17 July 2015

Playing with paper

I love writing. I love the feel of a pen (preferably a decent fountain pen in a colour other than plain blue) on actual paper.

Yes, the keyboard is faster … but there’s something lovely about written words.

And recently, I’ve become enamoured of the idea of … well, it’s not quite scrapbooking, not quite art journalling … I’m sure there’s a word for it, but I’ll just call it Writing With Ephemera: keeping bits and bobs from your life and putting them into the journal book you use, not just words, then, but small objects and images from your life and travels.

Of course, preparation for the upcoming Big Trip come fall is where this all begaIMG_1464n. I have spent a lot of time looking at fabulous images on Google of people’s journals, art journals, upcycled books, and scrapbook pages. I made what I think is an improved version of a travel journal today – more pages, more variety in the pages, room to expand, sewn segments, and a custom binding with room to attach dangling charms and such.

Each section of pages is made by folding paper in half and making a booklet. The booklet is then sewn – on the sewing machine, with really long plain stitches – down the centre fold and voila, a stitched booklet. The spine of the cover has strings that run from top to bottom and each booklet is threaded under a string to hold it in place. (In a lot of books this is done with an elastic, but I had a lot of hemp cord and no elastic, so … cord it is.) I left the string loose enough to slide booklets in and out, and the strings are tied at the bottom with sufficient bits leftover to braid into a bookmark.

IMG_1466Here you can see the variety of papers, some random paper clips and a pocket that’s actually stitched onto the backing page. The front and back covers are made of portfolio covers (for some reason I have boxes of these things here) that have built in pockets for holding stuff. There’s even a little organza bag looped to the spine for holding small treasures.IMG_1467







The cover has a bunch of images of Ireland that I cut out of travel booklets and it’s been IMG_1468pseudo-laminated with packing tape. Not elegant, but lightweight and reasonably sturdy. It’s all held shut with a really neat band I got at Chapters a long time ago and never quite found a use for.

One of the little booklets inside (made from a cut down presentation folder) can be taken out for the day of travelling – it’s got a pocket for things collected during the day and some blank postcard sized pieces of cardstock (something else I seem to have in plenty) for writing notes or gathering signatures / comments from people met during the day and so forth. I’ll also add some plain paper for doing rubbings: I think some of the old monuments and so forth would be really great captured with crayon rubbings. That way you can leave the big book somewhere safe and just carry the little portable folder on your adventures.

I expect I’ll do some more decorating on this before we go on our trip, it’s quite fun to work with!

The other project is what people call a fauxdori – a false Midori Traveller’s Notebook. This design originated with a company in Japan, and I can see why they are so popular. They are flexible: the key feature is the elastic loops that hold various booklets or inserts rather than rings and holes like in many traditional planners. You can purchase (or make) inserts for calendars, or to do lists, or anything you can think of – for me, the idea of having multiple “kinds” of journal spaces all in one (much loved) book really appeals to me. I need to write things down – as I’m so absent minded, I IMG_1470need to make lists and check them often, and as a knitter I often need to jot notes as I am designing or modifying something, and as a writer I just need to write sometimes. But I don’t like to do all of that in one place, because some of the information ends up being good for nothing but starting the next fire (to do lists, for instance, or knitting notes that eventually got transcribed into something that makes sense) and some of it is stuff I want to keep (like my actual journal entries). This way, I can still reach for just one book – but have several sub-books inside it.

The cover I am using is from a lovely leather journal that the Small People got me as a gift. I’ve been writing in it, but not as much as I would like because it was reserved for “the good writing”. I wanted to be able to use it more, and to move to a less linear style of journal writing so I disassembled it (it was intended to be refillable) and made some Midori-style inserts. IMG_1472

Each insert is made from a piece of presentation folder (I told you I have lots of them here) surrounding folded sheets of paper. Rather than stitching each booklet then looping the segments under a cord as I did with the travel journal, these are punched through holes along the spine and threaded directly to the book cover. I have four strings and four segments: three filled with paper, one for more of a catch-all. The leather cover already had holes at these locations along the spine, so I opted to just go with that rather than trying to make an elastic type of system … though I might do that in the future. The strings are firmly attached at the top of the spine and then two strands are tied together (around a bead) at the bottom in a knot that can be unpicked fairly easily when I’m ready to replace that section of paper, so it’s still flexible that way.

IMG_1475 The last section of the book has a small folded piece of pseudo-laminated cardstock that holds sticky notes and is sturdy enough to have things paperclipped to it without wobbling. There’s also a business card / photo holder that I repurposed from my old Seven Habits daytimer, and I created a pen loop by stapling a short piece of elastic to the laminated page. This one is not threaded directly with the string: because it is shorter, it loops under the last strand of string and can be removed … but more importantly, things can be slipped under the string, like the little packet of stamps that’s in there now (you can just see the red and white backing paper peeking out).

