When I was a little girl growing up, I loved the Girl Scouts. What I loved most of all was the Girl Scout Handbook that listed all the proficiency badges troop members could earn. The handbook in use at the time was the 1957 edition, and I know I’m really old when I look up “vintage books” and find this handbook now listed as an antique. Ah, such is life!
The proficiency badges included an Arts and Crafts section, and I used to thumb through the pages wishing I had enough artistic ability to earn any of those “arts” badges. I did “dabble around” a bit with ideas from a badge called “Dabbler” — a variety of different art-related activities — but even those simple projects were a bit too much for me.
The one that always caught my eye, though, was Bookbinding. It sounded like so much fun! To earn the badge, a girl had to complete ten of the fifteen suggested activities, including three mandatory activities:
- Make one section of a book — fold the paper, cut and sew it into a paper cover
- Make some hand-decorated end papers, using any method desired: blockprinting, marbling, finger painting, stenciling
- Know the meaning of the following and help make an exhibit: first edition, volume, manuscript, autographed copy, bookplate, end paper, signature, parchment, vellum, sewing in, deckle edge, and headbands.
In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m typing this directly from the handbook. I still have a copy, and I still love it. I can always find interesting activities related to many different topics.
Lately, bookbinding has been coming up in different places, another of those sort of coincidences that make me stop and pay attention. More and more I’ve been thinking about how much I’d like to give it a try. Then, when I signed up for a program called Sketchbook Revival, I gasped when the first project for the group was to make a handmade sketchbook.
Yes, this was a definite sign. It was time for me to try bookbinding.
I promptly ordered a small set of bookbinding tools, and I couldn’t wait to get started. Using a piece of scrapbooking paper, I made a cover, cut and folded the inside pages (made from copy paper) and then stitched it all together to create my very first handmade journal.
This doesn’t look like much. Really, it’s not much. It’s nothing more than a cover of scrapbook paper with a few sheets of paper sewn to it. But this is also a childhood dream come true, and that makes this very special for me. It took me about sixty years to get around to learning and doing, but better late than never. I am delighted with this little book.
So, don’t ever give up on your dreams, especially not the little ones that seem so unimportant or insignificant. They mean more than you might realize. I never really knew how much joy this little project would bring. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, go for it!
NOTE: Earth Day 2021 is coming up on April 22! I’ll be using a hand-made sketchbook as part of my celebration. Why not make one for yourself? If you need any how-to information, please let me know!