They’re back! In 2015 I had the privilege of having my handmade journals included in Charlotte River’s book Little Book of Book Making: Timeless Techniques and Fresh Ideas for Beautiful Handmade Books.
Doubly cool was that one of my journals was featured prominently on the cover of the Spanish-language edition called Cómo hacer tus propios libros: Nuevas ideas y técnicas tradicionales para la creación artesanal de libros. Yep, that’s me on the cover! I made that red and purple striped Washi tape book in 2012 or so using tape that my Japanese friend Yuri mailed to me in exchange for one of my journals! Also, if you’re wondering how I got featured in this book, I am not exactly sure! Charlotte contacted me directly via email, saying she’d seen my work online. Keep in mind I’ve been blogging intermittently since 2007…so keep blogging & Pinning!
The funny thing was, even though this book was on the cover, and sold on Etsy (to someone in Sweden!) I didn’t make another journal with that unique ladder back stitching afterward, not for years! Last month I had a few text blocks where I accidentally made the wrong number of holes, and I was wondering what to do with them when it occurred to me that I could try my hand at those Coptic/Ladder Back journals again!The learning process was a little steep but through trial and error I remembered the correct way, and took notes this time. Basically, it’s a single-needle coptic stitch combined with a buttonhole stitch. You can find instructions for both in Keith Smith’s book Non Adhesive Bindings Vol. 1 . If you are serious about wanting to improve your bookbinding and you don’t have this book you MUST get it, I would consider it required reading! It’s thick, almost like a Bible, and packed with great stitches like Caterpillar, Single Needle Coptic, Longstitch (all those leather travel journals that you’ve been admiring on Pinterest) and buttonhole stitch. Very text-heavy but it has some great diagrams, especially of stitch patterns, which anyone trying to make a tutorial knows are really hard to draw!
So onto the books: As some of you might know, I have a bit of a Washi Tape obsession. “Washi” means “paper” in Japanese, so it’s basically decorative masking tape. When I had the chance to go to Japan in 2016, my passion was only inflamed by the sight of hundreds of rolls of MT (the brand of Japanese masking tape that’s the best – you can find MT tape on Amazon and Etsy fairly easily – just try to find the real version and not a knockoff). My only regret is that I didn’t buy more…MORE! But I digress. Now I have to figure out ways to use the masking tape before it gets really old and doesn’t stick anymore! I often use it as plastic-free packaging for my stationery business. (see my blog post “Using Washi Tape instead of Packing Tape“)
One popular way to use washi tape is to make a collage by putting several of your favorites together (check out this adorable blog post “Washi Tape your Pencils and Notebooks” by blogger Lia Griffith). That’s what I did on these journals, laying my favorite combinations of tape side by side into geometric patterns. After taping, I sealed with several coats of artist-grade Liquitex acrylic varnish. It’s expensive but worth it because it doesn’t get sticky in humidity the way that Mod Podge does, but if you live in a dry place (meaning…NOT Florida haha) then Mod Podge would probably also work fine. After sealing the covers I allowed them to dry completely, added sewing holes and stitched them together!
These washi tape journals are available for sale, they make a great gift for the planner-obsessed writer in your life (most people who do daily or weekly planners like to decorate them with washi tape). You can see what I have available in my etsy shop here – but these are one of a kind and I usually don’t remake the patterns, so if you like one, grab it while you can:
Scroll on for lots more photos of these handmade journals:
Thanks for reading my post! If you love looking at handmade journals, check out my Pinterest board Handmade Books + Journals (which as of this writing has 10,282 followers! I love Pinterest, so please feel free to pin any of my photos!) and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter:
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