Wednesday, August 2, 2017


My gentle Puck, come hither,
Thou rememberest since
Once I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid on a  dolphin's back
Offering such dulcet and harmonious breath
That the rude sea grew civil at her song,
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres
To hear the sea-maid's music?

Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream excerpt

Friday, July 14, 2017

Quid Pro Quo- an ambitious collaboration of music and art with Fred Schendel, Michelle Young, and Rachel Beckmann

An exclusive collectible solo album by Fred Schendel of Glass Hammer fame is coming to you:  We're embarking on this journey with a musician, a bookbinder, and an artist to bring you a highly customized and hand made CD release.  Inspired by the artistic community we find in our city, we want to take the "mass-produced" out of this music project, and bring it to you in a personal manner, with each album hand made, each booklet hand bound, each cover hand painted, laser cut and embellished.  Some of you may be familiar with Fred Schendel's music from his solo album or from his writing and work with Glass Hammer.  Fred Schendel explains in his kickstarter video: "Expect solid symphonic prog, with vocals (mostly mine probably, but I plan on some guests) with a focus on melody but also complexity and intricacy."  See the link below for more details on the art, creativity, music, and craftsmanship going into this project.  GET EXCITED! There are only two hundred of these being produced, as we want to keep this project small scale and full of hands-on individually crafted worksmanship.

We will be updating you and letting you in on some of our processes so you can enjoy the journey, and watch the three realms of art, music, and bookbinding come together and create an experience you will love to be a part of!

Support our project here:

Quid Pro Quo on Kickstarter

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A book for Glass Hammer; an ancient binding for an ancient tale: The Lay of Lirazel

Steve Babb's epic poem The Lay of Lirazel found its way into my hands in the format of a paperback copy with lovely haunting cover imagery one day at Sound Resources Recording Studio. 

But the vision that Steve has for art creating more art knows his richly inspired poem in human hands and on bookstore shelves will continue its creative energy.  From the painters and poets who began the inspiration, to Glass Hammer's own lyrical song, to this epic poem, Lirazel continues her creative wake within this new binding.

I'll lay before you parts of the process of converting the original printed book into a hand bound leather covered version through the eyes of a book binder. 

I've been able to make many blank books from scratch through the years, but had never re-bound a printed book.  We both agreed it would be handsome in a medieval format, and Steve had a copy he didn't mind me experimenting with, so I decided to try.  The starting product was a machine bound glued paperback book, and no fold in the pages for me to sew through.  I removed the cover, and broke the book into four sections.  I stacked them again, stabbed holes through the book block, used those for sewing a modified Japanese stab stitch, and re-glued the spine, and also the margin of the pages between the four sections.  My book block was complete, but I wasn't happy with how the sections were not completely even anymore.
I sanded the top and fore- edge, and ultimately decided to age the edges with a candle flame.

I borrowed the cover image from the original book.   I reduced the size of the image of the beautiful sleeping Lirazel, laid a clear version of it on foil to appear as a mysterious  and darkened mirror, and fit it into a gothic  mirror frame from another Etsy seller-  Fallen Angel Brass.   I recessed the whole thing into a one of the layers of book board. Old leather used from a coat that was given to me to lay over the several layers of book board that give the covers their shape.  The spine ridges get their shape from strips of leather used to mimic the ancient practice of sewing onto cords. 

I fit the book block into the covers and began my favorite part of the completion of the process-  choosing the end pages.  What I chose here is a black and cream French hand marbled paper. 

 The long and slow way that a story comes into being, the way that any act of creation takes careful, thoughtful, joyful work reflects the process of creating a hand bound book.  I love the way each detail of a bound book has gone through its own process and story, and can more fully bring to life the history and making of an epic tale. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

alive, human, courageous, loving!


Welcome to the workshop! 

“...the best way to know the Truth or Beauty is to try to express it. And what is the purpose of existence Here or Yonder but to discover truth and beauty and express it, i.e., share it with others?”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit


“Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.”
Madeleine L'Engle


Monday, December 30, 2013

Grand Opening of Sylvan Bindery on Etsy

It has been several years of having a workspace all over available surfaces, and I thank my family for their long tolerance of my happy messes.  My dear husband and father have built me a beautiful workbench and inspiring work area I will document in another post, and I am so excited to announce that Sylvan Bindery has a storefront on Etsy!  Come in and check it out!  Sylvan Bindery on Etsy

This journal is a particular favorite of mine currently in the store: it is listed at a great price, in the spirit of offering introductory prices for your New Year's journaling resolutions. 

