Friday, December 6, 2019


a book called Lizard Dreams
Books are fun to make.

All you need is paper or fabric or a toy animal, pieces of heavyweight book board for the covers, glue, and ideas.

All kinds of materials can be used to make a book. I've made books from eco-dyed paper,

books with fabric spines,

books with twig spines

I've stacked 6" X 6" individual paintings together and tied them with ribbon, 

and I've sewn layers of paper into a signature, which is a set of papers folded in the middle and sewn together against the spine of a book.

This book has two signatures.

a two-page spread from a book with a canvas spine

I've learned the words that explain the parts of a book such as signature, joint, crush, foot, endpapers, and spine. The most difficult book I've made was a traditionally bound book with a hardcover and signatures while I was in a class with Dominic Riley at the San Francisco Center for the Book. Riley is from England and makes incredible books using the old techniques of bookbinders.

Books are a fun way to practice art. Books, such as old textbooks that no one wants, can be made into altered books, which can be used as practice material for stand-alone art. Handmade books can contain sketches, family recipes, or photos. And what about making a little book to slip into your purse or pocket to record your thoughts as a good friend has done for many years?

a one-signature (six papers) booklet sewn together at the spine

Books are a great way to use all the art materials I can't resist. I can re-purpose photos, magazine pages, pieces of artwork that didn't work out, and memories from family and friends. Now that handwriting is becoming a lost art, what better way to preserve examples of loved ones' handwriting than in a carefully produced handmade book? I'm working on that one.

To learn the names of the parts of a book:

To learn bookbinding:
San Francisco Center for the Book

Works by Dominic Riley can be found here:


  1. These are beautiful and inventive, Martha! I'd love you to bring a couple with you to the Artist's Eye, Writers' Voice retreat in January because they're such a fine example of connecting words and images.

    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. I will be happy to bring some of the books to the retreat.

  2. From Jane on Facebook: Love all the different books you've made Martha, James took book making too and loved it. Such a wonderful medium to work in!! Anyone would be lucky to receive one of your books as a gift!!

    1. Thank you again, Jane. Books really can inspire creativity.

  3. From FL on Facebook: Fantastic photos of crazy creative work! It's a lot of work to post photos so hats off to you!

    1. Thanks!! Mostly the work is taking the photos in the first place. Lighting is the difficult part. Thanks for your comments.

  4. From Eileen on FB: Beautiful books. Will have a look at the binding links. I used Kiala Givehand as tutor for bookbinding. Plain, simple and useful for my small monthly sketching books.

  5. Thanks, Eileen. I took a class a long time ago with Kiala Givehand. It's fun to have something you've made to work in.


Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from readers. I answer each one.

I do not post Anonymous comments because of problems with spammers.