Why I’m so into Bookmaking

My first book! Accordion fold book with alphabet theme from Alisa Golden's Making Handmade Books. Walnut ink and PearlEx on sketchbook paper.

Disclaimer: I am learning how to make books. I should also add that the book I am learning from is titled, 100 Handmade Books by Alisa Golden. Sooo many ideas and great instructions.

Why I’m so into Bookmaking

Mostly because I’m inspired. I have these ideas in my head of watercolor accordion books with creative lettering to depict the Shel Silverstein poem, “Enter this Deserted House”. It’s been on my mind for a good few years, but I lacked the bookmaking knowledge and the awareness of calligraphic hands that could enhance the words of the poem. But now I know and I am more inspired the further I go along. I want to get out of the bubble I see so many other people post online — the flat script of a perfectly executed body of text. Don’t get me wrong, this sort of work is quietly satisfying to a perfectionist like me. And as devoted as I’ve been to mastering regularity in my script and the integrity of a well thought out project, I’ve been craving projects that are more off the wall and personal. Things that reflect my personal surroundings and pieces that are involved but not too complicated.

I made a collage earlier this year at a vision board party for a friend’s birthday. That was the first time I made a collage as an adult and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Going into it, I thought, “This is kid stuff. We made collages as kids and it’s going to look so elementary.” But these were not kid subjects and my eye and mind have had so much more exploration and training since then. I zealously thumbed through pages and began to consider layering pictures and juxtaposing them. I considered backgrounds images and subtle text, not to mention all the unexpected pictures and nuances I was drawn to. It united me with a part of myself and a part of my mind that I didn’t even know was there.

I think another reason I’ve been more committed to personal work and personal projects is because I’ve begun to treat my work as something that should last, as if it’s more substantial. I’ve usually stayed in a mindframe where I don’t think people care about my work and just check it out and keep on moving. Sometimes you have to be the person that cares about it and makes it for the sake of making it. Which I am confident and comfortable with now. Add to that the fact that I am more comfortable with sharing it now than I have ever been and we have a recipe for permanence.

It’s a slow building natural progression. And options are endless with knowledge, skill, and experience. I am the kind of person that constantly wants to make things. I always have at least 5 projects going. I don’t want to be limited in what I can make because I don’t have the means. I think my father is that way too and while I’m not close with him, I have always admired how unlimited he is in accomplishing what he needs to with what he has around him using his knowledge and experience. He was a carpenter for many years and can build and repair just about anything.

I am also wildly fond of books. I never want to count how many are in my collection, but they are in every single room in my house. I have several favorites that I fondly return to over and over again for reference, learning, and inspiration. I find a book is so much more engaging because of its permanence. Articles online currently are well written and thought out, as are posts on content-sharing sites such as Instagram and Facebook, but those sites are designed for the user to scroll through endlessly. I do find inspitation in these pages, but the ideas seem out of reach to me because my attention knows not to put much stock into it because I have to leave room for whatever post is next. Although I’ve curated the content I consume to be specific to what I do, there’s still no knowing what I’ll be caught up in and taken away by. This becomes a disservice to my work ethic and doesn’t always offer me a constructive inspiration as a book does. And I find I treat online articles, tutorials, and videos with much the same superficial attention, even if it’s something I’ve looked up or am interested in learning. A book is more like a conversation with eye contact. It’s the difference between talking with someone who regularly checks their phone and talking with someone who couldn’t care less where their phone even is.

I also dearly love to write, firstly because it comes easily to me. As I began developing writing skills, I enjoyed where analysis took me and finding new ideas sprouting as I went along. It’s kind of like painting and the brush and paint do something unexpected together and you don’t want to change it because it’s more perfect than you could’ve dreamed of making it. And you want to paint more than you’ve ever wanted to. Writing can take on its own tone and direction, especially when I just sit down to write. I initially meant to just spill on the topic of bookmaking for 10 minutes and here it’s been 30. And the best part is I had no idea what I wanted to write, I just knew that a long intention of mine is coming to fruition and I wanted to explore what I love about it. Thinking’s too difficult an avenue for exploration because the mind doesn’t often stay focused. (Kind of like this post!) Too many other thoughts crowd up what I am trying to accomplish, but for me writing is a thread that I can use to tug at what’s surrounding the heart of my joys.

Not that I would probably ever write a book. But I dearly love paper, I dearly love cutting it and folding it, I enjoy sewing and I like to make things for people I admire and care about. Especially as a surprise. I like to make things for myself too and I have many pieces I’ve made over the years. I will eventually make a few books out of all the greeting cards I still have. And recipe books for my children of our favorites. And hopefully, cool things that I haven’t even thought up yet. Maybe even with a collage.

Thank you so so much for reading. I don’t normally share in this manner here on the blog, so thank you for your interest and attention and as always, feel free to comment or contact me!

My first book! Accordion fold book with alphabet theme from Alisa Golden's Making Handmade Books. Walnut ink and PearlEx on sketchbook paper.
My first book! Accordion fold book with alphabet theme from Alisa Golden’s Making Handmade Books. Walnut ink and PearlEx on sketchbook paper.

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