North Redwoods Book Arts Guild

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Tuesday, April 16, 2024


At the April NORBAG workshop we made Girdle books (not really related to the kind of girdles that are worn as foundation garments 😉). The design for our books came from structures used during the middle ages that hung down from a person's belt. In this day and age, this type of book would work great as a nature journal where one could have their hands free, but the book would be very accessible. Lara Cox was our instructor and she did a great job leading us through this project. Now that we know the basics of how this structure works, it will be very interesting to see if our members come up with some other interpretations of the design. Thank you Lara for introducing us to this historical structure. Below are a couple of examples of books made during the workshop.

Sherrill Story

Sherrill's husband demonstrated
 how to wear her book.

Bonnie Julien

Inside cover of Bonnie's book.

Colette Fu

In November 2023 the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA) welcomed artist Colette Fu for a month-long residency. Fu's work is a melding of her photography and pop-up engineering. Featured below are some of the books that were exhibited in the Sherry Grover gallery.

The legend is that Butterfly Mother gave birth
to 12 eggs, the origin of all living things.

Miao Fishing Contest

Saturday, March 23, 2024


Our April workshop will be a follow-up to the March French Link stitch workshop taught by Lara Cox. For those of us who attended, we ended up with a 5 1/2" x 4 1/4" text block sewn with the French Link stitch. Now we're ready to turn that into a Girdle Book. Lara describes Girdle Books as "small portable books worn by medieval European monks, clergymen and aristocratic nobles as a popular accessory to medieval costume. They consisted of a book whose leather binding continued loose below the cover of the book in a long, tapered tail. The tail ended in a large knot which could be tucked into one's girdle or belt. The knot was usually strips of leather woven together for durability. The book hung upside down and backwards so that when swung upwards it was ready for reading. The books were most often religious in nature: a cleric's daily Office, or for lay persons (especially women), a Book of Hours."

Tools Needed:

  • Pencil, Ruler, Bone folder, Scissors
  • PVA Glue (or favorite paste) and brush for gluing.
  • Scrap paper for use in gluing. Old magazines work great.
  • Sewing needle and thread for finishing off the belt knot at the top of your fabric binding.

Please Prepare Ahead of Class:

  • Book Block: The book block you made in the March workshop or one of the same size: 5 1/2" tall x 4 1/4" wide x 5/8" thick.
  • Decorative End Papers: 2 pieces that measure 5 1/2" tall x 8 1/2" wide. These will be the End Papers at the front and back of your book. Mi Teintes or a similar weight of paper will work.
  • Bottom Paper/Fabric: This piece finishes the bottom of your book where the cover fabric extends. It can be a piece of your cover fabric or a color that matches your cover. (This piece needs to be 9" wide x 1 1/2" tall.)
  • Book Boards: 2 pieces precut book board measuring 5 3/4" tall x 4 5/8" wide for front and back covers. AND 1 piece of book board for the spine measuring 5 3/4" tall x 1/2" wide. **Note: Cereal boxes and such while not as heavy duty as book board are usable in place of book board for many bindings.
  • Cording and/or Ribbons for the closure and knot: 3 to 4 feet.
  • Pre-cut Cover Fabric: 24" tall x 10 1/2" wide. Suggested fabrics: Mid-weight wovens: cotton, linen or silk. Fake leather such as ultra suede or real leather as long as it's soft enough to fold easily. NO stretchy or sheer fabrics.
  • Cover Decoration: If you wish to pre-decorate the front of your cover, note that you will be working on the upper right corner of your fabric. The area in which you may decorate is 5" tall x 3 1/2" wide. Leave a border of 3/4" on the top and 1" on the right side free of decoration as these areas will be folded under.

When:    Saturday April 13 at 10 a.m. PDT
Where:   On your computer, tablet, or smartphone via Zoom
RSVP:    Dolores Guffey by April 8 to receive the password
Workshop questions: Lara Cox
Zoom questions: Bobbie Hayes
Contact information is in the newsletter

Tuesday, March 12, 2024


 At our March workshop Lara Cox guided us through making a French Link stitched book block that will be used in her April workshop where we will make a Medieval Girdle book. The French Link stitch is a very pretty stitch that is best shown off on an exposed binding book, but alas, it will not be seen in the Girdle book. Its other great feature is that it allows a book to open flat for ease of writing and that is why it works well in this book. Our thanks go to Lara for teaching us this stitch, and ultimately, the Medieval Girdle book in April. Below, are photos of one example of a Girdle book and some of the book blocks that were made at our workshop.

A Medieval Girdle book found on Pinterest.
The book generally hangs down from one's belt.

