Monday, December 20, 2010

Bookmaking in Latvia

What a treat to find this message from Irena from Latvia yesterday morning. I love the way we can make connections around the world these days. I do put a lot of time and effort into sharing on the web and it is gratifying to hear that it is being used. And she sums up how I feel about bookmaking, "When you start it you just can't stop."

Dear Mrs Susan,
my name is Irena Laurina, I live in Riga (Latvia). I found your blog this summer and was completely "in love" with this idea. I began to make different books using your nice videos and ideas.. and now I also have had some workshops for children and adults about making books from recycled papers.. When you start it you just can't stop, especially if you love the ecological and green things and lifestyle... I started blogging about my other hobbies, like glove and sock dolls, about my amazing cat and of course about bookmaking for children
I wish you a very nice Christmas days and a lot of new ideas next year!
I added some pictures from my last workshop with 2 adults and 3 children..
have a nice Sunday!

You can see Irena's work at

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gingerbread House Accordion Book

While it doesn't have the pungent aroma of baked gingerbread or the sweetness of the icing and candy, this gingerbread house and accordion book is a treat. I used the bottom of a grocery bag for the house and half the front panel of a grocery bag for the gingerbread men. You may want to glue your accordion into the house which I forgot to demonstrate on the video.

Patterns for gingerbread men and candy

Books and Links

Delightful story of the Gingerbread Baby's new friends with Jan Brett's always engaging illustrations. I find I spend more time with the pictures than the words in her books.

How to Make a Gingerbread House
I haven't tried the recipe but her description of the process fits what I learned (the hard way) in several years of gingerbread house construction.

A Gingerbread Tradition
A little bit of the history of gingerbread by Alice Ross.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Leaf Book for Thomas

Two-year-old Thomas and his mother provided the acorn "hats" I used in the book made from oak leaves. I decided Thomas should have a book of his own.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Oak Leaf Book

I was inspired by Laura Martin's comment on facebook on My Thanksgiving Leaf Fan Book made from grocery bags wondering about using real leaves. I used acorn tops, beads, a piece of chestnut leaf stem, and wire for the binding and wrote a quote about gratitude on each page. I think the book would last longer if I had pressed the leaves between wax paper but I was too impatient.

Gathering the leaves on my walk today was an interesting experience. I was standing on the sidewalk getting ready to bend down to add another leaf to my small collection when a man with a rake came up to me and said, What are you doing?" followed by "Leave my trash alone." I stood and stared at him waiting for him to smile or laugh. But he seemed to be seriously concerned about my taking his leaves. As my father used to say when I expressed an idea or opinion he thought was ridiculous, "What!?!" So I tossed the leaves to the wind and found a new collection to pick from a little way down the street.

Here are the quotes which I found online:
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. Thornton Wilder

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice. Meister Eckhart

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. G.K. Chesterton

Gratitude is the memory of the heart. Jean Baptiste Massieu,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Leaf Fan Book

Here's a simple fan book made from oak leaves (or at least my interpretation of them) cut from the back panel of a brown paper grocery bag.

I traced the leaf pattern onto the bag with brown marker, colored the leaves in with crayon, and then cut them out. Holding all of them together, I poked a hole at the bottom of the leaves with the point of a pair of scissors.

I threaded a clear twist tie through a bead and pulled the two ends until they were even. I threaded them through the leaves and put the two ends through a bead on the other side. I twisted the two ends together and trimmed off the excess. You could also use a hole punch and a paper fastener.

I did the writing after binding but you might find it easier to do it before. I wrote one word on the front of each leaf and then a little about each word on the back. I wrote some additional information with a red pen along the edges of the leaf, such as the names of some of my favorite books on the back of the book leaf.

Oak Leaf Leaf Patterns to print

A wonderful picture book about November by Cynthia Rylant. It describes the month for the plants, the animals, and for us. The language is beautiful, the observations are keen, and the oil on paper illustrations are filled with atmosphere and beauty.

