i can be pretty unobservant….


I made a pretty silly mistake on the workshop poster… The date is wrong… Well, wrong in the sense that Thursday the 21st of Feb. in the year 2014 does not exist…. it is supposed to say FRIDAY the 21st.

Oy vey…. Here is the updated poster……….


Mule Mother’s Etsy shop is back in action

Finally putting some long awaited energy into the shop….I’ve had it with the sad looking page!

I’ll be posting things throughout the day, so go ahead and take a peek… (click on the screen shot and it’ll take you there!)

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tibs pop up and other glorious february things

So this past weekend I took the ferry across to Dartmouth to join the Halifax Crafters Society at Two If By Sea cafe for the second Pop-Up Show, this time….in the key of love. A good time was had by all, love was successfully spread in the form of crafty goodness and sweet tunes from CKDU. Here are some photos from the day

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Looking forward to the next pop-up!


This months workshop is already filling up, so if you’re in Halifax and interested, email ASAP!


and one last thing!

Just a few more days till Valentines Day, grab a DIY Love Kit at Plan B Merchants Co-op on Gottingen St. or at Mule Mother’s studio on Falkland St. (just drop a line first!)


You don’t know love till you’ve made a book with your sweetheart.

Or read one out loud with.

Or written one together.

This just made me think of that John Waters quote…


I couldn’t agree more my strange friend.

flute practice book repair

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a bit now! Finally getting to it…

I did this repair recently for a fellow named Henri I met at a craft sale in the summertime. The book was used for practicing the flute and was getting a bit difficult to use since the pages were coming out. From just looking at it, I assumed the book was sewn, but it was actually perfect bound (not sewn, just glued together) ! Derp…which makes it quicker to fix but is a binding that just doesn’t last as long as a sewn binding (10’s of years as opposed to 100’s I’d say…)


For some reason, when I see a hard cover and headband, I immediately think it’s a sewn binding… But if you look really close you’ll see that the pages aren’t arranged into signatures. Sneaky….

Anywho, I snapped a few images in the process. I love this kind of repair because Henri was interested in having the whole book be redone with a bit of leather and book cloth.

So here is the book before the repair.





That last image is the sticker of the last bindery who repaired the book a few years ago. When I got to taking the book apart, I started to wonder what kind of glue they used because it was really easy to pull some parts off, like the strip that covered the spine. Once I realized it was actually perfect bound, I decided I’d gently tear all the pages out, one by one, and then re-bind it it from scratch. The pages were also really easy to just pull off…

So I started initially by pulling the text block away from the cover by cutting the end papers close to the spine and detaching it.



Then I pulled that strip off the spine and started detaching the pages one by one…




Here is where I frustratingly stopped taking process shots… But my next step was to arrange the pages together as evenly as possible into a clamp and re-glued it. I gave it a good 3 layers of glue before glueing some mull and then a strip of mulberry paper on top. Next I used the handiest of little tools, a micro spatula  (which I just broke!) to scrape all the excess paper off the covers and the sanded down what I couldn’t scrape so that it would be flush when I attached the new end papers.

Henri chose some really great materials and left me to surprise him with the end papers. Here’s what I came up with…




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Should give him at least another decade of use! (and hopefully more than that)

After this, Henri commissioned me to make some paper portfolios with some GORGEOUS marble papers he found and some really amazing leather.  Will make a post about it once I’ve finished them!

DIY book cloth

I had about 4 million yards of book cloth I wanted to make, so I thought I’d snap some photos and explain just how to make it… Or at least, how I make it.

Book cloth is the nice textured fabric material you see on lots of hard cover books. You can make your own with some wheat paste, some mulberry paper, and an iron (among other things which I will get into in a sec). Making your own book cloth is awesome because you can make any natural fiber  fabric into book cloth. DIY book cloth is also awesome because commercial book cloth is crazy expensive and you can make so much for very little money.

Making book cloth takes a bit of time (depending on how much your looking to make), is a bit messy and can be slightly frustrating. Despite all this, I find it well worth my time and once you get into the groove time just flies on by and all of the sudden you’re like “whoa, check out all this totally sweet, one of a kind book cloth I just made.”

You’ll need a few things to get started:

  • wheat flour
  • water
  • double-boiler (you can just rig one up with a big vessel to hold water and something to sit inside on top of the water)
  • mulberry paper
  • brush
  • newspaper
  • iron
  • towel
  • brayer

First you’ll have to whip up the wheat paste. I hear wheat starch makes a more archival paste, but I think wheat starch is a bit hard to find.  Wheat paste is works like a dream though and is still pretty archival as far as I know.

I made 2 cups -ish initially which was ridiculous because I ended up needing 4 times that.. :/  Thats a pretty fair amount though, so I’ll stick with that recipe. First heat up your double boiler and get ready 2 cups warm water and 1/2 cup  of wheat flour.

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Put that 1/2 cup of flour in the top part of your double boiler and add about half a cup of water. Using a whisk break up the flour and mix it together until its smooth. Sifting the flour before you add the water usually works best, but I don’t have a sifter.

