My Bookbinding Journey

My journey to learn bookbinding was a long one! It took me years to finally learn it! I wanted to share this story with you today because I was thinking about this beautiful blanket my grandma gifted to me a couple of years ago. It is a quilted blanket with scraps from all the journals I had made. It was such a beautiful gift and it filled my heart with so much joy to see the pieces of all the journals I have gotten to make.

I am a life long journaler!! It is a hobby that is very near to my heart because there have been times in my life when it felt like my journal was one of my dearest companions. A safe space where I could keep my secrets, share my feelings, write my prayers, express my thoughts, and tell my stories. Because of this passion for journaling I wanted to learn how to make journals. I enjoyed crafting but was not skilled at any particular craft when I was first looking into making journals. I did not even know where to start. I wasn’t sure what to use for the cover, what paper to use, how to bind the journals, or what tools I needed. I tried many many many different ideas!! It was a messy process!! I’m so thankful for the friends who stuck by me through all the trial and error. It was rough! Below is a picture from college when I was trying to figure out how to make a journal out of this used book. I had seen something on Pinterest about how to get bad smells out of books by putting them in the microwave. Needless to say it was in the microwave for way too long! I grabbed the book out of the microwave and there was a lot of smoke and the pages were burning. We thankfully put it out quickly in the bathroom sink, but it was not my finest moment.

After I graduated college I was still doing research about book binding and various tools that you can use. The whole process was so hard for me to wrap my head around and I didn’t have a lot of resources to pay for materials to experiment with. One night I was about the give up and I found a video on YouTube that made all the difference. All the sudden it made sense and I learned how to do the long stitch. I figured out that I could take apart old books, recover them, and sew in new pages. The video was of a woman in Australia who was making a junk journal out of a cereal box. She took so much of the pressure off by saying to just use what you have in your home, it doesn’t have to be perfect, and make it your own. I felt so empowered!! I didn’t have to have any special tools I could just use what I had and create!! I am forever grateful for that video!!

After I learned this I understood the types of tools I could use for making journals. I went to Walmart and got a sewing awl and went to hobby lobby and got waxed thread and large needles. I experimented with various glues for recovering old books with fabric and just started creating!!

Then I learned about the Coptic stitch. It was finally all coming together!! I bought a large printer and was able to print my own lined pages and planners.

I am so thankful to have made and sold so many journals. I have now expanded to book disc and metal spine binding as well. Once I learned this craft, it seemed to open up a whole new world for me of creativity. I began to have more confidence in my work and allowed myself to explore new crafts!

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from this journey is to not give up!! There were so many ups and downs but I am so thankful that I kept pressing forward!! Bookbinding is one of my greatest joys!! Keep pressing forward and working towards your goals!! You never know what kind of opportunities it will lead to!!

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