Sunday, August 21, 2011

Purple Polka Dot Book

For Christmas last year, my husband's grandparents sent money and told me to go shopping. Going shopping with someone else's money is a fun thing to do! I hit JoAnn Fabric, and nothing really grabbed me until I saw an odd bundle. It was a bundle of eight fat eighths (say that five times fast!) that had a theme of basic purple patterns. I had to have it, although I thought it might be difficult to even get one book out of each piece.

The bundle sat on my shelf as I pursued other projects until I got stuck on a book for my sister-in-law. We had just moved, and it was my first book that I would be making without Heather's help. We were about to figure out Coptic stitching for another book when my husband's orders came through sooner than we expected and I had to get us moved in three weeks. So here I sat, with a fantastic book ready to be Coptic stitched, and I had no clue how to do it. I knew that I could teach myself how to do it, thanks to the wonder of the internet, but I wasn't sure I wanted to mess up my nephews' quote book.

"Why don't you make a practice book?" said my husband. (This is why I married him.) So I dug out the purple eighths bundle and grabbed the first fabric on the roll, which happened to be polka dotted. To my surprise, there was enough fabric to make two books. Maybe someday I'll get around to it again. Maybe.

It took two online Coptic stitching tutorials, but I finally learned how to do it. However, once I was done with the book, I had a problem. After we'd moved, I'd gone to Michael's to stock up on bookmaking supplies. But the thread I'd gotten was too thin, which I discovered after I'd made the book. So I took my scissors, carefully cut all the stitching, and started over after buying thicker thread. I was much happier with the end result.

Here it is, my "practice" book:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Guy Books Series: Silver Swirls on Blue

A few months ago, I was contacted to do a book for someone's boyfriend. That deal fell through, but the idea stuck with me. More journals are woman-centered than man-centered. Shouldn't guys have as many options as we do when it comes to chronicling their thoughts?

While shopping at JoAnn's with my husband's cousin, I started keeping an eye out for "guy" fabrics. These proved more elusive than I thought they would be! Fabric that I originally thought would be a good fit because of its color would often have to much "froo-froo" on it and I'd have to start over again. I finally settled on a green batik, a blue with silver swirls, and a faded brown with red overtones.

I decided to start with the blue fabric first. I managed to get five covers out of that fat quarter. Then I had to rethink my strategy for paper. Unlined, colorful paper appeals more to women than it does to men for journaling. But artists love unlined paper, too, so I decided to keep one unlined. I did something new for two of the books and put in lined paper (harder to do than I originally thought!). I consulted with my husband, and he said a good idea would be to try graph paper. It was a pretty normal getting-in-over-my-head moment when I started that part of the project. I finally settled on carefully pulling pages from a graph paper pad and cutting them by hand. I also goofed in gluing the graph paper into one of my covers and had to scrap the book entirely (which made me sad).

But four of the books turned out great, so enjoy all the variety of pictures!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Labor of Love

The one and only half-page book I've ever done was incredibly difficult to do, which is probably why I haven't attempted one since. Not only was the process itself tricky, but I tried to get "creative," which can lead to some interesting things.

This fabric was in the same fat quarters bundle as the fabric I made the Japanese-bound books out of. I love purple, and I love butterflies, so I wanted to do something special with this book. Heather and I went back and forth for a bit on what size to make the book, and I decided to be adventurous and try to make a half-page book. That meant that we had to specifically cut out the larger covers and spine, and the cover guide had to be majorly adjusted. The hardest part about the process was the gluing, because I'm not used to having to spread glue over such a large area. Very tricky!

