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

Cape Cod Nautical Chart Journals

Did you know that nautical charts expire? OK maybe “expire” isn’t the right word, but given the ever-changing nature of the coast and the sea floor below, not to mention construction hazards, shipping lanes and “unexploded ordinances”, whatever those are 💣 (I’ve seen them on the charts!) they need to be updated every now and…read more

Niagara Falls Wedding Guestbook

This one of a kind guestbook was created by me for folks getting married at Niagara Falls, with a beautiful vintage nautical chart of the area. I remember one year I got to see the falls twice; once on a beautiful warm May day (on my way to a wedding that took place on a…read more

Watercolor French Link Stitch Journal aka The Barnacle Book

I always get excited when I create a new design for my handmade journals. This one that I’m calling the “Barnacle Book” is a handmade french link stitch journal for sale in my etsy shop and it combines my love of watercolor and illustration with my love of technical stitching patterns. This little handmade book…read more

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

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…read more

Miniature Book Christmas Tree Ornaments

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…read more

Poppy Watercolor Sketchbook handmade gift for an Artist or Gardener

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…read more

Handmade Notebooks with Scientific Illustrations

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…read more

Onionskin Bookbinding class 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…read more

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…read more

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…read more

Troubleshooting Tips for Suminagashi Paper Marbling

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. This post was originally created to accompany my Suminagashi…read more