It starts: "In November, the earth is growing quiet. It is making its bed..." and ends: "In November, at winter's gate, the stars are brittle. The sun is a sometimes friend. And the world has tucked her children in, with a kiss on their heads, until spring."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Celebrating Ed Emberley

Ed Emberley was born on October 19,1931. In honor of his birthday, this month's project is a thumbprint palm leaf book. I'm a big fan of Ed Emberley's picture books and especially appreciate everything he has done to bring art to all of us through his drawing and thumbprint books. Happy birthday Ed and thank you!

I made my palm leaf book from a cereal box panel. Younger children may have difficulty cutting and punching something that thick. Two solutions: Glue together two sheets of copy paper with writing on one side with the written sides facing each other or prepare the pages ahead. I used a piece of netted plastic from a tomato bag for the string. The beads at the end are cut out thumbprints on cereal box.

A couple of suggestions about the stamp pad: washable is a good idea (not what I used as my brown thumb shows). If you are using multiple colors with a group, you might want to make small groups and assign each child a color to print. Otherwise there's wiping to do in between each color.


in Spanish

A closer look at My Thumbprint Book of Animals

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lighthouse Libraries

Lighthouses were often time located in remote areas and as such had no access to city services such as libraries, opera houses, entertainment, etc. that most people enjoyed who lived in a town or city. As light keeping was a lonely profession in most cases supplies were brought to them by lighthouse tender ships. One of the items the tender supplied was a library box on each visit as pictured to the left. Library boxes were filled with books and switched from station to station to supply different reading materials to the families.

Read more about the libraries here.

And for a great adventure story and taste of life in a lighthouse in the 19th century:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bee Accordion

And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,

I always read John Keats's poem To Autumn at this time of year. My favorite lines are the first two, "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun", but bees are on my mind this year. Our summer trip to Utah brought us images of old fashioned beehives as they are the symbol of Utah and appear on every state highway sign. My mother-in-law gave us a a jar of delicious honey from her hive along with tales of its retrieval. And I love watching the collection of bees and pollinators of all sorts on our flowers.

I made a four-page accordion from the back panel of a grocery bag cut in half the long way. I then cut the folded pages into the shape of a hive, leaving the two sides untouched until about 2/3 of the way up the side of the book. (You can make all kinds of shapes but always have to remember to keep some of the sides intact. Otherwise, you'll have four separate pieces instead of an accordion.) I used a cereal box panel for the covers and made them just a tiny bit larger than the pages. I then covered the covers with pieces of grocery bag.

Written directions

in Spanish


A closer look at My Book About Honeybees


Tales from the Hive
NOVA page on the honeybee.

Honey Bees Life Cycle Video
Excellent youtube video with lots of close-up views. And on TeacherTube.

Life Cycle of Bee PDF
Life cycle of bees illustrated with photographs.

Busy Bees
A website by students at Heard Elementary Academy.

Beekeeping and Children
Information on beekeeping from the Liberty 4-H in Petaluma, CA.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wish Scrolls at Wenham Museum

I spent a Saturday morning at Family Day at the Wenham Museum making wish scrolls, one of the projects in Handmade Books For a Healthy Planet. When I first made wish scrolls, based on traditional scrolls in containers from Ethiopia, I used film containers. They are becoming harder to find so I used prescription containers instead. We used brown paper grocery bags for the scrolls and to decorate the outside. I love how there is always a new adaptation and something new to learn. I had buttons and beads to add and someone came up with a way of stringing and attaching them that I hadn't thought of. We all learn from each other. I especially liked that the scrolls were made by some adults alone as well as by children. Bookmaking is for everyone.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Spirit Book Workshop at Barnard School

It's unusual to have the opportunity to give a non-curriculum specific workshop to teachers but the Barnard School in South Hampton, NH invited me to do an afternoon Spirit Book workshop as a way to give teachers a calm place to center themselves before the start of the school year. We used the front and back panels of grocery bags for the books and gathered natural materials outside. I think process is more important than product but you can see how wonderful the books they created turned out here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Handmade Books for Literacy

This is a fabulous project. Members of the North Redwoods Book Arts Guild in California made 1,000 small handmade books which are being sold for $1.00 each to benefit a local literacy program. They used what I call the hot dog booklet.

