterning along the spine. All I did here was to change where I placed that stations.

This is perhaps one of the most intricate designs I've sewn thus far, the aditional stations in the center added a ton of time to the sewing process, not to mention tht it's a fat 400 page journal in the 6x9 inch size. It took over an hour of timeto sew. It's listed on etsy here.

Ah pink. While I don't personally like pink many do, and here is another pink journal. It's a copy of the scarlett journal, per the request of a customer.

Monday, December 12, 2005

400 pages

I’ve been working on some 400page journals. They pose certain issues that don’t come up in other sizes of journal. The spine is much thicker than in other journals and the number of pages and signatures forced me into a funny set of stations across the spine. I’m usually very happy with an odd number of stations. The number of signatures, 20, forces me to use an even number. It being a square number (see kids Math IS important!) I can’t get it to work in an odd way. I need to play with this style and see what I like and don’t like. This may be the perfect number of pages to work with slots and angles.

The first 400 Page journal is listed here on eBay and I’ll have another up on etsy this afternoon.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Distressed To the max

I had a guy request a really distressed and beaten on journal, on that looked like it was old and abused. I think I fulfilled that request with this journal. I started with a chunk of oil tanned leather, applied a variety of acrylic paints in layers, wet them down moved them about and wiped them off. I scrubbed some in with an old toothbrush and scraped the leather with a knife and a few other tools. Using a brush I applied some darker paint to areas and rubbed that in with the end of the brush handle, wiping off areas that were raised leaving darker pain in the recessed areas. After all that I took a braided piece of hemp laid it across the cover and beat it in with a hammer, which left an interesting impression. I then folded the cover so that the area where the spine was would be measured and applied darker paint in that area so that it would look like the spine had been handled a lot; after all that I took and iron and bees wax and heated it into the leather.

I ended with a leather that looks dark and abused, as if it has been through the ringer and back again, surviving god knows what.

The details:
Long stitch with decorative Xs on slots
200 pages of Eaton paper
Sewn with black Irish linen thread
Raw flap and a black leather strap- cut thick

Check out the pics:

This journal is already called for.

A new Fat Journal

I’ve been working on a few new designs. I figure that the best way to combat the imitators is to innovate and continually change my offerings, continually is a bit of an over statement but change them often and continue to innovate my historically based sewing.

The versionI’ve been working on is a 400 page journal. I’ve had people request it, so I’ve developed a journal for those people who wantt o write 1 page a day for a year and then move on. Of course a 400 page journal gives them a little leeway with the writing but it’s a thick little book and I’m going to list one on eBay first and then list the next on etsy. So we’ll see how they do.

The details:
400 pages in 20 signatures, Eaton 24ln 25% cotton paper.
Unbleached Irish linen thread, hand waxed, just alittle with pure bee’s wax.
Distressed sheep hide, great pattern, cut from A premium hide.
Basic long stitch.
Raw edged flap with an extra thick strap.

So here are some pictures to enjoy:

I’ll list at eBay later and post a link here.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Business- rolling up my sleeves

I have been working on eBay since 2001 with journals and art. I started looking at what people were selling and how they sold. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve taken notes. As frustrated as I am with their current fee structure, I still like eBay and will continue to use their services. I’m in flux with my feelings about the amount I make versus the amount hey take but I know that the best way to combat that is to continue to sell and get my prices higher.

Never once in my time on eBay have I ripped off someone completely in his or her description of an item. I’ve taken notes on what has worked for that person and adapted it to my needs. If one were to go back to any of my descriptions and look at the wording, you would find that it’s all my words. It’s all me. I get frustrated when I look at another book artist who hasn’t put in their time on eBay and is deliberately ripping off my work, right down to my phrasing. The thing about people who buy journals and sketchbooks is that we are addicted to the process and buy them if we like them. There is no need to rip off my work, people will find the work and like it or not. You can boost sales on eBay by lowering starting prices and listing more items. I thought a LOT about how I used eBay before I listed an item, about how I read a description and what I look for in a journal. Selling on eBay is easy if done smart. There is no reason to steal from some one else’s hard work.

