Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical words and watercolour

Creating something useful is very satisfying

Self Developmentphoenixarttally
Front cover of my handmade book

It could be that I felt I needed to atone for my recent perceived destruction of old books that I turned into art journals. In the world of mixed media art journaling, this is called 'altered bookery' apparently, and I wrote about it here a little while ago. My guilt dictated that I should confess what I had done, perhaps.

Anyway, shortly after that I discovered book binding. Not just a chance to play with pretty paper, not only the opportunity to make something useful, but also a chance to purchase..... oh yes..... more art supplies.

Coptic stitch binding

Binding my own book pleased me on so many levels.  For me, a big part of the delight in doing something creative  is actually creating something, something that before your action did not exist.  I suppose that it existed, but not in that particular form, so maybe it is more like alchemy. Alchemy seems pretty close to magic. And I think that is why I like baking so much too. One minute you have gloopy, transparent egg whites and a bit of sugar. With a bit of time and effort, you can completely transform these simple ingredients into magnificent crisp, shiny meringues. Similarly, some pretty paper and waxed linen thread can become a custom, unique, handy notebook. Hurrah!

Pretty paper for some of the pages

In The Creativity Cure, Carrie Barron explains that our modern lives no longer require the creative engagement that used to be necessary in our day-to-day activities.  We don't need to use our own hands to make or repair things any more, most of what we need is easily accessible. Sometimes we engage in creative activities for the pleasure of the process itself rather than for the finished product.  We doodle in the margins of our notes because it is fun, not because we need a completed page of doodles! Creating for process is important too, but it is different from being committed to producing an acceptable output. Those stakes, the necessity, is what results in the sense of achievement felt on completing the project satisfactorily.  Making a book gave me both: the fun of the process and a finished product with a practical use.

As is the case with pretty much anything you might want to learn these days, there is a generous expert or two prepared to show you exactly how, with the aid of You Tube. My preferred expert on the matter of DIY bookbinding is Sea Lemon.  She has provided clear videos for all aspects of the process: making the covers and signatures as well as the coptic stitch binding which I really like. I am rather keen on needlework, but as much as I like doing embroidery I don't seem to have too much need for embroidered thingamabobs. So this scratched the stitching itch just enough without leaving me searching for a purpose for my lovingly needle-worked creation.