As fibre artists, we tend to work with fabrics, occasionally adding alternative materials to our creations. But the past couple of weeks I've been drawn to working with paper. Paper is fibre too, after all, and accepted in the fibre arts world. 

The papers I selected for my first project - all soft in colour - were each meaningful in their own way: old sheet music, pages torn from an old book, tissue paper I had embossed then gelli printed, gampi paper previously embellished but never used, a vintage looking paper bag, eco & rust printed white paper bag, and used tea bags (yes, I'm a tea drinker, not coffee) to which I added some alcohol ink. After tearing and laying out the papers until I had a pleasing arrangement, I tacked down the papers with a gluestick onto Kraft-Tex fabric paper which I had just recently discovered and purchased. 

Using my usual sew 'n slash technique, I machine stitched through all the layers of paper, using a "jeans" needle 100/16, cut between the sewn lines, then folded back some of the papers to reveal the layers below.

This was a great way to use up a bit of my paper stash, hoping to one day find a use for them. We can sew any papers - flyers, newsprint, magazine pages, paper bags, food bags, cardboard, anything that could end up in the paper recycling bin - and even if the papers have been previously painted.

I'm delighted with how this piece turned out - it has wonderful movement, a quiet area, soft serene colours, and strong contrast between the dark, square tea bags and the light, curvy background

My 2nd project was bookmaking, which I learned several years ago. I love the feel of handmade books, and  I think each has a purpose which will one day be revealed to its owner. They can be public or private, bearing silent witness to your thoughts, ideas, sketches, or what have you.  I've sold several soft cover, single signature books over the years, each with a uniquely decorated cover - and often used for sketching or journaling or when traveling, and can be tucked easily into a bag. 

But I had never mastered binding multiple signatures into one book. They always end up wobbly and floppy, and no amount of practice or viewing of videos has helped me overcome this challenge. Until now.

A recently purchased a copy of fibre artist Sandra Meech's book "Connecting Design to Stitch" (Sandra also has a background in graphic design and art) included instructions for making a bound sketch book. Her binding method is the simplest I've seen, and with a slight modification, I tried it. It was perfect. 

For the book cover, I used 2 small canvas art boards (4x6) which I had painted, collaged with leftover papers - torn tssue paper, sewing patterns, and other emphemera -  cheesecloth for texture, and more paint until I had lots of layers and was happy with the look. Yes, there were stages where I thought the boards were ugly, but the key was to just keep playing and layering. 

Each signature is individually handstitched. To bind the signatures together, Sandra outlined a simple weaving method. A photo is below - not great work for me just yet nor have I tidied up the thread ends -  but with a bit of practice I will have this mastered. I used gel medium to glue the first page and very last page of the bound book to the canvases.

I'm happy with this new-to-me technique and I know now there will be more hard-cover handmade books in my future. 


"Music is full of longing and movement.  Painting should be the same." I read this quote in Hundred and Thousands: The Journals of...