So what prompted this? There has been a seller who has been selling journals very much like mine for some time now. I’ve ignored her forays into my territory until now. She has always somewhat styled her auctions after mine, now she has ripped me off almost completely, using my phrasing in her auctions. The other issue is also that she is now making journals like mine. Her bindings are sub par and her photography stinks but the fact remains that she has started to rip off my designs and now she’s ripping off my auction styles. All of my new auctions will feature a little tag at the end that will discuss that my auctions are my words and my work and that copying them is LAME-O!

I am much more balanced on this than I was the last time I found someone ripping me off, being angry about it doesn’t do anything, so I’ll figure out something.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

so little done but so much

I feel like I got very little done though I really did get a lot more done than it at first seems. I managed to cut a load of really nice covers, some of which will fetch high prices at auction as well as on etsy, keep an eye out over the next week or so. I learned a lot about using and making a reed pen. I’ve filled 4 or 5 pages in my moleskine with note and doodles. I plan on using this tool a lot and maybe offer some for sale on etsy. I’m not sure though. I’ll have to make a pamphlet on how to sharpen them.

Anyway, I forgot to mention that the scan of my moleskine with notes about the reed pen had reed pens scanned in below the image. So I cropped the scan here to show just the pens. Please note that these are my first attempts and are not wonderful.

One of the things I found is that it’s really important to get the pulp center out of the reed. If I don’t the ink doesn’t flow freely and then suddenly blobs out, making an ugly spot. On my newest pens I used my tiny metal file set to really scrape out the “pith” leaving me with a nice smooth surface. If I am careful and scrape out the pith I don’t need to scrape out an ink channel, it flows along the veins of the reed easily. I also must eb careful to NOT file down too far, or the ink flows too freely and blobs. It’s a careful medium. I’m pretty sure I’ll have this figured out in no time and will end with easy writing tools.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Current Obsession

I read an article in a magazine at B&N last night about Van Gogh, those of you who know me in real life know of my obsession with his work, in particularly his ink sketches. Back when I lived alone I checked out book that had a great deal of images from his huge assortment of sketches and drawings from Arles of the local landscape. I love those sketches. I photocopied them and had them all over my apartment, so that everywhere I looked I had great art to look at. I spent a great deal of time that summer outside sketching with pen and ink, no thinking of making my own reed pens; I did use brush, dip pen and fountain pens. I also dipped sticks in ink and used those to work. My work while it held a variety of line and were some what interesting never had the huge variety of line that the sketches I viewed of Van Gogh’s which I tried too emulate in my own fashion.

These little sketches in my moleskine are using a reed pen, Van Gogh’s instrument of choice, in Arles, anyhow. I picked a variety of reeds while at Charrette today, from their parking lot no less. I brought them home and got out the click knife and began experimenting. I downloaded instructions and some of them worked and some didn’t. What I found is that every reed size needs a style of cut. I’m sure that not all reeds are a like and that the reeds I used, a local reed for Mass, may not use the same cut as the reeds from Arles.

I found that the larger reeds didn’t produce as nice a pen as the thinner reeds. I’m sure with practice I can get a nice pen from the larger reeds, but the thinner reeds, about a ¼ inch in diameter, were just as stiff as the larger reeds and didn’t split as much. If anything I found that the larger reeds made a very flexible tip, that didn’t hold nearly the amount of ink as a smaller reed. This may be due to how I cut the reed but I haven’t had time to experiment with different cuts.

On my way home from work tomorrow I will head the back way and stop behind the strip mall and gather a wide variety of reeds. The reeds there grow much taller than the reeds in the parking lot at Charrette, we’re talking close to 10 to 12 feet tall. I’m interested in seeing if the bases of these reeds are sturdy and thick and if they are more so than the other reeds.

Anyway the lines produced from reeds are painterly and effective in shading and texture. I need to now find something to draw with texture so that I can really play with these reeds.

Here are a few examples of my sketches with reed, as well as some EDM inspiration.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Four for Tuesday

I’ve finished the small covers that I had made already. I switched to slots for these sewings as I felt that I have a ton of stationed sewings on etsy. So one of these will go for eBay and the other 3 for etsy. Tonight I’m also going to work on the 6 recycled books I have set to go. I’m going to use a variety of Keith Smith sewings for those.

