Big bowl o’ classy scraps

Dear Everyone ~

As many of you know, I have an extreme fondness for paper scraps.
This dates back to my childhood, when my father would bring home
lovely leftovers for me from his printing plant — off-cuts, sample books,
and the occasional mis-print. I treasured these little stacks,
arranging and rearranging them in my stationery closet.


These days, I have a big bowl in my shop for little bundles of
scraps from my bookbinding and boxmaking projects.
They are available for browsing and for purchase.
And they give glamorous new meaning to the term scrap paper.
Great for noting and jotting and doodling while you are on the phone.
As a shopping list, they will inspire envy.


Each bundle is about an inch tall, regardless of paper size or thickness.
The baby bundles measure 2 x 3 or 3 x 4,
and each is a single paper type.
The 6-ish x 9-ish bundles are a blend of scraps.


Most of the papers are European, in shades of white and soft white:
watercolour papers; some Saint Armand; assorted heavy drawing papers
(Stonehenge, Arches, Fabriano); and Hahnemuhle Bugra in various colours.
I have just added these paper bundles to my on-line shop,
so that those of you who cannot come by … can consider them for trick-or-treat
(or stocking stuffers). I (or you!) can add a half pencil wrapped in Japanese paper
in the knot of the ribbon or yarn, for an even dressier look.

Each bundle is one-of-a-kind, so I will select for you.
In the larger size, you have a choice of a ribbon/yarn wrap
with a vintage postage tag or a Japanese-paper covered big butterfly clip,
with a vintage postage tag.
I tie all the baby bundles with yarn and a tag.

Scrap Bundles
Half Pencil with Rosy Eraser

P.S. Classy update:
One seat is still available for my triple-hyphenated
Long-stitch-link-stitch workshop on October 12.
And two seats are available for my
Introduction to Boxmaking on October 19.

Scrap happy, Bari

Aww-some Foursome of Autumn Workshops

Dear Everyone ~


I will be teaching four workshops in October and November:
one new class, one new-ish class, and two “classics.”
All four workshops are fine & fun for students who have not yet made a book or box,
and everyone leaves class with a finished masterpiece.
Also this fall, Becka Bravo will be offering all three levels of her popular
Modern Calligraphy: Introduction, Intermediate, and Advanced.

The long-stitch-link-stitch (triple-hyphenated) stitch can be used to
create several different stitching patterns, as shown here.
The book we will make in this new workshop has nine signatures.
It makes a lovely album, journal, or sketchbook.
The way we stitch the signatures to the cover ensures a little bit of space,
so this book structure is ideal for including ephemera or photos.
For your cover, you’ll choose from a dozen subtle shades
of Saint-Armand 100% cotton printmaking paper.


In Introduction to Boxmaking
we make a keepsake box whose dimensions (4½ x 6½ x 2)
are perfect for postcards (to be written, or those received!) or photos.
The box’s lining is archival to protect your paper treasures.
You’ll finish off your box with an Italian cotton ribbon closure.

Coptic-stitch with hard covers is a traditional binding technique,
dating back to 2nd century Egypt.
In this new workshop, we will make a set of covers in class,
using Japanese paper, for you to take home in order to make a second book.
In class, you will select from an assortment of pre-made
covers for the book you make here. You will then know how to use this
style of binding on your own with a wide range of cover materials.


The Simple Keepsake Box is dandy on your desk or dresser,
and gorgeous as a gift. The box is a petite but practical cube (3 x 3 x 3),
and you’ll embellish its flat lid with your choice of a button or two from Soutache
(which we will visit, just down the block).

NEW Long-stitch-link-stitch
NEW-ISH Coptic-stitch
Introduction to Boxmaking
Simple Keepsake Box
Modern Calligraphy

Bari Zaki Studio gift certificates are available for a specific workshop
or for a specific dollar amount (which the lucky recipient can apply).
If you’d like to include a bone folder or other tool with a certificate,
we’ll be delighted to wrap them as a “set.”

