Weekend Frenzy

I said I’d focus on making books this weekend, and I kept my promise: today I delivered 11 new books to nathalie-roze & co., who seemed pleased with the new stash. Here’s what it looked like:


It may not seem like much, but considering it takes about two hours to make each book, there are many hours invested in this pile… I was sewing these books together until about 2 a.m. while watching a movie with B last night. By the end, I couldn’t even see straight…

Despite my moaning about being exhausted all the time, I really am thrilled about all the attention my handmade books have been getting recently; if I didn’t enjoy making the books and teaching the workshops, I certainly wouldn’t be doing it. I just need to give my body the time to adjust to the new schedule and workload, and knowing my body, it could take a month or more…

I’m a voracious reader, and lately I haven’t had as much as I’d like to devote to my reading. I’m one of those people who can’t just read one book at a time; I usually have a few on the go simultanously, each kept in a separate location and with a distinct purpose. I have the bedside book, which is normally a light and easy read because I’m too tired to concentrate on anything remotely complicated (The Pact by Jodi Picoult). Then there’s the book for commuting, which tends to be a little more complex (The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger). And finally there’s the weekend book, usually fine literature, one I can really sink my teeth into because I’m not too tired/busy doing anything else at that moment (Stanley Park by Timothy Taylor). Let’s just say the latter one has been put on the back burner for a while…

Stay tuned – I’ll be announcing some new workshops soon…


I’m (Kinda) Famous!

If you live in Toronto (or anywhere in Canada with a good newsstand), pick up today’s copy of the Toronto Star. Take out the Shopping section (discard the rest if you so desire), and flip to page 6. This is what you’ll find:


Yeah, those are my LP books in the bottom left corner. How cool is that?!! (Unfortunately this article doesn’t seem to be on the online version of the Star, hence the bad photo).

I received an email from nathalie-roze & co earlier this week about a columnist for the Star possibly mentioning my books in one of her articles for Earth Day. I really didn’t want to get my hopes up too high, in case it didn’t happen.

When I rushed out to buy the paper this morning and found the article, I was flabbergasted – never did I expect my books to be so prominently displayed! Wow!

nathalie-roze is anticipating an increased demand in my books as a result of this amazing (free) exposure, so I’ve set aside today and part of tomorrow to produce, produce, produce!

Reminiscing About Stan and Schooners…

I mentioned earlier that my new job has taken the wind out of me – not only am I adjusting to a different routine than what I’d become used to, but my schedule is pretty crazy – aside from one out-of-town event I worked at on Monday, I have four more events between now and May 7, three of which are out-of-town… I love the job, but it’s completely drained me already! Hopefully things will slow down a bit in a few weeks…

All this means I haven’t had the energy to produce much this past week. I did manage to make two LP books, with plans to make more when I’m not as exhausted (I don’t like playing with sharp knives when I’m tired).

Yesterday I hit the mother lode when I visited my local thrift shop – I found several LPs of each of the Beatles, The Who, Led Zeppelin, and David Bowie! I couldn’t believe my luck – I’ll now have lots to choose from for my next LP books…

But best of all, I found a Stan Rogers CD! Here’s the folk-lovin’ Maritimer in me coming out! This particular CD contains Forty-Five Years, one of my favourite Stan Rogers songs. Incredible to think he was just 23 years old when he wrote it… For those who don’t know Stan Rogers, he was a folk singer from Ontario who lived in Nova Scotia for many years. His most famous song (one every Maritimer knows by heart) is Barrett’s Privateers – go to any Irish pub in Canada and you’re sure to hear it! Unfortunately Stan died at the ripe old age of 33 when the plane he was travelling on caught on fire in 1983. The smoke was so thick that no one could find their way out, so he used his booming voice to help direct passengers off the plane. He later died of smoke inhalation.

If you go to this website and click on the large red “iStan music player” icon, you can actually listen to a few of his songs, including Forty-Five Years. Be sure to listen to Northwest Passage while you’re there…

In all honesty, I must admit that until 10 years ago, I had no clue who Stan Rogers was. You see, I grew up in a part of New Brunswick that doesn’t much listen to traditional Celtic/Maritime music. Growing up on the U.S. border, we were mostly influenced by American pop culture. I got to know Stan’s music in 1997 when I had the most awesome summer job travelling across Eastern Canada with the beautiful schooner Bluenose II (the same ship that’s on our dime). I spent an entire summer travelling with sailors from Nova Scotia, so I couldn’t help but become immersed in Stan’s music (and Maritime music in general). Good times gone by much too quickly…

Back to Reality…

Well this week was my first back to work at a real job with a real office in over a year…a slightly bittersweet experience. I think I’m going to really enjoy the people I work with, as well as the actual work itself. It’s just been a challenge getting back into a normal routine (especially mornings – ugh) and dealing with Toronto’s subway system during its peak hours. However despite the challenges, it’s turning out to be a positive experience overall.

I’ve been too tired to really think about crafting in the evenings…my body is still reeling from the shock of having to get up early. But I’m sure I’ll get back into the swing of things soon enough. This morning I gave another class at Urban Scrapyard, and although it was a bit long, the class participants seemed very happy with their new ribbon-hinged albums. This particular project has definitely taken on a life of its own; when I developed it as a potential workshop idea, I never thought it would prove to be so popular! Very flattering indeed…

Speaking of flattery, Urban Scrapyard was mentioned in today’s Toronto Star as an Editor’s Pick! Yay for them! They definitely deserve all the recognition they get; they really make an effort to be different and innovative when it comes to scrapbooking, and have certainly achieved that with their store and class selections. Who knows, they might even get ME scrapbooking one of these days!