I’m pretty happy with the 4 journals I finished today. The details on them are as follows:
All have an Eaton 24lb paper with 25% cotton content in cream. 200 pages in 10 signatures sewn onto slots. I used Irish linen in a variety of colors. (The golden deer hide is double sewn.) all the sewing styles are a variation on the long stitch, either with angled stitches or decorative Xs sewn into the open areas of the spine. All have my usual flap with a strap, I cut extra wide straps for these journals.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Those recycled books

So I've been in a crazed book making fit today. I've made 3 of the recycled books and made another 6covers. It's not fast but it works. This time around I've remembered to score all teh folds... I forgot that on one ofthe books I made before, not a good idea.

So the books on etsy are here:
Distressed Leather Spine
Oil Tanned Leather Spine

And the one on ebay is here:
Black Leather Spine

The new covers are pretty nice too. I used a larger variety of scraps so I have a nice selection of spines.

Now its time for me to cut some covers for paying gigs!
I’ve been working on the new book style since last night and I’ve got it worked out pretty decently. I cut a cover sheet and score it (that’s important) then glue down a scrap of leather to the spine area. I use a nice thick PVA, so it doesn’t soak into the leather too much so causes minimal shrinking and bending of the card cover. I then fold the excess from the card in toward the middle; attach elastic then glue in some folded accordion pleats to form the envelope. I clamped all that over night. Today I marked the spine and cut slots or punched holes. I did a series of 4 sets of stations so that I could fit 200 pages in the 1-inch spine. However 160 pages would be enough too.

I chose a series of simple sewings for these spines, I like how all but one came out. I used thick chunky hemp, un-waxed and let them fray a bit, I like the look.

Essentially everything in these books is recycled or re-used in some way. The cardboard came from the bakery at work, where it’s used to protect delicate cookies in shipment. The Leather comes from my scrap pile. The inner paper comes from the recycle heap at work. Often large companies change their advertising branding and assorted things like this paper either get used in-house to print memos and things on or they get tossed into the recycle heap. In the case of this paper a 2000 sheet ream was tossed into the recycle heap because it had words printed on one side, top and bottom and no one wanted to take the chance that things would be printed over the words. So I was able to bring it home chop off the words and the company logo and I was left with paper with a series of pale green printed borders and one side plain. It’s awesome paper so I’m pretty excited about it working out for this project. I get 3 covers from each sheet of card and I can cut sheets until I get bored. I’ll be mixing these up and putting them on etsy and eBay. They will be in limited quantities; I’ll run out of cover material quickly! I’m not sure about pricing though. I’ll have to figure it out in terms of how long they take me to make.

I think the card is a nice compliment to the rough leather I used. I’ll be experimenting with other leathers as time goes on, but so far these 3 were great.

Here they are:

I'll post links to eBay and etsy later.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

ON a golden roll

I started to stitch this journal last night with about a half hour before bedtime, ofcourse I chose the one journal in my stack that has a sewing that will take more than an hour. I could have just used the black thread and saved myself the time of the double sewing but I can't resist the diffculty that the double sewing requires. It's simpl and effective for a fat thick sewing that sinks into the leather, especially this thick leather. have I mentioned that I'm in love with this leather. It's so damn soft I can't believe it. It's absolutely amazing. It's the deer hide. I then turned around and adhered it to the mango paper, which just added an even heavier texture to the cover. You can't see it but he cover is realy very thick.

With the cover being delectable I added my favorite paper as the pages. I've got about 250 sheets of this paper left and I'm hoarding it. It's foxrivers natural confetti, 25% cotton, 24lb, acid free and in my book an incredible writing paper, it rival strathmores 25% cotton renewal paper. It's thick, stiff and a delight to write upon with pencil, roller ball, or *sigh* my pelikan fountain pen.

So i used my #18 mislabeled as #12 thread to sewin it, in warm brown, it works muchbetter with the golden shade of the leather than black, which while it can be nice can seem harsh. I did a simple long stitch pattern but linked the center section. It's simpl and lets the double stitching show itself off.

I had a hard time parting with this one for etsy, but it's up there and ready! Link following the pictures.