Feeling fall-ish, Bari

What a stitch: Flying to Chicago to make books & a box

Dear Everyone ~

Last week, I shared the story of “Carolyn Comes to Chicago,”
about a customer who lives in Pennsylvania.
She had been in the shop once before,
over a year earlier, and popped in last month unexpectedly.
She was in town for an event the next day, and had decided to spend her
free evening taking my online buttonhole stitch class — in her hotel room.
Note: If you missed that e-blast,
it’s currently the top post on my blog (August 22).


Today I’d like to share with you “Virginia’s Workshop Weekend Whirlwind.”
Some months after taking my online class, Virginia flew to Chicago
(She lives in Utah.) to take three classes in two days at my studio.
It turned out to be one of the hottest weekends of the entire summer.
Unlike Carolyn, who was a novice when she took my online bookbinding class,
Virginia is a veteran journal- and notebook-maker.
She brought her “online book” to show me, and has graciously allowed me
to also show photos of what she made that weekend:
the duo of two-signature stitched booklets, her Coptic-stitch book,
and her drop-spine box. Here she is, shortly before heading out with her handiwork.
My extra thanks to Virginia for sending a photo of her studio at home
and for sharing some of her wonderful reflections.

* * * * *

“I keep notebooks and journals for just about everything.
I like pages that open flat, and when I couldn’t find just-what-I-was- looking-for,
I started making my own. For years I just made spiral-bound journals,
but I wanted to make something with more structure and personality,
something more permanent. I experimented with some simple binding techniques,
and though they met my expectations functionally, I was a bit disappointed
in my technique and in some of my improvised materials.”

“I’ve taken several on-line classes, mostly arts and crafts,
and sometimes I just can’t keep pace with the steps.
What appealed to me most about your online class,
was your simple, direct teaching style.
I have a very zany, goofy side and find many high-energy,
off-beat things wildly fun and entertaining …
but I learn on the quiet, serious, organized side of me.
Your approach fits my learning side to a T.
And I loved that you didn’t edit out the off-center book spine,
instead reassuring us that mistakes can be fixed or ignored.
That is closer to my reality. I felt like you were talking directly to me.
I’d describe this as the difference between Sesame Street
or Electric Company versus Mr. Rogers.”


“By the end of my weekend at your studio,
I felt enormously satisfied with everything I had made. I was relaxed,
yet energized to make lots more of everything when I got home
from your calm, serene nook with beautifully made books, boxes,
and supplies arranged in little vignettes all around the shop.
It has a very intimate feel, the total opposite of the couple of impersonal chain stores near me.
I’m actually old school: I still check books out of the library to learn new skills.
I find too much technology to be a distraction to me.”

* * * * *

“I plan to come back for another weekend-ful of classes.
I can’t decide which classes, because I want to make every style of book you teach.
Ever since I was 12 years old, when I spent the summer helping in the
Wheelus Air Force Base library in Tripoli, Libya,
I’ve wanted to make a full-blown, traditional case-bound book.
But I also love books and journals with fold-out pages, pockets and envelopes …
so maybe your Long-stitch/link-stitch book with hand folded envelopes.

Wishing you an unlabourious holiday!


What a stitch: Learning to bind a book in a hotel room

Dear Everyone ~


When students take a class at my studio,
I know exactly what their workspace looks like, because I’ve set it up myself.
Afterwards, students occasionally send me photos of books
or boxes they’re making at home, in their own studios.
I am endlessly interested in how people arrange & organize
their creative spaces, including their tools & accessories.


Most people who take my online buttonhole-stitch bookbinding class,
offered through Sonheim Creative, probably watch the video (four sections)
and make their book in the comfort of their
own home, surrounded by their supplies.
But not everyone, it turns out!
I’m delighted to share with you a charming exception,
which I hope will make you smile with admiration.
Here is “Carolyn Comes to Chicago.”

