Elissa R. Campbell | Blue Roof Designs

Worktable Wednesday

I have had this stack of leather pieces forever. I don’t even remember when or why I bought them. I think they came from Ebay.

Stack of leather pieces

They’ve been sitting in a box, just waiting to be used. Well, I finally got the motivation to do something with them – I decided to try making a coptic journal with leather covers.

I haven’t seen many journals made with soft leather covers and perhaps there’s a reason for that. This leather is on the thick side, so I thought it might work.

I lined the suede side of the leather with lokta paper. I love lokta because it’s strong and has a fabric-y feel to it.


Next I punched holes in my pages.



I used my Dremel with a small drill bit to create the holes in my cover. I’m not sure why I didn’t just use my Japanese screw punch. The Dremel worked great – it made clean holes.


Then came the sewing – a two-needle coptic stitch. Attaching the cover took a while because it was floppy. I found it easier to sew the book when I had it resting on a piece of bookboard – it helped to keep the cover stable.

Overall, I’m happy with how it turned out. It feels really great in your hands – the covers are nice and soft.



I going to try making another one using vintage atlas pages for the inside of the covers – I’m curious how they’ll hold up as the paper isn’t as soft as lokta.

Teaching bookmaking to children

I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m totally addicted to Pinterest. I have over 200 boards. It’s a problem. Is it really? Yes. And no.

Most of my boards are (surprise!) bookbinding-related. As a teaching artist, I have a strong interest in teaching bookmaking to children. I’ve been collecting my findings on a Pinterest board specific to the topic:

Pinterest screenshot

While searching for online resources about teaching kids, I discovered Clare Seccombe, a teacher from England. She loves to use mini books in the classroom and has many tutorials listed on her website. She has done a great job of adapting the simple mini book form for use with varied subject matter.

Another advocate of teaching bookmaking to kids is Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord. She offers tips for both teachers and families on how to get children involved in the book arts. Her blog is a great inspirational resource and she often talks about her work with children. And if that’s not enough, she also has a number of publications available – they are available for purchase from her Etsy shop. And there’s more…you can download (for free!) a copy of Susan’s Recycled Materials for Making Books on Lulu.

Cathy Miranker and Susie Peyton of the website Bookmaking with Kids have the following to say about making books with kids:

A book made by hand is the perfect meeting place for artistic expression and emerging literacy. Bookmaking unlocks something amazing in kids—creativity, enthusiasm, a zest for learning, concentration, patience, imagination and lots of talent. It lets kids forge a personal connection to reading, to writing, to making art.

Their website is a treasure! They blog about book arts projects that are appropriate for specific age ranges/grade levels. They also post about different book structures that often include tutorials or downloadable instructions. They are very generous with their knowledge!

Paul Johnson has long had the mission of promoting writing and visual communication skills though the book arts and has written a number of books about teaching bookmaking to children, including Get Writing!: Creative Book-Making Projects for Children and Literacy Through the Book Arts. He’s got mad pop-up skills and he often uses them in his work with kids – it’s very engaging.

Lastly, Karen Cox wrote a very helpful blog post about bookbinding with pre-K children on the PreKinders website. It has suggestions for what features to include when making books, along with ideas for basics supplies and construction methods.

If you’ve found anything that’s been useful in teaching bookmaking to kids (books, websites, etc.), please let me know by leaving a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!

Leather journals with the Book Arts Guild of Vermont

In the past week, I talked about my preparations for my teaching gig at this month’s Book Arts Guild of Vermont meeting. Well, the meeting finally happened and it was lots of fun.


There were 20ish people in attendance, which is a bit of a teaching challenge. I totally admire teachers who handle this size crowd on a daily basis – I don’t know how they do it. It takes a lot of energy!


I taught Keith Smith‘s Diamond X binding, which can be found on pages 246 – 247 of his book 1- 2- & 3-Section Sewings: Non-Adhesive Binding Volume II. I highly recommend that you get the book if you don’t already have it – it has instructions for lots of fantastic bindings.


I was thrilled when everyone at the workshop completed their books. My heartfelt thanks go to B.A.G. for giving me the opportunity to teach to such a wonderful crowd!

3 Responses to “Blog”

  1. Maggie says:

    Elissa, this is a great site, very thorough and thought out! I have gleaned the words I need to start the promotion of you as featured artist for Montpelier’s Art Walk.

I'm social – Pin, Like, & Follow me!

Link to my Pinterest Page
Link to my Facebook Page
Link to my Twitter Page
Link to my Rss Page

Get blog updates

Enter your Email address to have blog updates delivered right to your inbox*:

*I respect your privacy

Get on my Email list

Sign up to receive news and special offers from Blue Roof Designs*:

*I respect your privacy

Tweet tweet


Recent Comments

Book Arts Rock Stars