As I was working with the fabric, inspiration struck. It was one of those times that I really wish it hadn't, because I was forced to complicate things even more since it was such a great idea. I taped the fabric to a window, put a piece of white paper over it, and traced the large butterflies on the fabric. I then took a half-sheet of purple paper, repeated the tracing, carefully cut out the butterflies, and glued it down at the ends of the book. This is the end result, an inverted paper version of the fabric:

Oh, I also used the fat quarters ribbon to make a bookmark for this book. All in all, it was a very ambitious project, but I'm so pleased with the way it turned out. It truly was a labor of love, and I hope this book winds up in a good home.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Japanese-bound Books

These are books that I'm going to have a hard time letting go of. Not only did I learn a new way of stitching in the process of making them, but the fabric itself was such a treasure to discover.

While shopping at Hobby Lobby, we stumbled upon their fat quarters bin. A fat quarters bundle usually consists of five fat quarters, all with the same theme or color with an oddball fabric thrown in. This bundle had purple as the theme, and the oddball was a yellow fabric with pink flowers. I still have no idea what I'm doing with the oddball one. But when I saw the Oriental fabric, I was spellbound. Who on earth would reject such beautiful, rich fabric? And it was purple to boot!

But what to do with such a treasure? I was hesitant to do anything with it, because the entire piece of fabric was so gorgeous. But Heather showed me a book she had made using Japanese stab binding, and I was inspired. We searched online for a technique that would work with the fabric, and, once I'd drilled the holes (thanks, Dad, for teaching me how to keep my drilling steady!), binding the books was fairly simple. The hardest part of the whole process was painstakingly cutting out each portrait with no room for error. I may try to make smaller books out of the remains someday, but that's on my very long to-do list.

Yes, I'm putting in a lot of pictures, but each side has to be seen in all its glory:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fun Little Cat Book

I had a lot of fun making this book (as the title implies)! Heather was looking to get rid of some things, and one of those things was this cat fabric. I love cats! In fact....

My parents' cat, Mittens, who passed away this fall
There's a bird nest by our door that Bel and Hex find fascinating

Let us nap in peace!
Yes, I love cats, and I know plenty of other people that do as well. In fact, Heather's cat, Nebula, supervised the binding of this book (and tried, in vain, to steal the binding thread). I also took a leap of faith and for, the first time, put in colored pages to match the colors of the fabric. Alternating the blue, green, yellow, purple and white pages was a bit of a challenge, but I got it to my satisfaction.

One last picture:

Green Marble Book

This was the first book I made without someone in mind. I made my personal journal, then journals for my mother-in-law and mother, and found myself having a lot of fun making books. Heather and I combed through her bin of wonderful cloth, and a green marble pattern caught my eye. Heather loves blue, green, and any combination thereof, so a lot of my books have that influence or are purple, my favorite color.

It's hard to describe what I had in mind when I was making this book without diving into my gaming. I play a MMORPG called Guild Wars, and I have fallen in love with its world. One culture in GW is the Kurzicks, who are a mix of Japanese Kabuki  and Goth. The Kurzicks live in a petrified forest, carving houses and cathedrals out of trees. Art and religion are very important to the Kurzicks, and that's part of what inspired this book. I can picture a member of House Brauer going out into the Echovald Forest and writing poetry in this book.

 I think I conveyed the outdoor inspiration for this book in the photography, but I'll let you be the judge:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

ABU Books

These books were a lot of fun to make, and I'm fairly pleased with how many (7) I was able to make out of one pair of ABU pants. The whole process started as a request from my neighbor for an ABU book when she found out I was starting up an Etsy shop. "I can do that!" I told her, not knowing how quickly the project would snowball into what it is now.

That week, another one of my husband's ABU pants died. He tends to go through pants faster than blouses because of his job, and, because of my crafty packrat nature, I had saved the last pair of dead pants as well. My heart sank, however, when I started to examine the pants themselves. Not only were there an abundance of pockets (8!), but several places had been reinforced. Now, I want to make one thing clear here-whoever designed the pants for the modern Airman was a genius. However, they did not have crafty wives in mind. ;)

I soon realized that the number of closed spine books I was going to be able to make was limited. But due to my newfound Coptic stitching skill, I could make even more than I had previously imagined. Also, because of the aforementioned reinforcements, there was a good-sized patch of fabric at the knee that never been exposed to the elements.

