Lunch Bag Journal at WNYBAC Bookfest

my table display at bookfest

my table at bookfest

I had a great day at the 3rd annual WNYBAC Bookfest. If you took my workshop in the blazing hot parking lot here is the tutorial for the little lunch bag book we made – if you missed out on the workshop – here’s a tutorial for you anyway!

To make this brown lunch-bag book you need:

  1. a large brown lunch bag (the 6″ size) – I added some stamps to the bottom of the bag (which will become the front cover) – you could do this or print, collage or paint/draw on your cover(s).
  2. 32 sheets of paper for the book block cut to 8″x6″ and folded to 4″x6″ to make 4 signatures of 8 pages each.
  3. some decorative thread and a bookbinding or upholstery needle
  4. an awl
  5. this handout: lunch bag journal printed out on a sheet of legal sized card-stock

So lets begin!

1. First cut out the four pieces on the handout – then insert the piece labelled front cover into the bottom of the lunch bag like this

brown lunch paper bag with piece of cardstock

2. Fold the lunch bag at the top of the card to create the front cover.

lunch bag folded to create a book cover

3. Glue the strip labelled spine punch template to the bag on the inside next to the crease. Use the awl to punch the holes as marked on the printed template. Fold the bag to create the book’s spine.

brown paper bag with spind template attached

4. Insert back cover into bag, up to the edge of the spine template, and fold the end of the bag over to secure in place – if you like you can add decorative stitching on the edges to create a small pocket.


5. Punch the centers of each of the 4 signatures using the signature punching guide from the handout. I find an old phone book makes a great book cradle and allows you to punch the holes more easily. Then thread about a yard of thread onto your needle and tie a knot in one end. Beginning from the inside of the the first signature – at either the head or tail – it doesn’t matter which, sew through corresponding hole in the signature and then through the spine by either the front or back covers.

begining to sew the signatures into the book structuredetail shot of sewing technique

6. Continue sewing up the row in a running stitch. When you come to the top sew over the end of the spine, pick up the next signature and continue down the next row of holes. Repeat with the 3rd and 4th signatures, wrap back around to the inside of the 4th signature and tie off your thread.

a small journal made from a brown paper bag

7. Lastly I added some decorative stitching on the front and sewed down the pocket in the back.


You can change up the binding technique and decoration!!


ticking over

It has been a year of ups and downs as always – but I am feeling content with my creative life as I move into the new year. It takes a long time to “network” and opportunities sometimes feel thin on the ground, but at other times all that work starts to pay off. This is one of those “when it rains , it pours” moments, so I am pleased to be able to share some Exciting News – my work is off to Sweden – see here – with a group from Liverpool/Leeds in the UK. I am thrilled at this opportunity! (More to come on this project I am sure)

Also I recently heard that this new project related to SWAN day will be funded by a generous grant. Later this week we will be meeting to curate the show that will hang during those months – I am excited to see all the work that has been submitted and I think it will be a wonderful show. There will also be a series of art salons/lectures, a women’s art market and a day of workshops, all still to be organized and announced, so that should keep me out of mischief for a bit.

In the studio things are finally beginning to move again after a bit of a stalemate. When I finished Room for Utopia I was at a bit of a loose end, a decade of research and ideas finally wrapped up (sort of – still a few thoughts lingering!). But this week I had a bit of an epiphany and have began working on a series of new bindings loosely based on a Elizabethan blackwork or Spanish work embroidery patterns. I have finished a few trial pieces and hopefully can scrounge up a camera later this week to post a few pictures. I am also exploring some small sculptural pieces for my show with Molly Jarboe next year which feature fairy tale motifs.

I hope that everyone enjoyed their holidays with family and friends. I am happy to report that my baby is on the mend  and up and about and in physical therapy and that I had a very peaceful holiday season with my family. Hopefully blogging will be back to a more normal pace – talk to you all in the new year! Best & Blessings to you all.

studio update

I’ve been on a cleaning/reorganizing binge, trying to make my work space WORK for me! . I am enjoying summer gently unfolding and find myself in a strange and joyful place, despite being rejected yet again by the Southern Tier Biennial’s judges. I feel drawn to my paper and egg shells and so am content to remain with them a while despite lack of critical response. The big projects are slowly emerging, andI am busy as usual turning trash into book treasures in readiness for the few local festivals that support me through the summer months.  In the meantime I leave you with a couple of fun page meditations and two adorable new recycled books