Finding Comfort in the Binds of Books

A book is a dream you hold in your hands.  -Neil Gaiman

Inspirations come and go. So do likes, loves, and passions. My favorite color changes every day.

But I have always loved books. To read them, to write them, sure, but also just to look at. I admire their binds, pull away their sleeves to see the secret cover beneath, slip photographs and flowers between their pages.

Books are paper sculptures painted with ink and ideas.

And I don’t think they will ever go away. Even in today’s digital world, in which we can download a book in seconds, there’s nothing like the analogue. As we head deeper into screens and flashing lights, printed things become something to be admired. We become grateful for their simplicity. We remember why we have always loved them.

Last night, after spending an entire day sewing binds and covers for my most recent little handmade books, I made a short list of what my handmade books might mean. Because to me they’re not books. They’re fine art pieces (I mean this humbly and literally). I wish I could find a way to display them on a gallery wall.

So why am I making them? I’m still not entirely sure. A few of my bullets suggested that I make them because I want to express everything I’ve said in this blog post so far. Other bullets suggest I simply love the hands-on approach to the craft. The final notion was that I just…love books.

Whatever the reason, I’m inspired to continue down the rabbit hole that is bookbinding, and I feel like a piece of me is in each one of their little binds. I am closer to them than my wall paintings. I hate seeing them go when they sell. I wrap them in little packages and send them off to their new homes and hope they will be taken care of.

And I don’t print them. Somehow that makes them even more special.

My latest book, “Rooted,” contains seven original intuitive watercolor paintings that depict trees and their roots. For me this piece has special meaning, but I’d like to keep it to myself, so that those who open it can gather their own perspectives. Made of Khadi cotton paper, it was folded zine-style, then later sewn into its cover. Like the others, this one will not be printed. And, like the others, it is one-of-a-kind.

Click here to see Rooted on my Etsy shop.

Click here to see all of my little books that are still for sale.

I’m currently working on finishing up my winter themed book–still no title–a personal watercolor journal, and a mini blank watercolor journal for those who’d like to paint their own book. So keep a lookout on my Etsy as some of these will be appearing there soon.

Until next time…I hope your days are quiet, calm, and filled with book smells.

Art Tutorial: Gouache Ghosts

This weekend we had a Halloween bash at the local gallery, where we all gathered for some pumpkin painting, trick or treating, a story of where the Jack ‘o Lantern originates, and I gave a small class on creating gouache ghosts.

I’ve been painting gouache ghosts for over a year now, since I first discovered the wispy, smoky quality of white gouache on a damp black background. In fact, one of my first paintings entered in a show was called The Guide, and was a result of that initial discovery. Continue reading “Art Tutorial: Gouache Ghosts”