A New Bookmark Revelation

Owl Bookmarks

I’ve complained before about some styles of bookmark after I attempted to make and use them. Corner bookmarks, not my favorite.

I don’t have anything against traditional, thin, stick-it-between-the-pages bookmarks. They’re readily available, cheap or often free, easy to make if you want to DIY and they are limited only by your imagination if you want something fancier.

However, I do have a tendency to take the bookmark out of my book, set it down while I’m reading, and manage to lose it. Especially if I’m in bed at the time, it will turn up three days later in the covers somewhere, crumpled or bent.

These adorable owl bookmarks came home from vacation with me as well as the book haul, and now that I’ve tried magnetic clip bookmarks, I’m in love. They don’t fall out. I can still lose them if I’m dumb and set one down in a random place, but it’s easy to secure to a different page in the book and not lose it, whereas regular bookmarks, if I did that, always wanted to slip out.

And while I happily turned over $5 for four little owls because owls are superb, and because I was on vacation and splurging anyway, this style of bookmark is easy to DIY as well with a few inexpensive supplies. So I might very well be making batches of these as gifts for all the book lovers in my life as well as for myself. (I tried to gather tutorials to link, but honestly, they’re all just “put adhesive magnets on paper, boom, it’s a bookmark.” Some were fancier and others plainer, some used die cutters or washi tape or stickers, but the basics were always paper + magnets = bookmark.)

Honestly, I’d just been so negative about bookmarks the last time around, I wanted to spread the joy. Give them a try if you haven’t already, they’re fantastic.


Bookish DIY: Fabric Corner Bookmark

Fabric Corner Bookmark 1

It had been a while since I’d made any new bookmarks, (or done any sewing, for that matter,) so I pawed through my fabric stash over the weekend and turned out a new model, using this tutorial.

I’ve seen corner bookmarks around a lot in book photography, but I’ve never used one, and I was curious. Would I like them better than the more traditional style?

Short answer: no.

The tutorial was easy to follow, and the finished product only took me fifteen minutes. I have no issue with the construction of the bookmark, and since there are a million cute fabrics out there to choose from, this style of bookmark definitely gets a high score for customization and Aesthetic Potentialâ„¢.

But it’s bulky. Even made from my thinnest quilting cotton and thinnest interfacing, it’s still kind of huge.

Fabric Corner Bookmark 2

Here it is, being shown on The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I grabbed two books off of my unread shelves mostly for the color coordination, but they make decent example cases. Perks is a smallish, but not mass-market, paperback. Its pages are flimsy, and the weight of the bookmark, which seems like nothing on its own, is way too much for these pages to handle.

Fabric Corner Bookmark 3

Okay, so how does it hold up on a standard hardcover instead? Flight Behavior makes it look great on the open page–the size of the bookmark is far more suited to a larger book. Inserting a single page into the corner, even with the heavier, higher-quality paper, still seems risky, but wrapping the fabric over a thin sheaf of pages instead seemed to work well.

I thought this was going to turn out all right in the end–I could certainly reserve this bookmark for hardcovers only. Then I did the book-in-the-purse test several times; most of the books I read will travel with me somewhere.

This bookmark failed miserably. It came off when I put the book into my purse. It came off when I lifted the book out. It came off when the book was jostled around inside the purse as I moved.

The extra thickness separates the pages so much that mere friction won’t hold the bookmark on against the forces of gravity or agitation.

Conclusion: it’s adorable but impractical.

Bookish DIY: I Tried to Make a Pair of Bookends

DIY Fabric Bookend

It’s not bad enough to qualify as a Pinterest Fail, but see how there’s only one?

I’m always on the hunt for cool things I can make to liven up my shelves and my book photography. This tutorial from Design Sponge seemed simple and straightforward enough, something I could put together easily in an hour, and if I liked it, make infinite versions in whatever fabric I wanted. Right?

Always read the comments before you start. When I stuffed the first one full and prepped to sew it, I looked at it and thought, “this isn’t a pyramid at all?” One side was far, far longer, skewing the point backward. Turns out I wasn’t the only one with this problem, and I compensated by simply turning in the fabric much farther (maybe 3″ instead of 1/2″) before sewing.

Then it was nearly impossible to get my machine to sew the seam, because there was this huge, weighty sack of lentils + stuffing (I’m out of rice!) that didn’t fit under the machine’s arm. After several false starts I ended up stitching it by hand, which was not only easier, but faster than fighting the machine. Only the tutorial would never say that, because machine stitching is always faster, right?

I did not bother making up the second one I had cut out. (No loss, really, the fabric came from the sleeves of a jacket I picked up at a 50-cent sale.)

I love the idea, and in all honesty, I probably will make more, eventually. It is really cute. And it does hold up my books. But I may have to do some experimenting with the size, and if it works, I may just have to write my own tutorial.

Bookish DIY: Quotes

Lace Journal 1-31-18

Most readers have a favorite book quote or three, or a dozen, or a hundred. And it’s lovely to go back to the books they come from to revisit them, but there are so many ways to incorporate them into your life outside of reading.

