Blue Coptic Journal With Marbled Covers – Crazy Zebra Stripe Action!

Suminagashi Marbled Paper on a Handmade Book by Ruth Bleakley

This little journal might be blue, but you won’t be if you make it yours (it’s for sale in my Etsy shop) This small handmade blank book features light blue filler paper made from recycled blue jeans and covers made from marbleized blue, black and white paper.

I made the paper using this marbling kit (not too expensive) and it’s a style of paper marbling called Suminagashi; a Japanese technique where you float ink in a water bath and form delicate rings by dipping brushes loaded with ink into the water. This produces a totally one of a kind paper, since you can only make a single sheet of paper from each marbling session. Doesn’t it remind you of Fruit Stripe gum??

Handmade Journal Closeup of the Spine with Marbled Paper Covers by Ruth Bleakley

This book is definitely one-of-a-kind – Using this marbling method, you can only create ONE sheet of paper in each design! Here’s a video of my friend Hanna (shoutout to Hanna’s cool printmaking!) at my house making a suminagashi print on top of a letterpress poster scrap:

Suminagashi Marbling in Blue Black and White

Suminagashi Marbled Book Covers by Ruth Bleakley


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

Pufferfish Notebook handmade 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 […]

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

Blue Dot Handmade Books by Ruth Bleakley

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

5 great how-to books on bookbinding from

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

Paris Map Travel Journal by Ruth Bleakley

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 […]