Blue Boxes and Handmade Books

It’s the Winter Sale at the Art Center, and I’ve had nary a chance to blog about all the artwork I’ve been doing – books mostly, but also Blue Boxes.

20161217_095734What are Blue Boxes you ask? Of course they are just what they sound like but a little bit more. I envisioned these as a kind of self-help tool and filled them with self-care prompts I’m calling Little Whispers. They include gentle urgings to call a friend, have someone else wash your hair, or enjoy a crackling fire. They’re meant to be used every day or just whenever life gets to be a little too much.


I find the Little Whispers are useful reminders to take good care of myself, even if I don’t always do exactly what’s on the prompt. If it says “Roller Coaster” in the dead of winter, of course I’ll put it back and choose another, but sometimes I’ll pick one that says I should go out and see a movie when I don’t feel like going anywhere, or wants me to sing when I really want to cry. I may not do what it suggests, but in choosing the card and negotiating that terrain, I’ve also figured out what I need to do to take care of myself – which was the point anyway.

Along with the Blue Boxes, Little Whispers will be on my Etsy store as soon as it’s set up. But the main thing I’ve been making are handmade books. You saw these in two of my earlier posts. For the Winter Sale, I decided on three main types: Christmas Journals, Victorian Sweethearts Notebooks, and Vintage Doodle Books.

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I already blogged about the Christmas Journals, but I’ve yet to mention the others. Both are mini-books made not with paper but manila file folders as the main stock. They are smaller in both size and length, and I’ve filled them with pockets and journaling cards for tucking. They are mainly meant as a place to stash ephemera and jot down thoughts on a given topic or over a certain period. The books are too small to replace the old style scrapbooks, but they’ve introduced a way to keep all of our sentimental bits and pieces in a way that’s not only organized, but elegant.

There was some interest last night in my doing a Pop-Up class for the smaller books, so I’ll see what I can do on that front. Follow me here or on social media for updates.


One important note that I shared with those who took an interest in the design and overall look of these books: most of the printed pages in these books come from Ephemera’s Vintage Garden on Etsy or Don’t ask me why there are two stores, but I know I’ve made purchases at each and would recommend any of Debby’s videos, too.

Hers was the voice I first heard answering my deep-seated need to craft these handmade papery things we call books. She kept me up until 5:00 am that first night teaching me how to make them – even though I had not one supply within my grasp. Perhaps it’s her voice, I don’t know. If you watch her videos and have an idea, drop me a note in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Debby shares a lot of information about copyright and how she licenses her work for resale – covering in detail what is and is not OK in this video. I’m a big fan of clear-cut copyright guidelines, so I was thrilled to see that not only were her designs amazing, but she had clear rules for their use. She encourages artisans who craft books for sale to use her designs and simply give appropriate credit.

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A nod I am only too happy to give her because really, they look amazing. Even better once they’ve been coffee stained and oven baked, which all of the pages of this Christmas Journal are. They are crinkly and offer lots of sensory feedback – all of which is kind of the point.

The Winter Sale runs through Saturday the 17th at 2pm.

Watch for updates here and on social media when the Etsy store goes up and for a bookmaking pop-up class that could be in the works. And, of course for more beauties of the books I’m still making – because seriously, I’ve been bitten hard by this bookmaking bug!


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