Miniature Book Christmas Tree Ornaments

tiny book ornaments handmade by bookbinder Ruth Bleakley

Handmade tiny book ornaments are back in my etsy shop! These little book ornaments are a great gift for librarians, your book club or for published authors.


The covers are made with scrap papers leftover when I make my larger books. I love the color and pattern on Japanese chiyogami paper – each piece of paper starts out white and is made from the fibers of the mulberry plant (same as the one that silkworms like). Then layers of paint are added using screen printing  – some of the more complex patterns can have up to 8 different layers of pigment!

Here’s a neat video that shows the process:


Poppy Watercolor Sketchbook handmade gift for an Artist or Gardener

Poppy watercolor sketchbook artist journal handmade by Ruth Bleakley

Art journaling is a fun alternative to traditional journaling with writing – if you’re an artist looking to keep your drawing or painting skills sharp, or simply experience the world more visually, keeping your memories in an artist journal by drawing or painting your daily experiences is a fun way to remember things. I made this sturdy little 72 page blank book from Canson watercolor paper that will hold up well to both drawing and painting. The covers are book board with antique illustrations of poppies, added using a special print transfer technique. The binding is sewn with super strong red waxed Irish linen thread. I also added an elastic strap to the book to keep it closed in your bag. Click on any of the photos to see it in my etsy shop, or click here: Poppy Watercolor Sketch Journal

The makings of a coptic stitch sketchbook by Ruth Bleakley

stitching a handmade artist journal so that it lays flat by Ruth Bleakley

Poppy watercolor sketchbook by Ruth Bleakley


artist journal filled with watercolor paper that lays flat when open handmade by Ruth BleakleyHas the book already sold? Follow me on Instagram to see my latest projects.





Handmade Notebooks with Scientific Illustrations

Jellyfish handmade notebook by Ruth Bleakley

So depending on how often you glance at the left sidebar of my blog, you may or may not know that in addition to bookbinding, I am also a wedding invitation and stationery designer. Concertina Press specializes in unusual wedding invitations featuring antique scientific illustrations collected (in scanned form, not paper form!) from my time spent working at a scientific library just after college.

Not all of these illustrations make it onto wedding invites (although I do have pufferfish thank you notes) , so I’ve begun creating little notebooks to feature some of my favorite illustrations – click any of the pictures below (or above) if you’re interested in buying one – they’re for sale in my Etsy shop.

Jellyfish handmade notebook by Ruth Bleakley Jellyfish handmade notebook by Ruth Bleakley Pufferfish Notebook handmade by Ruth Bleakley Red Crab Notebook handmade by Ruth Bleakley Pink Squid Notebook handmade by Ruth Bleakley


Onionskin Bookbinding class at Penland School of Crafts

Ruth Bleakley bookbinding at Penland School of Crafts

This summer I got to fulfill a dream of mine for many years, to attend the Penland School of Crafts in the mountains of North Carolina near Asheville. Ever since reading about it in the Penland Book of Handmade Books, I’ve wanted to go take a class. Well, after getting back from a week-long course on […]

Tiny little pamphlet books made just for fun

Today I’m showing off these cute little blue pamphlet stitch and perfect bound (glued spine) books I made – I printed out sheets of patterned paper myself – I have a fairly fancy Canon printer because I have a stationery business, and I have LOTS of black ink, so I experimented with printing my own patterns […]

5 Great How-to Books on Bookbinding

Are you interested in learning bookbinding, and wondering how you can get started binding your own books? Believe it or not, most of what I learned about making books by hand is self taught! Here are some of the most helpful do-it-yourself bookbinding books I’ve personally used, in order of easy to difficult with links to […]

Troubleshooting Tips for Suminagashi Paper Marbling

Suminagashi Marbling Tips - ink bleeding

Suminagashi marbling is a Japanese paper marbling technique that involves floating sumi ink on water in concentric rings. While relatively easy, there are still a few things that can go wrong while you’re marbling, so here are some tips if you’re running into trouble on your marbled paper.


Problem: Ink isn’t Floating

Answer: add another drop of dispersant to […]

Handmade Wasp Journal

Handmade Wasp Journal by Ruth Bleakley - red and navy

An oldie but a goodie – I can’t beleive I made this almost exactly 2 years ago. For a while I was on a hardcover case-bound book bender, before I switched to coptic stitch books. Part of the reason I like coptic stitch better than the traditional “hardcover” book you see here is that you can […]

Little Paris Travel Journal

The story behind this little Paris-themed handmade book is that it’s the first I’ve made in over four months! This might not seem like such a long time, but because of a cross country move I’ve had to pack up nearly all of my bookbinding studio supplies and put them into storage.

Right now I’m living in […]

Suminagashi Marbled Handmade Journal

Suminagashi black and whtie Journal handmade by Ruth Bleakley

Suminagashi is a gorgeous type of paper marbling invented in Japan over 1,000 years ago. I wrote a post a while ago when I taught a suminagashi marbling class at Clark University and you can see every step of the process. Basically you float rings of black sumi ink (I really like using this Yasutomo brand […]