Books grow on trees

In my last post, I mentioned how much I love books & reading.  It is one of my greatest pleasures.  But I do feel a measure of guilt, because as we all know, books are made from paper, which in turn comes from trees.  So my conscience was eased ever so slightly, when I stumbled across this great concept:
Eco Libris!  With Eco Libris’ plan, you can plant a tree for every book you read, and therefore help to replenish the world’s resources.  The more you read, the more you help!  Through the Eco Libris site you can make a payment to have any number of trees planted; and for every tree planted you will receive a “One tree planted for this book” sticker made of recycled paper to display on your book.

Another great site, if you are in the UK, is Green Metropolis.   The site allows you to recycle old books through their marketplace: there is a fixed price of £3.75 for every book; a donation is made to the Woodland Trust with every book bought/sold; the Woodland Trust in turn plants trees to replenish the woodlands.  Everybody wins!

A quiet week?

Despite a lack of blogging activity here which may suggest the contrary, I have been busy busy busy all week!  Well, I took a week’s holiday from ‘real’ work – caught up with a friend, saw my mum & dad (my dad has been in China for the last 6 months or so, so that was an especial treat), and went on a day trip with Corey – the highlight of which was probably when he left his umbrella behind on the train there, but found it again on the train back!  But around these brief outings I have been working non-stop.  There are some new things very nearly ready to tell you about, but the most immediate, are 2 new zines (& something else a bit different), now available in my Etsy stores:

Contours cover shotThe first is ‘Contours’, my first art zine, which is all about doodling.  This is where my brief encounter with Zentangling led me.  I suddenly realised how the majority of the patterns I have designed as an adult all stem from one basic doodle that I used to doodle all the time.  The zine looks at how that doodle has emerged in the various crafts I have worked in, considers the possible origins of the doodle, and leaves lots of spaces for you to doodle away to your own heart’s content.

tiffanyacorns1As you can see from the photo, there are some extras included – hand-doodled bookmark to stitch, and a hand-doodled ‘fingerprint’ of lino to carve & print.  Inside the zine you will also find a 4-way Acorns cross stitch chart, Bobbin Along freeform bargello pattern, plus 4 postcards (2 printed, and 2 blank for you to doodle yourself) printed on gummed paper, freeform-bobbin-alongso that you can turn any piece of scrap card into a postcard, (these come with 4 postcard reverse labels which could also be used as envelope re-use labels, if you prefer).  Check out the TangleCrafts Etsy Store for more details.

Papertrail #2 cover shot Hot on the heels of Papertrail #1, you can now also find Papertrail #2.  Papertrail #2 is a zine full of questions and books and reading habits, with answers/opinions from me, Corey, and spaces for your own responses, too.  It’s all about books, and how we live with them.  Alongside everything else is a Papertrails ‘map’ of routes you can take from novel to novel, spaces to design your own book jackets, plus copy-&-cut bookplates & bookmarks.  And as if all that wasn’t enough, Papertrail #2 also includes a free membership pack for the Papertrail Reader’s Club!

The Papertrail Reader’s Club is there for everyone who loves to read.  The Basic Membership Pack includes:Club Package

  • 2 pre-gummed Ex Libris plates
  • 2 recommendation bookmarks left blank for you to personalise
  • and the Member Book:

The Papertrail Readers’ Club Book is a membership card and reader’s record book combined! It is a 20 page, staple-bound mini-booklet, printed on high quality recycled sugar papers. Each book will be personalised with your name and membership number, and date stamped with the start date of your membership. It includes spaces to list all the books you want to read alongside dates started & finished, and there are even pages to fill in with your own mini-reviews! Club Book

Each month, a different book is chosen as a feature title, with review printed inside the back cover.  Club members are eligible to submit their own reviews of the club titles which may earn them a free Papertrail zine!

If you buy any issue of Papertrail, you will receive free membership to the Reader’s Club, including the current month’s club review.  If you don’t want to buy the zine, you can still buy a one-off membership to the club with a Basic Membership Package.  And if you fill your record book quickly, or just want another, a Renewal Membership Package is available at a reduced price.

Told you I’d been busy ;-).  And this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Nigel Peake

Peake MapsOn Sunday, I was very decadent and bought myself a new book.  It is only 24 pages long and cost £8.95, but it is so beautiful and enticing that it is absolutely, definitely worth every penny.  It’s not a craft book, or even fiction: it’s a book called ‘Maps’ by Nigel Peake.  It’s full of, well, maps; but not your ordinary, everyday atlas-type maps: these are out-of-the-ordinary, everyday, stylised, hand-drawn to the tiniest minutiae maps, filled with colour and pattern, and – well, they’re just awesome. Peake Maps 2See left for a couple of pages from inside this book.  There aren’t many pages in the book, but it’s not something you can just flip quickly through: you need to really study the pictures, to see which details have been picked up.

Peake Map 3I just stumbled upon this book as I was browsing the shelves – it’s very thin and there is not even any wording on the spine, so could easily have been missed, but that’s probably actually what made me notice it.  I was just mesmerised, as soon as I opened it.  The example to the right, here, is more representative of what I love about the amazing use of line, and pattern.  (The image shown is a print, but it does also appear in the book, ‘Sheds’ – I just didn’t want to break the spine of my book, to scan it!).  Slightly off-topic, but something to think about, I can totally imagine this kind of image converted into blackwork embroidery.  Hmm…

If you check out Nigel Peake’s blog, it’s obvious how the detail of the ordinary things we often just walk past without really seeing is being plucked from obscurity in his work.  It’s not that it is enlarged or prettified, but itjust makes you actually look at the detail, makes you aware, instead of being blind to it.  I love the photos on his blog.

There is also a website where you can actually flip through his publications, and see even more of his wonderful illustrations; then when you can’t take it any more, you can also buy prints and zines online.  Go and do it now.  I insist.

Browsing my Bookcase

What have I been up to lately?  I’ve been reviewing books, like a crazy person!  Some will be utilised in the newsletter I’ve mentioned previously, but mostly, I’m adding them here as a resource for other stitchers.  They are, of course, just my opinions, not a definitive guide!  But craft books, although amazing resources, are a huge expense, and I’d like to think that my humble opinions might help someone make a decision on what to invest their hard-earned cash in.  It can be difficult to find pre-purchase information, especially for older books that are now out of print.  I have to confess that in the past I have taken a lot of chances, based on a cover illustration or even just a title.  Occasionally, I have been disappointed, but I’ve also made some amazing discoveries this way.  Of course, we are all looking for different things, so I have tried to pinpoint what it is I specifically appreciate about the different books, and what I felt disappointed by – because the exact same things may elicit the opposite response from you.  Please feel free to add comments if you agree or disagree with any of my reviews.

If nothing else, it has been a very pleasant stroll across my bookshelves (by no means anywhere near complete as yet, and, of course, ever-expanding!) .  I have discovered entire books I had forgotten about, not to mention sectons of books I had skimmed over in the past but have discovered anew, as my interests have developed over the years.

The  ‘book review index’ link to the right will give you an A-Z list of all the different reviews, and link you to the page where you will find that review.  You will see the reviews are also listed by category/technique.  If a book could be filed under several categories, I have chosen a main ‘home’ for it, but also included links under other relevant categories.  The number at the side of the category link refers to the number of books currently reviewed (or linked) within it – this way you can see when a new book has been added in your favourite category.

Anything else I should include?  Let me know!  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy browsing my bookcase!