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Rendezvous at the Wawa

>> Friday, December 31, 2010


When working on custom books for specific events, I find it interesting to see which elements ultimately propel the design in a certain direction.

For this wedding guest book, Jessica started out open to suggestions. She worried that she wasn't being specific enough in her preferences. But it only took a couple of key decisions for us to solidify an idea: Jessica asked for eco-friendly materials and a specific color scheme.

I knew right away that Lokta paper would be a good choice to meet both goals. It is available in lots of bold colors, created with organic dyes, that allowed me to pick a bright yellow and a royal blue. Jessica had identified these colors as appropriate for her beach wedding, representing the sun and the sea.

Lokta paper, handmade in Nepal, is also sustainable. Instead of using trees, the paper is made from Daphne plant fibers and harvested in such a way to promote further growth of the plant. These standards go hand in hand with the paper's quality as a strong and acid-free material for bookbinding.


Jessica also knew she needed a quick turnaround so the book could be used for events leading up to the wedding, in addition to the big day. I've found myself encouraging other brides to follow Jessica's idea in using my wedding guest books to record messages from friends and family at engagement parties, bridal showers, and other wedding-related events.

To be married in October, Jessica ordered June 1. A week later, my husband was en route to Richmond with the book. Already scheduled to pick up a friend at the airport there, it was easy for him to deliver the book to Jessica at a corner Wawa convenient store near the airport. Although Jessica shopped in the global marketplace that is Etsy, she benefited by finding me, just an hour and a half to the west.

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The Borders Within

>> Friday, December 17, 2010

This past Sunday, the newspaper where my husband and I work published a special report called The Borders Within. For my husband Tony and our good friend Chase Purdy it was the culmination of a year's worth of reporting about the growing Hispanic population in our town.

And for me, it marked the end of an incredibly busy week spent designing the six-page section. This is undoubtedly the project I am post proud of during my two years designing for The News Virginian. I'm also quite proud of the work that Tony and Chase completed with their reporting which makes this even more meaningful to me. I don't often share my graphic design work on this blog, but I wanted to make an exception for this particular project.

Click on any of the images for a closer look at the design, or view a pdf of the full section here.


One aspect of the design that came together even better than I'd expected was the map on page two. I created a map of our small town, and used it to plot different points of significance to Waynesboro's Hispanic community, like the a church offering weekly services in Spanish and a park where many people -- including former Mexican professional league players -- play fĂștbol. Local and regional statistics surround the map to complete the infographic.




Everything for this section was completed by Tony, Chase, and me. Reporting, writing, photography, design -- we did it all. So we all feel a real sense of ownership about this section. The photos that Tony and Chase took turned out so well, and they drive the design for the section. I was able to use a variety of large dominant photos and truly give a face to this community that is often overlooked.




We were also all excited to see that our section had been featured on Charles Apple's The Visual Side of Journalism blog. Charles had many complimentary things to say about The Borders Within, and specifically appreciated the visual appeal of the infographics, and the design of the section overall. Reading his post truly made my day, and was ceretianly a highlight after such a hectic week (and weekend) preparing for the section's publication.




And here's a bit more about the section, in Tony's words:

At its most basic, the idea behind the reporting in this section is not new. Like many reporters, we chose to explore an unfamiliar immigrant community and one that struggles with a language barrier.

But we thought we could deliver something meaningful to readers by bringing our curiosity to Waynesboro’s Hispanic community in particular — a community nestled into a small town and one that still remembers the first who came from Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, and elsewhere. They remember because those pioneers arrived not so long ago.

Because of the short time these families have lived here, we find them on the cusp of transition. As that population meets more frequently with the broader community, those unfamiliar words and nameless faces become harder to ignore, or to refuse to understand. Their needs have grown. Their successes are mounting.

We chose to approach in Spanish whenever possible, no matter how much we’d stumble. We focused on people, not politics, and the ordinary as often as the extreme.

