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Not long ago, I had a chance to interview Megan Winn of www.bindingbee.etsy.com about her fabulous handmade journals. I enjoyed visiting with her and was delighted to find that her personality is as charming as her work.

Rae:  Okay, Megan. These are some things I am curious about.  I have been wondering what inspired you to first make books, and then what brought you to Etsy?

Megan:  When I was in high-school, I loved pretty journals and used to go through them so quickly that I could hardily afford to support my habit.  So, I decided that it made sense to go ahead and try my hand at creating my own.  I checked out a ‘how to’ book from the local library and it all started there.  The first ones were terrible!  Most of them ended stuffed with my own thoughts, or as gifts to family and friends.  All of them now are held together by rubber bands as my sewing skills were definitely beginner back then!  Since then, I have had lots of practice perfecting my technique and have taken some workshops and private lessons to learn more binding styles & to get a better grasp on the history and art of book-making.

I came to Etsy a year ago as a buyer, not seller.  It was amazing to have access to so many artists and their work!  I was inspired and delighted, but at the same time too scared to open my own shop.  At that point, I had been making and giving away greeting cards and journals for years, but only to close friends and family.  I stalked the forums on Etsy and with a few of my favorite sellers, and after a few months finally decided to give it a go.  I had my first sale within a week or two of opening my shop, even though I only had about 5 books for sale.  After that, I was hooked!  I have not stopped since.

 Rae:  Who or what inspires your work now?

Megan:  I get a lot of visual inspirations from the materials I collect and salvage.   I am a huge antique store junkie and love the weekend summer garage sale scene as well.  I am forever in search of gorgeous old books in need of TLC, and I collect bundles of old fabric, lace, leather, pattern pieces, skeleton keys and photos.  I love taking very old things and finding ways to work them into a new design.  

Rae:  There is a number in the back of my book…what does it mean?

Megan:  That is just an id. #.  I keep track of every book I make and sell.  After each one is finished, they get a final once-over, a sticker, and a number.  I make a little note of the materials, size, and price of each book and literally keep a journal of my journals.  Obsessive, but true.  

Rae:  What kinds of material do you use to make your books?

Megan:  Salvaged leather, vintage fabric, antique book covers, buttons, lace, ribbon, old photos, salvaged mat board, pattern pieces, and lots and lots of love and good energy.  The only thing not up-cycled is the interior paper.  I buy archival, blank paper for the inside text block of each book.  

Rae:  What is the strangest or most unusual/creative material that you have uses?

Megan:  My favorite unusual material so far has been used tea bags.  For my Thesis in Undergrad I made an entire quilt out of them. I collected bags for months prior to the semester, and it took my almost 4 months to complete the sewing. It turned out really beautifully, and still hangs in my dining room. In that show, I also had a piece made out of apple cores, and another of egg shells.  I was trying to focus on the fact that art is in the daily… in the mundane. For photos check out this website: http://www.twinenfp.org/gallery/meganwinn. 

Rae:  Have you ever gotten to see one of your books after it was fill?

Megan:  Yes.  Many of my favorite people are avid writers and journal keepers. Quite a few of my journals live with my closest friends, my husband, my mom, and my little sisters.  It is always fun to see my books tucked full of secrets and on people’s bookshelves.  

Rae: Finally, what role (beyond bookmaking) does (or has) creativity played in your life?

Megan:  It’s everywhere and inextricably tied to all aspects of my life.  I love getting to be a part of the creative process, and feel like “art” and creativity extend way beyond traditional bounds.  I participate and experience this while nurturing my garden, canning tomatoes, doing laundry, or by being in my studio.  It’s the mundane, the daily, and yet it is transcendent because of the accessibility. 

As far as how that connects for me to the craft of book making, I think that is why I love using such a variety of materials, many of which have already been used for something else, and may or may not be considered “art worthy”.  I like to tie them back in, make them functional again, and cause people to take a second look… it is in the little things. 

 

I would like to thank Megan for allowing me to visit with her and for being so gracious in sharing her story.  I have been adding to the pages of my book here and there.  For such a “little thing”, that journal has made a big difference in my life.

