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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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Monthly Review: Making Handmade Books

Last week I showed you some ways to use up your leftover wrapping paper from Christmas, including how to make a boring notebook look a little more interesting by covering it with paper. It got me thinking about how over the years I’ve liked to create my own books and folders to suit my needs (in fact I’ve only just recycled the planner I constructed two years ago; I made it to suit everything I needed, including a to-do section,a shopping list section,a notes section,an emergency contacts section,a day-by-day plan section, and even an inspiration section for when I was low and in need of focus). As someone who loves to work things out and create my own patterns (it’s the asperger’s in me! I love to construct/deconstruct things!) I’ve spent many hours working out measurements for folders,books and boxes. However, sometimes a little inspiration is useful in creating new designs, and for those who aren’t sure where to begin it’s good to have some step-by-step instructions along with lots of visuals. In my second year of university we had an exceptionally brief workshop on bookmaking, which actually set me off on the joy of creating my own books and folders. In the workshop a book was recommended and that’s the book I’ll be reviewing today: Making Handmade Books, by Alisa Golden.

Full title: Making Handmade Books 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms

Author: Alisa Golden

Price: £9 – £20

Where to buy: Waterstones, BookDepository, Amazon, Ebay

Brief description: Step-by-step instructions along with a generous helping of visuals showing you how to create many different books, wallets, folders and more.

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The Good

For me the best feature of this book is the use of images. I benefit greatly from being shown visually what to do in addition to just being told/given written instructions so this book is great for both text-based learners as well as more visual learners. However, not every single step is shown, just ones that the author deems most in need of extra explanation.

The second thing I like about this book is the layout. Each project is divided clearly, with a bold title for each. Each step is also clearly numbered and diagrams are labelled. I feel this approach is very useful for those who struggle to follow instructions, as it allows you to break your project up into smaller bits, allowing you to focus on one step at a time.

Another thing I like about this book is that you get more than you may have initially expected. You learn not only how to construct some interesting books/folders etc but you also find yourself discovering some unique artists. As someone who enjoys learning, I read the ‘Artist’s Bio’s’ section with curiosity. I feel this would also be useful for art and design students who may wish to research the artists further.

Continuing with the topic of ‘extras’ this book is full of them! In addition to the bio’s the book also includes several pages dedicated to ‘Ideas & Concepts’, complete with inspiring images and stories of interesting collaborations.

The not-so-good

Whilst the book provides lots of information and numbered steps to guide you through each stage of your project, some designs are particularly difficult. The majority would be too complex for children, which is why I feel this book is aimed at adults and older teenagers. This is a foray into the world of serious bookmaking as an art form, rather than a weekend project to occupy children. I admit that some of the designs put me off as it was evident that a lot of time and concentration would be needed and the diagrams themselves were very complex (for example the ‘Tetra-Tetra Flexagon’).

The only other potentially negative point is the need for specific tools for some of the projects. For example, linen tape, awl, certain boards.

Conclusion

Personally, I would recommend this book to anyone who has a serious interest in bookmaking. I think it’s best suited to adults and older teenagers, particularly those on design courses or who have a love for making and creativity. I find myself revisiting this book on regular occasions and for myself it has been worth every penny. The price is reasonable and it can be found easily.

 

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An alternative Easter

Welcome to your guide to an alternative Easter! Whatever your beliefs, I personally see this time of year as an opportunity to celebrate the world coming ‘back to life’ and being thankful for the beauty emerging once more. As someone with an interest in nature and preservation, I like to express this in the gifts I give to my loved ones. I recently read a quote by Maya Angelou: ‘Be the rainbow in someone else’s cloud’, because ultimately what’s the point of life if don’t experience happiness? This Easter, be that rainbow.

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Hannah Marchant Illustrates: Whilst it’s lovely to receive a card I’m always aware of the waste involved, so this year I snatched up this quirky card to give to my family. What I love about Hannah’s cards is the fact that once the card has been displayed and enjoyed, it can then be planted! Her cards are infused with wild flower seeds, making this a gift in itself.

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Gifts By Little Miss: This etsy shop is full of Easter-themed smellies. I loved the quirkiness of this bath fizzer, which is made with animal-free ingredients, and not tested on animals. Supporting small business? Check. Kind to animals? Check.

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ajsweetsoap offers: ‘Fun Food Soap and Decadent Dessert Vegan Soap Treats’ such as these ‘chocolate’ eggs. A fun and animal-friendly gift, with the personal hand-crafted touch.

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Michelle Holmes Embroidery is a whimsical Folksy shop offering unique items such as this spring-inspired bag. A sweet depiction of the season, with flowers everywhere and a cute little bird perched at the top. Made from organic unbleached cotton.

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RecycledWordsArt – anything that has both ‘recycled’ and ‘art’ in its name gets my vote! This Duck Chick card would really pack a punch as a unique Easter card thanks to its striking colours. Better yet, it’s printed on 100% recycled card!

 

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As well as starting a new pen and ink piece (sneak peek coming soon!) I’ve been busy trying out paper making, which I mentioned a few posts ago (read here). It proved to be a much messier task I’d imagined, but a great way to create something beautiful out of scrap paper, card and tissue.

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I’ve also been working on the mentioned mini album, which I’ll be posting a tutorial for in the coming months to show you how to make your own.

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nextweekThe next instalment of my Vegan recipe ideas, this time with an Easter twist!

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