This project first arose in fall 2009, but it might not have started without an unsolicited call and a soft threat. The caller told us to feature Kim Romero’s struggle to bring her husband Rigo back from Mexico, where he’d become mired in immigration bureaucracy. If we wouldn’t write the story, some other reporter would, the caller said.

The Romeros’ story turned from one chapter to the next just after midnight Sept. 10, when Rigo came legally into Kim’s arms at Dulles International Airport. We were there. Rigo has since gained residency through 2020.

Their story isn’t over. Nor is our work.

Tony and Chase had already won the International Perspectives award from the Associated Press Managing Editors contest for their coverage of the Romeros earlier this year, and I think that is just the beginning for the recognition they will receive for their work. Read all of the articles in The Borders Within series here.

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Elegant album for wedding memories

>> Thursday, December 16, 2010


I'm taking a break amid the holiday rush to share a few more custom orders I completed this fall. This photo album was given as a wedding gift by Emma, one of my best customers. (She also ordered this photo album for her cousin, and this journal for a friend.)


Emma is often hands-on with the initial design process for her orders, which I enjoy because it's fun for me to see someone who is as excited about books as I am. She scoured the Paper Mojo website to find this red and gold Japanese paper for the cover. From there, I selected the cream bookcloth for the spine and the gold accents for the endsheets, giving the book an extra-special gleam. And once I had determined that the book needed to be bound with gold thread to complete the elegant look, I couldn't let the idea go until I had found the perfect option.


Emma was very pleased with the way this album turned out, and told me that the couple loved it as well. She even had them open the gift at the end of their wedding reception so they could see it right away. I hope Kathlyn and Leland enjoy filling this book with photos and memories of their married life together.

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Ten years and counting

>> Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Tony and I celebrated our ten-year anniversary on Saturday. We met during our freshman year of high school, back when we were just 14. He sat behind me in English class, and thanks to our assigned seats we like to say we met because of alphabetical order. The official start to our relationship came a few days after Thanksgiving, when he called to ask me a question about isosceles trapezoids (we also had geometry class together), followed by a request to join him for a movie. We went to see Bounce (it's terrible); my parents drove us to the theater because, hey, we were 14 and couldn't yet drive.


After high school, we both headed off to separate colleges; I moved to Georgia, and Tony went to school in Michigan. A four-year long-distance relationship ensued, during which we visited each other during school breaks, exchanged thousands of e-mails, and racked up our phone bills.

Tony proposed in 2008, at dusk in an exotic greenhouse in rural Michigan while I was visiting him during my spring break. I, of course, said yes. We were married the following summer in an Art Deco movie theater in Charleston, SC.


Life with Tony keeps getting better with each passing day. I look forward to all the milestones ahead of us, while cherishing all of the experiences we've shared as we've become the people we are today. Here's to many more happy years together. Happy anniversary, Tony!

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Win a little leather book

>> Tuesday, November 30, 2010


My journals made from a pair of red suede pants have been incredibly popular online and at art shows, and now you have a chance to win one.

Elena, one of my good friends from high school, is hosting the giveaway on her fashion blog called caffeinerd. (PS- Elena got engaged last week to an ultra-talented photographer. Congratulations to them both!) You can enter the contest right here, now through Tuesday, December 7. To enter, just leave a comment on her blog mentioning your favorite item from my etsy shop. And for three extra chances to win, you can sign up for my newsletter, follow my blog, or become a fan on facebook. Good luck!



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A journal for Thea

>> Sunday, November 28, 2010


I completed a slew of custom books this fall, like this one, which I'm slowly but surely posting to the blog now that they've been given to their new owners. And all surfaces in my studio are currently covered with an assortment of beautiful papers as I get to work on many new personalized books that will be given as gifts this Christmas.

I'm accepting orders for personalized holiday gifts through Friday, December 3. If you're interested in having me make a custom book for you, please e-mail me at linenlaidfelt [at] gmail [dot] com and we can discuss all of the details.


The same customer who asked me to make a personalized photo album this summer also commissioned this orange and yellow journal which she gave to her friend Thea as a birthday gift. I love the orange paper with the white spirograph pattern that I used for the cover. This is one of my new favorite papers, and I've since used it for another similar journal which is listed in my shop.