First, the background:
A couple of years ago, Carolyn came into the shop, introduced herself,
and mentioned that she was visiting from Pennsylvania.
We had a lovely chat, she selected a few items, and left.
Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of shipping her several orders.

Fast forward a year:
One recent Friday, Carolyn materialized in the shop, for her second visit.
I’ll let her tell the story from here.

“I have wanted to take a class from you ever since
I first came to your beautiful store a couple of years ago,
but the timing has never worked out, since I live out of town.
When I come to Chicago, it’s usually for a meeting or an event.
Both of my daughters live here, and I also want to spend time with them.
So, I haven’t been able to take a class from you …
and I have never made a book.”

“When I got the email from Carla Sonheim and read that
she was highlighting your on-line class, I was thrilled!
I checked it out and saw that you’d broken it down into sections,
which seemed manageable.
The book you make in the class is so beautiful.”

“I am in town for an event tomorrow morning.
I know you’re teaching a class tomorrow,
but it’s at exactly the same time as my event.
Both of my daughters are out of town,
so I am going to take your on-line class this evening at my hotel!
I’m here to buy my materials.”

* * * * *

When I emailed Carolyn to see how it had gone, she wrote back,
“ Because I’m a quilter, I had brought supplies with me that I thought might be helpful:
a rotary cutter, my cutting mat, scissors, and a quilting ruler.
I set up my workspace on the desk in the hotel room and watched your class
on my laptop. I had something going on the TV and could pause your class
on my computer as I gave each step a try. It was loads of fun.
Having access to your class was like having your company in a way.
It was wonderful to have something to make at the hotel,
and it turned my hotel room into an extension of my home,
where I make many things!”

As you might imagine, I asked Carolyn if she would let me share
photos of her studio at home and of the book she made.
All of the photos in this post are courtesy of Carolyn!


When she sent me her photos, Carolyn added,
“I’ve had an idea that hotels should offer kits and on-line courses!
They could supply the tools needed and guests could purchase a kit of materials!”

* * * * *

Teaching classes at my studio has given me so many
heartwarming connections with my students: from sharing the simple
satisfaction of making a book, to hearing how this experience
has changed their lives, to their showing and telling me how many more
books they have made and will continue to make,
to knowing how much joy it has brought to their world of gift-giving.

When the Sonheims invited me to film a bookbinding video back in 2017,
I couldn’t have even imagined just how this video would engage so
many people around the globe—and how some of these students
and I would connect, enriching my creative life so deeply.

In deep bow, Bari

Our autumn class schedule will be announced soonish!

Neue & noteworthy: simply perfect notebooks from Kunst & Papier

Dear Everyone ~

When I saw these notebooks at a shop in Manhattan several months ago,
I was a bitte smitten. I brought home a few to use … and am delighted
to announce that I’m now offering the watercolour notebooks
as well as the sketchbooks online, plus a few additional styles in the shop.
By the way, Kunst & Papier means “art and paper.”

These notebooks are paragons of utilitarian understated
over-the-topness. The pages are natural white, and incredibly versatile for
pen & ink, markers, colour pencil, watercolour, gouache & acrylic.
The watercolour paper is toothier (and heavier) than the sketchbook paper.

The watercolour notebooks are available in two sizes,
with your choice of a deep royal blue or black cover of lovely linen bookcloth.
Both sizes have 120 pages of 160 gsm paper.
In addition to watercolour, I have already tried micron pen
and sumi ink with wunderbar results.


Sizes: 9⅝ x 11⅞ x ¾ (large); 8¼ x 9⅝ x ¾ (medium)

The sketchbooks are available in three sizes,
all with natural bookboard covers,
and your choice of cloth spine in blue, red, or yellow.
All three sizes have 144 pages of 110 gsm paper.

Sizes: 8¼ x 11¾ x ¾ (A4); 6 ¾ x 6 ¾ x ¾ (small square); 8¼ x 8¼ x ¾ (medium square)

Not only have I sketched using a micron pen, a brush pen,
a fountain pen, and a Sharpie, but I have also watercoloured on this paper
with total success. I am pleased to report: No bleeding or showthrough!


