There is a charm, a magic about agendas that I can’t really explain. In my schooldays, I remember how special the day was when I went to the book store to get my textbooks and also choose an agenda for the next school year. I would spend so much time looking at all the available ones carefully, the cover, the size, the design… It was a difficult choice but very enjoyable, and I loved using them month after month.
With time, though, as my life follows no schedule and I have little to organize, my agendas would growingly end up empty, unused, sad. So, even though I still browse through them when they appear in the stores by the end of the year, I don’t let myself buy any, because it just makes me sad to keep them blank.
But I discovered something: I can revisit some of that magic in the action of bringing an agenda to life.
These pockets are an envelope divided in two by the binding.
So I ended last year and started 2016 immersed in this process. I designed how the week would look, printed each page in my home printer, manually feeding the pages one by one to print the back sides. I found a nice fabric in a small shop for the cover, and with some paper that I decorated as a craft in my childhood -yellowed with the years- as endpapers, some fun details like back pockets, a bookmark, made with a ribbon I found on the street, and an elastic closure, I am very happy with the overall result, and as always I hope it is durable enough for intensive use.
One of the illustrations… Anybody recognize the scene? And the back pocket.
And there is something else: as I was working on the page design, I was testing the use of typographical symbols as a separation line between the weekdays… But I had a better idea: couldn’t it be actual text, in small print, forming a visual line, as a separation, yet at the same time adding a bit of extra content? From here on it evolved into the idea of using the beginnings of books and texts, some classics, some books I really like, some poems, that would in fact become a riddle for each week: what book is it? Would it be easy to guess? And if not, it would become a book recommendation. On the opposite page I included illustrations related to each of the texts.
This one is in several languages: catalan, spanish, english, french and italian. I am playing with the idea, though, to make a version in a more accessible mix of languages or in just one, and see if anybody would like to have one.
I must say I had a lot of fun doing it, I hope it’s also fun to use!
This journal is a commission that gave us a lot of creative freedom, and throughout the whole process of paper hunting across Barcelona’s paper bins, envisioning the design, stitching it onto fabric, and turning it all into a pretty little book it remains a clear example of the reasons why we decided to get into bookbinding.
i. stitching the cover ii. the book block is ready iii. preparing the book’s casing iv. we added a button
Pages are two colored (two shades of brown) paper from a recycling bin, held together with linen thread; fabrics are offcuts from different sources, stitched with cotton embroidery floss; endpapers are reused envelopes; bookmark and closing tape are silk ribbon and the vintage wood button comes from Z’s grandma’s button box.
Once again some brown paper meant for the trash was the origin of this notebook’s creation. This brown piece of paper, that I found all wrinkled and in a ball, was very thankful that this new life has now been offered to it and I hope Gina finds something nice to write or draw on it.
The cover includes: a little paper wrapping bag, tea bags, kraft paper (thicker than the one used for the pages).
Inside: brown wrapping paper, sewn with linen thread.
All of this came together thanks to some cardboard (cereal boxes and such) and our best friend, white PVA glue.
We’ve had a little bit of a non-creative while as of late, but I suppose that changing location and moving all the time doesn’t help with the peace and quiet that this kind of activities require, at least for us. Gathering the materials, planning the project, realizing it… They kind of require a worry-free mind.
This notebook was made using a long roll of wrinkled recycled paper that had been used as filling for some mail package. After flattening, folding and ripping the pages I made four-page sections and stitched them together.
The cover is some light cardboard (from a detergent box), covered on the inside with a used brown envelope and on the outside with some crocheted fabric made with cotton and linen yarn that also includes a string to tie it closed and protect the pages.
On an other subject, some of our readers mentioned a little bit of confusion between the terms recovered, found and recycled paper. Usually when we talk about recovered and found paper we mean paper that was destined for or even already in the bin. This kind of paper we just use as it comes, with minimal processing: cutting, folding, and such.
On the other hand, recycled paper is the kind that has been mecanically or industrially reshaped or remade in order to bring it again to the user. We don’t do this process ourselves as of now, so whenever we mention recycled paper it is a property of the kind of paper we are using.
Nevertheless, it is possible that we’ve used these terms confusingly in the past, and we’ll try to pay more attention to our terminology in the future.
I recently made a new friend and it seems that I’ve been in the possession of a letter, on the cover of which her name is emblazoned, a time just a hair longer than one year. To remedy this lamentable trespass into the realm of ignorance and malpractice I rendered her this sweet treat that is very much in line with a personal obsession for playing the ukelele. I wonder if she’ll use it to scribe pretty little ditties and play them pluckily, wandering the narrow passages from now until tomorrow?
The nitty gritty: I recently found a postcard on the window ledge of a shop adorned with and devoted to ukeleles and their endless accoutrements. It was an instant association and understanding that the universe had willed me there on a magnificent day in the midst of a morose Berlin summer(weather-wise) and all I had to do thence was accept inertia’s creep and do the deed of manifesting its intent.
It’s perfect-bound with glue and I lined the postcard with kraft paper as it became the book´s interior; then I folded the card around the book block and glued it all together to set for a while.
I did have more problems with “lifting” so next time I´ll try folding the card before gluing in the lining to prevent too much distortion or crumpling.
In order to use some paper rests that were lying around I made these tiny books. It’s actually a little hard to work at this size… And even though they took so much to make, it’s not completely clear if it is humanly possible to write in them: I already tried it in one of the miniature books (which are twice the size of these ones) and it’s harder than I expected!
No worries though, at least they are useful as construction blocks.
By the way: we do have smiley keys!
Some people toil for years obssessively on an idea, concrete, never managing to bear any fruit. Others collect every piece of scrap-paper and stray postcard that they find and store them in a mysterious bag of goodies waiting patiently for the time when a spark will descend from the heavens and don them with the creative inspiration sufficient to produce a tiny wonder. The latter is what applies to this tale.
We decided to produce a small edition of these postcard booklets in commanding colours with a Japanese hand stab-stitch and a variety of threads. They turned out really well and for the interior covers, we used whatever we had around: scrap paper, namely. One even has a simple collage design which I think is quite funny, though you may never see it!
Overall, we learned a few clear lessons during the production of this edition:
- Don´t break your tools
- Don´t underestimate the importance of paper weight
- Don´t obsess over the finest of details
- If you care about what you´re doing your books will look good in the end
- Keep making mistakes and keep learning from them, but don’t ever stop.
Of course, there are numerous others but I´ll save those for the future. For now we´re going to bask in the glory of our fine achievement.
The second and third books we´ve made utilise the pamphlet stitch, using only three holes. It´s very easy and the best part is that no glue is necessary. It´s quite possible with only a little imagination to make several and various alterations to this design.
The white book on the left is a simple chap book and the smaller, on the right, is made using recycled tea bags and packaging, based on the design of Trial & Error. We´ve created a how-to video of the process!