About the project:
Article in the Times-Standard

Book Arts Guild blog

How to make your own hot dog booklet:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Name Book

We made this simple name book as the introductory activity in the teacher workshop in Utah this summer. Each person had one sheet of copy paper with writing on one side, two covers cut from cereal boxes (for US Letter paper the covers were 3" x 4.5"), glue stick, scrap paper, and scissors. On each table was a pile of miscellaneous collage papers. A good way to place them is in styrofoam trays for vegetables from the supermarket. I led the class through the construction of the accordion book. Each person then cut the letters of her (or his) name out of the collage papers and glued them across the accordion.

I like starting with this activity because it gives a taste of both aspects of bookmaking in one small package: following directions in the construction phase and independent creative work in the name phase. It also uses the accordion book as one long panel rather than separate pages and sends the message that book s can be places to experiment and have fun.

We did a show and tell of our books and used them to introduce ourselves. We then hung them from a yarn line for some instant room decoration. You could also have branches in a container and hang the books.

If you are doing it with a class, I think it's important for you to make a book along with the children. I think we need to take every opportunity we can to show our students that we are all in this together. We often forget that we are asking them to put themselves on the line every time they write something and share it and we need to acknowledge it and sometimes do the same.

Written directions

in Spanish


Links and a Book

Meaning of Names
I thought this was the easiest to navigate (and no pictures of pregnant bellies as on the baby name sites). Susan means lily in Hebrew.

Popular Baby Names
Look up the most popular names by year as registered with the Social Security Administration. Susan was number 6 in the year I was born.

Name Days
In many cultures, name days are celebrated in addition to or in place of birthdays. My name day is August 11. Here's the wikipedia entry.

Happy Name Day
Find your name day here.

The Name Game: A Look Behind the Labels
by Donna M. Jackson
Interesting collection of information about names including babies, pets, hurricanes, companies, and more. Comic illustrations by Ted Stearns.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Yes to Summer Reading

The NY Times had an excellent article on the value of summer reading based on a three-year study of low-income children in Florida. Of particular importance was that the children were allowed to choose their own books.

From the article:

Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute and author of a new book about how children learn, “Mind in the Making,” said she hoped that the findings would encourage parents and teachers to allow children to select their own reading material.

“A child’s interests are a door into the room of reading,” said Ms. Galinsky, who said her own son turned away from books during grade school. Because he liked music, she encouraged him to read music magazines or books about musicians. Her son later regained an interest in reading and has a Ph.D.

One of the reasons I have become so involved family bookmaking is related to choice. Kids need to be able to write about what interests them and there is little time for that in most schools. By making books at home, they will have a place to pursue their own passions. Books about music and musicians for example.

And this article about summer reading reminded me of a letter I wrote to the editor of our local paper about summer reading. My complaint was that kids were assigned projects to do about their reading which totally missed the point of summer reading: pleasure. Note that my reference point for competition to reading is television. How far the screen has extended into our lives since then.

When the Summer Reading program was first introduced, I thought it was a good idea. It would keep kids reading and give them a chance to do it without the pressure of additional schoolwork and book reports. The summers flew by, the reading was often done at the end of the summer in anything but relaxed circumstances, but I still supported it. The last two years the program has expanded to include written responses to the books and a small project.This year the reading was enjoyable and finished on time. The selection of books has been a good one. But now we are faced with the written projects and I say let’s go back to just reading.

I had been questioning whether I was being a lazy parent. Am I going to send my child out unprepared to compete with the Japanese and Singaporean children because I don’t feel like nagging over the summer?

Our family vacation changed my mind. We all brought books with us. I read three novels, my husband one, and my seventh grader, one. For the adults, it was pure joy. The seventh grader couldn’t put his book down, but it was not pure joy. There was always this feeling that he should be writing a response, answering one of the questions provided. I thought how different my feelings would be if I knew I had to write written responses for the three books I read.

