Creative Goals: Bookbinding

It doesn't matter how amazing the internet gets, I'm always going to love books. Whether they're cheaply mass produced or old and beloved, books are one of those things I can't imagine my life without. I love the sensory experience of books, which is something sadly lacking in computers. Oh, sure, you can feel each identical key under finger pad for a moment as you hurriedly type. But books have a smell, one capable of reminding us of long forgotten events and moments.

I love that covers and pages each have a texture to be subtly explored while your eyes flick over the words. As you read, your fingers absently move over the cover and the pages the book is open to. If the cover is embossed, fingers trace over the raised pattern, sometimes without your notice; subconsciously, you memorise the pattern and the feel of a favourite book. Even years later, you know the feel of the book, and running your fingers along the embossed pattern you remember the feeling of enjoyment that came from the original reading.

Each page of a journal is a promising expanse of white to be filled as you see fit. The tap of keyboard keys doesn't seem to come close to mirroring the beauty of the soft scratch of a pen and the rustling of pages. Books are a community experience, where people can add a piece of themselves at will. I have a book of poety that was given to my Grandmother in 1926. The flowing, beautiful birthday message is a trip back in time, a captured moment of joy and love. Her aunt searched out this book, took the time to write in it her wishes for my Grandmother's life, and sent it to her. My Grandmother treasured that book. Some books have notes and ideas scribbled into the margins, giving future readers insights and potentially, a chance to explore a different opinion than their own. Stumbling across a note included book in a library is like finding a hidden message.

Given how much I love books, it's hardly surprising that one of my 2011 creativity goals is to learn to make my own.

There are some beautiful hand made journals out there (here, for example, are some of the most beautiful I've seen), and while I'd love to buy many of them, they're also deeply inspirational. I'd love to create something even half as beautiful.

My (very) long term goal for book binding is to one day make myself a few books like the Book of Shadows in the movie Practical Magic (you can see what I'm talking about here). Beautiful, isn't it? What it is, at its most basic, is two books as one; a larger section and a smaller, almost hidden one behind it. So far as I can figure, it's just about extending the cover so that it's able to cover the two books easily and making it strong enough not to fall apart. I really love the notion of that book, but definitely not the price of it. I don't want to spend a couple of hundred dollars on a book unless I've made it myself. For me, it's ok to spend a lot on making something, but I feel uncomfortable spending that much on something if I think I can manage it on my own. The examples for sale I've seen are astoundingly beautiful- I possibly will never manage to make it that beautiful, but the idea of trying seems like a good one.

So far, though, my brave and wonderful need to try bookbinding has remained at the research stage. There's a wealth of information and ideas online, so much so that you could spend a lifetime reading the different ways of bookbinding without ever giving it a try.

I don't think I'll try the leather worked covers, but I've been toying with designs for mixed media covers. I love the idea of making sketch books or note books in various sizes; and at the moment I'm very into the idea of creativity based fundraising. I live in Queensland, and while I avoided being flooded, I'm feeling an incredibly strong pull to finding ways to help.

Two of my favourite resources when it comes to crafting are at and Both are free, and if you're thinking of trying your hand at a new skill, they're certainly worth exploring. So far they've given me a wealth of ideas to try.

Celebration of Wellness pre challenge

I've decided to participate in the celebration of wellness challenge over at The Art of Collecting Yourself. If you haven't heard of it, give it a look. It's a nine month challenge to creatively explore the different aspects of wellness: physical, emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual environmental, and occupational.

There was a challenge for Valentine's Day; we were asked to create a Valentine for ourselves. An affirmation of love towards ourselves. I figured, meh, easy. Right? Make myself some cutesy card full of love hearts and adorableness, and be done with it. Scribble in some random 'things I love about me' list, sign it with a flourish, post a photo here. Easy. Done.

Not so done.

I find in life that it's all the simple things, the ones you shrug off as obscenely easy, that knock you on your butt with their difficulty and profound learning experiences. If I think I can breeze through a challenge, it's normally because I'm not aware of something. I tried a few times; walked towards my craft supplies inwardly listing things I could do. But every time, I turned away, and found something else to do. Last year, I read The Art of Extreme Self Care by Cheryl Richardson. It's a good read, and a great book for people who tend to just say yes, putting everyone elses life before their own. One of the activities, though, I could never quite manage. It was a simple activity; every time you saw a mirror, look yourself in the eye and tell yourself 'I love you'. Again, it should be easy.

Creating a Valentine for myself seems a lot like staring into my reflected eyes and saying 'I love you'. I feel guilty, as though in taking time for me, I'm somehow denying someone else that time and energy. I've fallen into that mindset for years, if I'm honest. It's taken a while, but generally, I've managed to reduce it to white noise in the back of my mind, unnoticed until I do something big for me.

