Wedding book

A wonderful couple I made a wedding album/ guest book for a few months ago sent along some images of their book filled with notes and pictures. I love seeing my books used!
I like how they have pictures of each other and notes from their guests, it’s a really lovely keepsake for their family and a good idea for anyone looking for something memorable to make for their own wedding.
Have a look:

If you’re on the look out for a wedding book of your very own, send me a message at to get started!

Have a peek through some past custom books here and here


New space, new sketchbooks

Last week, my partner and I decided that it was time our bedroom got a little bigger. We’re expecting a third soon enough and figuring that we’d probably want optimum cuddle space, we decided to switch our bedroom and my end of our studio. Except for getting the box spring hopelessly caught in the stairwell for a good hour, it was a really quick and easy move (we got it out magically and we plan on not leaving this place for several years… can’t wait to do that again!). Here is my studio in the living room in transition:


and here’s the new space!

Still needing some shelf space and probably one last good clean, but it’s working out lovely.. Now to get that sewing machine fixed up….

Finally- sending out these, the first two books made in the new space. These are the books that I had started in my last post. Super soft, covered in dereskin and pigskin suedes, filled with 140lb watercolour paper and fitted with a back pocket and strap for closin’. Get em while they’re hot! Custom made, $90 plus shipping, you pick the leather.

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!)

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 11.30.44 AM

paring down

I’ve been trying to pare down the different variety of books I make in the last few months and in the process have come up with some a few new books (seems counterintuitive, I know….) and got rid of a few others…

For starters, I’ve started making some simple fabric covered perfect bound books. They are super useful and really low commitment. Nice enough that you like calling it your own, but not intimidating to use and mark up with notes. These books have Dur-O-Tone Brown Wrap Paper  from the French Paper Company for the text paper, a little darker than the standard  Dur-O-Tone Aged Newspaper that I use in most of my books. Both are wonderful 100% recycled papers that are lovely to write and draw on, but for these notebooks, I think the brown works perfect. (Also I love that paper and I’ve been wanting to use it on the regular!) So here’s those Perfect Notebooks I’ve been blabbing about…


The next newest style of Mule Mother Book takes a bit more commitment, is a bit more serious, but is still really simple. The Two-Subject Notebook is covered in leather and keeps you organized with two separate sections to compile your notes into. The pages open flatter than any other book so it’s really comfortable to use.


This next book I am really excited about, as I have been wanting to design one forever. Popping up this holiday season will be one of a kind 2014 Planners! I’ve been working away on the layout and I am just putting the final touches on. 2014 Planner will be available in fabric or cloth bound or leather bound. I’ve also been working on something very awesome incorporating the Two-Subject Notebook and the 2014 Planners… Stay tuned…


The last thing, I’ve kind of just made better, it’s nothing new to Mule Mother, but it’s a crowd fave and it deserved to be better! I’ve re designed the Miniature Books ever-so-slightly and I think they’ve finally reached where they need to be… I plan on making hundreds this holiday season, so they will surely be mastered by New Years…


So, these were just a few highlights of good things to come.  Mule Mother will be next out for the Halifax Pop Explosion Pop Expo record, zine and craft fair in late October. Here’s the poster:


one more thing…

I am moving at the end of this week to a block away into an absolutely beautiful (really, it’s amazing… ) new apartment with my partner and cat, which also means I’ll be packing up Mule Mother for about 2 weeks or so while I move studios and re-organize. Will still be answering emails and such when I can, but will for the most part be shut down.  Will post some photos as soon as I can of the new digs!

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…




IMG_0717 copy

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!

new custom work

I’ve had the opportunity to work on some pretty fantastic custom books in the past few months. Wedding guest books and photo albums have been picking up big time which has been really great because I am finding that I am getting a lot of requests that really work with my aesthetic. And that’s always nice.

The last big custom job I did was a gift from someone I had as a customer at a cafe I used to work at. He, along with about 25 other fellows, were mentored by this one doctor (for whom the book was for) who seemed to have had a pretty profound impact on all of these peoples lives and careers. The book was comprised of pictures and stories from each of the fellows dating back to the 70’s and as recent as the late 90’s. The words and pictures in the book are really lovely and I was so honoured to have had a small part in the story of this remarkable guy.