I’m planning on working on a few LP journals tonight; if I prepare the covers and pages in advance, I can bind them on the train tomorrow afternoon when I travel to London (Ontario – not England, alas) for a work event. Gotta learn to make the most of what little time I have left for craftiness!

Is It Really Spring?

I know I’m not the only one complaining about being sick of the neverending cold snap we’ve been having. My only consolation is that the rest of Canada and many parts of the U.S. are suffering just as much…share the misery, I say!

The weather has been a great incentive to stay inside, drink hot tea and play with paper. I made about a dozen books and a few boxes last week, which all went to nathalie-roze & co to sell in her boutique. Aside from the stack of record books and boxes mentioned in one of my last posts, I made these three journals from pages of old books:

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I made one of them with LPs, and I love how it turned out. I thought the LPs might be too heavy as covers, but they’re just fine. This is a great way for me to recuperate the LPs I’ve broken while trying to make the record journals.

I spent all day Friday preparing for a workshop I was teaching the next day at Urban Scrapyard. The project was the accordion box as seen in previous posts. It’s a really great project, but has required so much doing and redoing and tweaking to get it just right. And THEN I had to prepare the class notes; this project was a real bugger to try to put down on paper. Some of the instructions were very difficult to describe in words, and I really struggled. My anal retentiveness and leanings toward OCD certainly didn’t help! To help me through these hard times, I listened to archived podcasts of This American Life while working. Five hours of This American Life. Yup. I should send Ira Glass a personal thank you note for helping me maintain my sanity. Or not.

Anyway, with a combination of written instructions and detailed diagrams, I think I finally got it right. During Saturday’s class, I was extremely happy to notice that most of the students just followed their notes without any problems, so I guess the instructions were useful. They were thrilled with the finished project, and a few of them said they’d be rushing over to the art supply store to buy chipboard for more accordion boxes. Yay – what a reward after everything this project has put me through!

Here’s the accordion box I made during that class – for some reason I just couldn’t get the angle or the lighting or the colours right, but you get the idea.


With this workshop done, I finally had some time to work on some new personal projects. I’ve been wanting to make a prong fastener notebook, inspired by the one in Donna Downey‘s book Decorative Journals. Oh my – I see Chapters/Indigo has 24% off on her books. It looks like I may now have to order the other books in her collection!

Anyway, back to the notebook:

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The pocket on the left is made from large paint chips. I love the removable pages, and I have another idea I want to explore with this book structure. As well as several more ideas for new books. More on that later…

I have lots to do today; must get a haircut and go shopping for some office attire for tomorrow’s start at the new job. Yay!

Happy Happy Joy Joy

This whole weekend has flown by – I’m in a bit of a panic because there’s so much to do before I start my new job in a week. Yikes!

Friday night I attended Urban Scrapyard‘s first anniversary VIP reception, where I taught a make & take project for the attendees. These ladies were so much fun – they really know how to have a good time! I’m glad to note that I seem to have converted a few of the hard-core scrapbookers to the dark side of bookbinding! Several mentioned that they were surprised at how easy it was to make the project, as it seemed very complicated to them. Others asked me about my workshops, so I’m hoping to have inspired a few new people to join them… At the end of the evening, the Scrapyard ladies, Angela and Rozanne, gave out individual awards to EACH and EVERY person there – talk about dedication to their loyal customers! As their new resident bookbinder, I received “Urban Scrapyard’s Tightest Bindings Award”, which came as a complete surprise to me! If only they knew how much I appreciate them as well…

I’ve been hard at work making stuff for the past two days -I’m exhausted, but in a really good way. Yesterday I spend several hours preparing six record books (cutting and filing records, folding papers, piercing holes, preparing thread, etc.), and sewed three of them before bed. There’s a variety of music for all tastes: Bay City Rollers, Simon & Garfunkel, Sesame Street, Bee Gees, Luba, and even Frank Zappa!


This morning I sewed the remaining three books while watching one of my all-time favourite movies, The Sound of Music… in French. Since moving to the GTA a little over a year ago, for the first time in my life I don’t speak French on a daily basis. It often feels like every language but French is spoken in Toronto, so I have no one to chat with in my native tongue. I normally would not have watched La mélodie du bonheur (the movie title in French), as I usually prefer to watch a movie in its original language, but I actually quite enjoyed it. It was a nice change, although hearing the songs other than in English was a bit strange…

This afternoon and evening I produced three accordion boxes – these require a great deal of precision and focus, but if done right, are functional AND gorgeous:

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Don’t you love when you visualize a project in your head, but the final result is so much better than you could have hoped? That’s exactly how I feel about these boxes…

Thankfully I had chocolate-covered ginger to sustain my energy level! Maybe too much so – I somehow managed to get some glue in my hair, although I have no idea how that happened… Some days I feel like I’m in the first grade all over again, except I don’t eat the glue (anymore).

All in all, a great day with lots done. Hopefully tomorrow will be just as productive and exciting! Off to relax a bit and enjoy the Juno Awards before heading to bed – I’m cheering for my buddy Jim Cuddy to get an award. Go Jim!