Two book blocks by Emmy Nelson.

Michele Kamprath

Sherrill Story

Stephanie Weigel

Notes from the Art Lab

by Bonnie Halfpenny

Many of you are probably familiar with Helen Hiebert's podcasts with paper makers. If not, head to Helen's amazing website at for a world of paper making information just waiting to be found.

For example, recent podcast #108 is a lengthy interview with Peter Thomas about his very down-to-earth start as a papermaker at Renaissance Fairs in the '70's.  This led him to make small blank books to sell, along with his wife Donna, who did the casings and illustrations.

Peter was committed to making the very best paper and books possible.  Along the way, he talked to everyone he could about how to improve.  In his podcast, he gives a really detailed description of the process of dipping the screen to lift the pulp properly.  He emphasizes the fluid motion and the proper stance of the professional papermaker.  If you have ever had back pain from pulling pulp, Peter now has a free YouTube video on how to avoid this at  Many of us have watched glassblowers- I wonder how many of us appreciate the skill of the professional papermaker!

All of that great craftsmanship leads to beautiful books, so head over to (or just search their names), for close-up shots of dozens of Peter and Donna's wonderful books, in categories from Miniatures, to Unique, to Fine Press, to Ukuleles.

Their inspiring book, More Making Books by Hand, first published in 2004, is still available.  Also see their website for other published works. 

Side note: NORBAG members from Humboldt County have been fortunate to have welcomed Peter and Donna for workshops and informal get-togethers when they have passed through the area. Below is a photograph of them taken at one of those visits at the Arcata Marsh.

Peter and Donna Thomas and their gypsy wagon bookmobile.

The wagon parked in Dolores' meadow during a 2019 visit.

Monday, February 26, 2024


Our March workshop will be taught by Lara Cox in preparation for the April workshop. Here is Lara's description:

"One of my absolute favorite ways of sewing signatures together...the French Link Stitch, is a spine sewing often used for exposed bindings where you can see the stitching. It is decorative in its finished asymmetrical "X" pattern. It can also be used in a case binding where the stitching would be covered up. I use it both ways because I like my books to lie flat when opened as this stitch allows beautifully.

**Of special note: This workshop is a precursor to the April (Medieval Girdle Book) workshop with the idea that we will be using the sewn block we make in March for the April workshop. If you are skipping this workshop or want to sew your signatures together with a different technique, you may do so as long as you stick with the measurements of this signature structure. That way it will still work for the Girdle Book."

French Link stitches sewn over tapes.

Tools and materials for the March workshop:

  • Pencil, Ruler, Awl, Bone Folder, Scissors, Beeswax
  • Thread: Book binding or embroidery thread
  • A piece of foam core board, cardboard or an old magazine big enough to use under your signatures when punching holes.
  • Also, super handy to have on hand: Patience with yourself.

Please have prepared ahead of the workshop:

  • 30 pieces of paper measuring 5 1/2" tall by 8 1/2" wide. Ideally, grain should be parallel with the 5 1/2" direction. Paper can be printer paper weight or a bit heavier. (We will want the final book block to be 5/8" thick when completed to best work with our April binding.)
  • This will be the pages that then make up the signatures. Lara says not to worry because all will be explained in the workshop.
When:    Saturday March 9 at 10 a.m. PST
Where:   On your computer, tablet or smartphone via Zoom
RSVP:    To Dolores Guffey by March 4 to receive the password
Workshop Questions:  Lara Cox,
Zoom Questions:  Bobbie Hayes
Contact information is in the newsletter.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024


Thank you Kris Nevius for teaching your Flag Book with Pull-Up Envelopes at our February workshop. Who knew that adding cute little envelopes with special pull-up messages or artwork to a simple accordion structure could make such a great gift card or book. A very nice aspect to this structure is that it can be made as just a single fold card or an accordion of any length. The sizes of the envelopes and the base structure are easy to change. Featured below are some of the books made during or after the workshop.

Cover of Mary Elizabeth Nelson's
 (aka Emmy) larger sized book

The accordion size is now 3"x30".

Emmy used paste paper for the envelopes.

A fun discovery was that it would stand up in a star shape.

Margaret Beech

Margaret used flower cut-outs from a card 
for her envelope inserts.

Bonnie Julien

Eco-dyed paper was used for the envelopes.

Cancelled stamps with flower photos
were used for the inserts.

Dolores Guffey used ponytail bands as a closure.

The poem, Monday's Child, was used in the inserts.

Dolores used her beautiful marbled paper.

Sherrill Story

Very cute plaid envelopes with flat paper "beads".

