In The Studio

I’ve been tearing up books, yes, you read that right. This weekend I spent a wonderful afternoon taking apart an old book and reconstructing it to make a journal. I know destroying books is not for everyone, it was hard for me at first too, but I’m ok with that now that I feel like I’m giving a poor old discarded book a new life.

Book restoration exists, of course but let’s face it, it’s costly, difficult and it’s just not going to happen for a lot of books. So in this way I get some comfort knowing the old books can still become a treasured part of our lives.

Ok, so let me tell you what I did. I worked on an old Reader’s Digest Condensed book. I took off the spine, gutted the book and was left with two very nice covers. The pages are actually in great shape and I didn’t think to include them in this first journal but going forward I think I’ll incorporate some.


I had a scrap of leather to use for the spine. This piece was not quite the right shape and I didn’t have time to fix it, plus it wasn’t pared so it feels bulky to me now. Anyway, I’m not a big fan of leather so my next book I’ll use cloth.


The book has four signatures of five pages which in total give you 80 pages front and back. I sewed this using a long-stitch but making a criss-cross pattern on the spine. I love long-stitch because it will allow a journal to lie flat, which for me is a big plus.

It took me a while to get the hang of the stitch because you don’t sew this one signature after the other. You sew them out of order and all the while trying to keep your book together.  At first I felt like I had to talk out loud to make sure I was going into the right holes to get the pattern but after a while it was almost like I had to stop counting and fall into a flow. Loved that moment.


So here is what it looks like – the spine and then a knob for the closure. I probably will rethink the knob and use a button instead, again so the book will lie flat. I also used some tissue tape where the leather meets the book boards to cover some mistakes. This journal has lots of little mistakes but that’s the fun part of the first journal – you can make mistakes and learn from them.


  1. February 19, 2013
  2. February 20, 2013
  3. February 20, 2013
  4. February 22, 2013
  5. February 22, 2013
  6. February 22, 2013
  7. February 26, 2013