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Want a chance for you to share your story with me!  Tell me about your first or favorite journal.  What did it look like? What were you writing about that made it so endearing?  What is your relationship with journaling today?

Here’s my story:

I started journaling in the 8th grade when my English teacher Mrs. Lyons made it a daily event in the classroom.  An old blue folder with three brads down the middle was as fancy as it got back then.  Inside were all the many dramas of my life, mostly which centered around a bad boy, Allen Kientz, that  my mother didn’t want me seeing. (Who I saw anyway….but mostly between the pages of the journal.)  Looking back years later, it was clear from the amount of writing that I did about that guy that 8th grade was the year I went boy-crazy.  It was also the year I fell in love with writing.  The boys came and went, but words have remained my closest friends. 

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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.

Every once in awhile I have a craving to go deeper into the well of inner knowledge. Things like art, journaling, solitude, and highly engaging conversation with just the right person can take me there.  Recently I felt the call of the page. Paper bound with the purpose of helping me get found.

When the desire for writing in this way comes up, I go in search of a new blank book.  It has to feel just right.  I have been bored lately with off-the-shelf journals, so I decided to delve into the realm of handmade.  Now, I made a journal once.  It is pretty, but less than what I wanted for my inner-prize.  So I began perusing Etsy to see what I could see.

Etsy has some amazing book artists.  From tee-ninsie to gian-ormous!  Elegant, earthy, whimsical, or plain Jane.  With so many options, it could be overwhelming to choose. But, as is often the case in picking a world of pages for my musings, the perfect journal for me came forward and announced itself without a doubt!

 www.bindingbee.etsy.com

Binding Bee (www.bindingbee.etsy.com)  is a cute little shop with great books. Megan Winn, the book binder/artist, turned out to be as sweet as the work she does.  This journal is made with up-cycled leather and has pattern pieces incorporated into the pages. 

To understand the call of this particular journal, it is important to get a sense of what I want to explore with it.  In my last post, I talked about the metephoric knots I was presented with.  It is maybe a strange thing to describe “issues” this way, but that’s how it feels.  It is as if I have one big problem, but a closer look reveals interlocked, inter-related variables. I find it hard to determine what all is in the knot, but I know that it includes how I live with and in my body and the things that have influenced my relationship with my body.  So you see, the pattern pieces speak directly to the issues at hand.

 I think it is easy to start to feel uncomfortable when someone starts pointing to the things in life that don’t go quite right, but this knot is about something positive. It is about looking at the knot (every woman who has worn a necklace knows you have to put what’s tangled in front of you if you want to get it off your neck) so that I can loosen it up, throw out what is broken, fix what can be salvaged and supplement what is missing.  This is about opportunity and healing.  So if my vulnerability has you at all on edge, take a breath.  It’s all good. 

I hope you will enjoy hearing about my special little journal.  In the next week or two, you can expect my first artist interview. I had a great visit with the book-binder who whipped up this jewel, Megan Winn.  Her story inspires me to look at life with a new eye and to celebrate the gift of creative living in a more back-to-basics way. 

Until then…

I am 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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