Sundress Publications \\ Flash Fiction Contest

This month I’ll be serving as one of the judges for the Sundress Publications Flash Fiction Contest. Writers, be sure to submit your stories! I’d love to see them up on The Wardrobe. (I’ll be judging the week of July 31 – Aug. 7).

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Theresa & Dennis

This book was a very special one. I’ve known Theresa for nearly a decade. And, over the past three years, I’ve been able to watch love grow between her and Dennis.

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Theresa and Dennis are the kind of couple that just fit together. When you see them together, it just makes sense. Both silly, goofy and full of life, they complement each other well. I remember seeing them at a wedding over the summer, and I said to Thre, “I totally understand why you’re with Dennis.” He’s ridiculous in every way — just like her — but has a warm and loving spirit, too.

What makes this union extra special is the bond I share with Theresa. She’s been like a sister to me over the years. I’ve gone on vacation with her family, spent weekends at her house in Virginia and have had endless porch chats with her in Pittsburgh. Throughout the years, we shared our dating woes, and she gave me advice (and vice versa) on multiple occasions. That’s why it was especially exciting to share in her big day. She is a person so deserving of a love like this, and I’m so happy she found Dennis.

All of that said, I was more than honored to be asked to make their wedding guest book. Theresa said, “I want a Huber original!” so I knew I had to deliver 🙂 We discussed wedding colors and settled upon purple, blue and silver. The perfect winter wedding scheme. To save on materials, I ended up using the same book cloth I used for Dara and Calvin’s book.

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I loved the way the book turned out. Silver paper was the right choice. I coordinated with Theresa and Dennis and they helped to select the paper. I love the way the silver stands out — looks almost like icy snow.

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This book was a little different. Instead of blank pages, I included photos of Theresa and Dennis throughout the book. The idea was that wedding guests could share their memories of Theresa and Dennis. This is much more personal than just signing names in a book that you don’t really look at again. Instead, it’s like an album they can reread throughout time.

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These photos are a little yellow — forgive that. But I ended up adding some extra elements to the book and snapped these images late at night (bad lighting). I bought some snowflakes at Paper Source, along with a snowflake puncher. I ended up creating a little display of snowflakes on the front of the book, along with their initials. For an extra sparkle, I added a few stickles (glitter). I loved the way it turned out.

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I was so happy to be able to share in Theresa and Dennis’ big day in this way. And I had a blast at the wedding! Congratulations, you two!

Dara & Calvin

The power of social media is incredible. Because of platforms like Facebook, I’ve been able to keep in touch with long-distance relatives, old coworkers and college pals. One of those college friends is Dara, a fellow graduate of IUP’s Honor College. This month, Dara married her sweetheart Calvin. While I don’t know their relationship first-hand, I think they’re just so darn cute together.

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That’s why I was more than happy to craft a wedding guest book for their big day. I was especially excited after learning their wedding theme was peacock colors. Think: deep purples, teals and feathers. Shopping around for materials was actually one of the highlights. Together, Dara and I worked to find the perfect color scheme. And I’m pretty sure we nailed it:

11-13-14: Commissioned wedding guest book.

11-13-14: Commissioned wedding guest book.

I adore so much about this book. Binding it came together seamlessly. There were no malfunctions and everything went according to plan. I ordered quite a different color of book cloth (which Dara approved), and it looked just beautiful. The decorative paper was found at PaperSource. It was a little pricey but worth it. I feel it mimics the theme of the wedding in a way that’s not too much. Plus the colors just really work together.

11-13-14: Commissioned wedding guest book. The wedding theme was peacock.

11-13-14: Commissioned wedding guest book. The wedding theme was peacock.

One of the best parts was that I got to work with Meredith again from Up Down Bindery. A colleague of mine from graduate school, Meredith is my inspiration when it comes to books. Her work is impressive, modern and perfectly executed. Meredith made the card box for Dara and Calvin’s big day. We coordinated through FB messages and ordered the same book cloth. Doesn’t it just look lovely? (Photo credit: Meredith Purvis).

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All in all, I’d say this project came together nicely. I’m glad Dara and Calvin thought of me for their big day. My hope is that I was able to make it a little more personalized and special.

