Bound: 15 Beautiful Bookbinding Projects by Rachel Hazell

I've mentioned before that I'm not particularly crafty.  And I'm okay with that!  But I do aim to try and flex that underdeveloped artistic muscle in my brain.  I have a good friend who is an artist (@danorvil) and invites me to sit in her studio and just have at it no matter what the results.  Sometimes an art project turns out cool, usually when I just dive in and let go of what it means to have a "perfect" project.  She taught me to use gel printing plates to make Christmas cards this year! 

I've been engaging with a wonderful online community called Creative Mornings.  They host speakers in cities around the world, including my city of Vancouver BC, but these days you can join in on Zoom to hear speakers from all over the world.  They also have a section called Field Trips, where you can join a Zoom room for hour-long activities, usually with a creative component.  I love this idea and have joined a few.  It is all provided free of charge. 

Which brings me to Bound, a 2018 book by Rachel Hazell.  Rachel is a bookbinder by trade, and also a "book artist," who hosted a CM Field Trip earlier this month.  She lead us through one of her bookbinding projects, a "Book of Eight Wishes" concertina-style small book where we used a couple of sheets of paper and pencil crayons to make a book that represented eight wishes for 2022.  It was fast-paced and surprisingly satisfying, because I was able to create a complete, meaningful project by the end of the class.  I wanted to find out more, so I picked up a copy of Bound from my library.  

What a fantastic book!  I like it because it is simple and straightforward, and I could flip through the beautifully photographed pages and choose a project that suited my beginner-ability.  Rachel writes about her journey to book arts (starting at age eight, when she created "crooked-edged wonky books"🙂), and the joy, creativity and meditative quality she finds in bookbinding.  The projects range from very simple to complex enough to challenge the reader.  Most projects use simple materials, though if you wanted to do some of the more advanced projects you might have to source some materials.  She also introduces some techniques like inkery, which are optional.  

Some strange patterns emerged in the gel printing!

I decided to tackle a simple project called Ribbon-Bound Pages.  It took three sheets of cover stock paper-though you could just use printer paper or whatever you have on hand-and a piece of twine that I pilfered from my disorganized drawer of wrapping paper and ribbon.  I decided to use my new gel plate printing skills to make a cover for my book.  Then, I went to the craft store and splurged on some leaf stamps that I liked.  I was looking for any book-themed stamps but the stock was so depleted!  They didn't even have any ink pads, so I had to smear acrylic paint on a plate and use that for the stamps...and I actually liked the green I used, to match the twine.  

Honestly, when I am able to let perfectionism go, I feel great about my creativity.  I love this imperfect, beautiful book that I made with materials I mostly collected from my house.   

Bound, my third book of 2022!

What do use my new book for?  I came up with the perfect idea: a list of books I read in 2022, to mark my first year of blogging about my own journey through books and reading.  One of my goals is to have books inspire me to do more crafts and art, and this was a great way to start!  I'd recommend picking up Bound if you want a fun and creative way to explore a new artistic endeavour.   As the author notes, "everybody has a book inside of them."  Even me!