Hello dear reader,

Are you still there? Or did you melt this summer? Boy, was it hot, wasn’t it? The area where I live is normally cool since it’s close to the sea. But this summer all that once was normal, evaporated in the heat. The viking blood in me (which is by no means a scientific truth, but certainly a felt one 😉 made this year’s staycation a very literal execution of that verb. I didn’t do much more than just ‘stay’ in front of my fan and move as little as possible. One really great side effect of the heat was that I read over 20 books this last summer. And I must have fantasized about emigrating to Iceland, Newfoundland or Greenland at least a thousand times…

Handbound blank journal "My Chest of Life" by Mandy van Goeije

Handbound blank journal “My Chest of Life” by Mandy van Goeije

Book Binding Itches

Ironically the last days of the heat wave – which were the hottest – I felt like getting into action. I had felt art journaling itches, but hardly had any blank pages in my art journals anymore. I had ordered huge packs of watercolor paper, though, and had lots of book binding supplies lying about so, the flaming days and the cool days after have been about creating new art journals. My mind is still trying to wake up from this summer’s slumber, but it can do so comfortably in a whole new collection of blank journals that I already feel at home in.

It began with an antique key…

The book above here is My Chest of Life, locked with an antique chest key I’ve had since I was a teenager, without having a clue what it came from. Of course I didn’t! It came from nothing. Its purpose was yet to be met. It was the key to my journal all along! The book’s made of watercolor paper, the cover also. I’m leaving it blank. In loving it, it will stain, smear and be contaminated. But so are we, throughout life. What this book will look like in some time and in years, will be a reflection of the marks life leaves on us too.

Holly Hobbie inspired blue blanket…

Handbound blank journal Wishing for the Cool to Come by Mandy van Goeije

Handbound blank journal Wishing for the Cool to Come by Mandy van Goeije

Then there is this blue book “Wishing for the Cool to Come” that is also made of watercolor paper. But for this one I collaged the cover with all kinds of blue paper to make it reminiscent of some Holly Hobbie images I remember having as a child. And then I  added a little button + elastic band for closure. I love books that have some form of a closure. It adds to the  privacy and confinement of the little world inside. I love that. It’s like being inside a pod…

Little Darlings to grow fond of…

Handbound blank journal made of an antique book by Mandy van Goeije

Handbound blank journal made of an antique book by Mandy van Goeije

And this must be my little darling… It’s made of a little old book I had lying about. The title freely translated from this archaic Dutch one is something like ‘On Your Own Two Feet’, which I find so fitting for a journal. Because isn’t the whole of life about growing up? I mean, we’re never finished growing, are we? This book too has a closure, mounted on a little scrap of horse leather I had lying about. The insides of this book is of course watercolor paper. I’ve been asked to sell, but this is one of my darlings you know? This one feels like my own to the core of my bones.

Grungeing the hell out of loveliness…

Handbound blank journal with embroidered and grunged cover by Mandy van Goeije

Handbound blank journal with embroidered and grunged cover by Mandy van Goeije

And do you perhaps remember this one? I made this cover almost two years ago and then bound the little book with album rings. And I hated it! Album rings can have their function, but they’re not for my journals. So I took them out and replaced the ugly patterend paper I had inside with fine watercolor paper. And I added a little backing sheet of hand colored paper to the cover to add some more pizzazz and grunge. I used coffee to stain that sheet of paper and boy, does this book smell like coffee! This one must be perfect for morning pages 🙂 I might have to call this book “Entangled in Waking Up”.

When old meets new and journeys on…

Handbound blank journal with a silver spoon and leather closure by Mandy van Goeije

Handbound blank journal with a silver spoon and leather closure by Mandy van Goeije

One of the books that emerged on the hottest days of this year was this one, “Journey”. I used hiking map paper for the covers and bound the watercolor signatures inside with Coptic stitch. But then the book didn’t feel ready to me. It needed a closure. I needed especially this book to be a confined world of its own. So I started looking for something that would fit the book. The map is from somewhere in Germany. Rummaging about my house, I found in the inheritance of my husbands grandfather a little spoon from Cologne. It was perfect because I immediately saw it holding a leather band. Only, the scoop pointed up way too much. So I doubted and tried to find something new. Deliberated with friends and everybody had a different idea for this book. But the little silver-plated souvenir spoon kept lingering in my mind. Wouldn’t it just be awesome to prolong my husband’s grandfather’s journey by uniting it with this book and setting it free on yet another journey? So I decided to hammer the scoop down and that was the best decision ever. This book is now one of my favorites. It is perfect in every way. Size, contents, binding, closure…and story. Don’t you just love it when a story already begins even before a book is opened?

When trees turn into books…

Handbound blank apple wood journal by Mandy van Goeije

Handbound blank apple wood journal by Mandy van Goeije

And finally I must show you this little green darling. Oh, this book! This has really been a neglected project. But a dear one. You see, we used to have an apple tree in our garden. It gave us baskets full of apples. Way more than we could eat, so we shared with neighbours, family and friends. And we had apple sauce and apple pie for weeks. But one day, the tree got sick and it dropped all its blossoms and then all its leaves and then it died. We took it down and as a keepsakes I cut off a few branches and sawed them into thin slices. And here they are. I found plywood made from fruit trees, mainly apple, and attached them onto it. And then I gave the book a binding I don’t know the name of, but was once given when I studied Book and Publishing as being a local binding method in the middle ages. Only, back in the days, such books would be covered with leather after this stage (Horrifying little fact: back in the days some really cruel people of power had books bound like this in the human skin of those condemned to death. I once saw one in a library. I sure wouldn’t have liked to be the bookbinder of that book!) and I left the binding bare in sight. I love how the long stitches really finish the book. Because in truth I had planned to cover the entire cover with these slices of apple wood. I remember I kept the other slices….SOMEwhere. But there are so many somewheres, aren’t there? And I sure didn’t find the right one….. So with these extremely long stitches I literally worked around that problem. And now I just keep looking at this book because it too has become a darling.

Ah, the luxury…

Handbound blank journal made of an antique book by Mandy van Goeije

Coptic binding of handbound blank journal made of an antique book by Mandy van Goeije

So, on a hot day this summer I started out desiring A new blank journal. And today I have six. And guess what? I still have itches… Book binding is painstaking, time devouring, difficult at times and usually a puzzle. But little else is more fulfilling than a new row of gorgeous blank books on my desk. It makes me feel so rich.

Binding these lovelies has been a great start of the year for me. How do you kickstart yourself after such a long and hot summer?