Nicole and Rob

A couple of months ago, I reconnected with an old college friend. She asked if I’d make a book for her parents’ wedding anniversary. She also wanted a wedding guest book for her own wedding, which was a couple of months later. She and her (now husband) Rob just got married on a beautiful farm in western Pennsylvania. While I don’t know Rob personally, I’ve “watched” their relationship from afar (via Facebook, of course), and it seems like they are just the perfect fit in so many ways.

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The book I made for Nicole and Rob mirrored the one I made for her parents. Nicole and I picked the decorative paper together, eventually deciding upon this paisley sort of design. I adore the way this paper looks in book form. I had hoped to purchase book cloth that would match the reds, but that proved too difficult. So, I went with a sandstone shade.

9-20-14: Commissioned book for Nicole & Rob's wedding.

9-20-14: Commissioned book for Nicole & Rob’s wedding.

I have been taking advantage of the album text blocks available at Paper Source. They are really sturdy, last forever and have a cute headband at the end. I feel good knowing this book will sit on the shelf for years to come.

9-20-14: Commissioned book for Nicole & Rob's wedding.

9-20-14: Commissioned book for Nicole & Rob’s wedding.

9-20-14: Commissioned book for Nicole & Rob's wedding.

9-20-14: Commissioned book for Nicole & Rob’s wedding.

I also got to take advantage of my custom stamp! I had a stampmaker on Etsy make this for me a while back. Not only do I use the stamp for packaging, but I also mark each book on the inside, too.

9-20-14: Commissioned book for Nicole & Rob's wedding.

9-20-14: Commissioned book for Nicole & Rob’s wedding.

Nicole said the book was a hit, and I was so glad it fit in with the rest of her outdoor wedding decor. Congratulations, Nicole and Rob!

40 Years of Service

Word has spread around the office that I make handmade books. I was commissioned again to make a book for an employee who has been with the school for 40 years. It was an honor to make this book for Ann and present it to her at a surprise party.

5-30-14: Commissioned book for a Princeton employee. She'd worked at the University for 40 years.

5-30-14: Commissioned book for a Princeton employee. She’d worked at the University for 40 years.

You may have noticed that I’ve been really into screw-post binding lately. I’m just fascinated with the technique and wish to perfect it. Given what my coworker had in mind, I thought this would be best. She said she wanted a small book – nothing too fancy – so that students could write brief notes. She didn’t want lined paper and wanted a book made from basic materials that I had at home. So I used only materials I had on hand.

5-30-14: Screw-post binding method utilized above.

5-30-14: Screw-post binding method utilized above.

When the day came to present the book, it turned out the number of guests had been totally underestimated. As I placed the book on the table, one of my coworkers said, “It’s too small. It won’t work there.” I was absolutely crushed. I’d spend a night working on this book, and I wanted it to be perfect. And now they weren’t going to use it?

Thinking fast, I decided: why not make this a picture book for after the event? The woman who commissioned the book agreed, and that was the plan. However, after I reviewed the book a few more times, it just didn’t seem right. I’d made it on random materials I’d had at home (as requested by the purchaser – to cut down on cost), and I was nervous about the photos being protected on the paper I’d used. And so, I decided to create an entirely different book using photo paper.

I didn’t take pictures of that book, but it’s now gone on to its home. They are filling it with pictures from the party, and so — I still have this book lying around. I’m hoping it will come in handy for an event down the road …

I guess you never know what to expect when making a book for a party. 🙂 Always have a Plan B handy.

Karla & Patrick

There’s something really special about not only attending the wedding of two good friends — but making the guestbook for it. This is a project I’ve had on the docket for nearly two years, when Karla and Patrick first got engaged. She emailed me right away, said they’d be having a very DIY kind of wedding and that they wanted me to make the book. I was honored to be part of their special day in this way.

Photo by James Taylor

Photo by James Taylor

I’ve known Karla since my senior year of college. We met through mutual friends and have kept in touch since graduation. Back in 2010, I went on vacation with her, Patrick and some members of the gang to Lake Gaston in North Carolina. That was the first time I’d met Patrick, but I knew he was the real deal for Karla. I watched how they just fit together — from the conversations they had to the way they treated the rest of our group. There is something very community oriented about the two of them. They just have this way of bringing people from all walks of life together — not always an easy feat.

