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.