Friday, September 18, 2009

Sad Day... Sort of

Hey all my lovely bookbinding friends!

Just a short post to let you all know that my entire shop is 25% off. I'm going on indefinite hiatus. As you can see, I've been absent from the bookbinding scene for quite a while. I've been very busy and my personal life is keeping me from binding. So I'm closing up shop for now - I may open up again in the future or list the occasional item - but I need to sell everything right now to pay some bills. So please help me out and buy yourself a nice journal!

I miss you all and I hope you are well. :)


Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I've been busy as usual. But some cool things happened:


We made a library! We had this little alcove on the landing of our stairs, with an etagere and some knick-knacks on it, for so long. Finally we got sick of the etagere and decided to move some things around. Joe convinced me the landing was large enough for the bookshelf.... just! So now I cuddle up here with my super-soft woven cotton throw blanket and enjoy tea and books. Right under a lovely window, too. 



I learned to block print. It started with a Speedball linocut kit that we found on sale at the mall. For only $10, and I had wanted to learn block printing for ages. So for my first one I decided on something simple (yeah, right!) like a rhinoceros.

Meet Leonard:


Since my first linocut turned out so remarkably well, I ordered some pink Speedball stamp blanks on Etsy and once they arrived, I got to work:


On the upper left is a cafe racer that Love commissioned, then a couple goldfish in honor of my aquatic kids, a little girl in a rainstorm, and my very favorite so far, a logo for the Etsy shop!


It's actually about half this size, and I was astonished that it turned out so clearly, especially with all those tiny letters! I drew it by hand, reversed it onto the rubber and cut from there. The only thing that didn't turn out perfect - the N in the AND is backwards! Oops.

In other news, I bought some succulents for some ceramic planters in the house, and on the soil of one of them was a big patch of moss. So I bought a little hurricane jar and now, like every good Etsian, I have a moss terrarium.


We bought some bookshelves for the office, which is going through a mini-remodel right now.  There are notes on this picture - click to go to Flickr and see them! :)


And finally, I haven't been up to much on the book front lately. But I did manage to make this tiny spring book, with a cotton ribbon around the middle and a button closure.


I also went to the beach with my fabulous friend Ryan. Hilarity ensued.





That's all for now. Hope you're all doing well!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lots happening...

And so much to update about! 

Big news for the moment is that Pied Crow Press now has a Facebook page! I've just joined Facebook myself but of course once I found out you could create pages for businesses, I thought it would be too cool to have a page for the shop! So check me out! 

Pied Crow Press Facebook Page

It's quite bare right now but you can become a fan if you have a Facebook page, too, and you can post a review if you're a customer of mine! :D

Monday, March 9, 2009

Surprise Thank-yous


For the past few weeks I've been furtively collecting little goodies for thank-yous to 20 customers who really helped me get through the holidays on a tight budget. The sales from my two shops provided just enough money to allow me to buy nice things (mostly handmade, too!) for my family. It really made the holidays for us. Budgets were tight this year, but my customers came through. Hooray! 
So I wanted to send a very special thank-you to each of them. Something tailored to each customer, something cute and sweet and thoughtful. I spent my free time for the last two weeks sewing and binding and packing, and sent out 20 packs on Saturday. Full of goodies, as you can see:


That's a handwritten (and handstamped) thank-you note, a business card, a vintage vocabulary card, a handsewn fabric envelope pouch with a vintage button, vintage scrabble tiles that form a word, a handmade envelope of recycled paper containing poppy seeds (upon which I have painted poppies!), a handbound matchbook notepad with the customer's initial sewn upon the cover, and recycled paper gift tags. Inside a lovely muslin pouch. :D

I had fun with those scrabble tiles. I bought a lot of about 100 tiles, so with 20 packages, each got a four or five letter word, or two smaller words. Among my favorites were OOPS, ZOOM, IHUG, GEEK, READ and WOOF. Uh... yes, I did have a lot more vowels than consonants, haha! So most were double-vowel words. 



