Nowherelands

“For me, an unused stamp isn’t especially exciting. The more signs there are of handling and of life, the more valuable it feels. Continue reading Nowherelands

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Bookalogging (new TangleClub freebie)

In between projects, I’ve been reading a lot, lately.  Despite the fact I lived with my nose in a book when I was younger, it always feels very decadent now to spend a day with a comfortable chair and a good novel – but sometimes it just needs to be done!  Do you ever think back on the books you read years ago and find you only have the sketchiest memories of the details?  I’ve been lucky enough to be selected as a World Book Night ‘giver’ this year (one of thousands of people across the country – & I believe in other countries, too, this year – giving away free copies of books in order to ‘spread the joy and love of reading’), and the book I chose to give was Small Island by Andrea Levy.  I read it and really enjoyed it probably 5 or 6 years ago, and of the available titles, it was definitely the one that spoke to me.  But I realised that I only had the vaguest recollection of the actual plot, which isn’t really the best way of convincing somebody else they also want to read that book…  I’m currently re-reading Small Island, and relieved to say I am enjoying it just as much second time around!

With this in mind, I have just added a brand new TangleClub freebie: the Bookalog!  Maybe you have a journal where you keep track of the books you read, maybe a spreadsheet, maybe a blog, or maybe you just rely on your memory (all I will say about that is, I hope your memory is better than mine! 😉 ).  Whatever your preference, the Bookalog is designed to supplement rather than replace your preferred method of record-keeping.  Simply print & fold the mini-zine ‘blank’ – maybe use as a makeshift bookmark (I don’t know about you, but I always lose nice bookmarks & end up using business cards or till receipts, instead) or just stuff a couple into your purse or handbag.  Then when you finish a book, wherever you might be, you can jot down a few notes to keep everything fresh in your mind until you have chance to update whatever other system you might use.  You can, of course, use the Bookalogs as a record system in their own right, but if you read a lot, be warned that this may soon become impractical! 😉

The Bookalog includes spaces for:

  • your name!
  • an index of titles
  • dates read
  • a log of your thoughts about 3 books
  • space to add doodles or pictures or extra notes
  • books similar in style/theme
  • ratings
  • books added to your wishlist

(Please note, if you are not currently a TangleClub member but you wish to partake of the TangleClub freebie goodness, membership is available here, or is FREE with any purchase of £5 or more from the TangleStore!)

In the meantime – have you read any good books lately?  These are my favourite reads from the last month:

Ella Minnow Pea by Matt Dunn
A clever & enjoyable fable set on an island where an overzealous council bans more and more letters from daily usage as a historic monument begins to decay.  If you enjoy word puzzles, this is a really fun read, but more importantly, it’s a good story, too!

The Flying Man by Roopa Farooki
A career conman reflects on his life as old age catches up with him, in this surprisingly touching portrait of a charming egomaniac and the lives he has touched.  This story could easily have produced a caricature but instead revealed a very perceptive look at human nature.

War Crimes for the Home by Liz Jensen
In this sharply witty tale, Gloria looks back on life with her sister during the war, and discovers why certain memories are more reluctant to re-surface than others.  I was relieved that the ‘twist’ (evident that it would be coming from early on in the story) was slightly different than I had imagined.

At Home With Handmade Books

If you are anything at all like me, you will find that a very comforting title!  I have just treated myself to this lovely book by Erin Zamrzla, even though it is quite expensive over here (£18.99 for a softcover!) and even though I have many many other bookbinding titles on my shelves (if creative bookbinding is something you’re interested in but you don’t know where to begin, allow me to highly recommend anything by Alisa Golden!).  So what makes this one different?

Well, a lot of it is in the presentation, which is very simple and unfussy, but in a considered way that is intrinsically interesting.  The first third of the book presents the photo gallery of projects and the latter portion the instructions.  This is a formula that I have disliked in other books, but here works well, due to good quality instructions and repeated (smaller) photos.  But I guess the real reason I don’t mind is mostly because the projects themselves are so appealing.  There is nothing extravagant about this book or its contents and the projects, too, have an air of calm simplicity.  There is a wide variety of techniques, different stab stitch bindings, different ways of presenting similar ideas, and showing how easy it is (/can be/seem) to create something original and interesting from a very standard starting point.  Yes, I think that is what I like about it.  It is not (only) a book of projects but a book of adaptable ideas and inspiration.

You will find all the usual suspects within the pages of this book: accordion folds, envelope pocket books, various stitch bindings, but it’s the ideas for use, and the (often re-purposed) materials used in their construction that makes them interesting:  a menu/place card, read & write bookmark, return to sender mail book (above right)  – actually, maybe those appeal to me just because they tie into my own preference for dual-function…  But I also am itching to try the very simple bead binding  (right) and ‘ledger stitched’ seed packet book (lower right), too.  This project is of course far more effective if you have such prettily illustrated seed packets to hand as shown in the pic; but I think the standard flower packet photos would have a (slightly different) charm of their own…

I used to be far more experimental in terms of my zine bindings/construction, and have  definitely got into a saddle-stitch and ‘standard’ mini-zine rut of late.   That’s mostly due to practicality of multiple reproduction & the simplifying factor of re-using my existing templates, but this book has inspired me to start thinking a little more creatively again, even if only for some one-offs or limited runs.  I can see that some of the ideas in this book would not really be much more labour intensive than the basic 3-hole saddle stitch, so it’s time to shake off the dust and try something if not new exactly, then at least different than my usual. 🙂

Okay, I have a question for you!  I’m not a tea drinker so the Tea Bag Tracing Book project shown left intrigues me.  The pages are made from actual tea bags, and the accompanying text says, “If you are an avid tea drinker, you will collect the pages in no time.”  But surely if they had been first used for tea then the pages would be stained in tea colours (and also crumpled)?  Would it be practical to wash & iron a tea bag after use to re-use as a book page?  Or are empty tea bags available that could be opened out and used as pages without first having been used for tea (which would surely defeat the object of re-purposing…)?  I’m genuinely slightly puzzled by this, so am looking forward to enlightenment from one of you clever people ‘in the know’ on the subject! 😉

ETA see comments below for, amongst other things, why I was stupid to ask the above questions! 😉

Good mail starts here!

Good mail dayCatching up on a month’s worth of blogging in one day, I really need to plug the (not-so-new-any-more) book Good Mail Day by Jenny Hinchcliff & Carolee Gilligan Wheeler.  I’m taking my time working my way through it, because it’s packed with ideas and resources for just about every aspect of mail art you could possibly be interested in.

happy mailday travelling kitChapter 3, ‘The Traveling Mail Art Kit’, really captured my imagination & I started to think straight away what would comprise my own essential mail art kit.   I’d love to share, but I’ve set up a mail art kit swap over at Swap-Bot, and I don’t want to ruin any surprises for my partners, should they happen to stop by here.  But I’d love to hear what anyone else thinks of as their mail art essentials (it’s such a personal thing) – I’ll probably be inspired by your ideas, & then still ruin a surprise, anyway ;-).  And you’ll probably hear more about my own kit as time goes by…

Find out more from the authors through their blog – where you can see all the cool mail art they have been receiving – and also at the Pod Pod Post website (which looks great, but I was disappointed by how few of the shop items are actually available).