Category : Way Cool Stuff

Meet The Paper Year!

I am so excited to once again be teaming up with Helen Hiebert to share her latest creative project! I introduce to you – The Paper Year. While last year Helen offered The Twelve Months of Paper calendar, this year she’s upped her game with a planner. 

Cover of The Paper Year - planner

Although I love technology, I’ve never transitioned to using my phone as my planner. Paper planners and I are life partners (sorry phone).

Here’s a description of this little piece of awesomeness:

The Paper Year is a wire bound how-to book & monthly planner featuring 12 paper projects by Hedi Kyle & Ulla Warchol, Marianne Petit, Gina Pisello, Lore Spivey, Arnold Grummer’s and Helen Hiebert. Watch the short video and discover unique paper projects, unusual papers and a way to plan your creative year. The Paper Year makes a great gift for all of the creative people in your life, including you!

As I did last year, I’ll be going all Julie and Julia on this book, completing each project in the planner one at a time. This time around I’ll be presenting the results every other day starting on November 1st. Hey, that’s today!

I’ll post the structure of the day on Instagram (@blueroofdesigns), so be sure to follow me there. I’ll also be using #thepaperyear so it’s easy to find me. If you’re not into Instagram, don’t worry – I’ll also be writing blog posts with three-month roundups about once a week.

Let’s take a tour, shall we? In the front of the planner, you can plot out an overview of your year.

Interior page of The Paper Year - planner

After that are sections for each month that include a project with directions and images to help you along the way. I’m not going to show that to you now because I want each monthly project to be a surprise while I work on it.

Following that is even more room for planning after the project, including a day-by-day area, a notes section, and a design space for exploring the project further. Oh, and it has room for paper swatches!

Interior page of The Paper Year - planner

I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks – stay tuned as I work my way through the planner!

** In the spirit of transparency, I need to mention that I received a copy of The Paper Year from Helen Hiebert to review, but I was not financially compensated in any way. All of the opinions expressed will be my own and will be based on my experiences working on the featured projects. ** – more books arts patches!

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, then you know how much I love book arts-related badges/patches. It all started with a set of bookbinding merit badges I purchased nine (!) years ago. Since then, I’ve grown my collection to include scout badges from Ireland and New Zealand, along with other non-scout patches.

I recently discovered, an online community where kids (16 years and younger) can learn new skills and earn patches for their efforts. If you consider yourself un-scouty, then this program might be right up your family’s alley. And it’s free!

Annnddddd…they’ve got a Bookbinder patch!Bookbinder patch

Here are a few of the 15 challenges one can complete to earn the patch:

  • Fold a book from a single sheet
  • Pamphlet stitch a booklet
  • Bind a flag book
  • Make a pop-up book
  • Make an accordion book

And there’s a Printmaker patch too!Printmaker patch

Here are some of the 12 challenges for that patch:

  • Make a relief print
  • Make a stamp
  • Create a monoprint
  • Use a letterpress
  • Make an etching

Needless to say, these two patches are already on their way to me. I figure I’ve definitely earned them and, well, I just want them. Mine!

Many thanks to for granting me permission to use the images of their patches.

Happy National Library Week!

2019 National Library Week logo

Welcome to National Library Week!, a celebration of all that is the awesomeness of libraries. This year the event takes place April 7-13, 2019 and the theme is Libraries = Strong Communities. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-founder Melinda Gates is acting as Honorary Chair for this year’s event. 

From the American Library Association‘s website:

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.

I love libraries. This should be evident in the fact that my daughter’s bedroom is library-themed – check out her awesome book cart:

purple library book cart full of books

Official celebrations during National Library Week include:

Looking for ways to celebrate? Here are some ideas:

  • Visit your local library! Libraries across the country are participating in National Library Week and they may have activities planned to celebrate.
  • Let folks on social media know that you support libraries by using hashtags #NationalLibraryWeek and #LibrariesTransform. You can also share social media graphics on the ALA website (scroll down).
  • Follow your library, the American Library Association and I Love Libraries on social media:

Personally, I’m hoping the stars align for me to get Anna to at least one story time at my local library (her morning nap usually keeps us from going). 

