Plein Air

Day 7/365

I am a bookbinder, I hand bind blank books.

I also use books; as journals, sketchbooks, idea books, for to do lists, for a bucket list . . you get the idea – I use a lot of books.  But this is my world, it’s what surrounds me and it’s my everyday.  Many times I’ve heard people say that they never use their journals and wish this wasn’t so.  The books I make are meant to be used and well-loved; write in them, sketch in them, spill tea on them and yes, even rip out the pages if you really want to!  It’s your journal!!

But before I get totally carried away with my artsy-fartsy book arts ideas, I’m going to back up to the beginning, to the start of a creative journey.  I’ve decided to write a few posts about actually using the journals I make and how to get started.DSC_0100

So, today’s tip is: plein air.  Yup, that’s it: plein air.  It roughly translates to: ‘in the open air’, from the 19th century style of painting outdoors and one of the main components to French Impressionism.  I also think of plein air as having a strong sense of open air, or open space.

In the context of this post and sketching or journalling, I think of it as starting with a clean slate, in a space that is open.  For me, that might mean actually going outside, to the local park to sketch, going on a hike, or to a corner coffee shop to people watch and do a bit of writing.  I think it comes down to the idea of clearing my mind and letting inspiration come from the moment, my surroundings.  I find that physically removing myself from my studio/office and all the ‘to dos’ gives my creativity breathing room.  I realize that this isn’t always possible; clearing off a desk or table top can have the same effect!  Give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes!

I’ll be posting more ideas for using Sprouts Press handbound books as the weeks go on, stay tuned!

ps. The photo above is from an amazing cottage trip near Algonquin Park in Ontario.  This is not my local park (I wish!), but I spent a lot of time on that bench sketching.  When I cannot get out to sketch or journal, I go on memories like this one.

Happy Thanksgiving

Day 6/365


This Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving, that is) I’ve got an awful lot to be thankful for.  I’ll be thinking of everyone who has supported me on my journey – Thank You!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Day 2/365

You maybe wondering what that photo was all about yesterday.  Why did I decide to post the photo that is also my site’s banner?  How does this make any sense!?  Well, because it’s time for a change and that photo was a farewell to my current banner.  Over the next couple of weeks you’ll be treated to some exciting changes from Sprouts Press and it’s all going to start right here!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, without further ado, I formally introduce you to the Sprouts Press 365 blogging project!!  I promise to post something every day for 365 days.  There will be photos, words, stories and more, so stay tuned!!

Your two cents

As you may already know, I’m taking some time to build the business side of Sprouts Press. I think it’s an important part of being sustainable and growing to meet my (many) book-tastic goals!


With that in mind, I’ve put together a little survey to gather some market research.

Yay for surveys!!

If you have a few spare minutes, I’d love to get your input.  It’s a total of ten questions and shouldn’t take longer that 7 minutes or so.

Click here to see what it’s all about and give your two cents.

Thank you!

Thoughts while Taming the Mint

It’s officially summer and I’m working on new products and designs and a few special, secret projects.  You may remember in my last post I mentioned some secretive, mystery projects and that I couldn’t spill the beans about just yet . . . well, I still cannot spill the beans!  Sorry! (Happy belated Canada Day!)

Anyways, while getting out in the garden to tame the mint a bit and stake my tomatoes, I find myself thinking about what is next.  This seems to be a good starting point for me, to get away from the studio and reminisce about my latest projects through the lens of intention rather than final product.  It’s always interesting to go through the process of creating something, but it’s also interesting to step back and look at what happened after the fact.  I like the idea of trying an idea a second or even third time to see what I’ll end up with and how different it’ll be from the first final product.  I guess I’m really just stating the obvious, as this is usually intrinsic to creativity, but I think it’s worthy of mentioning anyways.

Here are some of my garden-induced thoughts: I’m working out some new re-designs for hardcover books, that incorporate a bit of leather and some fancy paper by yours truly.    But I’m also contemplating my full leather journals and realizing that they’ve all been limp bindings/softcovers, no hardcover leather journals.

P2070589_fotorSo, I put together a little collection of some of my favourite leather bindings, which I realize now really focus on the stitching along the spine.  Some of the bindings are longstitch/linkstitch, some are variations of this and some are totally made up by myself.  While it’s enjoyable and satisfying, it’s also a learning curve, and I do love a good challenge.

Brainstorms and Dreams

Earlier this year I found myself really enjoying the bustle of last year’s holiday show schedule.  I loved the planning, the preparation, the craft and market shows – all of it.  So, at the start of 2014 I decided that I wanted to go big or go home with this small business stuff.  Time to get real.  Time to dig my feet in and see where I could go if I gave it my all.  Well, I’ve been working really hard on a few projects to make that happen, and now, well, I wait to see if everything will fall into place.  And if not, don’t fret, I’ve got backup plans.  And backup plans for the backup plans (perhaps this type of thing is why I started making my own journals in the first place?  In my opinion, brainstorms and dreams are well-deserving things for handmade journals!)  I cannot spill the beans just yet, but soon enough.

In the meantime, I’m going the share the evolution of my coptic stitched journals.  I figure it’s only fair since I cannot share my own journey right now.