I think the Summer Reading Program should be the time to inspire students with the love of reading and if not love, at least a sense that reading can be a pleasurable experience. It is the time to help create lifelong reading patterns. One can argue that the kids can read additional books for pleasure, but the sad fact is, most won’t. Reading is in competition with television and television has the advantage. It’s easy; the images are provided. We just sit and absorb. Reading is work. We have to decode and comprehend the words and then create the images in our heads. When we’re comfortable with it, it gives us freedom. Until we are, it can be a struggle.

We cannot forget that this competition between books and television exists. By requiring written work only from reading, we give television an unfair advantage. Summer is the time to build the habit of reading for fun, the time to learn to see reading as a richer form of entertainment than television. Therefore, I urge the Newburyport Public Schools to eliminate the writing component from the Summer Reading Program. Evaluations
of the students comprehension can be done in class at the start of the year. Let our children have the same pleasure we do for their summer reading.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Workshop at Norton Public Library

A great afternoon at the Norton Public Library working with the enthusiastic Children's Librarian Lee Parker and a gathering of parents with children from ages 2 to teen with a few adults coming to have fun of their own. We had three stations to make three simple books: accordion, stick and elastic, and hot dog booklet plus one with stencils, collage papers, glue, and markers. Our recycled paper was a blast from the past—paper left from a dot matrix printer. Some of the kids left with handfuls of strips with holes for projects at home. The workshop was funded by the Norton Cultural Council which is a chapter of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

View some of the books here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

University of Utah Workshop

I had a wonderful time at the workshop I taught for the University of Utah Book Arts Program in Salt Lake City. Twenty-five teachers from all grade levels and interests plus three great studio assistants, Becky, Mary, and Laura, came together for two days of bookmaking with recycled materials. The atmosphere was lively and energetic and there was lots of sharing. Lauri taught us another way to make "pling" (plastic string) from plastic grocery bags, Brent shared some of his great bookmaking ideas, Becky showed us a variation on the Who Am I? book, Claudia taught Liz how to write her name in Hebrew, and everybody helped make it fun . That's what's so great about making books—so much pleasure along with the potential for so much learning.

Here are photos of some of the books that were made.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Summer Journal

One of my favorite things about bookmaking is how easy it is to make small changes or additions to an existing form and have the new books feel fresh and exciting.

For the Summer Journal, make 4 hot dog booklets: one from a grocery bag and three from used US Letter/A4 paper with writing on one side only. The three smaller books are glued into the the three double page spreads of the larger book. Easy and fun. I named my three little journals Garden Journal, Beach Journal, and Rainy Day Journal.

Written directions

in Spanish


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Are Libraries Necessary?

Jule Siegel posted a link on the Book Arts List to this article on the Fox Chicago website:

I thought I'd share some of my comments:

I think all of us lovers of books and libraries need to speak up. Libraries, to me, are the most democratic institutions we have in this country and their existence is essential. In contrast to the Fox news article, a recent story in our local paper was about how community support stopped the Mayor from making major cuts to the library budget.

I am very interested in the digital/book debate and hope that the future holds the coexistence of books and digital media. I think the western mind has a hard time accepting duality and both instead of either/or. Our idea of progress seems to be ditch the old and embrace the new. I am hoping that maybe this time we can do keep both. There is information that is perfect to get in digital form. There is nothing like curling up with a book that you hold in your hand.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer School Bookmaking

I received a wonderful email from Liz Hopman who is using some of the projects from Handmade Books For A Healthy Planet and my website with her summer school class of kids from 2nd-4th grades. She reports that the kids are enthusiastic and I love the projects she has designed. Her writing ideas came from

The class made the simple rubber band binding for the first hectic day with the book _All the Places to Love_. The kids made a list of their favorite places in their books. They did the Yakety Yak books the next day using the mentor text _I Am The Dog, I Am The Cat_. The kids decided they should be called the versus (vs.) books because their subjects were "against" each other. There were some pretty creative pairs: gumball vs. Pop-Tart, Mom vs. Dad, alligator vs. lion and Sponge Bob vs. Patrick.

