After over a month of non-creativity because of family and health issues, I suddenly find my mojo mysteriously returning, much to my joy! This morning my hubby gave me something he’d picked up on the sale table at a charity coffee morning he attended recently – he said he thought he ought to buy something! When he gave it to me, I was entranced. It is a little hand-made leather book, filled with blank pages made from hand-made paper with delicately coloured leaves and petals embedded in it. The book measures about 6 x 4.5 in, and the leather cover has been decoratively punched in a pretty design on the front.
The book is secured by a green elastic cord which is rather worn, and anyway doesn’t do the book justice, so this will be replaced, probably with some more leather thong, probably tied with a decorative knot. I have a feeling this elastic may not be original. I may also embellish the flap a little, perhaps shaping the edge and adding some more punched holes.
The book has been bound in a decorative fashion, using thin leather thongs which have been arranged in an artistic design on the spine.
The back of the book is quite plain. I love the warm rich colour of the soft leather of the cover, and how soft and tactile the whole book feels.
Here is a picture seen from the top of the book, showing the six signatures of hand-made paper bound into the leather cover.
The inside of the cover is a lighter brown, the suede side of the leather, showing the punched holes.
This is a picture of the book open between two signatures – you can see the inside of the spine in between.
This shows the book open within a signature.
Opened in the centre of a signature, you can see the thong binding, stitching the pages together.
Here is a detail of the gorgeous hand-made paper which makes up the pages. If you look closely you can see the imprint of the linen where the paper was pressed while wet, and also the fibres, petals and leaves which have been embedded in the paper.
My plan for this little book is to use it as an art journal – to fill it with different drawings, paintings and designs in various media, but in general not completely to obliterate the intrinsic beauty of the paper. In some cases, pages may need to be cut near the binding and removed, to allow for the thickness of any added art work. This hand-made paper is pretty absorbent, and I am not sure how well it will take paint, markers or ink, so some experimentation will be needed, using pages that have been removed. Nothing will be wasted – any removed pages will be used for other projects.
My first step was to embellish the first page by tracing through the punched holes in the cover, and heat embossing the shapes with gold, which then shows through the holes. This would give me a starting point for further embellishing, in a rich, dramatic way, and would also echo the design of the cover.
Here is the first page with the shapes traced in pencil, ready for embossing.
I used my embossing pen, and heat embossed with gold embossing powder. Unfortunately, because of the absorbency of the paper, the embossing ink dried so quickly that not much embossing powder adhered to it, and when I heated it, it went rather dark. I had to go over it twice, and in places, three times, before I got the effect I wanted, and after all that, it was a bit lumpy looking!
Here’s a detail.
When you close the cover now, the gold embossing shows through the pierced holes, which looks a lot nicer than the white paper showing through (see the first photo).
I decided to embellish this embossed design, using a sepia drawing pen. The first step was to outline the embossed shapes to sharpen them up a bit, and then I started filling in with some zentangle-type doodles and borders. The final effect is quite rich and oriental looking.
My original plan was to add some rich colours, but on reflection, seeing that it would be opposite the somewhat subdued-coloured inside cover, I decided to add some Frayed Burlap Distress Ink around the edges and leave it at that.
I wonder who made this delightful little treasure, how old it is, and how it came to be discarded on a bring-and-buy table. Funny what people throw out, isn’t it!