Shimmering Hand Painted Fish Journal

Many years ago, one of my favorite types of books to make were hand-painted ones, but with the discovery of Japanese Chiyogami paper, I got away from that for a while, but now that I have the amazing Glowforge laser cutter, I’m back at the hand-painting game! This fish journal is a great example of…read more

Teflon Folders vs Bone Folders – which one is better for bookbinding?

I’m pleased to announce I have a limited number of teflon folders available for sale in my online shop at RuthBleakley.etsy.com. Read on for more information about what makes these bookbinding tools so wonderful and different from regular bone folders. What is a Teflon folder, anyway? Well, a traditional bone folder is a thin stick…read more

Shibori Tie Dye Class with Jane Callender at Aya Fiber Studio

To celebrate my 33rd birthday on March 22nd, I made a special week-long trip to Aya Fiber Studio in Stuart, Florida to learn stitched Shibori tie dye from world-renowned fiber artist and author, Jane “Cali” Callender. Her book “Stitched Shibori”  is not only gorgeous to look at; it also provides lots of practical instruction about…read more

Honeybee Journals Make a Great Gift for Beekeepers

You can buy this bee journal in my online shop 166 pages, unlined, lays flat when opened I created this journal in honor of one of our most important pollinators – bees! Did you know more than $15 billion a year in U.S. crops are pollinated by bees, including apples, berries, cantaloupes, cucumbers, alfalfa, and…read more

Book Cloth Workshop in Asheville and Cape Cod Shibori Journals

Are you like me? Do you have a stash of beautiful fabric that you buy “just because” or say “I’ll make something out of this someday!” – me too…and I don’t even sew! Haha. When I saw the class, “Making Book Cloth”, being offered last fall at Asheville Bookworks I was intrigued…and I thought, “FINALLY…read more

French Link Journals with Blue Indigo and Gold Branches

I’ve loved the French Link Stitch ever since I first learned about it in a college bookbinding course. It’s very old, and traditionally it’s used on the INSIDE of a hardcover book, the interlocking stitches were thought to make the text block sturdier than simple straight stitches across the signatures. With exposed bindings like the…read more

Honeybee and Daisy French Link Stitch Journals

My love affair with my Glowforge laser cutter continues with these beautiful hand painted nature journals featuring the very pretty and intricate French Link Stitch Binding. The first step for these journals was engraving the covers using a super-hot laser beam to actually burn the black lines of the design into the acid-free bookboard. (You…read more

What is that weird looking monkey? It’s a Koboldmaki!

What in the world is that? Some kind of weird monkey with a human face? I had no idea either, in fact I saved this image as “Weird Monkey.tif” on my computer until some top-notch google sleuthery turned up that this thing is called a Koboldmaki! That’s right! It’s real! Not only that, this little…read more

Cat Journals! The Perfect Gift for Cat-Loving Writers

Oh my goodness. I feel as though I’ve achieved some kind of next-level journal making thanks to my Glowforge laser cutter (appropriately timed for Transfiguration Sunday). In fact, my hilarious friend Ellen summed it up nicely for me: Guess what, friends? it’s time for ALL CAT ART, ALL THE TIME! Let’s begin with the amazing laser cutter, which…read more

Daisy Journal with Hand-painted Lasercut Covers

I have been having so much fun with my new Glowforge laser cutter (long awaited) – one of my favorite things is that it can cut through book board! It can cut the sewing holes and everything! Watch this (with the sound off though, it sounds like a freaking jet engine): AMAZING!!!!  After I engraved…read more

Intermediate Bookbinding Fall Semester 2010

The final project in my Intermediate bookbinding class at the Falmouth Community school was a long stitch binding. This old German binding uses no glue to hold the pages in, instead the pages are sewn directly onto the cover. All of the books look really neat, especially when put in a row together. Here, Dodi…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