I have always offered sumi ink in the shop,
and have just added it online. The vintage label
is handwritten by Emmy Kennett,
my nimble shop assistant.
The glass bottle is protectively packed
in a clear plastic sleeve, closed with a charming little surprise.

Mitt schlag, Bari

The endless entertainment of enclosures

Dear Everyone ~

It’s no secret that I love to send (and receive) postcards.
But I also love to mail (and make) envelopes …
and I almost never send an envelope without some enclosures.


If I’m including my business card, I generally put it in
a glassine envelope, so the recipient gets a preview.
If I’m sharing ephemera from a trip,
sometimes there are envelopes within envelopes.
I like to fold a check in thirds and tuck it in the smallest possible envelope.
I actually have letterpress printed envelopes expressly for sending
small samples, snippets, and swatches.


When I’m presenting a gift, I usually select a little enclosure card and
envelope that complements my wrapping.
I love the proportion of a tiny envelope with a small package …
and I love the contrast of a tiny envelope on a large package.

I’ve assembled assortments (no two exactly the same)
of ten delightfully different enclosure envelopes,
each with its card. Several of the usual European “stationery suspects”
are well represented: Smythson, G. Lalo, Pineider, and Jean Rouget.
And Crane’s, of course. And semi-translucent vellum in pastel colours.
And vintage charmola die-cut cards from the genies at Addison Endpapers.
And glassine envelopes embellished with gold letterpress.
And a bit of Japonaiserie.


How neat, petite, and discreet are these envelopes?
The smallest are 2 x 2⅞, and the largest are 3¼ x 4¼.
(I rarely talk about co$t, but these little assortments are a rather big bargain.)
The envelopes are all too small to mail,
but that definitely doesn’t mean you can’t put a stamp in the upper right.
An enclosure envelope is a lovely little surprise on a pillow or a plate.
Bonbon appétit!

Deluxe Assorted Enclosure Envelopes


The H-A-P-P-Y-M-A-I-L-!
accordion above is peeking out of a tiny envelope,
available in a beribboned packet of 10.

Ensconced, Bari

Variety is the spice of stationery life

Dear Everyone ~


How lovely to be able to match your stationery to your mood,
or your correspondent’s favourite colour, or the season.
In a fanciful flurry, I’ve assembled three European stationery
samplers plus limited-edition packets of notecard sets
from America’s oldest papermaker.

First, the samplers.
Smythson of Bond Street is a premium purveyor of luxurious stationery.
The company, founded in 1887, is perennially tasteful
and endlessly inventive. A Smythson envelope with its notesheet or
card is like a perfect outfit. Smythson Stationery Samplers
are available in two palettes: Natural White with Palest Green
(think celadon or mint or pistachio) and Natural White with Tangerine.
Yes, they are delectable. Hand-bordering is abundant.
Specific sizes of envelopes and their enclosures are detailed in the shop listings.


The Continental Stationery Sampler presents a
buffet of Pineider envelope sizes, each with a matching notesheet or card …
and a Lettre Royale from G. Lalo for dessert.
The Pineider envelopes are all lined with crisp white tissue,
and their flaps are distinctive.
Again, hand-bordering reigns.

IMG_0673 (1).jpg

Each sampler is presented in a sturdy and sumptuous portfolio of
creamy Fabriano Murillo. The construction is a paragon of paper engineering:
two generous triangular flaps fold in to form an unglued pocket.
(It's a molto paper-intensive portfolio.)

But wait, there’s more:
On the heels of last week’s posting about ways to keep track of
your outgoing correspondence, I have been motivated to design a
Record of What I Sent to Whom When.
Each sampler has its own Record, with every item in the sampler
described in detail. There’s a place to list not only the recipient and date sent,
but also the “Occasion & Contents.”

