I recently started a new hobby because i think everyone should have at least one and until I started blogging I didn't really have any.
I have tried golf but still can’t figure out how anyone can justify blocking off 3-4 hours on a Saturday without feeling guilty you aren’t hanging out with your family. I was terrible at it anyway. I was better at brewing beer but again, it’s difficult to set aside a few hours in one block. I gave up on hobbies for years but reading about the health benefits to having some kind of relaxing activity in our lives (like here, here, and here) motivated me to find something.
You may know that I like books even though I keep talking about getting rid of more. When I was on a trip a few months ago I found myself wandering around O’Hare airport in Chicago with some time to kill. Naturally, I wandered into a small bookstore squeezed between two hallways and there I discovered some nice journals by a brand called Moleskine. I’m still not sure what it was about them that I liked so much but they were good quality and came in several different sizes and colors. I was tempted to buy one but the anti-stuff side of me teamed up with the travel-light voice and prevented me from doing so.
Later, I started thinking there’s no reason I couldn’t make my own. Why not learn a new skill and bind my own journals? Shortly after returning home, I picked up two books from the local library and looked through them for ideas and a supply list. It didn’t look that hard to cut, sew, and glue paper. As it turns out, one of the main stores in the country that sells bookbinding supplies is close by and I had no idea. If you’re interested check out Hollander’s store or website. You can also find a lot of supplies on Amazon.
So now, aside from the never-ending hobby of getting extra junk out of my house, I’ve turned my basement bar into a bookbinding station. Don’t worry, there’s still room to mix up a drink or pour a beer.
I didn’t have to buy that many supplies. I bought some special needles, a roll of waxed linen thread, an awl to punch holes, a good paper cutter, and a cutting mat. We already had a sharp hobby knife and a metal ruler although I’m already replacing them with better ones. I bought a stack of thick 9”x12” paper on Amazon.
Here’s a couple pictures of the first thing I made.
It’s nothing fancy. It's small at 4 1/2 x 6 inches but it fits in the side pocket of my backpack nicely. I made the cover from an old folder I had laying around and attached a bookmark made of the same folder. Right now, I’m making a smaller journal but the cover will be thicker and hopefully I’ll do a better job sewing this time.
I enjoy bookbinding and it’s usually very relaxing for me. I like the precision of cutting the paper and yet, the freedom that you can make pretty much anything. The book can be large or small, thick or thin, open spine or covered, plain cover or wrapped in paper.
The biggest irony of this all is that I hated art class when I was a kid. I thought it was a big waste of time sitting there coloring, painting, cutting paper, or whatever. I was never interested in any sort of art. I liked Math and Science and that was pretty much it. I remember missing many recesses in the first grade just to finish coloring some stupid picture that I didn’t complete during class time.
I still hate to color, but I have gained an appreciation for many other forms of art. Maybe it started when I went to bartending school and saw the beauty in a perfectly poured drink like a bloody brain (OK, maybe not the best example) or one of the variations of a pousse-cafe. Now, I appreciate the artwork in good photography, quality writing, music, and in a well constructed book.
I’m not saying everyone should start binding their own books, but you should try to find some activity that’s relaxing and exercises your artistic side. There's always knitting, crocheting, painting, and lots of other "-ings" to try. Pick one and give it a shot. If it's not for you, try another one.
I think most of us could stand to slow down more often and stop trying to multi-task. Maybe you can start by getting out your kids’ crayons and colored pencils and go make something.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2022
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