This group of four is a good representation of my earlier explorations with the coptic binding.  I did things like folding washi paper on covers to create interesting effects with translucent layers, incorporating beading into the covers (who doesn’t love colourful shiny things?!).  And ending with the start of my latest experiments with the coptic binding: using my rather large collection of fancy papers on the covers with little mini-endpapers inside.

DSC_0713_fotorThis group represents my latest experiments; the fancy papers as mentioned above, but with spine protectors, reclaimed leather and vintage buttons to keep it all together.  I love how beautiful and functional these are, and the tidiness of them.

Stay tuned!


Springtime Renewal

I thought it was about time to formally introduce my latest project; Hay Fever Hankies.  I know some of you have seen them on my social media, in my Etsy shop and maybe you’ve even seen them in person at a market or fair!  I’d like to share a bit more about these little gems and show you where they come from, what they’re made of and all about.

photo 3

This is a product that is proudly made from reclaimed materials.  This means that each edition or collection will be different, depending on what fabrics are available and most appropriate for the season.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You may remember the first collection of Hay Fever Hankies, as pictured above: crisp white fabric with imagery in summer colours.

This time around I decided to change things up and refresh my original idea.  I started with fabric in four springtime tones: Mocha, White, Pistachio and Grass Green and kept the images in a neutral grey.  When looking for fabric I always hunt for 100% cotton, no scratchy fabrics!  photo 3

The prints are lino cuts based on my sketches of local plants: Timothy/Hay, Ragweed and Crowsfoot.  These are printed onto the fabric using water-based earth friendly inks.  They are heat set, sewn by me and then 401_fotor

I really like how the Crowsfoot turned out.  Since the printing is done by hand, each handkerchief is a bit different, giving uniqueness and character to each.

If you’re into getting outside in springtime, check out my Upcoming Shows to snap up some hankies of your own!  This saturday, April 26 2014, I’ll be at the Wayzgoose in Grimsby!  Otherwise, they’re available online here.

Ps.  You may have noticed that the prints on the Grass Green fabric seemed to have disappeared.  This isn’t your imagination, I’ve decided they have a different purpose than hankies . . . this is all I’m saying for now, so stay tuned!


It’s been two weeks since the One of a Kind show started, and I feel I’m as rested as I’m going to be.  So much awaits that I cannot sit still for long.  I’m talking about things like new projects, re-vamped designs and SPRING!!  (I will admit, I’ve got both my winter and spring jackets out.  I’m just not quite convinced I won’t need the winter one at least once more).  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve got some re-vamped goodies in the works, just in time for spring: new Hayfever Hankies!  Yup, they’re back and just in time, too!  This batch will be available in white, pistachio, grass green and mocha.  It comes in three lino cut designs, the usual suspects of hayfever; ragweed, timothy/hay and crowsfoot.  Look in the ‘Handprinted Fabric Items’ section of my online Etsy shop in the next few days.DSC_0691

I’m also slowly but surely getting some of the brand new designs you may have seen at the One of a Kind show up in my Etsy shop.  To keep up to date on this, follow my facebook or other social media feeds here.

Meanwhile, if you’re in Toronto I’ve got two shows this weekend, check out the Upcoming Shows section of my site for details!


The end of the day


Just wanted to take a minute to thank everyone who came out and supported Sprouts Press at the One of a Kind Show last week.  It was fantastic to meet so many of you and put faces to the names I’ve seen online.  I’m still unpacking and organizing my studio, so I’ll put together something a bit more in depth soon.  For now, a simple Thank You is in order.

Some wonderful things have come out of the show, so I’ll keep you up to date as they unfold.  In the meantime, I think spring might be just around the corner . . .

Around the Corner

If you’ve been following my (rather sparse) posts lately, you already know that I’m an exhibitor in this year’s One of a Kind Show and Sale.  I’m pretty excited about this, it’s the largest craft & artisan show I’ve ever participated in, and it’s right here in Toronto!  As well as my enthusiasm I’m also a bit nervous, especially in the last minute tasks leading up to the official opening.  In reality though, I’m pretty well on schedule and organized.

This is pretty good for me.

No last-minute rushing around frantically.  No middle-of-the-night realizations that I forgot to, gasp, order business cards or bring a chair or something like that.  Nope, I’m organized and on schedule.  That is, until I got my eureka idea for the perfect series of books to bind, last minute of course!

My creative side took charge and the schedule changed!  I was no longer on schedule.  But now as I finish up these new additions, I have a new plan, and I’ll leave you with some photos of what you can expect to see at my booth (K20G in the Etsy section).DSC_0686

Lots of new designs and variations on some classic bindings.DSC_0686 - Version 2

I’m pleased with how everything has turned out and how the collection as a whole feels connected through materials, colour and transition.DSC_0653

I drew on the changing of seasons for inspiration; winter to spring, bleak to bright, cozy to light, old to new.DSC_0664

I think the growth of this transition is visible across the table, and I couldn’t be more delighted!DSC_0691

If you plan to attend the show and don’t have tickets, click here to get a discounted ticket! I’ll be in the Etsy section at booth K20G.  The show runs from March 26 – 30 and if you have any further questions, please visit the show website here.

Hope to see you there!