Want more ideas? Check out the suggestions on the I Love Libraries website.

Visit to Claire Maziarczyk’s Studio

This past Sunday, I had the good fortune of making a return trip to paste paper artisan Claire Maziarczyk‘s studio. My last visit was nearly ten years ago! Claire posted on the Book Arts Listserv that she was downsizing and was looking to sell not only her fabulous paste papers, but also supplies and equipment.

I made the journey with a few of my Book Arts Guild of Vermont cohorts so the trip didn’t seem as long as the 3.5+ hours it took for us to get there. Claire fed us lunch, which was awesome and extremely generous. By the end of our meal, I was itching to get downstairs to her studio to start the paper shopping.

To select which of her papers you like best must be like choosing your favorite child. I wanted all the things. It seemed wrong to leave any design behind, but I had a budget. Poop.

Here’s the pile of papers that made the final cut (it was a paper cut, so painful):

Pile of Japanese and paste papers

Let’s visit with them, shall we? Here are my paste paper purchases:

Claire once worked as a representative for the Japanese Paper Place and carried an inventory of their papers. After they both parted ways, the inventory remained. Lucky me! Here are my paper purchases from that gold mine:

Japanese papers

There was a sign by the paper on the left that labeled it as Kirogami, a hand-printed paper with a small design.

The paper on the right was double couched (two layers) – first a watermarked red sheet is made, then that sheet is couched on top of a white sheet. I have no idea what the text says. One day I’ll go over the whole sheet with Google Translate to satisfy my curiosity. It’s probably a grocery list.

The paper in the middle was also double couched and has a wonderful reflective quality (it’s stunning in person). Here’s a close up shot:

Japanese paper

I’m fairly certain that this paper is from Echizen, Japan, a papermaking village I visited 2.5 years ago. The technique used is known as hikkake, which means “to catch” or “to snag”. A metal screen is used to capture fibers that eventually create the pattern in the finished product. You can see an example of the screen on the Echizen Washi website.

My last purchase was serendipitous – I wasn’t looking for small sheets, but this pad of paper somehow caught my eye. The back of the pad was marked as Chigiri-e paper. I opened it up and encountered a gorgeous batch of 25 papers.

Pad of Chigiri-e paper

Oh, the Shiboris!

Japanese Shibori paper

Japanese Shibori paper

Japanese Shibori paper

These appear to be a variation of Unryu I’ve never seen before:

Japanese paper

So back to the Chigiri-e. I had no idea what it was, so I looked it up. This collage-based art form originated during the Heian period, the last division of classical Japanese history, taking place from 794 to 1185 (thanks Wikipedia). Handmade paper was the primary material used for these collages and pieces often incorporated calligraphy.

I now understand why this pad has 25 different kinds of paper in it – it’s kinda like a box of crayons, but with paper.

Claire showed us how to use her wood graining tool and then let us play with it. I probably could have left more open space between those knot holes. This is why it’s best to leave this work to the professionals.

Colored paste combed with a wood graining tool

After emptying our wallets, it was time to return home. We made it most of the way without incident until the weather. Oh geez, it was bad. The roads were icy and we were slipping around, which freaked me out. We decided to leave the interstate and take local roads in hopes of avoiding speed demons.

Unfortunately, this didn’t help us avoid other problems. We ended up getting stuck behind a car that couldn’t make it up a hill either because they didn’t have enough momentum and/or didn’t have the right tires on their car. Oh, and I really had to pee.

Long story short (and it’s a long story), it took 2.5+ hours for us to get moving again. Let’s hear it for Vermont’s emergency crews! Seriously though, the whole thing was terrifying. I’m so thankful for my companions, Judy and Becky, who kept me focused and calm. As much as I can ever be calm.

Claire told me that I should come back again with more people. If I do go back, it sure as hell won’t be during the winter!

John Neal Bookseller is selling Ruth Smith’s Zhen Xian Bao book!

I received John Neal Bookseller‘s newsletter today and was thrilled to see that they were selling copies of Ruth Smith‘s book Zhen Xian Bao: A Little Known Chinese Folk Art. For those who aren’t in the know, that’s the Chinese Sewing Box.

