See You At the One of a Kind Show!

It’s that time of year, when I spend 11 days as a vendor at the One of a Kind Show here in Toronto.


I’ve got several new designs, old favourites and some brand new things this year!! (Like the Bookbinder’s Toolkits!). Find me at booth E34 this year. Stop by and say Hello, I always like chatting with fellow bibliophiles!


365/365: Thank You! (but not goodbye)

Day 365/365

It’s the last day of the Sprouts Press 365 project!  It’s been a fun year sharing my journey as an artisan and creative small business owner.  I’ve enjoyed all your comments and likes, I hope you’ve enjoyed it as well.

DSC_0418_fotor_fotor_fotorI plan to continue blogging about Sprouts Press, my creative process, goings-on and other book-ish content, but it won’t be every day.  I’m looking forward to seeing what sort of content I’m capable of on a more relaxed schedule, and sharing the growth of my little company.  In the meantime, enjoy this collage of many of the books I’ve shared with you over the year!  That’s a lot of books!!

Use Your Journal No.7

Day 293/365

Today I’m going to talk about using your watercolour journal out in the field!  It’s fun, I promise!!
DSC_0814I recently took a few days off to enjoy some time in the woods, near a lake and I decided it would be fun to do some sketching.  So, today I’m going to talk about my tricks and tips for watercolour sketching when camping/cottaging/hiking.

Disclaimer: I am not even going to try and pretend that I’m any sort of expert at watercolour painting.  This post isn’t about how to paint with watercolours, but rather, how to enjoy watercolour painting (and maybe even just sketching), in a handbound sketchbook while out in woods.
DSC_08126 Tips for Watercolour Sketching In the Field: 

6. Choose appropriate paints.  For example, I use watercolour pencils, because they aren’t messy, are easy to transport and easy to use.  Also, I like to use a refillable watercolour brush, the type where you fill the handle with water.  I take a couple of them, pre-filled and I’m set for a day of sketching and painting!  If you prefer pans/cakes of watercolour paint, consider getting one of those nifty little travel boxes with foldout trays, and put it in it’s own zip-top bag (no leaky paints!!).

5. Bug repellant.  Pretty much assume that there will be bugs that want to bite.  Mosquitos, black flies, etc.  There are lots of repellants to choose from, do some research on what type of bugs will be at your destination, what types of repellant work best (and are most friendly to the environment and your health) and go from there.  Trust me, it’ll be a much more enjoyable experience.

4. Waterproof everything, especially if canoeing is involved or rain is probable.  This is simple though, no fancy equipment needed.  Just put your sketchbook and paints (especially if you use pans/cakes of paint) in a tough, thick, freezer zip-top plastic bag.  Also, if you keep this bag in an outside pocket of your backpack, then it’s really handy for quick-sketching!  (Note that my ‘waterproof freezer bag’ makes an appearance in the photo above, it’s underneath the book as it had just rained and the moss on that rock was not quite dry)

DSC_08253. Don’t be afraid to take your nice sketchbook.  I took a full fabric watercolour journal (pictured above, and found online here) and am so glad I did.  Not only was it tough enough to handle a few days of camping, but it looks really good on the coffee table after the trip.  As long as you follow the previous tips and take the steps needed to protect against things that can damage any sketchbook (fancy or plain), then you should be fine.

2. Slow down, open your eyes, and look around.  There are fascinating things everywhere in the woods, all sketch-worthy.  For example, hiking one day I passed by a large rock with circular patterns on it and thought it was neat, but carried on.  Someone else wanted to take a photo of a rare flower, so we stopped and I thought of the rock again.  Going back and inspecting it more closely revealed it was some sort of moss or lichen, with teeny tiny trumpet-like flowers in ash grey.  It looked like a beautiful underwater landscape!

1.Take your sketchbook with you everywhere on your camping/hiking trip.  You never know when someone else might need to take a rest, or find a patch of wild raspberries and want to stop and pick some, giving you a chance to sketch the local flora and fauna; flowers, stone formations, rivers, lakes, trees, little forest critters, etc.

*Important: if you’re out in bear country just know that berries are bear food.  Keep your eyes peeled and leave some for others (human and animal).  And of course, know the rules and laws for the land you are hiking/camping, the poisonous plants of the area, local warnings, etc.  I’m just sharing this info because I’m a girl guide forever: Be Prepared!!!

DSC_0837And that’s it, those are my tips!  I’d love to hear any other tips or exciting art-hiking-camping stories you might have, leave them in the comments below!

*To read more ‘Use Your Journal’ posts, go here for the latest list.

Use Your Journal No. 4


Time to use your journals!!

Today I’m taking a trip down memory lane and sharing a journal I haven’t worked on in years.  There are still several pages to go, but that’s the nice thing about journals: they don’t expire or require the latest download to function properly.  You can pick up a journal anytime and continue where you left off.