Photo by James Taylor

Photo by James Taylor

Karla and Patrick decided to get married in Asheville, North Carolina — a place they hold dear. The landscape was absolutely breathtaking. Mountains stretched across the skies, and, even when it rained, it was even more beautiful. Given the heavy influence on nature, I wanted to create a wedding guestbook that would fit in well. Karla told me they’d be using birds as a theme, so I scouted out papers that would match. In the end, the book ended up coming together quite nicely.

5-25-14: Handmade wedding guestbook for Karla & Patrick.

5-25-14: Handmade wedding guestbook for Karla & Patrick.

This is the first time I’d ever worked on a screw-post binding. It was tricky — finding the right sized screws and getting the book to lay flat (it didn’t completely, but I think that’s okay). But the paper was gorgeous. I bought some book cloth to match and, while I was slightly disappointed in the quality, it suited the book well.

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My favorite part of making this book was using natural paper. I bought these pages at an art store in Philadelphia. They are quite thick, so only about 20 pages was necessary for this book. But they gave this book the natural feel I wanted.

5-25-14: Inside view of the guestbook.

5-25-14: Inside view of the guestbook.

For a little extra flair, I decided to stamp the pages with a stamper I bought at Papersource. I tried to match the color with the book cloth, and I really loved the way it looked — especially on the wedding day.

Photo by James Taylor

Photo by James Taylor

I definitely learned a few lessons with this book, especially in terms of climate. It was a little humid and rainy the day of the wedding, and the ribbon I affixed to the book came a little loose. Always use glue! That’s what I learned … I’d used glue dots for the ribbon – as to not alter the cloth – but they weren’t enough, I suppose. Still, the book looked nice on the bright yellow table.

Photo by James Taylor

Photo by James Taylor

What a true honor to be able to make something so valuable for good friends. I got a note from Karla in the mail indicating her happiness with the book, and that touched my heart. I’m so happy this book will cherish the memories of their special day for years to come.

Congratulations, Karla and Patrick!

An Anniversary Book

Facebook is such a funny thing. Because of it’s wide social reach, I’ve been able to make books for all sorts of people. That’s how this anniversary book came to me. It might be, perhaps, the most beautiful book I’ve ever made:

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Through Facebook, I reconnected with Nicole, an old friend from college. I always thought Nicole was super cool and, after we graduated, I continued to keep tabs on her through social media. I admired her commitment to health and eventually messaged her about it. That turned into a conversation about books. She was planning two big parties: an anniversary party for her parents and her own wedding. She wanted books for each.

She sent me a slew of images of her parents from when they were first married. The images had a very Mod feel, and Nicole indicated that she wanted to use colors like pink and gold. When I found this paper, I knew it was perfect. I sent her a few images from the store, and she was a fan. I ended up snagging these in Philadelphia – for my fellow paper lovers – at Artist and Craftsman.

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Nicole said the purpose of the book would be two-fold: it would serve as a guestbook to collect messages, and it would eventually hold photos from the party. Because of these factors, I went with a pre-made text block from Paper Source. I have used these in the past and have been impressed by their durability. The inside pages are thick but flexible. The pages are also lined with a protective, waxy-type of paper which preserves the photos and ink quite well. While these wax pages are occasionally hard to maneuver, they make for a better book in the end.

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This book is not only pretty … but it was also incredibly easy to make! Sometimes I struggle with certain books. Either I rush and make mistakes, or I’m tired … and also make mistakes. Oh, the woes of being an evening bookbinder. But with this book, everything went smoothly. My only complaint is with the book cloth I used. It wasn’t as smooth-looking as other raw silk cloth. However, this was the only color that matched, so I went with it. In the end, it should hold up, but this time of cloth is more prone to blemishes from glue.

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Overall, it was a joy to make this book for an old friend. And the fun will continue as I get to make a beautiful book for Nicole’s special day. Cheers to old friends and handmade books!