Cover of Zhen Xian Bao: A Little Known Chinese Folk Art by Ruth Smith

I have wanted this book for quite a while, so I jumped on it. If you look on Amazon, you’ll see that copies of the book are selling for $500.00+, which is stupid crazy. Thankfully, JNB is selling it at a much more reasonable price.

To better understand my Chinese Sewing Box crazies, please read the blog posts I’ve written about the subject. In a nutshell, I attended a workshop with Erin Sweeney and she poisoned my mind forever. Thanks Erin. 😉

Smith’s email address has been floating around for a while and rumor had it that if you contacted her, you could get her books (yes, I said books) directly from her. Did I do that? Nope. And for no good reason.

I did a little sleuthing and found this great post by Lesley Watt over at Art Elements. She attended a workshop with Smith in October 2017 and shared some wonderful images of authentic pieces from Smith’s collection. Lesley also confirmed that you can order books directly from Smith by contacting her at

And about those books – there are four of them. The title on each book is Folded Secrets: Paper Folding Projects and they have blue covers. If you Google the title and look at the image results you can find them.

If you order any of the books and are getting itchy while you wait for them to arrive, here are some tidbits to tide you over:

Oak Knoll Books and their insane-o sale

Oak Knoll Books - October sale ad

Why do things always go on sale when I’m trying to be conservative with my spending? Damn you Oak Knoll Books!

For the entire month of October, Oak Knoll is offering 20% off all books about bookbinding. As of this writing, there are 1,202 books in the sale.

Dang – how are that many books about bookbinding? I thought I already had a big library…it looks like I have some work to do!

So what do I have my eye on? It’s those dang irresistible Suave Mechanicals (Volume 1 & Volume 2) books edited by Julia Miller. It’s hard to find them at a discounted rate and this sale is a great excuse to splurge.

If you’re looking to expand on (or start) your collection of Keith Smith books, then this sale is for you too. All five volumes of his Non-Adhesive Binding series are on sale, in addition to most of his other books. If you’re not yet familiar with his books, then get familiar – they’re really fantastic.

And if you’re looking for something else, feel free to ask me for other recommendations. Did I mention that I’ve got an extensive (a.k.a. overflowing) library?

Note: Many thanks to Oak Knoll Books for granting permission to use their image. And in case you’re wondering, I wrote this post all on my own – I have no affiliation with them either than as a happy customer.

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

Baby wearing an orange onesie and an orange hat

When I dressed Anna in this outfit today, I had no idea that it was National Book Lovers Day. What a lovely coincidence!

That outfit was the first onesie that Anna wore out of the hospital – it was much bigger on her then, as you can see in this post. I’ll be bummed when she outgrows it.

Enough ogling of the baby. Back to National Book Lovers Day.

Although the holiday’s birth date is unknown, reports that Google searches for the phrase “National Book Lovers Day” started in 2007. And since I always trust websites that I visit for the first time, I’ll believe what they’re saying. 

Yay for books!

So what can you do to celebrate? Here are some ideas:

If you’re curious to see how others are celebrating. check out #NationalBookLoversDay on social media (Instagram, Twitter).

Happy National Library Week!

2017 National Library Week logo

Everyone knows that libraries are awesome, so it’s no surprise that there’s a National Library Week designed to celebrate this awesomeness. This year the event takes place April 9-15, 2017 and the theme is Libraries Transform.

From the American Library Association‘s website:

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.

Here’s the sweet gem of my community, the Kellogg Hubbard Library:

Celebrations during National Library Week include:

  • Monday, April 10: The State of America’s Libraries Report will be released, including the Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books of 2016.
  • Tuesday, April 11: National Library Workers Day, a day for recognizing the value of all library workers.
  • Wednesday, April 12: National Bookmobile Day, a day for acknowledging the work of our nation’s bookmobiles and those supporting outreach in their communities.
  • Thursday, April 13: The newly-designated Take Action for Libraries Day highlights the need for continued support of the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The U.S. government’s proposed budget cuts include eliminating this critical source of funding for libraries and museums.

Personally, I will be contacting my local officials to let them know how important libraries are to me and the communities they serve. If you’d like to do the same, you can get more information here.

