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!