Handmade Watercolor Sketchbooks with Laser Engraved Covers!

I’ve spent the last week making these watercolor sketchbooks filled with 48 pages of Canson 140lb/300g watercolor paper and…best of all…LASER ENGRAVED COVERS! They are perfect to take on a trip or use as a daily art journal because they are compact, the binding allows them to lie flat for easy painting and sketching, they…read more

Katazome-shi Journals Made with Stencil-dyed paper

After my visit to Suzuki Shofudo, the 120 year old Japanese paper store in Kyoto, you can imagine my excitement to get home and make some beautiful new journals with my new paper! But how could I showcase the wonderful colors and patterns? I decided to try a new type of cover design that would…read more

Day 2: Suzuki Shofudo, a 120 year-old Katazome Paper Store in Kyoto

“NIPPON NI IKITAI!!” – this part of a series of posts and I highly recommend you start from the beginning of this crazy story: Re: Japanese media inquiry, Possible Filming Request Day two! I couldn’t believe I’d only been in Japan for one full day – it was still a “Mystery Tour” so I had no…read more

Suminagashi Marbled Paper Journals

I thought you might like to see how some of the paper I received in Japan was put to good use in these gorgeous one of a kind journals. I got to witness this paper being marbled for a Japanese TV show I was on – you can read about it here: Paper Marbling in Kyoto ….read more

Suminagashi Kimono Marbling – Day One Continued

“NIPPON NI IKITAI!!” – this part of a series of posts and I highly recommend you start from the beginning of this crazy story: Re: Japanese media inquiry, Possible Filming Request We walked down the hallway, past the paper marbling room, into a huge room, with an enormously long, narrow marbling tray in it! In the…read more

Nature Journals Made From Upcycled Calendar Pages

These coptic stitch nature journals were made from a gorgeous calendar I’d been saving, saying “I’m sure I can make something out of this…” The journals I made lay totally flat when they’re opened up, which makes writing or sketching easy. This one of a kind journal is the perfect gift for a nature lover,…read more

Day one of the Mystery Tour – Suminagashi Paper Marbling

“NIPPON NI IKITAI!!” – this part of a series of posts and I highly recommend you start from the beginning of this crazy story: Re: Japanese media inquiry, Possible Filming Request Day one in Japan: we started bright and early, catching the 7:30 AM bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, with a brief stop at Starbucks…read more

I won a free trip to Japan!…Now what?

“NIPPON NI IKITAI!!” – if you missed part 1, I highly recommend you start from the beginning of this crazy story: Re: Japanese media inquiry, Possible Filming Request I won the trip to Japan! …now what? I emailed the casting coordinator, Naomichi – he said to “wait patiently, and don’t talk about the trip on…read more

If you were to go to Japan…

“NIPPON NI IKITAI!!” – if you missed part 1, I highly recommend you start from the beginning of this crazy story: Re: Japanese media inquiry, Possible Filming Request When we left off, the mania of the day of filming had been perfectly captured and distilled into the act of me running across my backyard, yelling…read more

Re: Japanese Media Inquiry, Possible Filming Request

It all started with an email on Tuesday, July 12th, 2016. I had just returned from my 9th anniversary vacation to the Florida Keys to learn how to scuba dive, I was tired and not exactly in “work mode” yet – when I saw this waiting for me in my inbox: What?! The first thing I thought…read more

Paper Marbling Video

Paper Marbling from Ruth Bleakley on Vimeo. I’ve had a couple of questions from students about the actual mechanics of paper marbling – it’s hard to describe in words, but I’ve created a nice little slideshow so you can see how it’s done! 1. Fill a tray with marbling “size” created from a mixture of…read more

Feature Friday: The Time is Now

Naomi of The Time Is Now offers an eclectic variety of needlepoint, notebooks and papercuts in her shop, all tied together by a cohesive style that encompasses vintage and natural imagery, bright colors and a healthy respect for negative space. I was fortunate enough to interview Naomi about her shop – you can read more…read more

Who doesn’t love a map?

I came across these beautiful topographical maps called “Geological Hazards of Northeast Clackamas County” in the dollar-a-pound thrift store tucked away inside an old Manila envelope – it was a great find and I just love the colors! And of course it’s for sale in my Etsy shop!

Feature Friday: Abby Try Again Photography

Abby of Abby Try Again photography craptures a dreamy, old fashioned look in her beautiful photos. She shoots on film, using vintage cameras, scenes of everyday things which are given new beauty when captured by the eye of an old camera (and seasoned photographer!). Here’s an interview we did last spring: Tell us about yourself Abby! Hi…read more

Marbled Papers Galore!

I’ve gone off on a tangent from bookbinding into making marbled paper, popular in the mid to late 19th century as endpapers in leatherbound books. Marbled paper is created by floating diluted watercolor paints onto a marbling “size” – water thickened with carragean (a type of seaweed) extract. The consistency of the marbling size is…read more

Featured Friday – MollyJey Papercuts

Mollyjey has beautiful handmade papercut dioramas in her Etsy shop, mostly in white with small touches of color. She was born in Locarno, Switzerland , a gorgeous mountain valley village on the southern border next to Italy – she then went to Florence, Italy where she studied Industrial Design and Communication. She speaks Italian, French…read more

Feature Friday: Joey’s Dream Garden

I can’t remember how I first found Joey’s Dream Garden, one of my favorite shops on Etsy, but I instantly fell in love with the adorable kitty and bunny brooches that Joey Ramone (no, the artist not the singer) is so good at making. Joey also offers gorgeous embroidery patterns, pretty hairclips and totes embellished with…read more

Octopus drawing sequence

I made a special accordion book about a year ago with a little red octopus in it – I documented the illustration so you could see the layers of ink go on. I love using drawing inks (I used Windsor-newton inks in this one) because you can layer them to make really rich colors –…read more

Travel Journal Made out of Repurposed Pants

I was recently commissioned to create a journal for my friend Matt’s birthday – made extra special because in the years past he’s commissioned me to make seven different books that he’s given out to friends – so I finally got to design one for him. (click here to see pictures of me making this…read more

Birthday Book in the Making

Here are some pictures of the process of working on a special commission of a travel journal – The plaid book cloth is actually a pair of favorite shorts the recipient had to regretfully consign to the rag pile – not any more! Now they’re immortalized as a book’s cover. The toggles are antique brass –…read more