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Supply Guide: Bookbinding tool kit

2 Mar

This semester, I’m taking a class I’ve wanted to since I first started at my university: bookbinding. I’ve always adored books and what could be more fun than making your own? Over the last couple months I’ve accumulated a decent supply kit and lots of additional materials. The other students clearly think I must have no life besides making books because I like to stay for hours on end in the studio working, reading books on bookbinding, and pestering my uber-patient professor for more information.

Here are two link stitch books I did yesterday.

I thought I’d share the contents of my tool kit for those of you interested in bookbinding.

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Craft Book Roundup & Review

24 Feb

When it comes to books, call me Twilight Sparkle. I’m just a huge bibliophile. Additionally, I tend to want to learn everything I can about subjects I’m interested in. Combine the two, and you have a book hoarder.

I particularly like resource books for all the various crafts I do, so I thought I would share some of my favorite titles for those of you interested in growing your own libraries.

Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts – The craft bible from the goddess of crafts herself. This sucker is over 400 pages of projects, tips, templates, patterns, and supply guides. This book covers 32 craft techniques (including scrapbooking, beading, printing, jewelry making, matting & framing, paper cutting, silkscreening, soap making, and more) with several projects for each. One of my favorite things about Martha’s books are the tools & materials guides she includes, which are great for answering all those questions you’ve ever had, especially “…the heck is that for?”

Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts – My sewing bible. This is a great comprehensive book for anyone interesting in sewing. It has a similar format as her Encyclopedia of Crafts, but has a far more extensive visual glossary and “Basic Techniques” section. The fabric glossary is super handy for figuring out what fabrics are best for projects. The supply guide is a life-saver. As someone who was self-taught, I really wish I had this book when I was first learning to sew. It  also covers 27 project categories (including aprons, bags, blankets, curtains, organizers, quilts, upholstery, and more) with multiple projects for each. Another handy-dandy aspect is the included CD that contains all the patterns for the book in PDF format. Just print, tape, cut, and go.

Teach Yourself Visually: Crochet – This is the only crochet book you really need. I find too many books focus on patterns which are easier to find (for free) online. While this one does include a chapter with project patterns, it offers far more valuable information on crocheting you didn’t know you didn’t know. This book is perfect for beginners, but you won’t outgrow it; it’s great to refer back to. With over 300 pages of visual, step-by-step instructions, this book is hard to beat.

The Bookbinding Handbook – I have yet to find the perfect book on bookbinding, but this one is a good place to start. This one offers a great selection of bookbinding techniques and projects. It also has a bigger focus on what most of us would consider a traditional book as opposed to folded accordion books or cards that I honestly find to be less sophisticated. There are a few things I dislike about this resource though. Firstly, the supply guide only contains a few photos and not all the tools are pictured. It’s hard to get a firm grasp on what you need if you can’t see it. Secondly, while the projects do contain images, they are illustrated, not photographed. This can be good because sometimes things are easier to understand with a drawing, but it’s also nice to see a real photo as well.

Handmade Photo Albums – This one is pretty much the opposite of The Bookbinding Handbook in terms of what’s good and what’s not so good. The book honestly seems a little backwards. The first half is the “project” section, but that’s not really an accurate term for it…because these “projects don’t have instructions.” Um, what? All they include is a photo of the finished project, a few “tips” that pertain mostly to selecting and arranging photos, and the dimensions of the paper, binder’s boards, and book cloth required. It’s like having a cook book with recipe ingredients, but no instructions. While the first half is virtually useless, I find the second half to be pretty helpful. The tools and material section is more comprehensive and includes better photos. The section on actual techniques for making books is what redeems this book. Each step includes a photo that shows you exactly what to do in a clear manner. I have no idea why this book is so poorly organized, but those 50 useful pages make it good resource that I’ve yet to find elsewhere.

Badger Badger Badger

22 Feb


As you can see from my hoard, I am a big fan of Badger products! I really can’t stop singing their praises. My husband, Seth, has even taken to calling me a “Badger Bot” whenever I mention the brand.

I actually discovered Badger through my favorite site, Pinterest. Someone had pinned the original Badger Balm “for hardworking hands,” and I immediately thought of Seth’s poor, dry cracked hands and feet. Seth is in the US Army and served his second tour of duty in Iraq from February 2010 (Valentine’s Day to be exact) to December 2010. All that dry weather and hard work took a major toll on his paws. I’d tried to get him to use lotion, but he truly despises how greasy and slippery it feels, so he would never use it.

I checked out Badger’s website and learned that the company was founded by Bill Whyte (affectionately called Badger Bill), a carpenter in New Hampshire who created Badger Balm to heal his hands after all that tough work. Having taking a wood sculpture class, I’ve experienced a baby dose of Bill’s plight and figured who else would be better to develop a product for dry skin than a New England carpenter? I was also excited by the wide range of scents they offered for their balms and other products. And the bonus? All their products are totally natural, certified USDA organic and animal cruelty free!

I did a quick retailer search on Badger’s website and was pleased to find that several stores in my area carry their products. So I popped over to Whole Foods and Central Market over the next couple days and picked up an assortment of products: Foot Balm, Sleep Balm, and the Cool Mint Cocoa Butter Lip Balm with the intention of testing them out myself before pushing them onto Seth, who tends to want reassurance that a product will work before he bothers with it.

Man, were these balms different! Unlike lotion, they have a more solid consistency, so it’s easy to get just the right amount of product out of the tin. Then, it rubs in easily, practically melting on. For the first 15-30 seconds, it feels slightly greasy, but as it absorbs and dries, it leaves your skin with a soft, powdery feeling. Not to dry, not too greasy, but just right. It also leaves your skin feeling hydrated for a long time, so it’s not something you need to be constantly reapplying. An added bonus: the scents. They are amazing and unbelievably natural because they are made from essential oils, not artificial fragrance. They are noticeable, but not overpowering.

In the meantime, I had emailed badger asking which products in particular they’d recommend for Seth, and they kindly offered to send him a complimentary tin as a thank you for serving our country! He received a full size tin (2 oz) of both the original Badger Balm and Foot Balm, and a mini .75 oz tin of the Sleep Balm.

Seth ended up liking them too, and they’re working wonderfully for his hands and feet. He especially likes to put the Foot Balm on before bed with socks.

I’ve taken to “collecting” Badger products, and I’m fairly sure the cute illustrations on the packaging has something to do with it (badgers are one of my favorite animals). So far, I’d have to say my favorites are the Evolving Body Balm (since renamed/repackaged as Damascus Rose Beauty Balm), Sleep Balm, and the Sore Muscle Rub Cooling Blend.

I hope to do individual product reviews in the future, but for now, I just wanted to post about this awesome product line.