Each Record is printed on an A4 (European letterhead size)
sheet to match its sampler: Smythson Sampler No. 1 is on Palest Green,
Smythson Sampler No. 2 is on Natural White,
and The Continental is likewise on Smythson Natural White.


* * * * *

Now, for the limited-edition correspondence packets.
Crane & Company was founded in Massachusetts in 1801.
Two hundred and some years later, Crane papers are still 100% cotton and
still delightful to the touch, and the pen. Crane’s Kid Finish feels like fabric,
or a soft leather glove. I couldn’t resist having Pale Blue Kid Finish correspondence cards
hand-bordered in True Red. The matching Pale Blue envelope has a deep pointed flap.
The set of 10 cards and envelopes comes with a (can you guess?)
Record of What I Sent to Whom When, printed on Crane's Kid Finish Pearl White.


Smythson Stationery Samplers
The Continental Stationery Sampler
Crane's Cushy Correspondence Cards

* * *

Never stationary about stationery, Bari

There are still two seats open on Saturday, August 10
for the Buttonhole-stitch workshop!

In pursuit of a Better Letter Record

Dear Everyone ~


I have just discovered that I am not the only letter- and
postcard-writer who struggles to keep track of outgoing correspondence.
I occasionally think that there must be a better form of record-keeping
than my ongoing list, which looks like this.

I tend to assemble mail in batches,
and then I like to take a “group photo” so I have
a visual reminder of the ensemble.


Well, my postal muse, Alyson, belongs to the San Francisco
Correspondence Co-op, and fellow member Margarete recently wrote to the group,
“I mailed a bunch of postcards yesterday and I realized
a few I don’t remember who I mailed to.
How do you keep track of outgoing and incoming mail?
Do you write it in a journal or a calendar?
I need a system and haven’t found one.”
Alyson quips, “Quandary loves company!”
and proceeds to read me the replies.

Five co-operative correspondents wrote right back:
Ryan, Laura, Shelley, Pamela, and Sally.
Overall, the thread was fairly funny—and familiar.
It seems the “pile system” is quite popular. So are phone photos.
Here are a couple of my favorite back-and-forths
(shared here with permission):

Sally says,”Ha! The nightmare of organizing!
I used to keep a ledger…” and she shows a photo.
Her notations are all handwritten, as are the index tabs
affixed to multiple pages. Pamela promptly points out that she doesn’t
see a tab with her name on it! Sally soothes,
“Oh it’s there all right. You can see I don’t even alphabetize.”

Laura acknowledges, “I’d often forget to write in a journal
and started just laying out my outgoing mail on the seat
of my car when I was in the post office parking lot
and snapping a photo so I could log it once I got home,
but then eventually just stuck with the photos.”
She adds, “I’m really visual so seeing the card
or envelope is enough to remind me what was sent.”

Wow: Shelley shares that she keeps a traditional log with columns:
date incoming, date outgoing, source/recipient, type
(postcard, note, letter) and group identifier (friend, penpal, etc).
She leaves a blank column in which she inserts the date
when she replies or receives a reply.
She is happy with her system … and I can see why!

* * * * *

This may seem like a little thing …
but for those of us who send a lot of mail, it is Such a Thing.
And, apparently, it is not a new thing.

Lewis Carroll had so much to say on the subject
that he wrote a little booklet (3 x 4 in.) about it.
“Eight Or Nine W I S E W O R D S about Letter-Writing”
was published and sold with a tiny Alice in Wonderland case for postage stamps.


The booklet is delightful and improbable, as Carroll’s example of an
epistolary exchange involving pink elephants seems beyond the looking glass.

Carroll goes into great detail about the wisdom of addressing the envelope
and affixing the stamp before beginning to write your note or letter:
“And I’ll tell you what will happen if you don’t.
You will go on writing till the last moment, and,
just in the middle of the last sentence,
you will become aware that ‘time’s up!’ Then comes the hurried windup—
the wildly scrawled signature—the hastily fastened envelope,
which comes open in the post—the address a mere hieroglyphic—
the horrible discovery that you’ve forgotten to replenish your Stamp-Case—
the frantic appeal, to everyone in the house, to lend you a Stamp—
the headlong rush to the Post Office, arriving
—hot and gasping, just after the box has closed….”

