Fiber of Another Form–the Art of Papercutting

I (we) have a serious book addiction. Over the years, books of all genre, new or used, have accumulated and evolved into the primary monetary portion of  year end expenses.  2018 was the year that I decided to clean out some of the bookshelves instead of adding new ones each time the old ones overflowed. My largest organizational incentive was the accumulation of books stacked on the floor beside our chairs, in the dining room, by the fireplace, etc. After all, we are of an age when, if the children saw how we actually lived, they would put us in a home!

How to downsize books?  Throwing them away was out of the question.  Many (outdated manuals and maps) were not donation worthy.  So, we discovered book folding  at one of our Ruby Street Art Quilt meetings and recycled a few old text books.  Interesting, but time consuming and not appealing to my need for creativity (not to mention the need to add beads and bling to everything).

Emerson’s field journal

End papers…a good use for old maps

In late December, we enjoyed the company of our 10 year old grandson for a couple of days.  He and I usually spend a portion of the time in some new handmade project.  This year, there were two projects: a number of  beaded wrist bands and a travel notebook style journal.

Working on beaded wrist bands…

Emerson decided a pocket sized sketch notebook would be the ideal companion for documenting hikes and boy scout outings.  Granny did a little research on book binding and a new fascination was formed.

We made a hard cover four by six inch notebook with a water resistant cover and elastic band closure.  The signatures are held in the notebook by elastic bands as well and are replaceable when filled.  They are comprised of sketch and lined paper with room to attach photos if later developed.  It will be interesting to see how this documentation progresses!

After satisfying one grandchild with my newly acquired book binding skill set, I decided that I was ready for prime time (a rather elevated opinion of my neophyte status)!  On to a more mature audience….

Zylania’s travel journal

Our youngest granddaughter, a professional young women who travels
extensively and often (with and without her fur babies), turned 30 in January.  We sent her a travel sized journal in which she can document her experiences in this milestone year.  Again, the binding allows for replacement of contents when filled.  In this cyber era, we’re hoping that this more tangible memory bank finds it’s way to Z’s bookshelves complete with printed pictures, notations of special events and new experiences in 2019.

If two journals are good, more are better!  I construct handmade items for the sheer joy of creating something unique.  I am very invested in recycling found objects if possible and have lots of left over fiber from my quilting days.    All this need to create cannot be contained in ONE more journal (the one I’m currently working on for my own use), so I found myself researching different book binding techniques, covering more book board with fabric, and coffee dying more paper.   Three more handmade books materialized!   The rub comes with finding an outlet for these creations.

Fortunately, my local book store takes consignments from local artists.  I have recently placed those three journals with Brilliant Moon , a wonderful book, tea and gift store on Railroad Avenue in downtown Shelton (

Inside back cover

African themed hard covered journal

Inside front cover

Journal number one measures 5 by 8 inches with a 7/8 inch spine.  It has two signatures and 92 pages.  The cover is recycled upholstery fabric and the closure is a cord wrapped antique button.

The interior pages are a combination of coffee dyed papers intermingled with old ledger and tissue paper and outdated maps.  There are several fiber pockets and embroidered embellishments as well as tuck spaces with lots of pictures, cards with ample space for journaling.

Inside front cover

Island Life

Journal number two measures 5 1/2 by 8  inches with a 1 1/4  inch spine.  It has three signatures and 204 pages.  The cover is also recycled upholstery fabric and the closure is a chain with claw hook.

Inside back cover

The front book plate is made from a recycled light switch cover.  The interior pages are also a combination of coffee dyed papers intermingled with old ledger, tissue paper, outdated maps and images that are artist generated or obtained through Creative Commons or public domain.  Again, lots of embroidered embellishments and tuck spots for journaling cards and ephemera.

A Woman Should…

Inside front cover

Journal number three measures 5 1/4 by 8 1/4 inches with a 1 inch spine.  It has two signatures and 124 pages.  The cover is recycled upholstery fabric and the closure is a Tim Holtz knob with an elastic hairband closure.

Inside back cover

The fly sheets are scrapbook paper and the interior has the same coffee dyed paper mixed with recycled graph, ledger and notebook paper along with some very old pin feed paper (we never throw anything out, even in obsolescence.  The theme of this journal is based on the poem, A Woman Should by Pamela Redmond Satran which is quoted in it’s entirety.


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