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Congratulations, Leah and Chris!

>> Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I've gotten a bit behind with sharing photos of my custom orders on the blog, but I have some great posts lined up over the next few weeks to showcase some wedding guest books, journals, and photo albums. I'm starting off with a book that might just be one of my favorite custom books I've made this year.


Leah asked me to make a wedding guest book for her October 16 wedding to Chris. She had some specific ideas in mind about the guest book, so we worked together to come up with a design that fit her needs. This book was slightly more involved than some custom orders, so it really gave me the opportunity to learn about the couple which made the process even more satisfying for me.

Most of my wedding guest books are made with blank pages, but Leah had envisioned something with designed and structured pages. The pages provided guests with spaces to answer specific questions about the couple and to draw pictures.


In addition to designing the question and answer pages for the book, I also created a series of original flower illustrations that alternate throughout the book. A lot of care was put into determining the order of the pages before binding to ensure that the book has a nice balance between the pages with text and the pages with the various illustrations.


The book was handbound using the Coptic stitch. I chose handmade lokta paper in blue and purple for the covers and the guards (the paper that wraps around the sections of pages and are visible on the spine of the book).


Their names and wedding date are featured in a recessed cutout on the front cover of the book. I also cut two bird shapes from blue paper and attached them to the cover, in keeping with their love bird and wildflower theme.


In the end, this book turned out exactly how I hoped it would, and Leah was quite pleased with it as well. Here is the feedback she left for me on Etsy after receiving her book:
"LinenLaidFelt made the guestbook of my dreams! It seriously came out amazing. I basically just rambled aimlessly about what my dream guestbook would be and somehow she captured it and made it a reality! It's amazing!"

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Custom cherry blossoms

>> Saturday, October 30, 2010



Ever since I finished this set of three cherry blossom books back in March, I've received multiple requests for custom books using these papers. The cherry blossom motif has turned out to be incredibly popular, and I'd like to share some of the other books I've made recently.

The Words of Lucy Hughes:
This journal was commissioned by Molly of Little Lucy and Scooter, and she plans to use it to record all of the clever things her daughter says as she grows up. It was a joy to work with Molly on this custom order. She is so supportive and always has such kind things to say about my work. Within days of receiving her book, she surprised me by mailing me the sweetest thank you note which is now tacked to the bulletin board in my studio.




Robert Frost journal:
This book was made for Becca of StormGazerDesigns, which she gave as a gift to a friend. The cover features an excerpt from the famous poem by Robert Frost, and the full text of "The Road Not Taken" appears on the first page of the book. (In unrelated but very exciting news, Becca just gave birth to her first child this week! Congratulations on your new addition to the family!)




A set of brown cherry blossom journals:
These two books were commissioned by someone who stopped by my booth at the Fall Foliage Festival earlier this month. These books will shipped out on Monday, and come December they will be given as Christmas gifts.



Pink cherry blossom journal:
This book was also created for someone who visited my booth at the Fall Foliage Festival. The covers are wrapped in pink book cloth, and the rectangles of cherry blossom paper and the text on the front cover are set into recessed cutouts.



If you're interested in ordering a custom book (with or without a cherry blossom cover), just send me an e-mail and we can discuss the details: linenlaidfelt {at} gmail {dot} com.

I also have two cherry blossom books in my Etsy shop right now, and more to come in mid November.

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Submit a map, win a book

>> Monday, October 18, 2010


I've teamed up with the Hand Drawn Map Association this month to give away five of my handmade books. Through the end of October you can win one, but there's a catch.

You've got to draw a map.

Whether it's driving directions scribbled on a sticky note, a fanciful imaginary place, or an artful illustration, the HDMA wants to collect your maps. Everyone who sends a map this month (by post, e-mail, or digital upload) will be entered into a drawing for my books. For submission details, visit the HDMA website.

