Bookbinding Bender


“We might not be a good match if I write you a poem and you think we’re getting married.”

Wearing all the brassiness and bravado I could muster, I retorted, “Well, what if I write you a poem?”

Thus began the early workings of a relationship in motion. On our first date, out came a beloved spine of Blake poems. We canoodled over Rilke and Jaroslav Seifert.

Our love of words in collusion, our growing love of each other only increased that sharedness of mine ours.

It might go without saying my first gift to Beck at the outset of dating was a journal: the way he took care of his books told me a lot about how he takes care of his women.

To this day, his eyes light up at the sight of fresh journals with the grand possibilities of worlds yet unexplored. My Beck is conquistador and matador of words, spearing them into submission.

For our wedding, it had been my intention to make him a journal from scratch. I headed to my favorite paper store and conspired with my favorite seller of papered goods. I fingered Japanese papers gilt and expensive. Surveying bumpy textures from bright graphics, Sunday afternoons became my delicious secret. Alone to my schemes, I paired papers with book cloth looking for that supreme combination that would spell Beck. After signing up for a class on bookbinding, I felt set.

As life sometimes goes, the wedding had other plans and I put my project on hold. The holidays marched on, class and materials all but forgotten until one day they weren’t.

I met up with my favorite papered products seller to learn book binding 101 at a local arts community space. Over the course of an hour and a half one Saturday night, we cut and folded, affixed adhesive and pressed down the paper and book cloth.



His journal finished, I felt the giddiness of Fred Astaire tapping his heels with satisfaction and glee. Here, this delicious secret gestated until Valentine’s was nigh.

Beck’s eyes drank in the bright blood red book cloth, the black and white geometric tiles. Could he hear the castanets clicking in the distance? The surge of energy as the bulls entered the arena?


I felt drunk with the joy that comes from having an idea and seeing it through to completion. My hands felt invincible and strong. Something about taking the sum of parts and making a whole energizes and replenishes some carnal desire to create.

The next weekend, I had my work cut out. Sure, I’d made this journal under the trusty eye of my favorite seller of papered goods, but could I do it alone? Like a child left alone to her own devices, I pulled out the scissors and made my phone into a ruler. I traced and measured believing myself to be on my way to bookbinding greatness. Scraps of yellow book cloth dissuaded that same impetuous tenacity of response my Beck saw in our first communication. Somehow I’d mixed up a few steps along the way. This project would need to wait until my frame of mind had settled down. My utter excitement at beginner’s luck had gotten the best of me. For the moment…

This Sunday, I’d felt a bit forlorn. Conversations with friends and a movie under my belt, the evening unfolded ahead of me, full of promise and perfect for a project.

I’d drawn and dated the pages for my 2011 daybook… a perfect cap to the evening.




Watch out world. I’m on a bookbinding bender.


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