I’m working on getting this set up to be my Book of All Things: long ago, I used my Seven Habits Daytimer for that, as I carried it everywhere and kept notes for absolutely everything in the various sections. A full blown daytimer is too much for me these days, though: I need the beeping reminders the phone gives me (without an alarm I may forget to go to an appointment, even if I had remembered earlier that day) so keeping a paper calendar isn’t as helpful as it used to be. BesIMG_1471ides, it’'s way too big.

A small and portable book with the bare minimum for categorization and organization is more my speed right now. This book is nice and manageable: each piece of paper is 1/4 of a regular sheet (which also makes creating booklets for it very easy). I’ve added envelopes and blank cards and sticky notes in assorted places, and I’m transcribing information that I’d like to have handy – phone numbers that I don’t know by heart but would need if I didn’t have my phone for some reason, knitting needle size conversions, prayers I like to read over and over, the mailing addresses I need frequently … all those things are being written onto cards that tuck into the various pockets.

The leather tie that it came with was too short once I got all of this packed inside, so I added a Celtic knotwork button and a long cord with a spoon charm on the end to tie everything closed (and remind me to count my spoons).


I love it.

I’ve had such fun making these books … I think I’ll go look at more pictures on Google and see what other ideas I can find!

09 July 2015

Where we’ll be in October

Watch this – it’s long, and TOTALLY worth it.

Click here: >> https://vimeo.com/69986476

The Reluctant Farmer and I are going on a holiday! For real! Far away! With passports and everything!

05 July 2015

Not all spoons are created equal

This blog post is brilliant. I had to share. 

It can help to think about how spoons are getting used up. For example, spoons are disability region-specific.

We have social spoons and language spoons and physical activity spoons and all sorts of other spoons. 


Depending on our disability and how life is going at the moment, each of our spoon drawers is stocked a little differently. In general, however, most people are going to have more spoons in some areas and less in others.This is why someone who doesn’t have the spoons to go to a movie with their family might have the energy to stay home and build an intricate scale model of Narnia out of popsicle sticks.

There's more. Read. Ponder. 

02 July 2015

Build Your Own Scrap Book

Today’s adventure was reworking some old hardcover books into multi purpose journal and scrap books.

The Reluctant Farmer and I have some travel plans for the fall (more on that later), and I wanted a travel journal that could contain things like ticket stubs and postcards and notes about what we saw and did, something more creative and personalized than a photo book created after the fact … I wanted something that would help me to be mindful *during* the trip, not focused just on “getting a good picture” but on having a good time and enjoying the moments as they come, then taking some time in the evenings to digest and document the adventure.

So I pondered the ideal travel journal.

I decided it needed to be expandable along the spine, because when you start pasting in bits of paper and ephemera, it gets thicker than just plain paper. It needs some pockets for little bits and bobs that you don’t want to glue down, but want to keep with everything else. It needs a good sturdy cover, as it’ll be hauled about. It needs to call to me, to feel like my words and additions to the page are essential to it’s purpose.

I looked at a lot of neat images on Google: try searching for “art journal” or “upcycled book journal”, lots of clever ideas are out there. Then I decided to just get out my materials and see what happened.IMG_1382

I have a big box of assorted papers downstairs, lots of different coloured pages, fancy printer paper, card stock, all kinds of things. I found some old children’s books that have been outgrown at this house and were in fairly sad shape. I dug up some white glue, a paintbrush, some adhesive dot things (which are amazingly cool!), some ribbon, some beads, and some brown paper bags.

Then I got to playing.

I removed the pages from the books, then used white glue and assorted bits of paper to decoupage over the covers, which were quite sorry looking.

IMG_1384As those dried, I folded paper: with a bit of experimentation I found that I could create little ‘booklets’ that would fit inside the book covers, and with a hole punch and ribbon, I could thread them together to make a sort of codex. I intentionally used a variety of paper sizes, weights, and styles so that the book encourages “non-linear composition” … you might make a sort of title page on the little narrow piece, or attach something to the larger portion at the back of a section. Every few pages there’s an envelope glued to the page, to hold assorted little things.

The whole assembly was then put together: one book had the spine removed, so I created a sort of spine from reinforced card stock and covered the entire thing with clear packing tape to both reinforce and protect the paper design. The other book had the spine still, though it needed some Gorilla Tape to reinforce it: I poked holes through the spine and threaded the ribbons through them, using beads to secure the knots on the outside of the book.IMG_1385


I’ve started practicing with the brightly coloured one – I began by writing about the yard redesign I’ve been working on so much this summer. What an enjoyable way to write about things! You don’t feel like you have to tell a story in any particular order, you can just write things down as they come to you, in whatever direction you feel like writing!

I think I’m really going to enjoy this. What a fun project!