Mysteries of the Cosmos Journals

Two black and purple handmade journals by Ruth Bleakley with cosmic imagery

Inspiration strikes…

The thing I love most about these journals is how well the two black and purple papers go together, even though I aquired them years apart. This is certainly a case of me being inspired by my materials. When I get stuck, or run out of bookbinding ideas, a quick trip to (one of) my paper drawers to flip through my collection of paper is often all that’s needed for inspiration to strike!

Bookbinding process photo - cutting cover paper

With our powers combined

The purple paper with the fan-shaped pattern came from Tokyo – this handmade Japanese Chiyogami paper features a traditional pattern caleld Seigaiha, which is the name of an ancient court dance of the same name, where dancers wear costumes with that same pattern. It represents ocean waves, appropriate since Japan is an island country. I thought the dark “cloud” shapes with the small gold squares and dots reminded me of images of galaxies or clouds of stars.

Two black and purple handmade journals by Ruth Bleakley with cosmic imagery

The black paper with the stars, moons, clouds and other celestial images was made in Nepal. This style of paper called Lokta paper is made in largely women-run cottage industries using the infinitely renewable and sustainable Lokta bush, which only needs to be trimmed for papermaking, not cut down. The black paper was hand-stamped with the celestial designs in gold and copper ink.

Together, these papers make an out-of-this world combination on these two book covers!

a view of book artist studio with thread choices

Choosing thread and sewing

When it came time to sew the books together, purple was a natural choice, although I went back and forth between light purple and dark purple…and even black. Dark purple won because of the high contrast with the spine of the book. Black was a little too severe, and I wanted to pick out the purple tones of the Japanese paper. I used 4 ply waxed Irish linen thread here – it’s essential for creating a secure Coptic stitch binding. I used my favorite single-needle binding technique I learned in Keith Smith’s Non Adhesive Binding Vol 1 to sew the books together. I love the peaceful meditative feeling that comes from hand sewing a book. One of the benefits of this style of exposed spine binding is that the book lays completely flat when it’s open, for easy journaling or sketching.

bookbinding coptic stitch journal by hand

They could be yours!

I just added these to my handmade journal shop – you can see if they’re still available! I only have one sheet of the purple paper though, so once I run out, I won’t be able to make any more like these.

The one with mainly black paper with the gold stars (pictured on the left below) is here: Mysteries of the Cosmos Journal

The one with mainly purple scallop pattern paper on the cover (pictured on the right below is here: Magical Galaxies Journal

Bonus Pinterest-worthy collages:

Two black and purple handmade journals by Ruth Bleakley with cosmic imagery
Mysteries of the Cosmos Journals made by American Book artist Ruth Bleakley

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