Doodle Monday and Questions about Sketchbooks

man 2It’s Doodle Monday! That’s a new thing and will only happen when I have a doodle. This is a man. He has no back story. Give him one if you’d like. I’m really proud of myself for making him smile instead of frown. I must be in a good mood today. Also, I stopped drawing because I have the worst trouble with necks and shoulders, so he kind of just peters out. Maybe I’ll manage to conquer that in the next ten years.

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Captain Confidence gets a notebook!

In order to thank Captain Confidence for being so encouraging, I decided to make him a notebook. That and he asked. I thought long and hard about what kind of binding to do. I wanted one that would hold together and where the signatures wouldn’t flop around all loose and flimsy. I opted for binding the signatures directly to the spine. I believe the usual designs for it are long stitches, daisy chains, and cross stitching. After several prototypes (at least 5), I had designed a stitch pattern that I liked. It took me a couple of run-throughs until I actually stitched it correctly, though!

C 3The colors were another matter altogether. Someone suggested blue, but I didn’t like any of the blue I had. I thought of gray since that’s his favorite color, but the gray was rather icky. I opted to use Aresenal’s colors since that is his favorite soccer team. However, white in large amounts is blinding and dirties easily. I switched white out for black and used white thread instead. I don’t know if he noticed, but it was all intentional!

On one of my sleepless nights, I decided to make a clamshell box too because I was bored. That took ages. I hadn’t made one in several months and forgot how tedious it could be, even more so because it was small. Then it was Sunday, and I couldn’t mail it out. It sat on my table taunting me. It kept screaming, “I’m not done! Something is missing. Figure it out or I’ll sit here on your table forever and you’ll starve because you can’t eat.” I’d walk by the book several times, thinking, always thinking. While watching an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles a bell went off—a pocket! I like origami and thought an origami envelope/pocket would be great, but all of the origami envelopes I knew of would involve unfolding completely. Instead, I made a portfolio type pocket and stepped back and smiled. It was finally finished.

C pocket side                 IMG_2849 - Copy

He promised to test-drive it for me so I know how it holds up. I hope it holds up well! Last thing anyone wants to hear is that the stitches came loose or the glue isn’t holding the cover together anymore. Now, who wants a notebook? I feel like making another one.

P.S. It’s 6×9. The spine is 6 inches. Don’t do that. It makes the signatures hard to work with when sewing it together. Flip it around so the spine is 9 inches. You’ll thank yourself later.

P.P.S. I tried to turn the background of my pictures white, but there was no easy way to do it. So the lines on the book don’t look straight, but I promise they were pristine edges all around!

C 2

Captain Confidence to the rescue!

Who's Captain Confidence_Captain Confidence is a friend of mine. He’s kind of a super hero to my writing and my life in general. He makes me feel like I can do anything I want and be successful at it. I’ve never told him this, so it might come as a surprise when he reads this. I have other people in my life that encourage me to follow my dreams, but Captain Confidence makes me want to do it even more.

I told him the other day that I wanted to do a bookbinding certificate in Colorado. It would take 4-5 years to complete and cost money, of course. His response was: “Why don’t you? How can you resist Colorado? Now you just have to fund it.” or something along those lines. That’s when it clicked. Why can’t I? It’s not as if the certificate would force me to move to Colorado. It only takes a few weeks a year, at most two weeks at a time. That’s not bad. That’s not bad at all. Captain Confidence is right, I have another draw to Colorado—Gandalf. Gandalf is the same friend who insisted I name the design Eowyn. She, and it is a she, also insists I call her Gandalf. When I asked what she wanted to be called, she said I should already know and then added “Fool of a Took” for good measure I suppose.

Anyway, Gandalf said she’d visit me when I made trips over there. Her fiancé is a pilot and can fly them to Telluride whenever they want (within reason). Should I follow Captain Confidence’s advice and do the certificate? To be perfectly honest, the idea of working with my hands is appealing. I’d love nothing more than to make my living writing and making books. I’ve said that before, haven’t I? While I can keep writing on my own and improving through rewriting, I think bookbinding classes would help me with my binding skills. There are only so many things I can teach myself. Eventually, you need a teacher to give you tips and tricks that only years of experience in the field can provide. The good thing about this certificate is that I can still have a regular job. I can take the classes around work and have time for everything else! Or is that too optimistic? Eh, I prefer to indulge optimism.

So thank you, Captain Confidence, for being the kick in the butt that I need. You don’t know how supportive you actually are. Keep up the good work spreading confidence to the world!