Some other lessons she has planned are: _Silver Seeds_, (a book of acrostic poems), accordion time line book for kids to write their own acrostic poems; _Diary of a Worm_, (a journal book), stick and elastic for kids to make their own journal; and _The End_, (a backwards story), kids will make a palm leaf book with their own backwards story.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Father's Day Book

At a few of the family and student workshops I gave in the past week, kids made books for their fathers for Father's Day. It inspired me to make one in memory of mine. Several of the kids made books about their father's favorite things.

I used a piece of US Letter/A4 paper with writing on one side and a cereal box for the covers. I used paper from the collage box for the illustrations. I like the look of the design that extends across the pages but if you do it with collage papers, you'll have to recrease the folds for the book to fold up easily.

Written directions

in Spanish


Some of the books from the workshop

Monday, June 7, 2010

Family Bookmaking with Kindergartners

I gave two family bookmaking workshops in Woburn, MA last week for the Title 1 Program. We used brown grocery bags and cereal boxes. I led the thirty plus students along with parents and fourth grade buddies through the making of 2 books using brown grocery bags and cereal boxes. They then filled their books using markers, stencils, and collage papers. I have a large assortment of small stencil books from Dover Publications and they were a big hit with this age. They also enjoyed the collage box. Some made books for their dads for Father's Day. Others wrote stories and drew pictures. I was gratified to hear many parents say that they would be making more books at home this summer—a perfect rainy day activity.

You can see photos from the workshop here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Celebrating Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson has been on my mind since I just installed a set of digital compositions combining hand-lettered lines by the poet with kaleidoscopic flower imagery at the Newton Free Library in Newton, MA.

This month's project is small book in celebration of Emily Dickinson. You can put one poem in the book, or a collection. I was inspired by Emily Dickinson's fascicles, small booklets into which she copied more than 800 of her poems. While Dickinson made the small volumes from folded sheets of paper that she bound with string, this book is a simple fold and cut book that I call the Hot Dog Booklet with papers from the collage box and lines from the poet.

Written directions

in Spanish


A sheet of Emily Dickinson poems for your book

My Emily Dickinson Book on flickr

My Artwork: The Emily Dickinson Series

The Emily Dickinson Museum
A wonderful site with information about visiting the Homestead in Amherst, MA (a wonderful experience) and lots of information about Emily Dickinson and her poetry.

Jeannette Winter frames a short collection of Emily's poems with the story of her sister Lavinia finding the poems after Emily's death.

Jane Yolen tells a beautiful story of poetry, love, and truth-telling based on a poem and dead bee that Emily Dickinson gave to her six-year-old nephew, Gib.

Michael Bedard tells another story of Emily's connection with children is told here by a girl who lives across the street.

Elizabeth Spires wrote this delightful small chapter book about a mouse who lives in Emily's house and is inspired to write poetry. As the white mouse Emmaline describes herself: "Before I met Emily, the great poet of Amherst, I was nothing more than a crumb-gatherer, a cheese nibbler, a mouse-of-little-purpose.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Newburyport Literary Festival Report

I had a fabulous weekend at the Newburyport Literary Festival. In addition to all the great events, I had my friend since third grade, Nancy (pen name Nancy Butler), visiting from New York State. We began with the only unfortunate occurrence--missing the opening ceremonies with a conversation between Wally Lamb and Andre Dubus III which received rave reviews from all who did have seats. I did comfort myself with the thought that even if we had arrived at what I would have considered early, we would have been too late. We had a great time at the Author's Dinner and I was surprised and pleased to find that my basket which contained Handmade Books for A Healthy Planet along with materials and tools sold for $150!

Saturday was the big day. We both presented and attended workshops.

What we presented:

Handmade Books For A Healthy Planet: Wish Scroll
I gave a workshop based on a project from the new book: a wish scroll from Ethiopia. After a guided lesson in making scroll cases from film and other plastic containers and yarn and scrolls from grocery bags, the group, which included parents and children and adults on their own, decorated the cases and wrote their wishes on the scrolls. It was wonderful to be in a room with the gentle hum of creative activity.

