North Redwoods Book Arts Guild

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Monday, March 30, 2020


Since we, and most of the world, are staying home in hope of flattening the curve of coronavirus cases, this blog will strive to offer some comments on activities as well as projects from some of our members. We will try to update the blog every two weeks, so be sure to check in for new ideas as well as information about when regular NORBAG workshops will resume.

Our member from York, England, Margaret Beech, has always generously shared her ideas with us. Margaret takes simple structures and elevates them into beautiful works of art. If you subscribe to Bound and Lettered magazine you’ve probably seen some of Margaret’s projects. Below we offer Margaret’s version of a WOW fold and an envelope to go with it. She encourages you “to make something, pop it into an envelope and mail it to a friend as a Random Act of Kindness during the current time of national crisis and social isolation.”

This WOW fold uses a 20 cm square of paper and fits exactly into a 10 cm square card. (U.S. measurements would be 8" for a 4" card, however any size square will work and just adjust the card accordingly.) Margaret says, “I am not suggesting you should make anything very sophisticated — just something that will fit into an envelope to be mailed. You may prefer just to make a square greeting card with a square of your own decorated paper on the front. Or a square card with a tiny envelope on the front, perhaps with a tiny card with a cheer up or greeting. I would encourage you to make your own greetings cards generally. I always have a store of them (birthday, get well, thinking of you, sending love, new home etc.) and can honestly say I have not bought a commercial card for over thirty years –think how much money I have saved! And you could too!”

The WOW structure fits exactly into the card so Margaret suggests
 for an 8" WOW you might want to use a 4.5" square card. 

WOW opened

Back of card

Thank you Margaret for sharing your worksheets with us.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


For the first time in 25 years NORBAG cancelled a meeting and workshop this March. Along with a concern about the corona virus, we were not able to use our usual large airy room because of a church event. Also, the governor of California had requested that people 65 years and older self-isolate and others who are able, to work from home. That request has now been updated for everyone to remain at home. Based on that, and on news of the progression of the virus, we’ve decided to put all future meetings on hold. The monthly newsletter will continue, but probably with less pages.

Those who wish to may continue making the themed exchange books, but at present we don’t know when they will be viewed or exchanged at future meetings. If you would like to share your projects or thoughts/suggestions on how to cope with our current isolation situations please send any jpg photos or information to Bonnie Julien to publish on the blog. Please check the newsletter for Bonnie's email address.

Bookmaking can be a time to relax and reflect so …in the words of Dolores Guffey, “May the creative forces be with all of us!”

For a little inspiration check out these "oldies but goodies" exchange books from years past.

Dragonfly by Becky Luening - May 2005

Dragonfly is an accordion with tabs sewn on with a pamphlet stitch.

Soup by Margaret Beech - June 2006

This is a flag book with display pockets sewn in the middle with a pamphlet stitch.

Happy Birthday by Dolores Guffey - September 2008

Die-cut cakes sewn with French Link stitch.

Cake Baking by Peggy Marrs - October 2009

Peggy's original watercolors were scanned for this edition.

One full sheet of Mi Teints paper was used for this structure. No sewing!

Sunday, March 15, 2020


A new selection of artist books made by NORBAG members is now on display at the Humboldt County Library in Eureka. The kiosk that houses the books is near the book check-out and returns area. Included are books with ancient style stitches made with modern or non-traditional materials, exposed bindings, as well as a variety of hand-sewn books.

Bindings include Coptic stitched in blue raffia on painted papers; Tackets neatly done in two colors on gray handmade paper; and Stab binding done with macramé thread and beads.

A display of exposed bindings features a book of hand-marbled, paper-covered sections stitched in white linen thread over black tapes; colorful threads wrapped over cords; and French link binding.

Another shelf displays a variety of stitches including Long Stitch, Buttonhole, Twisted, and many decoratively stitched small books.

Unique books include a decorative spin-braid of threads color coordinated with hand-marbled papers; double Secret Belgian binding with copper embellishments; Raven's Foot binding on hand-decorated covers; and more unique bindings.

Ancient stitches with modern materials

Exposed bindings

Unique bindings

A variety of bindings


Tuesday, March 3, 2020


Due to the corona virus, a number of our members expressed concern about meeting (especially in close quarters - the Fireside Room). Lara has agreed to postpone the workshop until the April meeting. At the April meeting we will have two separate book exchanges, one for the March theme of Surface Design and one for April's theme of a Shaped Book.

Our April workshop will feature Lara Cox teaching a somewhat simplified version of a medieval girdle book. This workshop will provide us with the basic structure so that we can create more complicated and decorative versions in the future.

Girdle books were small portable books worn by medieval European monks, clergymen and aristocratic nobles as a popular accessory to medieval costume. They first appeared in the late 13th century and gained popularity through the 15th, sometimes becoming ostentations jewel-encrusted presentation books, and then falling out of favor late in the 16th century when printed books had become much more common. 

The structure consisted of a book with a leather binding that continued loosely beyond the cover of the book in a long tapered tail with a large knot at the end that 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 normally religious: a cleric's daily Office, or for lay persons (especially women), a Book of Hours. Another possible reason for their decline was the relatively small number of specialized girdle-protected texts becoming outdated with little need to replace them. In an environment of increasingly cheap printing it was simpler to replicate texts than spend time preserving individual manuscripts. The intricately constructed girdle bindings were simply impractical after a certain point.

Tools and materials to bring:

  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Awl
  • Bone folder
  • Scissors
  • Cutting mat and exacto knife
  • PVA Glue (or favorite paste) and brush for gluing
  • Scrap paper for use in gluing (old magazines work great)
  • Bookbinding thread like Perle cotton or similar
  • Sewing needle that fits the size of your thread
  • Beeswax
  • Hole punching cradle (handy but not necessary)

Please have prepared ahead of class:

  • 10 signatures with 3 sheets/folios per signature, folded and nested. Start with pages measuring 5 1/2" tall x 8 1/2" wide. Once folded, the signatures should each measure 5 1/2" tall x 4 1/4" wide. Please fold, bone and press your stack of signatures. Alternatively: if you would rather use thicker paper and less pages, you may do so with the understanding that the final stack of signatures should measure 5/8" thick when pressed and stacked together. We will be sewing them together into a block as part of the class.
  • Decorative paper, 8 1/2" x 11" or larger. Various decorative papers may be used for the endpapers at the front and back of your book. Mi Teintes or a similar weight paper will work.
  • 2 pieces precut bookboard measuring 6" tall x 4 1/2" wide (for front and back covers)
  • 1 piece bookboard for the spine measuring 6" tall x 1/2" wide. Also, what seems to be a measurement discrepancy between the spine width and book block thickness is correct--all will be revealed at the workshop. 
  • NOTE about bookboard: Cereal boxes, cake mix boxes and cracker boxes while not as heavy duty as bookboard are usable in place of bookboard for many bindings. Feel free to substitute them in as the bookboard for this project.

Lara will provide:

  • Directions, re-usable cover pattern and examples
  • Precut cover fabrics
  • Cording and ribbons for closures and knots
  • Hole punch guide
  • Waxed paper
  • Sewing thread

WHEN:    Saturday April 11 at noon

WHERE:  Eureka Methodist Church at Del Norte & F Streets
BRING:   See lists above
COST:     $4
RSVP:     YES, to Lara. Her contact information is in the newsletter.