North Redwoods Book Arts Guild

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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.