Today I’m going to talk about keeping a dream journal!  And yes, I totally went down memory lane when putting together this post.  I even searched my bookshelves for my old dream dictionary, which was right beside my well-used but very dusty book on palmistry, and my old tarot cards.  If you’re into all of these things then this is the journal for you!

photo 1 My little dream journal is a small case bound book I made while in art college.  The dark and inky colour palette was inspired by Edward Gorey.  photo 4Six tips for keeping a dream journal:

1. Keep your dream journal, with a pen or pencil, beside you when you sleep.  On a bedside table is good.

2. Choose a fairly small journal so it doesn’t take up too much space on small bedside tables.

3. When keeping a dream journal, the idea is that the memory of the dream stays with you for only a few minutes after you wake up.  By keeping the journal and pen beside you, everything is at hand when you wake up for an easier, more enjoyable journalling experience.  I’m a visual person, so the main image stays with me longer than the details of the dream, so I write first to get it all down.  Then I do a quick sketch if it adds to my entry/if I’m awake enough.

4. It’s most likely not going to be pretty; it’s utilitarian and a record-keeping practice.  Don’t worry about it.

5. Sometimes I start to lose the memory of the dream and details fade away while I’m writing (it’s kind of like taking notes during a lecture with a very fast speaking prof who does not slow down).  When this happens I just make a note that something else happened, but I don’t remember the exact details, instead of trying to remember all the details.

6. It’s fun to look into the meanings of your dreams as well!  There are many different interpretations of dreams and their meanings, find a dream dictionary that suits you!
photo 5

This is a fun and easy way to keep a journal.  It’s also quite interesting looking back and recognizing patterns and recurring dreams.  I’d love to hear about your experiences keeping a dream journal.

Sweet dreams!

Use Your Journal No.3

Day 140/365

Today I’m going to tell you about a fun way to use your journal/sketchbook.  It involves paring down your implements (pencil only) and taking your journal with you.  You may have already guessed; today it’s all about sketching at the art gallery!  Woot!!  photo 1 Here in Toronto there’s the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario).  I’ll be talking mostly about this gallery because it’s such a large place and there seems to be something for everyone.  But there are so, so many other galleries both large and small to explore and discover.

When I was in art college, we were told to go to the AGO and practice our sketching skills.  There are so many things there to sketch: sculptures, ceramics, paintings, patterns, portraits, and the list goes on.  photo 1  Here are 7 tips for basic art gallery sketching etiquette:

1. When sketching at a gallery, it’s always best to get in touch with them ahead of time to confirm that sketching is allowed.  (At the AGO they have specific guidelines stating what is and isn’t allowed.  Here it is: “Sketching is permitted in the Gallery except where indicated. Sketchpads must be 35 x 25 cm (14 x 10 in.) or smaller. Please use pencil only (no pens or charcoal)”.  If you’re nervous about a pencil sharpener falling open and sharpenings going everywhere, just take a mechanical pencil instead.  Much easier!  (Especially if it’s the kind with the little eraser on the end).

2. Don’t sketch other people without their permission.  (Obvious, but still needs to be said).

3. If you’re a bit nervous sketching in public, find a less busy wing of the gallery or a quiet nook.  You could also just do quick sketches or gestures, rather than longer more developed drawings so that you only have to stop for a couple of minutes.

4. If you’re working on a specific project, check out the gallery website to see what’s showing so you can plan what section to go to.  Or, just wander until you find something that catches your eye.

5. Always write down what the work is that you’re sketching.  Record as much information as you can; artist, year, medium, influences, etc.  If a piece really sticks in your mind maybe you’ll want to do further research or discover what else that artist has created.  You can also write down which gallery you sketched at, even what section – especially handy if it’s in the permanent collection.

6. As you can see by my sketches, I tend to write a lot.  Sometimes its just impressions of the art and sometimes it’s more practical.  Often my trips to go sketching at a gallery are either to research for a project (practical notes) or they are unplanned frenzies of inspiration (impression notes).  Either way, writing and drawing go hand in hand.

7. After your gallery sketching trip, treat yourself to a cup of tea or coffee at a nearby cafe and admire your work.  I cannot explain just how satisfying it is to spend even an hour or two sketching at a gallery and immersing yourself in art.  Taking some time afterwards allows you to develop any lingering ideas and make notes for your next visit.

photo 4As an added bonus the AGO has a section on their website stating how to get in for free!  The most widely applicable way is to go on wednesday evenings.  The gallery offers free admission to the collection galleries on wednesdays from 6 till 8:30pm.

If this has you planning your wednesday evening (that’s tomorrow!!) and packing your journal and pencils, then my work here is done!  Feel free to share your favourite galleries for sketching below in the comments.

Happy Sketching!