Japanese Stab Binding: Eowyn

I’ve been MIA. I have been busy. As the days ticked by, the guiltier I felt about neglecting my blog. But I’m back! I should have more time now that the holidays have settled down, and my parents have officially moved into their new home. So to start off this new year, I decided to show you another Japanese stab binding. This is one I designed myself and through much deliberation (more necessary), I have decided to call it Eowyn. My friend suggested it after trying to convince me it should be Galadriel. Have you noticed something? They’re all characters from Lord of the Rings! She and I love LOTR, even more so after we saw LOTR: The Musical several years ago. Yes, there is a musical. And yes, it was spectacular, but that’s for a different post.

My friend told me this reminded her of something you’d find in Rohan, which is how we came up with Eowyn. Maybe I’ll change it. Maybe I won’t. Eowyn uses 24 holes. I made this particular book for my uncle, who was gracious enough to spend a week helping my parents move. He’s a fantastic uncle to me and an awesome brother to my mom, so I thought, “Oh book!” He tells me he’ll love anything I make. Translation: I won’t answer any of your questions and it’s all up to you. Ugh. Some direction is nice, uncle. We’ll see if he really will love anything I make!IMG_2793

The evolution of his notebook was insane. I got through 95% of the stitching when I ran out of thread. I unthreaded it and noticed the clips had indented the paper. I covered that up with some nice looking tape to make a design. I remade the covers using a thin piece of cardboard because the paper was too flimsy. But then that was too thick so I undid the stitching again. Anyway, after finally getting the cover the right thickness (which also involved a gap where it bends on the front of cover), I sewed it. I said to my brother, “This is it. This is the last time I’ll have to sew it.”

Three stitches to the end, my jaw dropped in horror. There it was. A glaring mistake. I had stitched my third stitch the wrong direction. So I unsewed it and began again.

The horror story ends there, though. That last time was the charm! I think it was time 10? What do you think of Eowyn? Any other name suggestions?

Coptic Stitching My Way to My Friends’ Hearts

I met two lovely ladies in my previous job (both named Lisa!), who became such good friends that I found myself quickly spilling the beans on things I would normally not tell someone I’ve only known for two weeks. It wasn’t long before we got in the habit of having weekly lunches or dinners, where, I am almost positive, I monopolize the conversation. For that, I do apologize, but I can’t seem to help it. I get near them and then everything from the past week tumbles out of my mouth quicker than you can say, “Gobbledygook.” That’s also probably what it sounds like to the untrained ear. So when it came to their birthdays this year, I wanted to make something for them that they could use. I ended up not allotting enough time to do exactly what I wanted, but they did end up getting books from me filled with blank pages. I don’t know if they use them, but they seemed to like them well enough, which is all I can ask.


As the title suggests, this is coptic stitch. When a book is bound in this style, it lies open flat, which is convenient when taking notes. My issue with this style (even though it’s one of my absolute favorites to do) is that I have trouble make the stitches tight enough. The book ends up being more wobbly than I’d like, but I suppose I’ll eventually get the hang of it. I added a long-stitch in their books so I could tie the pieces of thread together into a pretty knot, making things more interesting! What I love about the coptic stitch is the exposed spine. Of course that does make it less durable, but if you treat it with care, it’ll last!

Once again I was up all night working on these because I started too late. To be perfectly honest, though, I love being awake working when most of the rest of the world is asleep. I turn on my music, thread my needle, and sew. Have I mentioned that sewing books is therapeutic and mind-numbing for me?

Do you like this binding? Or do you prefer the Japanese stab-binding?

It’s a book. And I made it all by myself.

Japanese stab binding-5 holes

Japanese stab binding-5 holes

It’s a new kind of post this week. I don’t have a book review ready and the writing posts are surely getting boring, so here’s something different—bookbinding!

I want to start this by saying I am not a professional bookbinder by any means, and this is not a tutorial. I only just started dabbling in it in April because my friend was having a horrible week so I wanted to surprise her. It was supposed to be something small but then the synapses in my brain fired at lightning speed until I ended up with several sheets of paper that needing binding. A notebook just wouldn’t do. It had to be more personal and clever. And that’s why, dears, I ended up with this.


A look at the inside. Bad quality picture. Sorry.

Here it is for your perusal—traditional Japanese stab binding. It’s also the traditional method for China and Korea. It usually has four holes, but I went with five. You punch holes through the papers and then sew around the edges and spine as you can see. As I said, I’m not an expert. I don’t know much except that this started me on a craze of stay-up-all-night-despite-being-busy-the-next-day just so I could bind some more books in different ways.

Bookbinding is kind of like origami for me. My brain slips into the steps, one after another until the rhythm blocks all stress and negative thoughts. In other words, I don’t think about anything else, but how to do the binding. I haven’t bound anything in weeks, but I’m thinking it’s time to start again. NaReWriMo is making my Stress ‘o’ Meter skyrocket!

What do you think of my first ever handbound book? I’m going to take a stab (Get it?) and say you’ve seen better. But I love it anyway.