Holding Onto Your Books: DIY Book Leash

I was talking to a friend last week and she casually mentioned that she purchased a new type of bookmark. Normal everyday, run-of-the-mill bookmark apparently are no longer any good for her reading habits. They were weak, got lost easily and never stayed in their place when she put her paperbacks in a bag. Now, I’ve seen new types of bookmarks on the market that claim they can stay in place. Bookmarks you can hang over a corner and those you hang into books like a paperclip; but I've never gotten them to stay. Instead they've slipped off more often and always got lost at the bottom of my backpack.

What makes this new type of bookmark so great? It’s called a Book Bungee and she got it from Levenger. The Book Bungee looks like a normal everyday bookmark but it comes with a strap that you wrap around the outside of the book and over the bookmark so not only does it keep your place but it also protects the pages from getting torn or bent. When I saw this ingenious new idea, I thought about how similar it was to other book closures I have used in the past to keep my art books closed. Being the big Do It Yourselfer and crafty person, I figured out how to create my own Book Leash. In fact, I’m going to share with you how to make two different versions in this article.

Review: Book Arts by Mary Kaye Seckler

It's been awhile since I've written more about bookbinding or binding techniques. This week I return to my series of bookbinding (which started here and ended here) by giving you a review of one of my favorite bookbinding starter books. There's a lot of good books out there about bookbinding and more are being added to the shelves. If you have the time and desire, I recommend that you go to spend some time at your local bookstore and read through some of the various books. It can take time and some research to discover which book's instructions help you in making your own books.

Ever since I turned from journal connoisseur to journal maker, I've been trying to find those rare books that teach me how to make interesting styles of books without the technical jargon and confusing stereo instructions written in some language requiring babel fish to decode. I prefer reading instructional art books that contain numeric step-by-step instructions and lots of pictures. After reading a few books in the stores on the subject and finding that most of them seemed to be written in that stuffy, old, college text book style with vary little pictures to reference, I was glad to find this little gem. It's called Book Arts, by Mary Kaye Seckler and it's published by Design Originals. If you decide to buy it, I've attached a link for you to purchase it at at the bottom of this article.

Divine Inspiration

Creative TarotCandlelight flickers and dances across the walls of the room. Wispy, light sounds of Japanese pipes drift through the incense smoke into your ears. A tiny woman, her head wrapped in a bright red and gold turban sits at a intimate wrought-iron table covered with a purple, silk table cloth. A white candle, its flame flickering; a palm sized crystal ball; and a pack of cards, the top card displaying the picture of a giant wheel; lay carefully positioned on the table's top. The woman beckons you to take a seat directly across from her. You take a seat as the woman waves her hand over the deck of cards and begins to shuffle them. As you stare at her, gauging her true intentions, the woman begins to position the cards onto the table in a careful layout. Then she begins to tell you your future as she describes how the cards and what each position relate to your life.

Tarot cards. One of the oldest means of exploring symbolism and your spot in the universe. A simple pack of 78 cards with a myriad assortment of images and cross-culture symbols painted on them, used as divination device by people all over the world. It contains a major arcana of 22 cards that seek to explain higher powers at work as well as a minor arcana composed of 4 suites corresponding to the 4 elements (wands, swords, cups and coins). Of course, there's a lot of tarot history I'm glossing over here but I just wanted to give you a small background on the cards. If you're curious about the tarot and want to learn more about its history, check out and wikipedia's tarot page for more information about the tarot and variety of decks out there.

Talking to Your Muse

Me: Hey Muse... feeling uninspired today. You wanna help me out here and cut me some slack.

Muse: What’s up? Stuck again? How can I help you more? I’ve already given you lots of ideas for stories and artwork.

Me: I know, but I need some advice on how to write this article. For some reason it’s not going the way I want it.

Moleskine: A Love Affair?

Moleskine Large SketchbookIt seems that every sweeping epic seems to have at its core an equally grandiose love affair. Perhaps it's the two lovers who embrace in the failing flames of a sunset, maybe it's the hero who --for a greater good-- watches his heroine walk away, or (dwarfing even the legends of Tristan and Iseult) it could be the undying affection of one whose heart breaks at the mere hint of being forced to live --nay, merely subsist-- one day without a Moleskine notebook.