Each of the fabric pouches was different. I didn't have enough of any one fabric for any two pouches to be alike, not to mention I wanted them to be unique. So among the twenty, I rotated with a textured purple, red, brown, yellow, blue/brown striped, dark blue, spring green and white. Each with one color on the inside, one on the outside. They took a whole day to sew together on my somewhat broken sewing machine (the tension won't go high enough) but they came out so adorable. 


There's the whole pile all labeled and ready to go. Mostly US customers, except three international - one to Italy, one to Canada and one to Australia! 

The first two responses came today. Just the sort of reaction I was hoping for! :) I do love to make people smile. 

from metisRoss:
you you you! *flaps hands*

opening up my mailbox today, i did not expect to find the best thing to happen all week in there. :] you're so sweet it's giving me cavities. i hope you know those are expensive to fill. ;)

8] i'm glad to hear that you holidays were for the better because of the small things other people do. thanks for the thought, time and effort to send out something so completely unexpected. it just proves that the world is full of lovely things. thank you so much. :]

jesus, etsy is like the secret place where all the awesome people are. :]

from 4StarGalaxy:
Hi Iris, What a wonderful surprise!!!! I got your package today and have to say what a treat it was to get all the wonderful goodies. Thank you so much for being so kind and for putting that extra curve in my smile today. Sincerely, Roxanne

Hooray!! I have the sweetest customers. It makes me so very happy that they liked their packages so much. 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Books and more books!

So much book-related news lately! I took a ton of photos so you could all see the wonderful happenings of this week. 

Here's a book my mother bought me. It's a collection of classic children's stories, all packed into one volume. It's part of a set of these collected stories in different themes, but this particular one was the one that caught my eye. 
Strangest thing, I saw this book in a tiny used bookstore about two weeks ago, when I was absolutely scraping the bottom of my bank account, and I carried it around the store for about an hour. I looked at it and the beautiful illustrations, the gorgeous endpages, the wonderful little stories. I put it down, picked it back up.... put it down, picked it back up. I thought and thought and finally decided I would have to come back for it, since I didn't have the cash just then. After which I went back to work and promptly forgot all about it. 
Then yesterday, I go to my mother's house and she bought me the exact same book! She had no idea I had drooled over it - I never told her! She found it in a different thrift shop, thumbed through it and thought I might like to use it for bookmaking. She gives it to me on Friday the 13th! Weird.... very weird....

Another book arrived today - I forget where I read about it - but the description was so charming I immediately ordered a used copy from Amazon. 
Absolutely hilarious. If you can find a cheap used copy (mine was $5 with shipping) it would be worth your time. Good for a smile on a rainy day. 

My mother also bought me this brilliant book-reader silhouette magnet for Valentines Day, which occupies a place of honor on our already full fridge: 

In other creative news, I found a bit of fake moss and an empty frame and made this the other day... 

I saw these lovely little word puzzle pillows just two days before Valentines Day and knew they wouldn't make it in time even if I bought them that very day, but I adore the concept! So I decided to make a pillow of my own for my mother. I stamped out the puzzle, circled with a Sharpie, embroidered the outline, sewed it together, stuffed with polyfill, and ta-da! She loved it. 

And then... oh, this was the highlight of my weekend.

This little darling was sitting in a tiny thrift shop a couple cities over and I circled the shop at least fourteen times, looking longingly at it each time, before I decided to splurge. A Remington Portable Noiseless Model Seven, manufactured 1931-1941. On sale for $50 - I'm broke right now, but it was worth it. The advancing mechanism is busted, but I found a service manual and upon inspection, it looks very simple to fix. Hooray! The ink ribbon is even still good. And it's got the little bell that dings when you come to the end of the row, and all the keys are there and functional and and and... !

Just look at the typewriting loveliness! I can't explain how EXCITED I am to have found this!! 

