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.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

More Cowbell

I got a lot done today. All paper and covers for custom orders are finished. Tomorrow I will work on spine designs and in the next few days cut them all and begin sewing.

I also made a stack of books for eBay and etsy. 3 large sized books and 8 smaller. I did several with 100% cotton paper. It’s very nice paper. It’s better than the 25% cotton but not as decadent as I had thought. I’ll be working on those as time allows. I won’t have much time over the next week or so but I will be working on them.

I’ll also be working on my application. I’m planning on writing everything out and then printing it in books form as well as typical application form.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Like a freaking half-wit I crowded my workspace and thus burnt myself on the iron. I have a sizeable burn on the back of my right hand, which I’m sure will not be happy tomorrow at work.

I’ve done more work today that one might expect. I cut a stack of covers last night, including all the covers for custom orders. I’ve backed all of them and I’m getting ready to trim everything. I’ve also managed to go tot eh post office and got myself a coffee. I’m pretty happy with the amount of work I’ve gotten finished. I’ll be even happier when I finish trimming everything.

Later tonight I’ll cut pages for everything.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

graduate school?

One of the items that I haven’t written about that seriously concerns the studio and it’s function as not only my space but as an entity is Grad School. My plan is to apply for next fall. What this means for my DayJob is not yet determined. I know that I can’t afford to leave and go to school full time unless I get some serious grant monies and things with the studio continue to accelerate as they have over the last 6 months. My friend pointed out to me that if I’m studying binding I can use custom orders to fulfill class work and that all class work that I create can go towards sales. While this is true to get into grad school and the school of my choice I need to seriously get going on slides. For me to get going on slides will require me to make a few books that are not for special orders and are not sold before I even make them.

However I know that the DayJob will not allow for me to go to school and work fulltime or even part-time in my current capacity so that means a pay cut at the DayJob. It may end up that they don’t even allow me to work due to “outside interests.” I’ve heard it held against people before and I’m not willing to let my “outside interests” to not become the focus of my life.

So if anyone out there knows of a place where I can score some cash for school email me through the page here, I’d really appreciate it. If anyone would really like to support my heading back to school, buy a book from, eBay or commission a custom journal.

Ohhhh, Paper, yeah.

I left the DayJob early due to the fact I was supposed to leave early on Monday but forgot so I had to make it up somewhere. Happily it was slow enough that I could take off 2 hours early today. I had planned on heading to AC Moore but didn’t want to drive that far out of my way so instead on a spur of the moment idea I headed south on 95 and headed to Charrette in Woburn. Here I found stacks of good stuff in clearance mainly paper. I have been buying large amounts of the clearance Strathmore charcoal paper all along but today I hit the mother load, they have put eh entire display rack on clearance. I came in when they had been pretty picked over but I still managed to find $50 in clearance paper. It is just less than 100 sheets of really nice paper. I didn’t find my usual earthy toned paper or any in cream but I did find a variety of nice warm grays. I thought about buying some pink sheets but they just weren’t in my style.

I came home and found that my leather had been delivered today and it’s much nicer than his description. It’s a beautiful deep marigold yellow orange. It’s fantastic.

I’m still looking for good oatmeal colored paper. I’m pretty sure that I like the fawn gray Stonehenge. It may require that I head deeper into Boston tomorrow than my meeting requires. It may also require that I end up hitting rush hour traffic on the way home, not something that neither my car nor I really wants.

I have a stack of hedgies ready to be covered and the 2 for my mom ready to have their elastics put in. Tonight I’m going to focus on binding up the 2 books that have been sitting on my desk waiting for a week. Being sick really threw me for a loop. I didn’t realize how disruptive it could be not only to my DayJob but also to my studio.

I have decided to take my journals that are for sale off my website and move them to I decided this after realizing I haven’t made a single sale from the site in 2 years. It’s a great place to showcase my custom work and highlight what I can do in custom work, but the sales just aren’t there to support it. So what does this all mean?

Well, my etsy site is I’ll move the books that are for sale to there in the upcoming weeks. Prices will change in accordance with my new pricing structure. Meaning they’ll go up a tad. Those pages that are selling an item now will redirect people to my etsy page. I had thought of auctioning off some of the items on there but I can’t bear to think of some of them going for less than they are listed. I think that etsy is an affordable alternative to my low hit website.

Not to fear though, I plan on keeping the site up and running but it’s purpose will change. It will go from a website of art and books to one simply of books. I’ll keep a link for the art, but it won’t be highlighted the way it is now. I haven’t painted in ages and to have the paintings highlighted is simply foolhardy and wishful thinking. (I do hope that someday I spend my summers painting again.) I’ll be turning the page on journals and notebooks toa gallery of pictures and styles. I’ll be totally revamping the page into something that is hopefully a little slicker. It will mean my taking sometime to re-teach myself Dreamweaver as I seem to have lost the rudimentary skills I once possessed.