Cutting the fabric got interesting as I wound my way through the maze of pockets and seams. I realized as I sat down to do it that I didn't have a fabric template, since I always used Heather's when we were at our last base. I quickly made one, and it's now carefully laid on top of my paper supplies. I have a feeling I'm going to use it a lot.

Heather did warn me that because of the stiffness of the ABUs (they are thicker than denim), I might have to stitch the corners shut and use a ton of glue. But, since these pants had been washed at least once a week for three and a half years, they were surprisingly flexible.

I did what I could to assembly-line the covers. I don't have a fancy book press or anything like that, but what I do have are lots of engineering and computer programming textbooks thanks to my husband. They do come in handy, although the cover for the Java one is bizarre at best. Ants... in a dorm room? Not really sure I get that one...

Throughout the whole process, I kept wondering what I was going to do with the remainder of the books. Two were spoken for, with a possible third, but did I just want them to sit on Etsy? I decided to go a different route, and checked with the gracious Ed Morrissey for the end date of the Troopathon 2011 at Hot Air. I've had to scramble to get all the books ready to sell before June 23. So far, no sales have come through Etsy, but my plan is to donate all the proceeds I get (and would have gotten) from these books through the Steamers to care packages for the troops. When my cousin deployed, the care package my parents sent him helped enormously, so I know it's a proven strategy to help morale. (Is that enough military jargon for you? Because it is for me!)

Here's the link to donate directly, and here are pictures of the books!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I know I said that I would blog about a book, but it occurred to me that one of the things people ask me about is where I find my fabric. My answer? All over! I've recycled fabric I've had lying around, I've gone on fabric-shopping sprees, and I've even got a project I'm working to make a book out of a purse. My favorite part of the process of book-making is looking at a piece of fabric and letting my imagination run wild as to what it could be.

My favorite place to go, of course, is JoAnn Fabric. Not only does it have lots of variety in fabric, it has rows of fat quarters. I can make 3-4 books out of a fat quarter, depending on the design of the fabric. Sometimes Hobby Lobby has a good bin of fat quarter bundles too. 

I do love recycling fabrics as well. Right now I have five books listed that I made using just one pair of my husband's ABU pants. As I mentioned above, there's a purse that I picked up at a thrift store that I'm taking apart and trying to figure out how to make a book out of it.

By looking at my books, however, I see that one of the biggest sources of fabric that I used was my friend Heather, who taught me how to make books by hand. She had a bin full of fabric that we loved to just open up and let ourselves dream of all the things we could do. If I hadn't moved to Nebraska and she hadn't moved to Japan, my Etsy shop would probably have two proprietors. ;)


Hello there!

I've decided to make a blog dedicated to the stories behind my books. You also may be wondering what's behind the name, and yes, there's a story to that too!

I come from a military-supporting family, and one of the coolest experiences of my childhood was listening to my great uncle Roy talk about flying a B-24 in the South Pacific in World War II. Several of my other great uncles also served, as well as two of my uncles and my brother. It wasn't too much of a surprise when I married an Airmen whose father served 25 years in the Army National Guard.

After we got married and stationed at Lackland AFB, a friend taught me how to make books and jewelry by hand. The very first book I made I kept as a journal, and I soon found myself surrounded by books I'd made but had no use for. We moved to Offutt AFB, and I kept working on the projects I'd started with my friend to keep my hands busy. Finally, I took the plunge and started up a shop on Etsy. The name of my shop is my attempt to show my love of aviation and my pride at being an Airman's wife. I'm making books for fun, not profit, which is a good thing given my sales so far!

I tried to be descriptive as possible when listing my books, but I had a hard time describing the books without veering off into the story of how I got the fabric or the binding process. A lot of posts at Etsy recommend blogging about your work, and if you know me, you know I love to write!

Now, to figure out what book to write about first...