Here’s the book finished:



The book is covered with brown suede and linen book cloth. For the end papers I used my favourite St. Armand paper.


I took a few photographs while I was making the book and I always mean to take more! I tend to get absorbed in what I’m doing and before I know it I missed capturing some integral step… Anywho…


This image on the left is the suede attached to the covers before the linen cloth and spine are attached. The right image is measuring out the corner cloth and the bottom is the cover before it is used to case in the text block.


tiny little books

The next project I have been working on is with this really awesome author I met at the Halifax Crafters Spring Fair. We’re working together to make some prototypes of tiny story books. The process has been unbelievably enjoyable as we are both in love with tiny things and just seem to click really well. Here’s a few shots of the books I have made for her so far.

2013-07-23 15.18.43

 •Awling tiny pages.2013-07-23 16.01.16

Sewn up •

2013-07-23 21.23.24 This kills me… It’s just so goddamn cute! Tiny text block with mull, spine strip and head bands.

2013-07-23 21.27.58-1All ready to be cased in while fat cat sleeps in background •

2013-07-27 19.01.33-1• And finally all done up in orange suede. Oh my. What a handsome little bugger.

I wanted to do another style of book so I printed the text out and made a miniature Japanese stab sewn binding version (below)

IMG_0696 IMG_0697

from wanting a book made to getting it in the mail

binding styles• When I get a custom order for a book with printed matter, the first step is getting the material that the book will contain and formatting it on the computer. The book, depending on the type of binding style, needs to be formatted correctly so that after it’s printed, it will read in the right order.  I made this PDF (left) to send to folks who inquire about a custom book so I can get a better idea of what they have in mind.

2013-07-08 10.37.48-2

I use inDesign to lay out the book and I use a number of visual aids to help me format the book in the right order. Although it might seem/ look ridiculous, for books that will be sewn with signatures, I use this long scroll piece of paper (right) that I made a guide on to format the book on the computer. Since I’ve done this a few times, I’ve picked up on the formula that the pages go in, but I am very much a visual thinker and need to look at what I am working out in order for me to get it right, especially in this case…!

After I’ve formatted all the material I’ve been given, I send off a PDF version of the layout of the book. This way, you can run through it with a fine tooth comb and make any last changes. Once I get the OK, I send it off to be printed.

In terms of the colours and materials the book is covered with, I usually will ask for any favourites and with some ideas in mind, search through my ever changing material stash. If I don’t have just the right thing on me, then I hit the streets and search my go-to thrift shops, fabric spots and the leather stops and send off some pictures of the materials I’ve collected.  After that, I keep you in the loop with updates, insights and ideas until everything is finished and I send it off to you wrapped nice and spify- your own hand-bound, published work.

2013-06-19 07.59.20

Here’s a few other custom books I’ve finished up this past month:

D+T- the story of one young couples’ very long relationship. A wedding gift written by the bride to the groom.




WHEAT- A book of poems written by one sister. A surprise gift from the other sister to the poet.






These are custom wedding guest books, so they’re blank on the inside and sewn together with paper perfect for writing or drawing or attaching photographs.



I am working on one more guest book for right now that is in a style I haven’t worked with a whole lot and it’s coming along really beautifully, so I’ll post that when it’s all finished.

Aside from this, I am in the midst of a really big project (probably the biggest and most involved project yet!) working with an old cook book. I am scanning each handwritten page, correcting them in Photoshop and then reprinting and binding the book. This such a huge project for Mule Mother and I am learning a ton from it. More on that later…

For now, I’ll leave you this pic of our plot in the North End community garden. Trying to soak up all that summer has left to offer but I have to admit, I did think for just a second about that cool crisp autumn air and smile just a bit… (This image is actually a few weeks old, so things are actually quite a bit more full…!)



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.


2013-02-27 15.33.07

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

2013-02-25 13.51.04

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)….

2013-02-24 17.07.40

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.