A little about each book:


I've had an oversized 1966 Britannica World Atlas taking up space in my studio since winter, when my husband picked it up for free (with me in mind) at Book Thing of Baltimore. The atlas is packed with (outdated) data colorfully displayed on dozens of maps. A large portion of the book goes beyond political and topographical maps to show socio-economic trends.

For the covers of this small, Coptic-bound journal I chose a birth rate map. I was especially inspired by the colors, which I carried through to the binding and the varied progression of paper colors inside.


Off the bat, I knew I'd also have to put to good use the map key. As you can see above, it's clipped and tucked into the inside front cover.



The giveaway features two other binding styles, including these concertinas. I made the first from a Virginia map, my current state, and the other from a vintage Minneapolis/St. Paul map, where we lived before Virginia.

Other books made from the Minneapolis map have caught attention from art show shoppers because of their gray and pink color scheme. They don't make maps like this anymore!



There are several lakes featured on the Minneapolis book, including a fun discovery: Snail Lake.


The pages of these lotus books were made from the same World Atlas. When you "open" these books, they unfold into a malleable array of pages. When closed, the folds return to an orderly stack. One of the two lotus folds features various maps of Africa, both political and topographical. The other is made from an assortment.



My collaboration is one of the first the HDMA has done in recent months, but that's not to say that founder Kris Harzinski hasn't been busy. The HDMA recently published its first book, "From Here to There," showcasing dozens of maps collected in the past three years. You can find the book on Amazon.

As always, the HDMA has been collecting and posting numerous maps. They're easy to browse and share. To get started, check out these maps submitted by my husband.

Remember, the linenlaid&felt giveaway runs to the end of October, so look around for that map you drew the other day -- or sketch a fresh one -- and send them in for your chance to win.

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Swapping recycled books

>> Tuesday, September 7, 2010



I had such a great experience participating in the last book swap with the Bookbinding Esty Street Team in May, so I was really looking forward to the August swap. While the previous one had no theme, with this one we were challenged to create books using recycled or reclaimed materials. This post on the BEST blog shows a preview of all of the books made for this swap, and everyone seemed to find interesting objects (like maps, empty boxes, and seat belts) to transform into works of art



On Friday I received my new book from a bookbinder and printmaker in South Dakota. Camille Riner made this book from leftover pieces of her relief prints. She used a piece of an old handmade string paper relief print for the cover. The abaca in the cover sheet makes it strong, and the strings from the handmade paper peek out at the bottom. The interior pages of the double pamphlet section book are made from scraps of paper as well as other repurposed prints. I am absolutely thrilled with my newest addition to my collection of handmade books.



The book I created for the book swap is a small Italian long-stitch with a leather cover. The material used for the cover comes from a pair of red suede pants I found in an Athens, Georgia thrift store. (You can see some pictures of the pants in an earlier blog post.) The red leather strap that holds the book shut was part of a zig-zag pattern on the pants. The colored papers used for the guards are from a Neenah paper swatch book of their recycled papers, and the interior papers are recycled as well.



I have made a few other books from these red suede pants over the past few months, and they have all been fairly traditional. But for this book I wanted to use some different color combination and more graphic papers. I'm quite pleased with the contrast of the teal thread against the red book cover, and I like how it coordinates with the papers inside.



I recently ordered a custom stamp from fellow Etsy seller NoteTrunk that features my logo. I've just recently started to experiment with it, and this is the first book I've used it on to "sign" my work. I stamped my logo onto a scrap of paper, signed and dated below it, and then used the sewing machine to stitch the paper onto the last page of the book. I think this worked out really well and fit with the style of the book. What do you think of the stamp, and of the stitched addition to the last page? Should I turn this into my standard style for signing my books, or would it seem out of place in a more traditional book, like a wedding guest book?



I sent my book to BEST member SeaLemon of Phoenix, Arizona. Being a graphic designer and typography nerd myself, I am a huge fan of her Helvetica books. I enjoy her use of bold colors and patterns in her work, and I especially like her shop's logo. You can also check her out on facebook and twitter.

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