Hooked on Classics: A Hip Approach to Old Material
A conversation with Nancy Butler, author of Marvel Comics Pride and Prejudice and the forthcoming Sense and Sensibility and Jenny Sawyer, the delightful presenter of 60 Second Recap, an internet video site which introduces the classics to teens in entertaining 60 second videos, moderated by me. We had a great conversation. Nancy and Jenny had both looked at each other's work online so it was an informed conversation as they discussed their motivations and processes.

What We Attended:

Kakapo Rescue: Heartbreak and Hope at the Edge of Survival with Sy Montgomery
In her illustrated talk about her trip to New Zealand to document the nesting of the almost extinct Kakapo parrots, Sy spoke with excitement and deep emotion about her experience. The fragility of the lives of the individual birds and the incredible care taken by a small group of humans to ensure the survival of the species is deeply moving. I think I was not the only one who had tears in my eyes at the end. Her book for children is illustrated with photographs by Nic Bishop.

Gina Barreca reads from Its Not That I’m Bitter: How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World
Gina is a feminist theorist and humorist. This time the tears forming were from laughter. She is a sharp observer of life who is not afraid of the f word (feminist) and I look forward to reading her books.

Playing With Matches, a talk by Gregory Maguire
I had a brief chance to talk to Gregory Maguire and reminisce about the class in Victorian Children's Literature we were both in at Simmons College in the 1970s before his presentation. I had to leave early to give my workshop but was inspired and delighted by what I had time to hear, especially about the friends one gathers across time and space through reading.

Polyphony: Poets Read New England
I loved the group reading of an accessible selection of poems by 19th and 20th century New England poets by members of the Pow Wow River Poets. Each poem was read by multiple poets. I was moved by both the content of the poems and the musicality of the presentation.

Closing Ceremony Honoring The Writer’s Life
The festival closed with a reading from John P. Marquand's (a Newburyport resident during his life) The Late George Apley by Anita Shreve, a poetry reading by JD Scrimgeour accompanied on piano by Philip Swanson, and a reading of John Updike's short story, The Family Meadow, in the deep, rich voice of local resident Josiah Welch.

See a small selection of photos here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Celtic Knotwork

In celebration of St. Patrick's Day and in anticipation of the Oscar nominated animated film The Secret of Kells which I can't wait to see, this month's project is Celtic knotwork.

I made a hot dog booklet from the back panel of a brown grocery bag and followed directions on the web for making Celtic knot designs. There are directions using graph paper but I preferred the simpler way of drawing the design in crayon, marker, or colored pencil and then adding the outlines to make the interlocking knots.

Written directions

in Spanish


My Book of Celtic Knotwork on flickr

Book of Kells at the Trinity Library in Dublin

Book of Kells DVD
This short video promoting the DVD gives some close-up views of pages from the Book of Kells. You can purchase a copy at John Neal Booksellers.

The Secret of Kells website
You can watch the film's trailer here.

Celtic Knots

This was my favorite site for Celtic knots. It was here I found the draw first, outline later method which is called felt-tip pen on the website. There are also outlines which you can print and color or trace over and then add outlines as well as lots more information.

Celtic Knotwork

I liked this site a lot too. There is a method of drawing your own simple grid and then building the knotwork design.

Art by Deirdre McCullough Greenwald

My friend Deirdre has been using Celtic knotwork in amazing ways in her work for many years. You can see samples of her work here.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Spring is on the way. First snowdrops are in the garden. For years I have only had one lonely snowdrop which never seemed to want to clump and spread as they are supposed to do. I planted more bulbs last fall and was happy to see a new patch coming up near the steps. The image is a page from the Book of Hours I made for one of the projects in Handmade Books For A Healthy Planet. There will be an online supplement to the book which will have videos, links, and patterns like letter outlines to illuminate for the Book of Hours.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Handmade Books for a Healthy Planet

I'm so excited about the cover design for my new book which comes out at the end of April. The concept and design are by my son Brendan, the drawings are mine. Here's some information about the book:

Explore the fascinating world of handmade books. Learn about their history around the world while you make your own books with earth-friendly recycled materials. All you need are cereal boxes, grocery bags, scissors, glue stick, and Handmade Books for a Healthy Planet.