Notes from the Art Lab

by Bonnie Halfpenny

 Create a Little Magic! 
When I am involved in creating individual works, my piece sometimes seems too small a thing to spend so much time on.  I would like to share some quotes from Rick Rubin's book, The Creative Act: A Way of Being, that Michele Kamprath highlighted back in the August newsletter.  Although known mostly for his work with musicians, Rubin has insightful things to say about all forms of creativity.

  • "It's not unusual for science to catch up to art, eventually.  Nor is it unusual for art to catch up to the spiritual.
  • We tend to think of the artist's work as the output.  The real work of the artist is a way of being in the world.
  • The work reveals itself as you go.
  • Failure is the information you need to get where you are going.
  • A work of art is not an end point in itself.  It's a station on a journey.  A chapter in our lives.  We acknowledge these transitions by documenting each of them.
  • We are dealing in a magic realm.  Nobody knows why or how it works.
  • Living in discovery is at all times preferable to living through assumptions.
  • Making art is a serious matter.  Harnessing creative energy from Source.  Shepherding ideas into the physical plane.  Participating in the cosmic cycle of creation.  The opposite is also true.  Making art is pure play.
  • The reason we are alive is to express ourselves in the is a universal way to send messages between each other and through time."

I especially like the idea that art is about recording where you are at the moment.  It is hard to read this book without feeling that participating in the arts is essentially helping to create a better world, right now, as we work, one piece at a time. 

Monday, January 29, 2024


Our February 2024 valentine month workshop will be a wonderful little flag book with many envelopes to hold messages or small pieces of art. Our instructor will be Kris Nevius. Templates and paper suggestions for the envelopes and inserts will be sent when you register.


  • Accordion Cover: 2" x 18" grain short
  • Envelopes: 6 envelopes for inside of the book and, optional, 1 or 2 more for the front cover and inside or outside of the back cover.
  • Inserts: one for each envelope
  • Belly Band: 5/8" x 8 1/2"
  • Envelope folding guide: (on the envelope template page) and insert guide (on the insert sheet)
  • Thread: 8" or so for each envelope. Waxed linen is good.
  • Attachments for pull string: beads, at least 2 per envelope. Or use a 3/8" circle punch or 3/8" square punch to punch out 2 circles or squares per envelope. Or just cut out small squares.
  • Tools: scissors, Exacto knife, ruler, pencil, cutting mat, awl, bone folder, corner rounder, glue stick or other glue to glue the envelopes, scrap paper to glue on.


Print out:

  • Envelope template page onto cardstock or acetate
  • Insert page onto cardstock or heavier scrapbook paper or the like. Add content if desired.

Cut out:

  • Accordion cover paper: Mi-Teintes works well for this.
  • Envelope template and envelope folding guide
  • 6-8 envelopes, using envelope template. Use a paper that will fold easily, but not tear easily. Kris used paste paper done on Arches Text Wove.
  • Inserts: 6-8. Use a corner rounder on all 4 corners if desired.
  • Insert guide (on insert page)
Keep envelope template handy for reference during class.

When:  Saturday, February 10 at 10 a.m. PST
Where: On your computer, tablet or smartphone via Zoom
RSVP:   Dolores Guffey by Feb. 5 to receive the password & PDF's
Workshop questions: Kris Nevius,
Zoom questions: Bobbie Hayes
Contact information is in the newsletter

Wednesday, January 17, 2024


Thank you Carol Du Bosch for teaching us such a fun project for the first NORBAG workshop of 2024. The structure is so easy and adaptable that I'm sure it will become a favorite of our members. The fact that no glue or stitching is required is especially appealing.

This was one of the popular "books" we
made. It would make an excellent $5 gift
or favor for a grandchild. And of course
it could be made in any denomination.

Notes from the Art Lab

by Bonnie Halfpenny

It is always fun to find new a resource that helps us learn more about book arts, whether it is a new book, a class, or a web resource. I don't know how many of you are familiar with Four Keys Book Arts, but they have an amazing amount of free, low-keyed, well produced instructional videos on traditional book binding and related topics that have captured my attention recently. These videos run the gamut from a four-part series called "Book Binding Basics" (each about 1/2 hour), to an advanced five-part set, "Making Medieval Books".  Other single videos can be as simple as "Upcycled Pocket Notebooks", or as specialized as "Making Book Hardware""Making Tiger-Eyed Marble Paper", or "Hand Binding A Christmas Carol".

If you are looking for a refresher, or are wanting to try new techniques, this is an easy and accessible resource, available at no cost. Besides an Instagram account which provides much eye candy, the company also maintains an Etsy shop where they sell high-quality leather-bound journals, marbled papers, vintage papers, and much more.