Wow. So many things happening and opening and being awesome during this slow finish to the summertime …. First, a warm welcome to Patch Halifax! Patch is a much needed fabric shop and workshop spot. This beautiful space, owned by the lovely Christina Pasquet, opened its doors this August on Robie St. and now I can purchase all my fabric for book cloth locally, (finally) learn how to sew with a sewing machine and maybe even try my hand with a pattern or two (Momma will be so proud!). Even more exciting, Mule Mother Books is teaming up with Patch to host a fabric book making workshop Sept. 14th from 1-4pm. The cost is $35 and all you’ll need is some sweet fabric and some patience. Here’s a peek at what we’ll be making:





A week or two after the fabric workshop, Mule Mother will be down at the Forum in Halifax for the Etsy Made in Canada Marketplace. I’m thinking it’s going to be pretty great and I’ll have a lot of back to school-y kinda stuff, so definitely get your arse down there if your around!




Lastly, I just finished this lovely little custom recipe book. It’s a bachlorette gift from a group of buds who contributed all their favourite recipes. This is my favourite stuff to make for people.

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(This last one is the book being formatted and my cluttered desk…)

And it’s Monday and maybe we can all use a good kick in the pants, so I’ll leave you with a track from Tribe Called Red who we went to see for free at Aldreney Landing last night! Felt so good to shake my hips… guhh I need to dance more…

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.

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.

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 •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)

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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.

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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.

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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…!)



DIY Book Kit Tutorial

I’ve been wanting to do this post for a while now- Just in case the directions are not crystal clear in the DIY Book Kit or, if you don’t have a kit, were thinking about picking one up and you want to see exactly what your signing up for…. Here’s a little picture tutorial on how to put together your kit. I’ve also been having a hard time placing an appropriate age on these suckers… There are some pretty clever 6, 7, 8 year olds that could swing this no prob, but everyone is different and if you had a young’un in mind that might be into making books, you can see for yourself if you think they’re up for it! (I would say DIY Book Kits are good for anyone 12 and up to be on the safe side…)

Here goes.

THIS IS YOUR KIT (ruler and butter knife not included ) *I would suggest decorating the cover before binding! I left mine blank so you can see a bit clearer.

kit includes

So after you made yourself a pretty little cover, your going to start off by folding the cover and every page individually. Make sure the folds are as even as possible. Use that butter knife to really press the creases down. The better they’re creased, the better the book will stay closed.

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Next your going to awl the cover and pages so you have a guide for your sewing. Start with one of the inside pages and the cover paper. Place the inner paper inside the cover paper and line them up evenly. The cover paper is a bit bigger than the inside paper, so make sure the paper is tucked in nice and evenly, leaving the same amount of room on each side like the picture:

preawl bkt

Now, using your ruler, measure to the middle of the inside paper and poke a hole. (It’s good to have a cut mat or something underneath like a piece of cardboard to protect your table!) Then measure halfway between the middle hole and the edge of the inside paper and poke another hole. Do the same on the other side making sure the t-pin goes right through both sheets.

awling bkt

Using that first piece of inside paper with the poked holes as a template, individually poke holes in each sheet then stack together so the holes are lined up.

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book kit tut

Now place the stacked inside pages in the cover paper, lining up the awl-ed holes and get your needle and thread ready.

Your going to start from inside the book coming out the centre hole and pulling the thread through leaving about 3 inches. Hold onto that with your thumb so it doesn’t fall through when your tightening the thread.

sewing one

sewing two

Now, from the outside of the book, go down through the right hand hole back inside the book.

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Passing the middle hole inside the book, go out the left hand hole.

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Pull nice and taught (remembering to keep your thumb on the bit hanging out in the middle). Now from the outside of the book, go in through the middle hole. It’s very important that the string running along the middle of the spine lays in between where you initially came in and where the end is coming out (see pic).

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Now for the knot. Just remember left over right, right over left.

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1. Pulling nice and taught (not too hard or you’ll rip the paper!)

2. Left thread over right

3. Over and under and pull tight

4. Right over left

5. Over and under and pull tight

6. Trim ends

Remember if your kit has 2 books, keep that needle threaded and repeat on the next book.

Place the finished books under some heavy books or blocks over night and your done!

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If you’ve got yourself a DIY Book Kit and you’ve finished your masterpieces, I would love love love to see them! Please do post them to the Mule Mother facebook page for all the world to see and admire.

Time-Lapse Book Making/ studio noise #2

I forgot that I had started a video book making project when my partner and I first got to Toronto back in December. I wanted something that I could edit a bit more but I wasn’t really in the position to be buying software. Luckily I found this free stop-motion-maker online and recorded myself making a batch of books from beginning to end. It goes really fast because I didn’t have any control over the speed (which is actually pretty funny at times) but it gives you a pretty good idea of what the whole process is. Its recorded in steps over the course of a few days (hence the wardrobe and hairstyle changes) and has a few cameos of my partner Naryn. (pardon the smooch at the beginning, I couldn’t edit them! Very PG, no worries )

I am planning on doing it again, with a different program that has more editing capabilities, a real video camera instead of the computer one and some music.

…and for your listening pleasure today, I discovered this song just today from my super rad, finger-on-the-pulse-of-everything-awesome, sis-in-law who posted it on facebook and I think I just might be inlove…

craft show micromanaging

With the Halifax Crafters Christmas market a month (give or take) away, I am only just starting to freak out… I am sure a much more profound and severe freak out is on the horizon. I’ve now done a few of these craft shows and am only starting to get a kind of rhythm down for what to expect, how to get ready and how to manage making so many things! For the first time I’m micromanaging everything. I made a spreadsheet of what I wanted at the show and broke down all the materials, priced them out and then went about searching for the best places/ cheapest deals.

So after I got this mega-load of supplies in the post, I took a trip to the Dawson Printshop and Letterpress Studio at NSCAD University here in Halifax (where I also graduated from… this printshop is a priceless gem here in the city!), and went to work on this beautiful machine (also other machines, but this one is my favourite!):

Speaking of a priceless gem, this machine is actually called the “Peerless Gem”.

So, what would have taken me probably 2 full days of work with this guy:

… Took 4 hours with the Peerless Gem… Oh Cutterpede (thats what this little plastic cutter is called) When I use the print shop, I realize I am crazy for not using it more. Cutting insane quantities of paper with the Cutterpede or worse- by hand is one of the reasons my back is ruined (the other one is food service + bad shoes … damn you food service!!)

So now I have all this paper cut (so. much. paper.)

(this doesn’t look like that much paper… there are stacks behind me also.. I’m known to exaggerate, but really though, there’s a lot)

Also, yes that is the show Lost playing on the laptop…

So, instead of doing what I normally do, which is just to go at it at random, I am taking it slow and doing one thing all the way through and then moving onto the next thing. I have already gotten through awling and have made the tiniest of dents in the sewing.

I am guessing this will take at least until the 3rd or 4th season of Lost to complete (I know, I know…)

Even though things feel a bit slow getting done because of the way I am working, I think in the end I’ll save a ton of time doing things this way, which in and of itself is worth its weight in gold. It’s also just a great exercise in managing my attention problems…

After I’m through with all this sewing, I’ll prepare all those spines and then I get to the best part which is designing book covers. It’s killing me that I am not allowing myself to put down the sewing (my least favourite part!) and do something more fun, but I think this is just a much smarter way of working.

Someday, I swear I’ll learn some discipline.