And lastly. I always like to see other people's workspaces and such. Here's mine: 

Those are my handbound books on the top shelf. To the left of them is a vintage metal cabinet with plastic drawers full of antique buttons and beads. They were Lover Boy's grandmother's, and his mother gave them to me when grandma passed away earlier this year. The bookshelf itself is a white pine shelf my father made for me when I was about 10 years old - I mentioned it  in an earlier post. 

I know all you bookmakers have fabulous bookshelves too! What does yours look like? I'd love to see portraits of you with your shelf. :)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Things About Yesterday

Well, it's officially tomorrow at this time (12:26 am) so I can now post Things About Yesterday. 
1. Bought some soap. Because the only bars we had left are Lover Boy's bars, and when I shower with them I smell like Love all day, which is distracting. 
2. Fed the cat. When he is hungry he is obnoxiously friendly, and he tries to sit on my head while I am sleeping and stick his wet whiskered nose in my ears. 
3. Opened up all the windows. We had a lovely spring storm move in on Wednesday, and it spent all day yesterday packing up and moving out. So the afternoon was full of enormous clouds and blue sky and bracing cold air, smelling of rain. 
4. Pushed a whole lot of ickiness out of the second hole in my left ear, which has been acting up lately. Ewwwww is right. Funny, the right ear couldn't care less about being newly pierced. 
5. Found bunches of new favorite blogs (thanks, blog friends, for also having lists of your favorites!). My list is getting too long to keep up with!
6. Bought some chocolate. I never much cared for milk chocolate, and then one fateful afternoon I discovered Lindt Milk Chocolate. I always wish the bars lasted longer. Made a hot cup of chai to go with my rapidly disappearing chocolate. 
7. Watched Lover Boy fall asleep on the couch. He always says he won't, and he always does. And I'm always up for hours after him, wandering the internet and making books. Though there are late night activities I'd much rather be doing. Bother. 

I'm sad to hear that many local friends and some of you, my blog friends, lost jobs recently or had hours cut. My very best wishes to you and your search for employment. I'm desperately hoping that here in California, where we still have no state budget, we don't all end up with I.O.U. slips in our tax return envelopes this spring. Every penny counts right now, for all of us. Best of luck, friends. 

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Been busy...

Working on a bunch of new books! Mostly minis, though today I did finish a lovely keyhole book using a National Geographic illustration I'd been saving a long time, and some paper I had cut, folded and saved. I had a flurry of activity earlier in the week, when some gorgeous chiyogami scraps arrived from Lilliput Books. They're exactly the right size for making minis.

They were so pretty I just had to try them out right away! My minis are getting better and better. And they have helped me get over my problems with case binding! It was all a casing-in issue. I wasn't setting the book block far enough into the spine, and I wasn't leaving enough room in the spine for proper placement. So hooray! 

I worked on some super teeny headbands for one of the minis, with fly-tying thread. Whew! That was so difficult, keeping the little bitty threads in order. Here's the result of this particular effort: 

And here's that keyhole book, using the illustration. Hooray! 

I think more keyholes are in my future... 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pretty Packages

When I'm packing items up to ship them, sometimes I just feel creative and want to add a little extra sparkle to the package. Sometimes I'm late in shipping things and I feel bad, so I make the packaging extra-special so my customer won't think I don't care about them! In this case it was both:

The pendant is held tight to the card with some thread strung between the stones and tied in the back. All recycled materials, of course. I used paint swatches for the mountains and sky and mini cairn, textured cardstock for the hills and path. Translucent vellum for the snow. These are the times I'm so glad I have a scrap bin. 

This little pendant is going out tomorrow. Hopefully Kathy in Atlanta, GA will enjoy it. :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hooray! A tag!

<--- (Lovely new mini! I'm practicing my case-binding. And I had this new chocolate linen. Yum.)

So... I love tag. Or I would if I was in better shape. Tag these days usually ends up with lots of shrieking and heavy breathing. And if I'm going to be shrieking and breathing heavily, I prefer horizontal activities. Owps. Too much info? Hahah... anyway! 