Follow the step-by-step directions to make sixteen different books including
• Wish Scroll from Ethiopia
• Medieval Book of Hours
• Time Line Accordion book from Central America and Mexico
• Book of Haiku from Japan.

For over twenty years, Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord has been teaching bookmaking in schools and libraries where her workshops consistently get the highest ratings for combining creativity and enthusiasm with clear, precise directions. Her years of experience make Handmade Books for a Healthy Planet easy to use and filled with creative possibilities.

as a pdf

Monday, February 15, 2010

Winter Buds Sketchbook

Winter is a great time to look at the trees and shrubs around us. We get a clear view of their shape and structure and a reminder that warmer weather is on the way when we look at the buds that will brings leaves and blossoms in the spring. Late in the summer after I graduated from high school, my grandfather and I were walking around his garden. I asked him what flower would be blooming so late in the season from the buds on one of his shrubs. He told me that they were the buds for the flowers for next spring. I was shocked both at the concept and the fact that I had gone through twelve years of school and didn't know such an obvious fact about the world around me. It is a reminder that we have much to learn from observing the world around us and from our elders.

I made my book with reused US Letter/A4 paper folded in half the long way with the writing on the inside, a horse chestnut twig, and an elastic. I snipped the twigs and did my drawings at home but you could also do your sketching outdoors.

Written directions


My Winter Buds Book on flickr

Maryanne Wolf on Digital Media and Kids

Today's Boston Globe has an interview with Maryanne Wolf, director of Tufts University Center for Reading and Language Research about kids' overexposure to digital media.

She says
One of the biggest antidotes is going back ourselves with our children and having fun—no electricity allowed.

I say
Make books together!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Eco-Friendly Crayons

I tend to prefer markers to crayons but I just purchased some Prang soy crayons and I love them. They are made with soy oil rather than petroleum which makes them better for the environment and I find they go on more smoothly and prefer the color and surface they create. I also got a set of recycled crayons which are made by Crazy Crayons, a company in Wisconsin which employs people with developmental disabilities. When I showed them to my husband, he said, where do they get the crayons from? Are there that many extra crayons in the world? I showed him my box of crayons some of which date back to the sixties, if not the fifties. So the answer is yes.

In the valentine, red and orange were colored with soy crayons, purple and brown with recycled crayons.

You can purchase the soy and recycled crayons from Stubby Pencil Studio which has a lot of eco-friendly art products for kids.

You can recycle your crayons by sending them to Crazy Crayons.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Year of the Tiger

The Chinese Year of the Tiger begins on February 14. Here is are two images for you to download, one black and white and one in red which symbolizes good luck. Put one on the cover of a Chinese New Year accordion book.

Black and White Image

Red Image

Information about the Chinese Zodiac

Written Directions

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jung's Red Book

I went to see The Red Book of Carl Jung at the Rubin Museum in New York. You can read my impressions at in good spirit.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Prayer Flags

Sometimes I stretch the interpretation of what a book is and the prayer flags are an example. They can be viewed as separate pages joined together—a book. The flags (pages) were cut from different colored recycled plastic bags. The writing was done with waterproof marker. I made them last winter at about this time and they were in perfect condition when spring came. They were a welcome sight as we walked out our back door on cold and icy winter days. The pages are hung on string made from connected loops of plastic bags. Some people call it plarn (plastic yarn) but I kind of like the word I came up with, pling (plastic string). I wrapped the top of the flag page around the pling and stapled it around rather than to it so that the flags could move freely. You can find directions for making plarn/pling here.


Tibetan Prayer Flags

This site selling Tibetan prayer flags has thorough and well illustrated information about the history and traditions as well as symbols, colors, and meanings of traditional prayer flags.

The Dream Flag Project
connects students to their dreams and their dreams to the world through writing poetry, through creating art, and through the words of Langston Hughes.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

Recyclemania continues into the new year. We have the big old-fashioned colored lights on our tree this year (we alternate between them and white, initially done to please all family members and now we all like both) and these are the burnt out bulbs. The hangers are made from twist ties. The writing was done with a sharpie metallic marker. I also used these bulbs as package tags for gifts.