Forgive me, Father. I have a confession to share, and I'm rather ashamed to admit it. It's this: after all the talk of the wonders of Moleskines on this and many other paper-loving productivity blogs, I --so far-- have been Moleskine-less. I'd read about the cherished notebooks, the solid feel of the bindings, the somehow erotic joys of spreading ink upon high-quality stock, and I'd feel ... lesser. The love affair of those enthusiastic people with their little journals had thus far eluded me, and I wondered if my heart would ever truly be whole. (I can say this without fear of reprisal from my wife, knowing that she, as an artist, coveted one as much as I.) Hemingway, Matisse, Chatwin, Van Gogh -- how could I ever measure up to these giants without one of these precious objects to assist me?

Doing It Every Day

The more you write, the better you get. It’s a common koan, found in just about every book on writing out on the bookshelves these days. Not sure if it’s true because I still think I write a lot more junk than I do "the good stuff." But I try and meet the page or screen at least once a day and hope that whatever comes out comes close to matching the image or thought inside my mind. Last week, after I got off my butt and resolved to take charge of my writing and artistic life, I decided it was also time it take up a new habit or two.

So I wandered over to my artistic bookshelf and revisited an old friend. The book's paper smelled musty, worn with age from having sat on the shelves for awhile now. The front cover said it all, The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. My best friend gave me this copy a few years ago, during a particularly stressful bout of writer’s block. While I don’t feel blocked now, I figured it was time to revisit the discipline and practices therein. More specifically, I’ve decided to start up the morning pages habit.

Dreams: Answers to Questions We Never Thought to Ask

My picture nameI dream I am being attacked by a robber who not only wants to rob me but beat me us as well. What should I do? One extreme solution some people have been known to adopt is to actually go out and buy a gun, to feel safer. But is that the best solution? Do we need to arm ourselves to the teeth? What if we sleep with the gun under our pillow, but have more dreams of being attacked? Do we have to go out and get a weapon or is there an intermediate step? There is. If you and I are to discover this intermediate step, we need to work with the images in the dream.

It's That NaNoWriMo Time of Year

My picture nameThe leaves are turning brown. St. Helen’s has a fresh cap of snow on her rim. And students are returning back to college. All this means one thing to me. No, not the start of autumn. NaNoWriMo is almost here. For those of you who don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month. And for the past 6 years, the founder of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty, has been getting would-be writers out of their funks, writing complete drafts of novels. 50,000 words in 30 days.

This is my 4th year participating in the event. Each October, it’s the same. I make a mad dash to sign up for the event and then spend the next 20-25 days trying to come up with the slightest inkling of a good story idea that could carry me through writing 50,000 words. I bug everyone I know with my talk about my possible novel. I get my family and friends involved, I toss ideas out about possible stories to forums and on IMs. I even collect scraps of interesting news tidbits and cool sounding random generated plot ideas to get my imagination going. And lucky you, this year I’m going to share with you my ideas on how you can prepare yourself for drafting and writing a novel. Who knows, maybe this is enough to convince you to join me in the NaNoWriMo madness this November.

Dreams, Pen and Paper: Getting the Message

I first met our latest guest poster through his son Steve, who writes the Friday humour column here. Although they are both keen observers of human nature, Henry Sharam has approached his subject matter from a completely different direction: he is a Jungian psychotherapist with many years' experience nurturing personal and spiritual growth in environments as varied as relationship workshops, jails, nursing homes and mental hospitals. Dream analysis through journalling is a specialty of his. -DJ

My picture nameWhat a strange world we move in when we lie down to sleep. We use toilets with no door or for people of the opposite gender. We walk nude through our home towns, attend funerals partially clothed, are attacked, and seduced. Monsters of all kinds confront us. Nazis, drug lords and hoodlums threaten us. Old lovers entice us, long dead grandparents tyrannize us. Animals appear: starving or dangerous dogs, lions in the living room, and crocodiles in our swimming hole. Images of death abound, starving and neglected children emerge, beautiful women and great god-like men appear.

So the kaleidoscope turns. Each night brings a cast of beggars, thieves, kings and princesses. Is this all nonsense, some disturbance in the chemistry of our brain, or is it meaningful? Let's look at this important question. We now turn to a journey into this strange, confusing, and often frightening world of our dreams.