Kiley has tagged me! Alright, list 7 book facts about yourself and tag 7 people. Well, I don't think I have 7 people to tag at the end, but I'll see what I can do. 
So here goes. 

1. Apparently like Kiley, I'm terrible at keeping a journal, too! I have endless journals that I've started but never finished. I usually end up writing daily for a week or two, then being lazy and not writing for a month or so, then ripping out the pages I wrote when I finally come back to the journal. Meh, I just don't like my own writing! I know, terrible. 

2. My only bookshelf right now is a gorgeous white pine number that my father made for me. It has an overhang on the top shelf with a heart carved in it. I treasure it because he made it for me when I was about 10, and he carved that heart by hand. He always worked with hand tools and I love the unprofessional, handmade quality of it. Although the shelves are a little warped now, and it's overflowing with too many books, we refinished it last year with a satin clearcoat and now the wood gleams the way it did when he first gave it to me. He used such pretty dappled, knotted, wavy-grained wood. I wouldn't give it up for the world. 

3. Some of my very favorite books are stripper books. Candy Girl by Diablo Cody and especially Bare by Elisabeth Eaves are two standout titles. Lover Boy teases me about wanting to become a stripper, but really I don't. Their world just fascinates me. Plus, it seems that strippers who write memoirs tend to be smart, witty firecrackers and absolutely stellar writers. 

4. I absolutely despise book collectors who just buy up old books and put them in boxes or on shelves, never to be read again, who buy books just to HAVE them. I believe every book should be read until it falls apart, then repaired or rebound and read again. Those book collectors should be locked up in libary closets!

5. When I was much, much younger, I wrote stories. I still have tiny books I wrote in second, third, fourth grade (mom saved them ALL). I'd write on lined paper, scrap paper, receipts, notecards, anything, and fold it up, staple and make into a book. Little stories about dogs, spiders, little girls like me... I'm considering pulling a few out of storage and reproducing them for the Etsy shop. It would just be so fun to make big versions of them now. 

6. I never could get into using bookmarks. All my life I've just folded the corner of the book... awful for the book, but bookmarks always slide down and you lose them in the pages, or if they have string or dangly bits those get caught in something and yanked out of the book, or get in the way. I hear that Barbara at MoonBindery does the same... unite, page corner-turners! :)

7. I have a major addiction to pop-up books. I love the really fancy ones with pull-tabs, levers, doors, pop-ups and pop-outs and pop-downs. The whole book just comes alive. My mom has the same affliction, and I think it caught it from her. She has a fantastic pop-up book collection. 

Okay, I could go on talking about books forever. Like how much I LOVE when NPR does a story about books or interviews an author and you can hear the page turning over the radio. Nothing like the sound of a crisp page turning. Mmmm. 

Alright, I tag Sarah over at littlepaperbird, Kirstin at greentrikepress, Amy at NightJar Books, Dahlila at Snowflower Street (who doesn't make books but lots of wordy items, so perhaps she will participate?), um... Bibliophile! of course, and... can't think of any more that haven't already been tagged! That's five at least. 

And thanks for the tag, Kiley! 

Friday, January 16, 2009

So Long Away

But now I am back!

What have I been up to? The short list: 

1. Putting together a photo blog for my day job as a newspaper photographer: . 

2. Buying a new camera: 

More info about my new lovely available here

3. Settling my new Midnight Shubunkins into their home in my 120 gallon aquarium. 

4. Taking pictures of my fiance's great-aunt Claire's glove collection for the Eventual Invention shop: 

5. Buying the coolest waffle iron EVER

6. Of course, making new books! I'm making a bunch more today, too. A rare day off. 

I had such a wonderful holiday and I hope you all did, too. I see you've been busy blogging up a storm while my blog has been gathering dust. Hopefully I'll be getting to update it a bit more often now that things have settled down a bit!