Red, Grey and Green

Day 133/365DSC_0729There’s a new style of journal in my Etsy shop!  Please welcome the Medium Journal with Ribbon!  This is my first venture into the world of handmade bookcloth.  I have to say, it is liberating.  To be able to use any fabric I want (minus stretchy and see-through materials; there were some trials and errors!) and turn it into bookcloth opens so many doors.DSC_0745 Of course, I went right for the cotton linen and linen-like fabrics right off the bat, they are so gorgeous!

The journals themselves are hardcover case-bound, housing a selection of blank paper and brown kraft paper.  And, as a bit of fun, each book has a half page map, making it appropriate for travel as well.  (Makes a one of a kind keepsake after it’s filled with memories from a trip!)DSC_0720 Some of the journals have brass corners, mainly just the red journals, which also use outdoor fabric as the bookcloth.  Yes, these are the toughest journals in the series!!

The size is not too big, but not too small; perfect for stashing in a day bag or backpack.  All of these designs have ribbon bookmarks, essential to keep your place so you can find it quickly when inspiration strikes on the go!

Available in Ruby Red, Grass Green and Warm Grey.

Calligraphy Class

Day 125/365

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a calligraphy class at The Paper Place on Queen St. West here in Toronto.  photo 1 It was an Intro to Calligraphy class, so we started with pencil and worked through to a straight nib holder and finally onto the oblique holder.  Back in January I posted about practicing my calligraphy with a fountain pen.  That was a more traditional hand, the Chancery Italic hand.  photo 5 This workshop focused more on contemporary calligraphy and the finding our own hand.  We learned the basics on how to properly use the tools and achieve the bold/thin lines.  Instructor Lisa of Post Calligraphy was encouraging and inspirational, and so full of talent! photo 4It was a great collection of ladies; all creative in our own ways and eager to learn and cheer each other on.  Big Thanks to Ashley of for organizing, to check out her blog post about the class, go here.

Details, details

Day 112/365

In case you didn’t know, I’m currently having a blog giveaway!  So I thought it would be kind of fun to do a little feature on the goodies that will go to the lucky winner.DSC_0729

Postcard Pad, a set of 7 original, hand decorated postcards to tear out and mail, pictured above.  Each postcard in this set is different, so don’t be afraid to send them all to the same person/your Valentine!  They make a great companion when travelling or on trips to your local cafe.DSC_0728

Hand printed Ex Libris Bookplates, a set of 4 in Coral, pictured above.  These are linocuts, my own design, which I cut and hand printed on self-adhesive paper.  Simply write your name on the lines provided, and maybe put in a date or who gave you the book if it was a gift.  Then peel off the backing and put the label on the inside cover of your book.  Never lose a book again!

DSC_0727 Mini Faux Leather Button Book in deep burgundy, pictured above.  This is a cute, chunky  little book with a button closure.  There are 122 pages (244, front and back) and it measures 3″ x 4 1/2″ x 3/4″.  Inside, find a mix of pages; blank, lined, and colours, with a surprise map thrown in for fun!

And of course, all these goodies come in a cute book bag hand sewn by yours truly.

To enter the contest just go here for instructions and details.  Contest runs until January 31, 2015.

Good Luck!

Valentines Day Blog Giveaway!

Day 109/365

As a Thank You for all the love you’ve shown me over the last several months, I’ve decided to give back and return the favour!  I’m holding my first ever Sprouts Press blog giveaway!!

DSC_0720_fotorTo participate all you have to do is:

1. Follow Sprouts Press blog here on WordPress.
2. Leave a comment below about why you love to journal/sketch/doodle/brainstorm; what is it that draws you to pen and paper?

Contest runs January 24 – 31, 2015.  One winner will be drawn randomly from comments below (you must also follow Sprouts Press blog here on wordpress) and announced on February 1, 2015!

The Loot:
-Postcard Pad, a set of 7 original, hand decorated postcards to tear out and mail.
-Hand printed Ex Libris Bookplates, a set of 4 in Coral.  Label your books!
-Mini Faux Leather Button Book in deep burgundy.
-Hand sewn floral and corduroy book bag, to carry all your loot!

Good luck!

Water + Colours

Day 108/365

DSC_0716I recently added a handful of journals to my online shop that I’m incredibly proud of: Watercolour Sketchbooks!  These are books that I’ve been working on for myself for a while now, I particularly love the clean lines and tidiness of this journal; it is simple and understated yet highly functional.

DSC_0706Handcrafted in a series of four colours, they all house 140lb watercolour paper, cased in hard covers wrapped with bookcloth made by yours truly.  And a select few showcase brass corner protectors, for the truly adventurous sketcher!  (That’s me!)
DSC_0719Another treat: matching ribbon bookmark!  These books are case bound, so you will need to work them in, but they will open flat with use.  The case binding has been spun on it’s end given that a landscape orientation is more practical than portrait for a sketchbook.
DSC_0722The Watercolour Sketchbook makes a great gift and once filled it becomes a cherished keepsake!

Shop them online here or in person at the Arts Market on College, in Toronto.