See this hot baby on

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Several Items on

I've been playing around/ experimenting [which sounds more professional? ;)] with using a similar station pattern to see what i can get out of it in terms of different links, angles and what not. These journals are some of those experimental books. i have one more I haven't finished stitching yet but we'll see where they go. So far so good. These books are also listed on rather than ebay. They were a lot more work than some of my journals and thus I can't bare to part with them for possibly nothing.

I had a special order that required bright red thread. So I ordered a whole spool and thus lots of goth looking red and black journals will follow. Kidding, Red and black is a classic combination and it looks good. So here is a black pebbly textured cover, sheep hide with red irish linen stitchin in a patterned long stitch with linking. Simple but sweet. There are 200 pages of tan granite colored paper inside. It has a nice texture, smooth enough to use a fountain pen but rough enough to accept pencil with less than normal smudging. It's a nice warm paper, which I thought might not match the cover but what the hell, I'd rather have nice paper than something not as nice, plus this paper is wonderfully writable.

Link following the pictures.

Black Leather with Red Stitching

The journal below is a marigold yellow, more like a light buckskin colored deer hide. It's been adhered to an orange marbled paper. The strap was cut extra thick and extra long. This leather is incredibly soft, it feels like nubuck. I've lucked out on leather lately, the last 5 hides or so that I've bought have been decadent and wonderful. Simply amazing. I bought 2 of these hides and man am I happy I did.

The MOST incredible thing about this journal is that it has 200 pages of Southworth 100% cotton paper. The paper is crisp smooth and heavy weighing in at 28lbs per sheet. It has a slight tooth that is perfect for drawing with pencil over all a decadent sheet.

Enough talk some pictures: LInk toetsy below:

You can get this journal here: Golden Deer Hide JOurnal

On eBay

I have posted to eBay an 8X11 journal that was a rough draft for the big journal for a sale. the final journal sold in the $70 range but I'm unsure of how this jorunal will do on eBay. Its got 160 pages of 80lb strathmore drawing paper, sewn in unbleached naturally colored irish linen in a patterned long stitch.
Here are some pics

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ebay can take it's fees and... well not right now but...

As of late my eBay fees have skyrocketed I’m not sure if they have revamped their fee structure or not but it’s becoming less profitable for me to use eBay. I’m losing a larger piece of my money to them every time I make a sale. Then to add to it the PayPal fees, which are quite reasonable in comparison to other online credit card shops it’s a huge chunk of my cash. Depending on how much my item sells for I lose about 6% every time I make a decent sale, add to that the 2% PayPal takes and that’s 8% of my income.

I like that etsy takes a flat 4%. That’s it. I’m frustrated with the fees associated with eBay. Sure some people are on there making their living on the sales from eBay and some people are on there making thousands on electronics, but I’m just one single crafty person! I can’t afford to give up almost 10% of my hard-earned income to some big company!

With the restructure of my website and the switch to etsy I’m going to look into restructuring my eBay strategy and we’ll see how that goes. Not to worry though, I’m looking at working on the website after the new year, so hopefully with 2006 I’ll be ushering in a new website too, thought it may not be until February when I get to it. I’m hoping to take a week or at least a few days off work to work on it. I’m pretty sure it will be best if I work on it in one long caffeine fueled stretch of time, rather than breaking it all up into small chunks of time. In the end I’m not sure what I’ll be doing.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Big Bad and Dark

this journal started out normally enough, a request for a custom order. Easy enough rigth? Yeah. I took the oreder and from tehre I screwed up royaly each time I tried to make it. First I sewed it up in the wrong leather- a light distressed finish and then I forgot the eyelets. I stitched up that journal and it looked good. It's up on eBay right now.

I cut myself a new cover, with the right leather, and cut the station and added eyelets. I then proceded with the sewing, i thumbed throught eh thread and picked the natural linen rather than the black linen. the black faded into the dark leather and the sewing was non-visible. So I stitched her up and the spine looks great. Reading through the emails from the personwho ordered it, I see now that he specifically wanted the black. &*^&^%%^$ I can restitch it but I can't seem to get this thing right. The book itself is wonderful and looks great but if I can screw upone more thing it'll be a wonder.

Anyhow the specs areas follows:
150 pages of Strathmore drawing apper in cream
long stitch with eyelets and natural irish linen
Dark Distressed leather
Orange marbled paper backing
Raw flap and strap
it's 8 by 11 inches and an Inch and a half thick.

