I was going to write a post about how the BookBinding workshop our daughter and I did a couple of weeks ago, was a great opportunity to learn about Maths, but I realised I don’t actually give two hoots if our daughter learnt any maths or not. Instead, I’m going to write about how totally amazing it was to make our own handmade, watercolour sketchbook from scratch, just for the joy of making it.


Book binding 1


It took five hours to make our book. I think it would take a little less once you got the hang of it, but it is still a process that can not be hurried, which is a good thing. It was an intense process that took all of our attention and focus. It felt like we were re-connecting with a skill from the past. Helen Bishop, who ran the workshop, used to be a Shoe Maker. I just couldn’t help seeing the image of Helen in her workshop surrounded by elves, all making shoes. But seriously, I did feel a sense of awe. I am a big fan of technology, but I also appreciate the craftsmanship of making something with our own hands and honouring the time it takes.




While, making our book there were moments of doubt. Had we done it right, was the stitching good enough?. The other students also had their concerns until Helen said, We don’t want perfection, for perfection angers the Gods! she went on to explain that when making handmade objects, imperfections were the thing that gave the piece its uniqueness. Another person pointed out that all Islamic artists make a deliberate error in their work on the grounds that Only God Is Perfect.’ Which explains the minor irregularities in the complex geometrical designs of Islamic art.

We all felt much better after hearing this!




At the end of the workshop we all held in our hands our very own hand stitched book. Our daughter choose the materials for the cover, as she has always had an eye for colour.  The book now sits on our book shelf waiting for the Spring, when we will take it with us to our favourite National Trust Gardens and fill it was watercolours and sketches of nature.




Helen Bishop also makes beautiful handmade leather books which are for sale, you can find her here at HatsWell Books. (Tell her I sent you!)

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2 thoughts on “Creating Something Just For The Joy Of It!

  1. Finding the soul and spirit of people, especially children people,
    is really all we can do that honors what education is about. Thank
    you for being willing to be yourself and trust our creative selves.

  2. Thank you so much for your lovely piece about bookbinding – I needed it today to give me a boost! Emma Madge (who came to one of my first workshops) originally mentioned that imperfection was a positive and I’ve used it in my workshops since. She’s right, I believe – it’s a healthy concept to accept imperfection and love what you do, rather than find fault.

    You’re absolutely right about bookbinding being an excellent way for children to learn maths and it doesn’t need to be explicit – that’s boring and for adults to appreciate quietly, without droning on to children about how much they are learning as they go through the process. Multiplication is involved to work out how much paper is needed, depending on the number of pages per signature. There is plenty of measuring and it is important for a successful result. Although bookbinding needs accuracy, mistakes that are made reinforce learning as long as there’s an opportunity to repeat and improve. I am also a primary school teacher who has become disillusioned about how children are taught. I’ve always been fascinated about how great learning happens and bookbinding has lots of opportunities. Apart from the maths and precision required, the resulting books help children (and adults) value what they decide to fill those books with – probably more important ultimately. Don’t be too precious though – make more books, so you can feel free about what goes into them. Give me a shout if the method has gone hazy or you need help with any aspect of book making. In the new year I’ll be developing some more child orientated workshops – I’ll let people know via my FB page.

    So thanks again, Luminara, for being appreciative. It means a lot to me smile emoticon

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