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Stir in the rest of the water to the flour/water mix when the boiler starts boiling, place it over the water and stir pretty regularly with a spoon.

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Eventually it will start to thicken up and you can pull it off the boiler when it starts to stick to the sides like in the picture. When it cools, it gets a little thicker too, so keep that in mind.

And your done! Making the wheat paste…

For the book cloth you’ll need the fabric you want to use,  mulberry paper*, an iron, some newspaper, a towel, a brush, a brayer and all that fresh wheat paste you just made.

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You’ll want to pre-cut all the fabric your using sized to pieces of mulberry paper first. If the fabric is odd sized, or even if not, it’s good to trace the fabric on the mulberry paper. It will save you from glueing more than you need to.

With it laid in front of you, gently pull up half the fabric and fold it over the other half. Starting from the middle, lay the glue down horizontally with your brush all the way to bottom corners of where the fabric will be. Try to avoid bubbles on the mulberry paper but don’t freak out if you get them.

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Lay the fabric down over the glued part gently. Smooth from the middle down and out to the sides with your hands and/or a brayer.

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Now do the same thing to the other side.

Flip the cloth and mulberry paper over so the mulberry paper side is up, on top of a towel.

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Use a pretty big piece of newspaper to cover the parts you are ironing. I usually turn my iron to maximum heat and make sure there is no moisture in the little spray/steam nozzles on some irons.

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When the paper turns opaque white you know it’s dry.

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When I’ve dried the majority of the back I usually flip it over and iron the front as well. Don’t worry if it’s a bit crinkly. When you glue it onto binder’s board it will flatten out (but only if its crinkly due to thin fabric and not if there are air bubbles between the fabric and paper… I’m afraid you’re stuck with those.)

And voila! Book cloth.

Here’s all the cloth I made!

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*note on mulberry paper..

I’ve heard ‘mulberry’ paper used interchangeably with ‘rice’ paper but I believe they are different. Mulberry paper is made from the bark fibers of a paper mulberry tree but I have read of some mulberry papers being made from rice straw…? Mulberry paper is what you’re after for this project, although I’m going to do a bit more paper research and get back to this…

so long, February

It’s getting to that time of year (in Atlantic Canada anyways) when folks start talking spring. In the past few days, I have heard many people express their done-with-winter sentiments, and although I do to a certain extent agree (I will always chose warm over cold), I feel this winter has not been my worst by far. Ice skating has kept me outside (also lack of an automobile), the days haven’t been as grey as usual and, although I never feel like I am not doing enough, I’ve been getting things done.

Leaving all things up to the last minute has been my forté for as long as I’ve been me. As was the case with my last deadline- an application to the Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council, which I delivered one hour before deadline. It’s always the writing that gets me, and it wasn’t even that involved (this application). It was really just explaining things I already know, but for some reason, writing gives me terrible anxiety… (this is essentially why I started this thing-a-ma-blog… to get over being a bad writer…) I was thinking the other day that if I could invest even a quarter of the energy that I output when I’m scrambling to meet a deadline 3 months before the deadline in small increments, I could save myself so much anxiety… In a perfect world.


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On the much more enjoyable side of things, my friend Marc Comeau, owner of Old Birch Workshop, his lovely lady Ashley and I took a trip to the Tandy Leather Factory in Dartmouth the other day to get some supplies. I think this was only my second or third time in the shop and I must’ve somehow missed meeting the shop dog, Hunter. I fell swiftly in love with this unbelievably lovely pup. Here he is chillin’ on the hair on cow hides…


…and here’s leather worker extraordinaire, Marc with Hunter in the shop

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Definitely go check out his stuff. He’s only just begun his biz and already he’s created quite a buzz (that is so corny sounding, I’m gunna LEAVE IT). But really, there is some gorgeous leather work coming out of that studio, and I have a feeling it’s only going to get better.

Tandy Leather has so many gorgeous leathers and I love going in for a visit. It is a bit out of the way from North End Halifax  (I think there is one bus and it runs every hour and a half or something) so it’s great when friends with cars and leather hobbies ask you if you want to join them (thanks Marc!). I picked up some great new material and along with the heaping pile of beautiful leathers my partners’ folks sent over from Manitoba (thank you again so much for that!!), I’m going to have some really lovely new books for the Eyelevel Gallery Zine and Printed Matter Fair in early March and the Halifax Crafters Spring Market in early May.

In other very exciting news, I dropped off a fresh selection of journals and book kits at Plan B Merchants Co-Op  (here’s the new set up)….

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and got some great press! – Mule Mother Books’ DIY Book Kits were featured in this weeks edition of the Coast here in Halifax, NS along with some pretty lovely words about my stuff. Check out the write up here.


Made for a super day, feeling pretty grateful and motivated to create.

So, you know, winters not been so bad. I’ve lined up some deadlines that’ll carry me through these last few gloomy weeks with some more in the works and I’m feeling pretty good about this little operation I’ve got going on here.

till next time, over and out.