See the pics below.

thick and 400 pages

I used to be very nervous about making a journal with over 300 paegs, since I've now made a few of them, i'm not. The book if sewn properly does just fine, the tension of the thread to the paper hold the spine tight and doesn't allow the spine to tear as I previously thought it would. It creates a very thick and surprisingly sturdy books. It does have a tendency to warp out and the center pages to fall, but the tension, again, prevents this from being nearly as bad as I had expected it to be.

Anyhow, here are the specs on this book:
400 pages of cream eaton sewn into an alternation of linking long stitch, plain long stitch and a double twist, all in natural unbleached Irish linen thread. It's a heavy pattern to match the heavy book. It is also slightly different than I had first envisioned it, I skipped a stitch descending from the endbanding and went directly to the linking. The stitch after the endbanding seemed too heavy, even for this book. So I skipped it. The leather is a dark brown with a slight distressed finish. THe leather is adhered to a marbled orange paper. IN the back is a hidden pocket, moleskine style that expands on all 3 sides to take in a lot of "stuff." It's got my standard strap and raw edge. I'm happy with how it worked out.

Check it out here:

Red and Black

This 6x9 inch journal is a custom job. I used a linking long stitch to spread the red across the spine. It's simple and effective, I think anyway. The leather is a black sheep hide suede that I accidentally ordered, but it's amazingly nice. The nap is unusual in that it's very low, so it looks like a flat black hide but it's super soft. The texture of the leather is still visible even throught eh nap. Amazing. It's adhered to a red Lama Li that is a shade or 2 darker than the red thread I used, which is a irish linen. The paper is cream Eaton, 200 pages worth. Inside is a black leather bookmark sewn like the pages directly to the spine. I'm pretty happy with the journal and how it turned out. It might help that I did a "rough draft" and thought a lot about it. I abandoned several previous thoughts on the spine pattern and went with simple for the spine, the red and black is so elegant, that a contrived pattern would have detracted from the book.

Onto the hot pine and cover of the red and black journal:

Saturday, November 19, 2005

sketchbook entries

I've been sketching things out in my hedgies as thoughts come to me, which lately has been pretty often. I've also been asked about my planning and design process. 65% of it is all in my head and the other 35% happens on paper; in a hedgie I keep in my back pocket 90% of the time. I have 2 hedgies I keep with me all the time, one has a refillable leather cover and I make my own refills for it with stiff paper covers. (I'm not making these for people right now, I don't have the workshop space, I could make a cover but it will be as expensive as a regular journal.) The other has a soft sheep hide cover in distressed finish. ONe in my pocket and one in my bag. The one I keep in my pocket has some inane notes about work so that if need be I can cover up my occasional sketching at work with work notes.(It happens.) TheDayJob usualy kills my creative urges but sometimes it happens. I am prepared. I would suggest to any creative to keep a "work" notebook with a few pages devoted to work and the majority devoted to creative musings.
So I thougth I'd share some pages from my hedgies here for your enjoyment.

These next 2 were sketched out while on my break at work. I added the kraft paper model at home.

The next item is a 2 page spread of designs for 2 different books. One is the initial idea for Bart's Large franken journal. If you head back to the entry on that journal you'l see that I scraped some of the ideas and kept many. ON the right hand side fo the spread are my notes for Roberta's journal. She wanted a reproduction of another journal I made- so glued to the page is a print out ofthe spine of the other journal. She gave me more paper than the other person so I ended up adding more signatures to her and it ended up much more fat than the previous journal. I wasn't all that impressed with the leather. While it was nice- stiff and beautiful the edges were too soft and I had to add to the edges of the spine some filler. Which helped to make the edges stiff, but I don't like to add artifical means and it irked me. I'd love to know how this jorunal is behaving (So Roverta if you read email me and let me know!)

The final page is also a spread. It's from a research trip I took to Barnes and Noble. I always head in, wander about, read a few books then buy a coffee and takea few notes on the journals and notebooks they have for sale. I sometimes come away with nothing but during this trip I came home with about 5 pages of notes. There were many thigns to see. the left hand side is about bookmarks and the right about closures, for which I found many ideas.