I don’t have a lot of ideas for it quite yet but it will be something that I continue to wrok on over the next few months. I expect that the move to will take some time and won’t happen for a month or so. For now I’ll focus on moving things slowly and one at a time.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Promises Promises

Well, the siding has mostly gone back up on the house but they haven't finished the porch, where my mailbox is located. fear not! Books have gone in the mail!

Here to fulfill my promise of book pictures are some pictures!

It's 200 pages of eaton 24lb, 25% cotton cream coloredpaper. The cover is oil tanned sheep hide. It's awesomely soft but tough leather, dulling razor blades quickly. the sewing is a linking long stitch in a butterfly pattern in unbleach irish linen sewn onto stations. The inner paper is some paper that I keep calling chiri paper but isn't. (Chiri paper is white with green, gray and brown flecks- it's also a lot thicker and mroe textured than this paper, whcih I could call hay paper in tan.)I'm pretty happy with this journal. It's toughand sturdy. It's also on it's way to Brad in New york.

Some more pics:

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Historical journal

I had a request for a medieval/renaissance historical looking journal. This is it. While it's not strictly true to renaisance binding, it's a modern twist to the style.

It's 200 pages of cream Eaton 24lb, 25% cotton paper. A deep chocolate brown seep hide and deer leather accents. Black irish linen for the sewing in a linking long stitch sewn to stations. I worked this one a little differently thanothers, I first stiched on the 1/2 the signatues, leaving room for the others. I then came back and stitched ont eh other 5, linking through as I stitched them on. This is a much easier way to sew alinking long stitch and I think it's how I shal do themfrom now on, it was THAT much easier. It's a 6x9 inch book and is about an inch and a half thick. It's gefty and feels nice to hold.

Onto the pR0n:

Hedgehog/Moleskine Hack #2

Okay so a lot of people ask about how to attach a pen to a moleskine/hedgie. I stick to fountain pens which are a little larger than many pens (cross Ion seems to be the most popular.) Here's how I attach my rotring Graphite fountain pen (Or my Vintage Pelikan GO! pen.)

First I hook the clip through the elastic, pointing away from the spineof the book. I then bring the pen to the back of the book.

Then I stick my fingers through the elastic at the bottom of the book a couple of twists later I am able to form a loop that will hold my pen.

I stick my pen into the loop and release. It holds well in my bag but not so well in my back pocket.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I've been considering for some time if I would like an eBay store in addition to my regular listings. This would open up a variety of options for me. I could list an item for an indefinite period of time and it could be buy it now. Someone could look at the item for a very long tie and then decide to buy it, rather than having only 7 days to decide if they like it or want it.

There are many positives to this approach but the drawbacks are large amounts of money. The initial insertion fee is only 2 pennies but the final fee is 8 percent of the final value, up to $25 and then it’s 5 percent on any money over $25! So the book that I sold for $75 would have had $4.52 in fees, in addition to the $16 that I would have to pay monthly for the store. The usual amount in fees is $3.60, including the listing fee! That’s nearly a full dollar difference.

The major thing I would be paying for is the huge AMOUNT of time a store lets you leave items up, they can be there for 30 days or as long as it takes to sell. If I were selling 100’s of books that were identical I would find this format useful, however as it is now it’s not a good fit for me. I’ll continue to poorly utilize my website.

If eBay were to make the fee less, I’d think about getting a store, if it were $9 or so, I just can’t use the store effectively and pay as much as it is currently. It’s just too much.

Notebooks and thinking on paper with ink

In other news I’ve been sketching out a lot of designs in a hedgie I made for the purpose. I carry it with me at all times, even at the DayJob. When inspiration strikes I’ll run and take brief break and sketch out an idea. It’s also a good way to think out ideas for the books.

And example:
I’ve been working on a medieval inspired design for someone and I was going to stick with something very simple, no ornamentation, and simple long stitch sewn into stations. I liked the idea- it would be very faithful to the medieval books. BUT, medieval books often were very ornate. I want to get the simple rustic feeling in there but with a little ornament. Thinking this through and looking at images online and in books I came up with an idea. In my little book I sketched it out and then worked it out in sketches and words. My thought process became evident through 5 pages or so of sketches. I then drew up a template and cut it from kraft paper and worked it so it was exactly what I was looking for. This I traced to cardboard and then used it to cut leather. I’ve been working ideas out this way for years but I’ve always done it Joseph Cornell style on scraps of paper which I would later gather and toss into a box, eventually tossing it out (very unlike Cornell). Now I’m making an effort to either think things out in this little book or to save the scraps and paste them in. If I find odd “thought Scraps” around my studio I’m pasting them in.

Now I’ve got a whole series of little books to think in.

(I’ll scan in some pictures of my little notbooks.)