Do you feel guilty buying a product from someone else that you make yourself?

I love stationary! I love the smell, the look, and the different textures. My favourite item of stationary is the book, blank books or journals specifically; all different sizes, shapes and materials. Since I was a child I have been drawn to the stationary aisles of supermarkets, department stores and, now stationary is cool, shops like Smiggle and Typo often capture me as I walk past. I honestly think they pump out new book smell to tempt people like me into their wonderful stores. Image

A new book is filled with potential and a certain magic. The precious first page, just yearning for  marks to be made. I will often leave the front page blank as the pressure is too much! I am scared the magic the book holds will dissipate if I put the wrong image or thought on that page. But the guiltless pleasure I used to find in purchasing a beautiful journal has been tainted.

I have not bought a blank book or journal in more than a year. This began the minute I started making my own. I still love books, mine and other peoples but I cannot justify a purchase as I can just use one of my own. I covet them at stores and glimpse them online, but I don’t buy them because I feel guilty of betraying my own creations.

Do other creatives experience this bizarre affliction? Does the baker secretly desire the cakes in the shop window of the other bakery in town as she/he walks by? Does the jeweler yearn to buy and wear another makers wares?

Do other creative souls suffer with this strange self inflicted torment, or is it just me?





Artistic Beauty in a Hardware Store – How to Find the Materials to Make it!

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Artistic beauty is not on the average persons mind when they visit a hardware store, but for all the artists out there, it should be. Hardware shops are where you will find many things that are supremely useful and cost effective. What more could you want.

I hand paint the covers to a couple of my books and the secret ingredient is from Bunnings (Hardware Store). Here is a picture so you get the idea of the effect this tutorial will achieve (hopefully)

Hand painted Book Cover with Zebra

Hand painted Book Cover with Zebra

The Zebra is an after market addition (children’s book image), it is  the painting underneath that I speak of. How did I create this type of pattern? The key is a product you can find in the painter and decorator section, it is called Masking Paper. Painters use it to stop paint splashes getting everywhere, we’re going to use it in exactly the opposite way.

This paper is non-absorbent, strong and the coolest thing ever if you like to screw things up to satisfy your stress levels. ( I love it!) The reason it is so good for the following project is when wet, it retains its strength.

1.First rip off some paper from the roll (I use about two arms length) and screw it up into a ball, unravel it and screw it up again, really tight! You will notice that the paper is strong but still pliable. It does tear though, consider yourself warned! Once you have scrunched sufficiently, un-scrunch your paper and smooth it out with your hands, so you have the shape of the paper to work with.

The paper on the way to being a scrunched canvas

The paper on the way to being a scrunched canvas

2. Lay it out on a table you can paint on safely, it can get really messy so would recommend coverage of said table. This is another fun bit.  (in fact the whole thing is a bundle of fun, if you like this kind of thing, which you do otherwise you would have stopped reading by now). Use  a water sprayer bottle and wet the paper, use your

My painting table (the dining table)

My painting table (the dining table)

acrylic paints and dollop and squeeze a fair amount on the paper. Using a damp paintbrush, spread the paint around in an ‘artistic manner’. It is up to you what colours you use, I would recommend those that do not turn to brown when mixed as there is a fair amount of paint mixing with this method. Continue to use the water sprayer if the paint is starting to dry and you haven’t finished.

3. Repeat Step 1.

4.Smooth the new piece of scruched paper out and  lay it across the painted piece. Sometimes I wet this second piece of paper before putting it on the paint, and sometimes I don’t. Use your hands to press the paper into the painted piece when it is layed on the painted paper. ( I forgot to take a photo of this part of the tutorial, sorry)

4. Remove the second piece of paper and hang it somewhere to dry.

A close up of one of my creations

A close up of one of my creations before I made a book cover out of it.

Hanging to dry on the balcony

Hanging to dry on the balcony

5. If you have kept your original painted paper wet with the sprayer you may be able to create another print from it with another creased piece of paper. If not, don’t worry as the original paper can be hung up to dry and used as a book cover, or whatever use you have imagined for it.


Notes: For the book shown above, I used a core of tyvek and then glue the paper to this core before creating the cover for my books. It provides stability and also means the cover cannot be torn.

This is my first attempt at a “how to” so feel free to ask any questions you like. 

Playing Favourites

My lovely man, Jeremy suggested I do a post telling everyone which one of my books is my favourite. But favourites are hard to choose.

I remember as a child, my sister and I would forever be asking my Mum which picture, we had each made that she liked the best. Disappointingly, my Mum would always reply ” I like them both the same”.

My sister and I would argue the point, but we knew what she meant – a Mum cannot play favourites with her children. It may start with a picture, but where will it end!

As a parent myself now, I understand that you can love two things equally but often for completely different reasons, that’s where it gets interesting.

People visiting my stall will sometimes ask which book is my favourite, but the question is too broad.

Is it my favourite:

  • to make?
  • to sell?
  • to admire?

My favourite to make, is the Large Leather Wrap Around Journal.


It is a large project that I must settle in with. I become acquainted with the book and its personality,  as the sewing requires patience and attention to details. I am good at attention to detail, but sometimes patience is a virtue I glimpse and hold for only short periods of time. This book forces me to stop all background noise and focus on the task at hand. The smell of the leather as I work, the sound of the thread pulling through the pages and the finished product are all the reasons for voting this book my fave to make.

My favourite type of book to sell are my Coptic Bound Books.

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These type of books were  the first kind I made. I love to sell these because the craftsmanship is there for all to see. The spine of the book is exposed and all the stitching I do is visible. I love the fact I can use fancy paper, children’s book illustrations, old maps or even a recycled hard bound book (see last photo with bird detail). This means they appeal to a wide variety of people.

Lastly, the most treasured of  my creations is my Hand painted Journal. It is tactile, beautiful, flexible and just the right size with lots of pages.  It also has a pocket to put all those bits of paper I collect and an extended back cover to act as a bookmark. If I was browsing my own stall these are the books I would be drawn to purchase.

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