How to start using your journal – 3 easy exercises

dsc_0711 Today I’m talking to all the folks out there who have found their perfect, ideal journal and are holding on to it, waiting for inspiration to strike.  Today I’m travelling back in time to a post I wrote a couple of years ago that still holds true.

It’s all about slowing down, paying attention to yourself and your surroundings, and taking your time.  I’ve got three exercises for you to try that should bring some focus and invite eagerness to begin using your journal.

Read on for the article, or click here to view the original post.


After the conclusion of a large project, or the close of a busy holiday season I often find myself searching for what’s next.  Obviously I’ve got all the ‘business’ things to keep the left side of my brain busy these days.  But what about the next steps for the creativity that drives Sprouts Press, what will the next collection of journals be?  What function will they serve or what questions will they answer, if any?  Will they just be pretty objects that also happen to be books or something else?

I’ve found myself circling around a few topics and activities over the last couple of weeks that seem to be influencing these decisions.  While I’m not going to share what they are, (yet, sorry!) I’d love to tell you how I reached them, with the hope that other kindred spirits are also on this type of quest and might find it useful.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, this is what I do:

1. Go to the library.  Take the library bag.  Spend around 2/3 of the time in the non-fiction section and 1/3 in the fiction section.  I like to choose books that are a combination of inspiring and instructional, and books on things that I’ve never tried before (ie. traditional Norwegian knitting!!  So beautiful!).  And while I probably won’t actually learn traditional Norwegian knitting, I will certainly enjoy the craftsmanship and detail of the pieces in the book.

Gather enough books to max out your library card.  Seriously.  (It doesn’t cost anything, unless you don’t return them on time.  I *may* have done this once or twice).  While it’s nice to know exactly what you want to look at, it’s so great to just wander the stacks and see what pops out, what titles catch your eye.

2. Drink tea in the sunshine.  This one requires a bit more patience, for me anyways.  To find a sunny window and really enjoy a cup of my favourite tea while not thinking about anything else, just the tea.  I will be honest, it’s rare that I can do this for an entire cup of tea.  Usually it’s just half the cup, then I get sidetracked/eager to look at my library books.  I still enjoy the tea, but more in a gulping look-at-that-awesome-piece-of-artwork kind of way.  In the summertime this is an outdoor/backyard/cafe patio activity!

3. Tidy up the workspace.  I’ve said this before, but a tidy workspace really is so inviting when starting a new project.  Everything is easily found and nothing needs to be moved out of the way to clear another corner of the desk.  I suppose it’s the same idea with a journal; the blank page is uncluttered and prepped for your ideas and creativity.

On days when I do these things in the morning, I find the rest of the day just flies by with me working away and before I know it, it’s time to start dinner.  I get completely lost in designing or creating or researching, and I love it!  Give it a try and let me know how it goes.



Wordless Wednesday 29.06.16



Wordless Wednesday 15.06.16



The Studio on a Sunday (On a Monday)

photo 5-5On Sunday I was in a different studio, out of the city, teaching my craft to a lovely group of folks!  This is the Guelph School of Art, and it is one fun place to teach!  To the left is a wall (yes, a wall) of art supplies for every type of art imaginable!  To the right you can just make out the drying rack for printmaking and other 2D art that might need to lay flat to dry. And those windows!  Letting in all that natural light!!photo 1-70_fotor

This was a coptic binding workshop and everyone left with a finished project.  Covers they designed and collaged, then bound into a nice little hardcover book using the coptic stitch.  As I tell everyone who takes my classes: if you want to retain what you’ve learned, make another book within 1 week.  Practice makes perfect!!

I have more workshops coming up, the next one is this sunday here in Toronto at Graven Feather.  Take a look at the Workshops section of my site for details, more are in the works and will be announced shortly!

Newsletter Sign-Up Time!

The Sprouts Press monthly eNewsletter goes out this Thursday!  You have until wednesday evening to sign up!!

I write to subscribers about my latest projects, inspirations, ideas for using your handbound journals, upcoming events and other goings-on.

Wanna join the fun?  Go here to subscribe.

Wordless Wednesday 05.01.16


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The Studio on a Sunday

Today the studio is quiet, as it has been for the last few days while I get some much needed R&R.  It’s the time of year when I reflect on what 2015 was all about; what worked, what didn’t, and where I want to take this little company in 2016.  DSC_0663 - Version 2_fotor

I’ve got some big plans in the works and I can’t wait to share them with you as they unfold. But for now, I’m enjoying wintery walks, library books, ukulele-ing, and my favourite journals and pens.

Stay tuned for continued, regular blog posts right here, lots of new goodies in the online shop, and lots of social media posts and updates!


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Today I’m talking about opportunities to learn bookbinding.  If you missed registering for one of the classes at this weekend’s Etsy: Made in Canada show*, no worries!  I’ve got several more chances for you to learn the art and craft of bookbinding.

*I am teaching a now-sold out 1-hour class at the show, free to visitors who managed to snag a spot at the pre-registration, which happened online. 

Bookbinding Workshop – Coptic Binding
Learn how to craft your own hand bound, hardcover journal using discarded library books. Deconstruct a book and repurpose it into a new journal, using the coptic stitch to bind the book. Perfect for anyone looking to brush up on their coptic binding skills.
When: Saturday October 17, 1:30pm – 4:30pm
Where: Burlington Public Library, Brant Hills Branch 2255 Brant Street, Burlington, Ontario
For more information please go here.

Bookbinding Workshop
In this creative class, students will first learn basic expressive techniques to decorate paper and then how to transform this into soft cover hand bound books.  This is a hands-on class, everyone will leave with two finished projects.
When: Sunday October 18, 10am – 4pm
Where: Guelph School of Art, 12 Wyndham Street North, Guelph
For more information and to register, please go here.

Longstitch/Linkstitch Bookbinding Workshop
This workshop will introduce you to the basic process of hand decorating paper for use as book covers, and then how to incorporate it into a hand bound book using the Longstitch Linkstitch technique.
When: Saturday October 24, 10am – 1pm & Sunday December 13, 1pm – 4pm
Where: Graven Feather 906 Queen Street West, Toronto
For more information and to register, go here.

Hard Cover Arrow-Stitch Journal Workshop
Learn how to craft your own hand bound, hardcover journal. This workshop will introduce you to the tools of the trade, materials, and techniques to make a hard cover book. Using an arrow stitch to bind the book, everyone will leave with a finished project!
When: Saturday November 7, 10am – 1pm
Where: Graven Feather 906 Queen Street West, Toronto
For more information and to register, go here.