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!