I bought this leather from a traveling book artisan at the 4 Bridges Art Festival in Chattanooga a few years back. (see her website here-- fantastic work!  It is thin, flexible, and pebble-grained leather that feels soft to hold.  It did well revealing the raised bands on the spine that were made to mimic the ancient practice of sewing onto cords.  The gold design on the spine is an original hand painted design, from gold leather paint.
About to be listed in my shop are a few of these tiny books.  I have been searching and searching for a way to organically incorporate gold into my books.  After a tip from another leather worker I met at a different 4 Bridges Arts Festival, I tried gold hot stamping foil.  And here is a secret: I did it with my own metal tools, heating each one individually over a candle flame. 
Which is meticulous work you must be passionate about!  I absolutely love this end paper. It is a Florentine print of various illuminated manuscripts, with ancient looking colors and gold design.
Keep checking back for more books in the shop! 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The meditative life

Madeline L'Engle has come to my rescue today, in  passage from her book A Circle of Quiet. I came to wonder if these most time consuming professions, bookbinding, musicianship, and mothering crowd each other too much.  Many of us will not find ourselves before an open page of thoughtful journaling as often as we'd perhaps like, but it is excellent to recognize meditative creativity around us as it happens!

" It was the first time that I’d been forced to think consciously about creativity in connection with little children, rather than the older ones for whom I often write.  I was trying to think out loud about the concentration essential for all artists, and in the very little child I found the perfect example.  The concentration of a small child at play is analogous to the concentration of the artist of any discipline. In real play, which is real concentration, the child is not only outside time, he is outside himself.  He has thrown himself completely into whatever it is that he is doing.  A child playing a game, building a sand castle, painting a picture, is completely in what he is doing.  His self-consciousness is gone; his consciousness is wholly focused outside himself... When we are self-conscious we cannot be wholly aware; we must throw ourselves out first.  This throwing ourselves away is the act of creativity.  So, when we wholly concentrate, like a child in play, or an artist at work, then we share in the act of creating.  We not only escape time, we also escape our self-conscious selves...

" I am outside time, outside self, in play, in joy.  When we can play with the unself-conscious concentration of a child, this is: art: prayer: love."  Madeline L'Engle

              Madonna and child

Art, prayer, and love. Those things that children can teach us best, in their non-selfconscious way.

These first two brown books are the very first I made several years ago at the beginning of my bookbinding experimentations, and at a time when I was working with a raised cord design.  The leather is from an old leather coat that I was able to turn into many books; it was a very thin leather that was just perfect for binding these books, and in good condition.  These were made using wheat paste as well, using Keith Smith's recipe.

This second pair of books are among some dear to me; the alligator skinned one contains tea stained pages, and hand made end bands.  It is small and chunky, and feels good to hold.  It is portable but thick, for writing small discoveries every day on a continuous journey.

This white journal below is made of the softest leather with earthen off white and tan coloring.  It pairs well with the brass corners, and light silver and gold toned ginko leaves inside. 


Monday, August 19, 2013

“Reverie is not a mind vacuum. It is rather the gift of an hour which knows the plentitude of the soul.”  Gaston Bachelard


This blog is begun, knowing the plentitude of the soul that there is to be celebrated through meditation, and the crafts of writing and sketching.  I hope to gather perspectives from among the arts and live here the joy that is to be had in a moment of reverie.


Pursuing clarity through writing whether one is in a creative, academic or reflective pursuit of life will pave the way for action springing from authentic desires and convictions.  I believe this is one way, in a proverb, to “guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”


Meditation is not for navel gazing; rather it can facilitate the reconciling of the inner man and outer man, making him ready for action.  A man who knows himself is like a musician who has mastered his craft; he at once commands the notes and is ravished by them.   Slow artful living requires silence and meditation, but this centering oneself makes life worth living, for, “The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea


The art of the written word is a discipline and a pleasure not often indulged in our digital generation. I will also be providing here some delights in the art of bookbinding.  Writing allows us to interact with the inner man through the tangible art of the hand written word, and a hand bound book contains many of the same tactile joys…The connectedness to the earth, to humans, to friends, to the work of our hands, and to unseen hope.  There is something missing when we do not write.  Indeed, I must agree with Hemingway when he says, “A writer must write what he has to say, not speak it.”

One can move from the push of time into the gracious expanse of calm, where we can breathe.  “The imagination needs moodling,--long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering.” –Brenda Ueland   At times I can think of nothing more beautiful than a large, earthy, blank page open before me.