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The last year, I have been focusing on how what it means to show myself love and care.  This is especially true when it comes to treating my body in loving ways.  This might sound easy, but I have found that my life was set up in a way that was based on fear and judgement a good portion of the time.  When I made the decision to practice self-love, I looked for ways to improve on some of the good things I was already doing and to find new ways to do some of the not so loving ways I treated myself or thought about myself.  The journey has been rich.

disney 677

To flesh this idea out a bit more, let me talk about skin.  This past month, I turned 40.  Looking in the mirror, I am starting to see little changes.  The skin under my eyes is less taut.  My lipstick blurs at the edges, and my neck has a new, unfamiliar texture.  The changes are a bit scary, which tells me that I am afraid to grow old.  Funny, I am also fearful that I won’t have the chance to grow old.  Ironic.  I have taken this as an opportunity for creative living. 

How do I want to feel about my skin?  Do I need to stay constant and unchanging?  Does this change how I fit into the world? 

I know that when I look at women who are covered with the marks of a life lived, I see tremendous beauty in them.  My practice of self love encourages me to begin to cultivate that same love for my wisdom marks. 

So for Mother’s Day, I indulged in a variety of soaps and skin creams.  And decided to do the same for my two mother-in-laws. 

First, I headed over to the local farmer’s market where my friend Nancy sells soaps made from the seaweed that washes up on the beach at Port Aransas, Texas. 

Corpus Christi's Farmers Market

Corpus Christi's Farmers Market

 Port A is a little community on the water, not far from where I live.  I bought a vetiver bar soap from her and have been using it in our downstairs bathroom.  When I was a kid, I hated washing up, but nowadays, I can not wait to smell the essential oils from Nancy’s soap on my hands.  I even take extra trips to the soap bowl to smell it when I am feeling stressed.

Nancy also had body butter  at the market from Farm Fresh Soaps.  My morning routine has become a ritual of self-care as I adorn my neck and arms with the bitter almond richness of this product.  It is thick and creamy and feels almost sinful to use it on myself.  I have had to fight my tendency to hoard it.  But once I have scooped out my daily allowance, I never regret it.  It is candy for my 40 year old senses.

http://www.ffsoaps.com/baby.htm

For my husband’s moms, I decided to turn to Etsy for inspiration.  They both live out of town and by dealing with an Etsy shop, I could have it mailed and support the creative efforts of another at the same time.  I found one shop to take care of both gifts.  Lynette Gooch of Tuscan Heights has beautiful soaps and oils.  She had the perfect gift baskets for the Moms.  Iris, who is a master gardener got the Master Gardener gift pack, and Donna, who enjoys playing tourist get The Weary Traveler.  Both called to say how nice the packages were.  This is the way to shop!

Tuscan Heights Lavendar Farm

www.lynettegooch2002.etsy.com

In searching for the gift soaps, I came across a shop with soap formed into rocks.  One of our bathrooms has a nature theme.  We had to do some repairs to it when we first moved in.  Our carpenters where more like artisans, so we let our imagination run wild.  We have carve away part of the slate tile to create a dry river bed that runs from our mesquite stump bathroom sink across the floor and into the shower.  The rock soap was a must-have.  The picture below shows the edge of the tree pedestal for our sink basin and the iron sculpture beside it along with the new soap.

mermaidwithsoap

www.amethystsoap.etsy.com  I got the turquoise soap and the amethyst.  They rock!

I think I am going to continue this love of natural soaps.  My skin feels happier, and I like knowing that I am putting things from the earth on my skin rather than chemicals and fake fragrances.  Isn’t it amazing that chosing natural products should feel indulgent?  Perhaps someday that will be natural for me. Until then, I will enjoy the feeling of this new form of self care.

Creatively yours,

Rae

My Etsy Shop

http://laughinglane.etsy.com Photobucket

Robert Alan

The creative spirit is one of the most powerful driving forces in human history. Creativity in the arts can inspire new insights and understanding for generations. Inventive creativity has helped transform our society time and time again, helping to make life better for countless lives. Creativity helps bring meaning to one's life through unique self-expression. When focused on uplifting humanity, creativity can help to create a more peaceful, just and sustainable world. How will you use your creativity to help create a better world?

Henry David Thoreau

The world is but a canvas to the imagination.

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