Carroll's scheme of record-keeping is elaborate in the extreme.
I can only dream of such a system!


Introduction to Boxmaking is this Saturday, July 20
& there is one seat open!

Very Epistolarily, Bari

Sweet show & tell with Isabel

Dear Everyone ~

I'd like to tell you about Isabel and her Katazome-covered notebook.


Isabel is eight and a half.
Her mother is a wonderful watercolour artist and book illustrator;
her father is an artist and screen printer.
Isabel made her first visit to my shop a couple of years ago,
on the occasion of my annual studio sale.
Her mother described Isabel’s visit as one of “total enchantment.”

Isabel came back to the shop several months ago with her mother,
and the assortment of little Japanese tri-fold notebooks caught her eye.
These are almost always in stock, usually just one each of various patterns.

Recently Isabel and her mother popped in for a visit,
and Isabel had brought her notebook to show me.
I was beyond delighted, and asked her all manner of questions.
Here are a few of her responses.


About choosing her notebook:
I remember choosing it.
I liked that it had cover paper that had a plain
background and shapes in rainbow colors.

About using her notebook:
I thought that I would just draw in it, and I do,
but I also kind of use it as a little newspaper I am creating.


About writing in her notebook:
I like using the tiny pencil,
and I like it more than using a big pencil.

B9F280AC-B0D8-4C61-8443-BF87F5DE47AE 3.jpeg

About carrying her notebook and keeping it safe:
I take it places with me, but not all of the time.
When it’s at home, I keep it in an art drawer
that has my other sketchbooks in it.

* * * * *

The notebooks are covered in Katazome paper, which is stencil-dyed.


The notepad measures 2⅜ x 4⅜;
the address book is the same size.
(You would need to have micro-writing to stay neatly within the lines.
It’s fairly hilarious.) The right panel has a handy pocket.


The entire notebook is 9⅛ x 4⅝ when open flat,
and 2⅞ x 4⅝, and half an inch thick,
when closed with its charming bone clasp.

The petite pencil can indeed be sharpened in a regular sharpener.
Its ferrule (the brassy little metal band) has a tiny drilled hole through
which you could in fact attach a length of twine.


Inspired by Isabel, I have made a batch of refill pads,
using Antique Laid writing paper.


Click here to see the array of Katazome covered notebooks

There are seats available for next Saturday's bookbinding workshop;
Duo of Two-signature Stitched Booklets

Isabel is swell, Bari

A summerweight little book covered in linen

Dear Everyone ~

When I visited Boston in the spring of 2018,
my aunt took me to the studio sale of a clothing and textile designer.
In a room full of lovely garments, was a bag full of 3 x 3
hand-dyed linen squares. Yes, they spoke to me, and I did not resist.
I could immediately see them as covers for little books.

I experimented with assorted types & colours of threads,
including pale oranges and ochres. Ultimately,
I bought some undyed Japanese cotton yarn
(just next door, at Knit1).
Though the Japanese-style binding is very sturdy,
the books have a dreamy quality.

The 16 interior pages are crisp Esleeck (a now-closed paper mill
in Massachusetts) Fidelity Onion Skin, from the days of typing paper.
I don’t know of anyone in the U.S. who makes onion skin or
cockle-finish (which was air dried) paper today.

The paper is quite receptive to a micron pen, fountain pen,
or sumi-e brush pen. Lightly applied watercolour would be divine.


The book fits perfectly in a square (3½ x 3½) glassine,
sealed with a dainty bit of washi. The glassine gets an outer wrap
of white tissue on the bias. Fresh & dressy.


Click here for a Little Linen-covered Book

Airily, breezily, calmly, Bari

Last Friday, June 28, was the fourth anniversary
of the shop’s opening. A sign heralding this will
be in the window as of July 6.