Truly acknowledging and believing that I'm worth the effort of treating myself well might take a while. Still, I wanted to do something, something that I love, something that makes me happy and slowly teaches me to believe in my talent. So I spent Valentines Day (or at least the part where my partner was at work) creating, working to decorate a book I've been meaning to do for ages. It's not finished yet, parts are drying and things need tinkering with, but when it's done I'll post a picture.

Until then, I hope everyone else had better luck with the challenge, or at least enjoyed their baby steps as much as I did!

Theme songs

Music is magical. Throughout my life, I've felt connected to life far more with music involved. For as long as I can remember, my mother and Nanna's homes were filled with music, their radio always on. Last year, I started making music a more active part of my life.

Ali Edwards has a yearly inspirational activity called 'One Little Word'. She, as well as any else who wants to give it a try, chooses a word to live for a year. This year her word is 'light'. There's no set way to pick a word: ask and the Universe will give a hint, fall madly for some wonderful quirky word that is just so you. Open a dictionary randomly and keep doing it until you find a non-medical word ('rectum' as your year's word will only be funny for so long, perhaps?) Sadly, this doesn't work for me in the slightest, no matter how much I love the concept. I tried it one year and found that, as much as I love words, it was impossible for me to stick with one for an entire year. I couldn't even last an entire month with one word.

What I've found works well for me is to have a theme song for the year.

Last year and this year I've stumbled upon songs that seem to sum up how I feel, while providing a much needed kick in the butt to keep moving forward. Last years song, Not Perfect, came from the gorgeously amazing Australian comedian, Tim Minchin. If you've never seen his work, he's amazing- but if you have issue with people who disagree with religion, and with alternative healing, then you might want to give him a miss. He's not a fan of either. I tend to be a fan of exploring the things I care deeply about- if I don't question it, then it's not something I'm overly passionate about, so it doesn't bother me in the slightest that he has issue with spirituality.

The version of 'Not Perfect' you can find here, from The Sideshow, tends to be the one I love most. Mostly because this was the first time I'd ever heard it, and it was a sucker punch of a song. I'd been having a bad few weeks, so to have this song just suddenly appear in my life was a bit of a shocker. And it broke my heart, because it's right. How little attention do I give myself? How many times have I needed something- space, time, peace and quiet- only to ignore my needs to help family and friends in crisis? How many horrible things do I say about myself, even in jest? Too many, especially when I realise I believe them all. And the lyric 'it's tucked away behind my eyes, where all my screwed up thoughts can hide, 'cause God forbid I hurt somebody'? I cried. I don't cry. It was like having someone I admire pointing out just how much I keep hidden, just how many times I let people treat me badly in the name of 'keeping the peace'. How many times had I been dishonest that week and said I was ok, because my family never copes well when I'm struggling? How often do I ignore my resentments, fears, issues, because to be upfront and honest about why I feel the way I do means acknowledging the involvement of family and friends, and that's never going to end well? Even a year on, I struggle with those issues, but having a song to listen to when things go badly gave me a much needed push to work on them harder.

This year's song is one I'm copping a bit of flack over from one of my friends. My Chemical Romance gets seen as Emo a lot, which means that publicly acknowledging I like them means copping it from those in my circle of friends who are heavily anti-emo. Personally, I love MCR. I love the theatricality, I love the anger- and I especially love that their music is a lot of times about getting back up whenever you're knocked down and keeping on trying.

Sing, which is I think the second song released from the Danger Days album, tends to show up on the radio whenever I'm having a bad day. It's one of those songs that I love to crank up and sing along to, and it's like looking and penguins on bad days- you can't be sad listening to Gerard Way singing 'I am not the singer that you wanted but a dancer'. It's physically impossible not to at least smile at that.

It's another song all about stepping up and doing something, about using your voice even if you don't want to, and I think this is another year I need to work on that.

Sometimes, the universe shows you a direction you need to take in the most fun and amusing ways.

Yet another Introduction

I realised, as I was crafting a new post for Flight and Fire, my pagan blog in the hatchling phase, that what I was writing really didn't fit there. It needed to go somewhere else, somewhere in which I don't feel quite so bad for flitting from subject to subject on any given day.

Welcome to my flitter blog, where subjects will range and will do so with very little warning. It's going to be a random, ecclectic place, more about me than spirituality, though there'll be spiritual stuff, too. If you've ever had a blog your family and friends know about, you'll know that sometimes it means choosing between honesty and being nice. It's hard to say 'I'm upset about x' when the person who upset you is reading along. It's hard to be honest when it can start a slinging match in a public setting. In the spirit of honesty, I do have a 'personal' blog already. But it's not really that personal, more like a heavily edited mask I wear in order to keep everyone else happy. Likely, that's why I haven't touched it in months. But here, here is where the adventure will really happen. Here is where I will be open and honest and work towards things. Hopefully when I look back at this blog at the end of the year I'll find myself a different person than the one I am now.

Fingers crossed.

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