the beauty of antique photo

Sometimes I love the print on the back of an antique studio portait as much as I love the photograph itself. This one is so incredibly beautiful! For a while I wasn’t reinforcing the images on a stronger board because I didn’t want to have to cover the gorgeous designs on the back of some of the portraits. This meant though that the cover wasn’t as strong as the back of the book and I like to build books that will survive anything (except water and, I don’t know, a wild animal… there’s nothing I can do about that… for now). I’ve managed to separate some of the photos in half so I can use the front and the back as the front and back of a book… But this is kind of super hard and I can only pull it off sometimes without ruining the photograph. Trying to figure out how to use both sides of the images while maintaining the structure of the book and using the original image… 

This is a book I managed to split:


And here’s another beautiful studio logo:

all the things you never knew you needed a blank book for

I often hear people say that they have a pile of blank books at they’ve collected over time they thought were nice and pretty and that they’ve never really used because they didn’t know what to write in it.

To these folks I present a (truncated) list of possible, and valuable, uses for a blank book. Alongside are some examples from Mule Mother Books:

  • journal
  • sketchbook
  • recipe book
  • wedding planner
  • dream diary (something to write down all those weird dreams you have)
  • songwriters book
  • DIY daily planner
  • one place for all your to do lists (so you can look back and see that thing that pops up in every list and never gets done)
  • class notebook and/ or penmanship practice (which is not taught in schools much anymore unfortunately)
  • DIY daily planner
  • a penpal book… keep snail mail alive and send a blank book back and forth to your penpal to fill up over time
  • scrapbooks- super family fun: collaborative scrap-booking makes for nifty family heirlooms or gifts for the grandfolks…
  • garden log- keep track of all your herbs and veggies, keep a record of them over time
  • fermentation journal… keep tabs on your fermented foods; what works best, chart fermenting times, good fermenting recipes
  • flower press book (the garden book would also make a nice flower press book)
  • coffee table conversation piece
  • travel journal

and old school address book.. for when your phone battery dies.

This is all I can think of off the top of my head… Please feel free to add suggestions


Why is professional practice not mandatory in BFA programs?

It has now been 2 years since I have graduated university. After a blissful and much deserved 5 month hiatus in Central America, I found myself “back to reality” in Halifax… Jobless, penniless, and feeling somewhat hopeless. If your not into teaching, it’s pretty difficult to find a job in your field with a BFA. I suppose no matter what background your coming from, finding work is pretty tough these days.

In the interest of preserving my sanity in the long term, I started very slowly to build up my own business (some may call that a sanity killer but anywho…). This has always been a goal of mine because I’m not too interested in teaching full time, I’ve worked too long in food service (a job which tends to not have much room for growth), and to be perfectly honest, I have issues with authority and I don’t like people telling me what to do (especially when what they’re telling me to do  makes no sense and caters to the wants and “needs” of uptight, elitest, ignorant asswads with no souls …. but I digress…)

So as I began my journey, learning oh so slowly what works and what doesn’t, I realized I couldn’t really get ahead of anything. “Business” was such a foreign term, if not a kind of 4-letter word.. I seemed unbelievably unorganized, despite my constant attempts at organization and I valued very little my time and effort. It started to make me think, especially as of very recently during 2 great meetings with my partner’s father, Celes Davar, that it could have really helped to have some kind of professional practice class mandatory in my art degree. There was in fact a professional practice class offered at my uni but it wasn’t mandatory, and in all honesty, I had a pretty good idea of how in debt I was going to be so I figured I’d try to make my time in school as short and sweet as I could (as short and sweet as I could after 8 years in my undergrad….guh) So I didn’t take the class… an I am sure that quite a few folks did the same.

So the meeting I had with Celes was basically around forming a strategy for my business: product diversifying, product development, understanding my markets, using spreadsheets (oh my golly where have YOU been all my life!?…Hand made inventory logs are cute and all but I could be spending my time a bit better ), pricing, and overall just laying it all out and making future plans (an act that terrifies me… I dont know what’s going on next week, nevermind in 3 years…). I feel like I have gained a whole new understanding of my business; where I am, where I see myself being, how to get there, new ways of thinking and diversifying, what my core values are… so much!! I am motivated and exited because instead of Mule Mother Books being half opened packages, chewed up by a dog spread about the floor, it looks more like numbered parcels laid before me that I open in order… sigh….

So why weren’t we taught this in school? I do remember hearing from one guest artist about how you need to look at your art practice like a business… sure, yes, makes sense. But what does that mean? And maybe I’m alone in this, but coming out of art school, I was practically giving my paintings away, had no idea how to place value on anything I did, had no clue how to handle taxes and and my budget… what a mess…

What I was told to do in school was to write grants… Look for money in all the little hiding places, write a good proposal (still not too clear on what that is..) and hope for the best… And yes, grant writing is a super good skill to have and yes, there was some emphasis in uni, but how can this be the only option? Sell your work and get grants… forever and ever and work a food service job and make work and wait to get money.

It’s as if you are told over and over the importance and value of art in our society, yet we are rarely given a framework for which to place a value on our time and effort as artists and craftspeople. We are not given the proper tools for operating outside the grant system and within the business world. These tools can enable us grow our “business minds” along with our “artist brains” instead of them sabotaging each other.

Anyways, just a thought.

The tricky job of buying responsible paper…

It’s high time Mule Mother Books starts to explore better paper options. I have always chosen recycled paper over non wherever I can find it… but the sad reality of starting a business where heavy amounts of paper are involved is that in the beginning, when you’re scraping by, you go with what your budget can handle. You need to figure out ways to keep producing and growing to a point where you can be more choosy about where your supplies are coming from. So in my research, exploring new options while getting exited about being a legit business that makes real money to pay very real bills (ugh…) I have come across some interesting facts about paper that is leading me evermore to believe in QUALITY over QUANTITY… Here are some very interesting facts about paper consumption in the US… (I think they can be pretty relatable to folks here in Canada as well!)…

  • It takes 60 percent less energy to manufacture paper from recycled stock than from virgin materials.
  • Producing a ton of virgin paper requires 20 trees and 7,000 more gallons of water than a ton of 100% recycled paper. Furthermore, chlorine is generally used in the bleaching process, releasing the carcinogenic chemical dioxin and other toxins.
  • If everyone in the U.S. said “no thanks” to ATM receipts, it would save a roll of paper so long it could circle the equator fifteen times.
  • If every household in the U.S. replaced just one roll of virgin fiber paper towels (70 sheets) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 544,000 trees.

Pretty ridiculous… hard to comprehend some of those numbers …..I feel like a lot of these kinds of facts get thrown around without people paying too much attention to them, but when you start to think of how massive it all is and how little effort it would take to change the situation dramatically, it all just seems so unnecessary… so excessive.

So as I continue on looking for some sweet deals on 100% recycled, unbleached paper I will do my very best to make conscious decisions that just make sense; that benefit myself and the world around me….

Although I suppose if I really wanted to not contribute to more paper waste, I’d just stop making books, but that’s no good… That seems a bit excessive. ugh….