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Archive for the ‘making books and albums’ Category


It’s been mighty quiet on this here blog of mine.  Meanwhile, it’s been a blur of designing and cutting and scoring and readying over in this here studio of mine.

Last week left me with the satisfaction of having completed two big work projects.  The first being this wonderful 50 page photo album for my brother-in-law’s 40th birthday.  The second being a small show in which I was a vendor and we can just leave that one for another post, can’t we?  (Yes we can, especially when I’m averaging one post every other week).

Chip’s album was commissioned by Jef’f’s Dad, who supplied me with a comprehensive 75-photo stack to chronicle some of the highlights of Chip’s 40 years on planet Earth.  It was my job to then mat and crop each photo, add captions to some, put it all together in some logical format, bind it all together and exercise good editing all the while.  It felt like a big undertaking with a busy 7 month old alongside me.  But great undertakings allow for great satisfaction once they are completed, don’t they?

I don’t like my albums to be too scrapbook-y.  I think simple is best when making something to hopefully last for years and years to come.  Yet, it is nice to have a little fun with colors and patterns and text.  Just enough to make it special.

I always find that making albums like these for family members is such a rewarding process.  I get to construct a small chronicle of their lives and immerse myself in all the fun and emotion that each photo conjures up.  Chip has been such a big part of our lives that I found much of my family scattered throughout the pages of this book.  It reminded me of just how very rich I am with the love and presence of warm, funny, generous, good people.  A rewarding process, indeed.

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Two-year-olds are a wealth of fantastically funny quips and quirky bits of knowledge and so naturally we parents like to jot down these little jewels when we get a chance.  These baby journals are really the same screw-post albums that I’ve been making over the past year or so.  They’re filled with upcycled ledger sheets (no one needs these anymore at Jeff’s work and so they come home in quantity for me) and old grading books (no one is using these anymore either and mom is a recently retired school teacher) and plenty of pretty papers to boot.  I imagine that along with lists of funny expressions, little photos could be adhered to the decorative papers and little drawings done on the blank pages.  At the end of it all (and there are so many many pages before the end of these albums) lies a darling little keepsake full of all the cute and sweet that begs to be remembered.  These were made for other babes, but with 5 months already logged,  Soren is going to require his own album before too long.  I’ll need to capture every drip of adorable and every drop funny of that springs from the mouth of my own little babe….

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I always go all-out when putting together birthday packages for those I love and I really, really love my friend Jessica.  Jessica is someone who from hundreds of miles away can intuit what I need exactly.  She’s sent me cozy things to wrap me up, books to nourish and support me and encouraging letters that remind me how amazingly loved I am.  All when I needed it most.  So naturally when her 35th birthday rolled around, it was time for a particularly fabulous package.

I usually always try to pass along a good book in a birthday package to Jessica.  She’s one of those friends who doesn’t care a wink if the book is used or worn or if I happened to read it first before sending it (I love that about her!).  So a good summer read got wrapped up right away in tissue and tied with a shiny satin ribbon.  Next I got to work on a special book.  Jessica got a journal of her very own from me last year, but this time around she was wanting a space to record all of her young son’s sayings and doings to remember for years to come.  And finally I came across the perfect necklace for Jessica while perusing Etsy.  It was the color of sea and sky and instantly reminded me of my blue-loving friend.

To make the package really fancy, I let the theme of the album dictate the design of the gift tags and birthday card.  It was just a miraculous coincidence that I had tissue paper and ribbon to match it all up.

A beautiful package shipped off to a beautiful friend who deserves to be so celebrated…

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The birthdays of my chirpy pen pal and my littlest sis are both part of the occasion-filled month of June that keeps me very much on my toes.  Knowing that both women are avid journal-keepers (and knowing that sister Eliza already told me that not only did she want her own strawberry-covered journal, but that everyone else in the world would want their own handmade book too), I set to work.Each book is filled to the brim with a happy combination of paper from old ledgers, grade books of classrooms past, decorative paper, graph paper and good old drawing paper.  It makes for a really delicious variety.  Gridded paper for those left-brained days and blank paper for those right-brained days and enough color and pizazz for hopefully everything in between.

I love that these books flow from whatever is dominating my scrap paper drawer at the moment.  I always seem to have just enough of something to pull an album out of it.  The cover and spine boards were made from postal boxes and are of a thickness that is both sturdy enough to hold up and easy enough to cut and work with.

Each album I make feels so special.  They feel so good in my hands that I always have to hold them for awhile before I’m ready to wrap them up and ship them off.  I admit that there’s a little (okay fine, maybe bigger than that) piece of me that wants to keep each book I make.  All I have to do though, is think about all the beautiful female recipients of my creative album-making endeavors thus far, and I’m instantly ready to let them go.

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IMG_2587This screw-post album-making would have made a nice tutorial, but I didn’t really think of it until after the fact. This is the one shot I took of the cover boards, but it was after I already cut and covered them.  Next time, okay?  It really is a relatively easy project, although it does take some time.  After my big photo album project, I had some leftover book cloth, my bookbinding adhesives were still out and my brush was still wet, so…jessica's album 003I put this album together for my blue-loving friend Jessica.  It’s a book  for her  “journaling, musing, scribbling, sketching and general pondering of the human sort”.  But really, whatever she wants to do with it is just fine with me.  jessica's album 001I filled the book with an assortment of papers.  There is some plain drawing  paper, some blue text weight paper and (my favorite) some graph paper.  I was excited about the combination.  It felt special.jessica's album 004When Jessica opened up her book, she said, “I really need this!”  And I thought, I think we all do.  A special book that invites us to come in, to bare something, unload something, discover something, create something, divine something, explore something, revolutionize something….

Mmm… maybe Heather’s Book will be coming next.

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One of the projects that fits nicely into my card design repertoire is album-making.  Photo albums are big, time intensive projects that when complete, feel especially sweet and rewarding to me.   I recently was hired to make a photo album for a 40th birthday celebration.IMG_2575For my past 4 albums or so, I’ve been starting with a 50 page text block from Paper Source.  If I had to cut and size and bind 50 pages before beginning, I think I would go out of my mind.  So hooray for text blocks!IMG_2576IMG_2579The fun part is picking out the paper for the covers.  I chose this red poppy wrapping paper for this album.  Wrapping paper seems to be just the right thickness for the cover boards. Thicker paper can really put my adhesive to the test and can be a challenge to fold in just right.  Wrapping paper adheres so quickly and easily, you just have to be sure to smooth out any air bubbles  right away.IMG_2582Then I attach the book cloth.  Here is where I have to be extra careful to leave exactly enough room for the spine of the book.  I’ve had trouble with this part before, but it went off without a hitch this time.  IMG_2596I love adding some coordinating ribbon and a cover plate.  At this point the whole assembled thing needs to be pressed.  I still don’t have a book press which is maybe a little bit ridiculous at this point, but between you and me, a stack of dictionaries and coffee table books works just as well.IMG_2600I deliberate for a long time over each page.  How many pictures on each page, how to mat and arrange them, how to work with any text that the client wants included… a single page can take an hour while I hem and haw.IMG_2607 IMG_2605IMG_2609IMG_2611IMG_2612Finishing an album always elicits a big phew! from me.   I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the pressure of creating a possible family heirloom with cherished family photos weighs heavily on me.  But after delving into the intimate photographs that are shared with me and working with them  for some time, I always feel such love for the recepients of the album, whether I know them or not.  It feels really special to be privy to the chronicle of a life and the inner bits and authentic pieces of a family.

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