Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review: A little book about making books

Little book of Book Making: Timeless Techniques and Fresh Ideas for Beautiful Handmade Books
By Charlotte Rivers, 2014
Publisher: Potter Craft
Binding: hardcover

Summer is still trying to hold on in the Pacific Northwest, but September is here and fall is sneaking in with cool weather inserting itself more often between hot, sunny days. It may seem a little early to be thinking about Christmas, but I'm actually a bit late. August is when you are realizing school is around the corner and you only have a few weeks to get all the school supplies in order. So "Christmas in July" is my shopping motto.

I like to think about Christmas gifts early because I want to give personal, handmade gifts and it takes me a few months to actually figure out what I will make, how I will make them, and what I need to make them. When I don't give myself time to plan my gifts, Thanksgiving becomes less thankful and more stressful. It was shortly after I finished my son's back-to-school shopping that I discovered Charlotte Rivers's Little Book of Book Making. Its subtitle, Timeless Techniques and Fresh Ideas for Beautiful Handmade Books hooked me into thinking, "Hey, here's something that will give me ideas AND show me how to make them!" (Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.)

Upon first opening the book, I was a little disappointed. More than half the book is is filled with "ideas," beautiful examples of book art that I could never hope to duplicate in the space of a few months. Not until the very end of the book do you find instructions on how to make basic versions of the masterpieces showcased. Momentarily disheartened, I returned to the beginning of the book. After reading the "Foreword" and "About This Book," it was clear this book was meant to provide more inspiration than instruction.

I skimmed the first section and stopped on a piece that looked simple enough and read the short write-up on the creator's process. At the end of the write-up was a notation, "See also," which gave the page for instructions to make a similar piece. I went to the page and upon closer read discovered detailed directions that were easy to follow. The art showcased in this book goes far beyond the simple techniques in the how-to section, but the instructions are written to allow you to get the basic idea of making a particular book, and then letting your imagination add to that basic structure.

This how-to section is titled "Bookmaking in Practice." Here you will find a comprehensive list of tools and materials needed and offers illustrated step-by-step instructions to produce a variety of handmade book designs. I tried one of the very basic folded binding techniques first with a scrap piece of paper. Once done, I could visualize what such a simple folded piece of paper could become. I was surprised to discover the possibilities!
My creation: an anniversary card!
Readers should not come away from this book feeling intimidated by the complex creativity highlighted in the book. After all, every artist started as a beginner, and any creative soul can see a masterpiece in the simplest of forms. Do browse the first four sections. Not all showcased art has a "See also" attached to it, but most of them do, so if you find an interesting piece, go ahead and look at it's corresponding instructions if it has one and give it a try. I give this book a four out of five stars for the beautiful pieces it showcases and its easy-to-follow instructions.

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