Looking for other ways to celebrate? Check out the suggestions on the I Love Libraries website.

You can also follow along on social media using the tags #NationalLibraryWeek and #LibrariesTransform.

International Edible Book Festival

International Edible Book Festival logo

The arrival of April Fool’s Day also means that it’s time for the International Edible Book Festival. Yes, this is a real thing. And it’s super cool.

This annual event takes place on/around April 1st and it’s celebrated worldwide. The premise is simple – create books out of edible materials (a.k.a. food) and then eat them. Pieces can be inspired by a specific story, include something punny, or simply be in the shape of a book.

Judith Hoffberg and Béatrice Coron created the festival in 2000 to commemorate the birthday of French foodie Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, author of Physiologie du goût (translation: The Physiology of Taste).

Many locations are celebrating by holding contests with categories such as:

You can see awesome examples of edible books on Flickr – here are a few of my favorites:

If you participate in or visit an edible book festival, I’d love to hear about it! If you’ve pictures, even better. Feel free to shoot me an email and give me the scoop.

* All photos by florador used with permission via a Creative Commons license.

Gocco Manhoru

I recently crossed something off my Book Arts Bucket List – I completed my first Gocco edition! We’re just going to ignore the fact that I’ve had my Gocco since 2008.

So what motivated the project? The Book Arts Guild of Vermont is in the midst of hosting a challenge where participants create an edition of prints, exchange them, and then create a book incorporating the full set of prints. The book has to be completed by May – I’m so thankful that I have two months to get that done.

Since I still seem to be in my post-Japan bliss, I decided to use my trip as inspiration for my print. During my trip, I discovered so many things that added to its unending charm. Among them – manhole covers (a.k.a. manhoru). Yes, this is totally a thing.

Each municipality in Japan has its own manhole cover design, with different colors, patterns, and themes. According to an article on deMilked, the practice started in an effort to promote the importance of funding sewage projects. Estimates have the number of different manhoru at about 6,000. According to an article on Colossal, the most popular design is trees, followed by landscapes, flowers, and birds.

I really wish I had noticed them sooner, although if I had, I probably would have spent all of my time looking at the ground instead of what was in front of me.

So, now that I’ve given you a lengthy introduction, here’s the Tokyo manhole cover that inspired my edition:

Manhole cover in Tokyo, Japan

I monkeyed with the image in Photoshop until I was able to reduce it to a black and white image. It took a really.long.time. Swearing happened.

Here’s the final image:

Rendering of Japanese manhole cover

As you can see, I took some creative license and eliminated the holes and the writing on the left side. I wanted a uniform image.

Screen burning time! I printed out the image using my laser printer and burned a Gocco screen. Next, I surrounded my image with ink block to help keep the ink from spreading.

Gocco screen with ink block

Ink mixing time! I wanted a dirty bronze color, which required five different inks to achieve.

Mixing Gocco ink

Inking time! Next, I applied the ink to the burned screen…

Inked Gocco screen with ink block

…and slid the screen into my Gocco.

Gocco printing in progress

Printing time! Next thing I know, there were these:

Gocco prints on drying racks

Something weird happened during printing, which caused a very minor smudgy thing. You probably can’t even see it, but I can. Don’t ask me to tell you what I’m talking about because my lips are sealed.

I am thrilled with the results! Due to my total lack of creativity in naming, I settled on naming the edition Manhole.

Gocco print of Japanese manhole cover by Elissa Campbell

Next mission – the swapped book of prints. I’ll be writing about that project when it gets going.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about Japanese manhole covers, you’ve got a few options:

  • Check out the book Drainspotting by Remo Camerota
  • View the more than 1,500 photos by S. Morita, THE go-to dude for images of manhoru
  • Visit the website for the Japan Manhole Cover Society (Note: The website is in Japanese and looks sketchy, but it’s totally legit. If you click on the links, you’ll be taken to images of manhole covers, along with information about their locations.)

And lastly, be sure to read book artist Louise Levergneux blog posts about her fascination with manhole covers (she calls them city shields). Her work isn’t just limited to Japan, but has a worldwide focus.

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