Wednesday, 9 February 2011

What I Made for Christmas Gifts

Is it too late (or too early) to talk about this?

You might already have guessed, given the number of times I talked about my book binding.  I made blank notebooks for everyone, with their names stamped on the front.

Given that I started back in the summer, I'd never have predicted finishing them at the last minute.

Everyone at the bookbinding class thought it was a brilliant idea - though there was one even better one that I'll tell you about.

The problems came when the instructor had heart problems - well, new ones, and had to have his pace maker replaced.  He wasn't around for a while and his assistant really couldn't manage to help everyone there with their projects all on his own.  I would spend as much as 20 minutes waiting for the next step and what with the cost of the class and the travel to it, I found myself using a huge amount of energy to practice patience.

Even when the instructor was present, he loved the hustle and bustle of having people queued up to check with him about things and positively encouraged interruptions.  He is a really sweet man and I couldn't at all begrudge him being happy.  Except that it was costing me money.

I'd estimate that each notebook cost between £20-25 to make, not including the payment up front for materials.  Not exactly a frugal present considering the price of blank notebooks at book or stationery store.  

Still, with the names on the front and the hand cut pages (and the obvious flaws denoting a handmade item), they were unique gifts.

What I learned?  

1.  How to make notebooks, obviously.  I took better notes than the first time and doing ten, one right after the other, I learned a lot more small tips on how to do it better/easier.  Doing each step ten times increased the quality of the books I made, of that I'm certain.

2.  That I want to increase the number of activities I can do within walking distance from home.  Until I'm old enough to get a bus/metro pass like Bill's (if they still exist by then), travelling alone into Newcastle has serious costs attached, either Metro fares or petrol (now £1.12 a litre) and parking charges (only 50 p an hour, granted, but it adds up).  

3.  I might go back in the summer on my bike when the weather permits the 20 mile round trip.  It's goal to aim for anyhow.  I've done it before and with all the time in the world I could certainly do it again if it was sufficiently important to me.

4.  The components of bookbinding can be replicated in nontraditional ways that might be quite fun.  I've a number of ideas in mind.  If I follow through with any, you'll be sure to know.

5.  I finally learned to leave if I arrived and found the instructor wasn't available.  It saved me wasting the cost of the class and loads of frustration.  I discovered that in spite of all the ways and reasons I love book binding, I didn't actually value the experience sufficiently.  Once committed to making the Christmas gifts I just accepted that it was going to cost more than I'd realised and I aimed to minimise the wear and tear on my nerves.  I got a lot of satisfaction from making them and I'm not at all sorry I did.  I just wouldn't do it again; not that way, anyhow.

5.  That other idea?  Paul bought an A5 (about half of letter size) diary (the page a day kind like my Grandmother used for her hairdressing business.)  He added end papers front and back with calendars from the previous and next years, often a useful reference.  (Another idea might be to add reference sheets pertaining to a hobby the person had).  Then he raided his wife's fabric stash and found something really lush for the cover, usually upholstery fabric.  I didn't see how he managed the fabric cover with the end papers, but I might play with this idea as well as some of my others.  

I've already found something fun to do once a month that practically in my back garden; but that is another post.


Jo said...

The books turned out looking great and as with any other crafter, you are the only one who will see the flaws!

Jg. for FatScribe said...

that is such an awesome idea. i would love to do that someday!

Anonymous said...

I may or may not be "Paul", but this struck me as the most obtuse, self-centred posting I have come across for a good while.How dare Derek be poorly. Perhaps you need to investigate the cost of "Lifelong Learning" lit. classes where you can be in a group of 30+, receive no individual contact and go home with nothing tangible - for maybe £15 a 90 min. session.

Shelley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shelley said...

Paul/Not Paul -
Yes, I am aware that my views in this post were somewhat self-interested, but I wouldn't agree to being obtuse. For someone with plenty of time and cash I would wholeheartedly recommend the group. It boiled down to the fact that I didn't feel I could afford the classes after all, but neither could I afford to quit in the middle of my project. Like many people there I am retired, but unlike many I draw no benefit nor any pension as yet. I can still have most of what I want from my rental income, but not everything. I have to be selective and there is a certain amount of self-interest in that selectivity.

I don't believe I criticised Derek for being poorly. I think I described my frustration at the result of his absence. I think he's lovely man full of wonderful expertise. It just turned out that bookbinding wasn't something I was prepared to financially sacrifice other things for.