Friday, May 27, 2011

More Little Books...

I've plodded along, making my little books for our swap at Lenna's Creative Swaps site. You can see some little treasures she's already received at that site, some as small as 1" square! At last I'm calling my books done and preparing to mail the three of them in plenty of time for our mid-June deadline. "The Book of Birds" was already shown here. And there's one more I'll post in a few days. This has been such a pleasure, and I've learned a lot. For one thing, I've learned how much fun it is to sew paper! It's inexplicable why I like it so much... and yet I find it absorbing, relaxing, and creative. And for another, I know I'm a book lover, but had no idea how much enjoyment there is in actually making books like these.

The book shown here is titled "In The Pink", and I made it by piecing fabric-paper scraps into a portfolio-style cover. The pages inside are made from watercolor background papers I painted, stamped, spritzed... all manner of color applications. It measures 4" x 5" and has a few images and trims inside, along with space for its new owner to do some journaling. There isn't a whole lot of room along the spine, but just enough to add some sassy fabric scraps, below.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sort of Looks Like a Quilt...

But it's paper. Our small sewing and craft group had a cardmaking workshop last week. What fun. There were scraps and bits all over the place. But we managed to make some cute cards. The patchwork heart card shown above was a kit made up by quilting and cardmaking friend, Prue. She made all the elements. I simply had to arrange and glue them in place. She even provided a template for the heart so I can make more of these. Pretty! I like the pen-stitching she did on this one.

And here's an assortment of other cards we made. This was our practice session. We'd like to get familiar enough with cardmaking materials and techniques that we can participate in Operation Write Home. This organization gathers handmade cards and provides them to deployed military men and women in order to encourage them to keep in touch with home. Based on the work everyone did last week, I think we're up for it.

Paper scraps may be worse the fabric ones... they multiply, and we found it difficult to throw anything away! We'll have more to show sometime soon.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Little Sewing Project...

This book cover is a combination of a need (a roomier cover for my e-reader) and a want (to make something with all the colorful selvages I've collected and been given). So one afternoon I spent an hour sorting through the selvages and grouping them roughly in color families. Gotta' love those selvages!

The green group got my attention for a first project, so that's where I began, and this bag took shape. It's a hybrid of various bag designs I've made before, so there's no real pattern. The fluffy flower adornment was made using a pattern from Blooming Possibilities by Abbey Lane Quilts. I just love those flowers. Eventually I think two of them are going to wind up decorating a pair of flip-flops. But that's for another day.

I'm liking my Nook e-reader that will live in this bag, and have the color version in case quilting magazines become available in that format. I'm especially hoping the Somerset Sew and other Stampington publications will be available. There was an interesting discussion in an online group about the pros and cons of e-readers, and the impact they are having and will have on print media. I like the advantage of not stockpiling hard cover copies fiction books that I've purchased by am unlikely to read again. But I'm hanging onto my (many) quilting books. I just love the physical feel of them in my hands, leafing through them for ideas and instruction. I can linger over a beautiful photo without the image fading in front of my eyes, as it might with the color e-reader, because I lingered too long. So my take is that hard copies of books will co-exist with e-readers for some time.

Well there are bags of selvages waiting, along with little books and cardmaking to be done. So I'm off...

Monday, May 9, 2011

At the Quilt Show...

The Tree City Guild in Gainesville, FL, always puts on a great quilt show, and last weekend's was no exception. The theme for this year's biennial show was patriotic, and the quilts shown above greeted show-goers at the entrance. One thing I particularly enjoy at their show is the small vignettes set up around the exhibit area. Here's one I thought was especially nostalgic. And another is shown at the end of this post.

I'll show one of my Quilts of Valor donation quilts here because it goes with the patriotic theme. Quilts of Valor Foundation is such a worthy cause because the quilts (and they are not limited to red/white/blue color schemes), are distributed through VA hospitals to service men and women who have been touched by war. I've completed several, and have another one in the works. My quilting friend Claudia of Quiltworks Orange Springs donates her longarm quilting on these charitable quilts. You can see a gallery of several she's completed on her site. The red star blocks in my quilt were made as part of a guild exchange, so I really only had to make the alternate blocks and the border.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Becoming Bookish...

It's not enough that I save every scrap of fabric for a "someday" use. Now I'm saving paper, too. That's because I love books. Not just books from the store or library to read (which I do love), but books that are handmade and full of arty and stitched bits. Along that line, I signed up for a Little Book Swap at Creative Lenna's Creative Swaps site. There are 60 participants, and each of us will complete two to four little books to swap by mid-June. You can see some of the finished books she's received already on her site. I'm still working on mine.

"The Book of Birds" shown above and here, is my first swap book. It measures just 4" square. It began as a single large sheet of paper, but by folding and a bit of slicing, it becomes this sturdy little book that even has a few pockets. I'm not sure what's going in the pockets yet. It was just such fun to go through my papers, inks, buttons, trims, and stamps to come up with the design elements for this book.

The state of the sewing room attests to the wide array of bits and pieces needed to make these little treasures. I joked to Lenna that one reason why I like to work on the floor is so the piles of "stuff" won't have far to fall. Because the papers and ribbons and bits are piled so high, they are surely going to fall! More than once.

What is it about making books that is so appealing? One reason is that I've been a book lover all my life. For another, the combination of paper and fiber makes a satisfying visual and tactile experience when paging through a handmade book. Maybe that's why I have doubts that my e-reader, while convenient at times, will ever replace physically handling a book. A recent newspaper article on home decor posed this question: what is the future of bookshelves in homes? hmmm... Perhaps the advance of print technology gives impetus to the urge to create handmade books. Here's a view inside The Book of Birds.

As always, when learning a new skill, I find there is more to everything than first meets the eye. There's a new vocabulary... words like signature, header, spine, pamphlet stitch, coptic stitch. There's a whole new set of materials to become acquainted with... linen bookbinding thread, flexible glue. And the variety of books to be made is another whole story. They can range from simple accordian or concertina folded books, to fancy stitched volumes. I'm enjoying poring over library books on the topic, and searching the internet for videos and photos of handmade books. Very inspiring!

You may remember that I tried my hand at this book business in the past year. There was The Book of Santa I made for a Christmas gift. And this folded paper "Dreams" book is one I made nearly a year ago. I said at the time that I thought I had a book in me. Looks like I have more than one! The second swap book is underway and the clock is ticking. Of course I realize this is to be simple, not my life's work. But it is hard to stop embellishing! I'll keep you posted.