A lot of these you can buy ready-made, and if you find something you like from a business you want to support, go for it! But if your favorite quote isn’t up there in popularity with I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library,” (Jorge Luis Borges) and you can’t find any merch to show your love, here are some ideas:

  • Put it on a t-shirt. How you accomplish this will depend on the length of the quote, your level of craftiness and the technology available to you–you could make your own printer transfer sheet, use purchased iron-on lettering, hand-paint it or simply write it out on the fabric with a Sharpie or other permanent marker. And there are services like Redbubble that can make the shirt for you from your own design–just make sure it is your own design.
  • Put it on a tote bag. Same deal. Who doesn’t love carrying books around in a book-quote bag?
  • Use it in your art, or as art. I’ve got an example of my own above (and boy did some people not get the irony when I posted it on my journalblr,) but quote art can take many forms, from simple printouts in gorgeous fonts to frame and hang on your wall, to whatever form of art you practice, painting, sculpture, calligraphy/hand-lettering, anything you like. Book quotes are a near-endless source of inspiration for the bookish artist. I saw a picture on Pinterest where short quotes were painted on small rocks!
  • Make it into jewelry. Tutorials abound for bookish jewelry, from putting tiny printouts of quotes into locket or small frames, to stamping the quote on metal bracelets or writing it on a tiny scroll to place inside an amulet bag necklace. Again, your craftiness and the length of the quote come into play, but wearing your love of books as jewelry has gone beyond mere trendiness, and making something with a quote you love means you have something both unique and personal.
  • Put it on your journal. Okay, so I put one in my journal, but especially if the quote is inspiring, why not write or paint it on the outside, where you’ll see it every time you go to write or draw?
  • Put it on a bookmark. You can always have it with you when you read…
  • Put it on a pillow? I’d never seen this one until I went hunting for quote-merchandise ideas, but apparently it’s a thing. (I also don’t really do decorative pillows, so I guess I had no reason to consider it before now.) This would be a great time to draw on your embroidery skills, if you have them, but again, some fabric (or even a ready-made, plain pillow) and a little paint or a Sharpie would do just fine.

I hope I’ve given you a few ways to bring your inner book nerd out where it’s more visible, and get crafty in the process!

Bookish DIY: Props for Book Photography

99 - Again the Magic

It’s no secret that I’ve developed a style for my book photography, and the base style is quick, simple, and boring. I know it is, because when I started reviewing, I was finishing the book, realizing I needed a photo of it to post, and doing the minimum work possible–which amounted to finding an article of clothing or piece of fabric that looked good with the book cover, setting the book on it at a slight angle, and shooting.

Seriously, it’s easy, and it looks decent, but it gets bland after a while.

I’d been making half-hearted attempts to do better from time to time, but at the end of last year, I decided to be more serious about it. First of all, I would do my best to incorporate more props to make the photos more interesting, and second–this is the key–I would take the photos ahead of time.

Since I organize my physical TBR (roughly) in advance of reading it, I know which books are coming up soon, so there’s no reason I can’t take advantage of an afternoon of good sunlight and take a bunch of pics at once, with props and time to lay it all out well, right?

So let’s take a look at some props I’ve been using, and in many cases making, to enhance my photos.

Stuffed animals. Maybe you don’t have any, but if you do, and their colors coordinate, or they go with your book thematically, you’ve got yourself a prop with no work.

Jewelry. Whether you’ve made it yourself or not.

Bookmarks. Obviously!

Food/Candy. Wrapped candy is great as small, individual objects to scatter. And whenever I make any kind of treat, now, I do my best to get it into a book photo before it’s gone.

Origami. Those book-page roses have featured in quite a few photos since I made them last fall, and this year I branched out and made a sectional star. The puffy stars I used for my original TBR jar are incredibly popular in the book photography I see on Tumblr and Instagram–I’m just not very good at them, really, and I don’t have a stock of brightly colored paper to work from. When I do, maybe I’ll try again.

Coffee Filter Flowers. I made the large white one with this tutorial, and it took me about six minutes, can’t beat that. The smaller, dyed one took a bit more work, but was totally worth it for the color. And if you look for them, there’s even more elaborate flowers to make, like dahlias, daffodils, and roses made from individual petals cut from the filters.

Real Flowers. I don’t have any examples of my own to share yet, we’re not a flower-buying or -growing household, and it’s winter, etc. But I have plans in the spring to pick wildflowers when I can. (There’s artificial flowers from the craft store, as well, if you don’t mind spending on them–I try to avoid buying props, preferring to use what I have or make from my existing craft stash.)

Mini lights. Again, nothing of my own to share, because I went to take a picture a few weeks ago with my Christmas lights, only to find out that between the time we’d taken the tree down, and getting them back out for a photo session, they’d stopped working. Next year, when I get new ones, we’ll see.

I hope I’ve given you some ideas to improve your own book photography, and of course, there are so many more ideas out there! If you’re looking to improve, pay attention to photos you like when you see them on social media, take notes, even save them for reference! (But reference only, don’t ever use them anywhere without permission!)

Get inspired and make stuff!

Bookish DIY: Holiday Ideas


Need tags for your gifts? Use old book pages! [tutorial here]


Mini Christmas trees made from paperbacks? Adorable. [tutorial here]


If my tree weren’t already groaning under the weight of my ornament collection, I’d be whipping out the glitter for these book-page ornaments right now. [tutorial here]

advent woven star tutorial

On the other hand, I think I need one of these hanging in my window. [tutorial here]


And if you need a cheap-but-fancy way to wrap small gifts, recycled book-page gift bags have got you covered. [tutorial here]

If I’d gotten around to making this post earlier, I would have included gift ideas from recycled books as well, but some of them are pretty darn elaborate, and last-minute crafting is an easy trap for even the best planners-ahead to fall into. Next year!

Bookish DIY: Rescuing Library Hardcovers

Hardcover - Before

I love library sales, and while the one at my local branch runs mostly on donations, library books removed from circulation end up there as well.

The stamped addresses on the inside covers or the edges of the paper don’t really bother me, nor do the bar code stickers.

But I abhor the plastic sleeves used to protect the book jackets.

The good thing is, I’ve discovered that you can remove them! Sometimes, anyway.

Before the book goes into circulation, its jacket is removed and encased in a paper-backed plastic sheet. The newly protected cover is then wrapped back around the book and secured.

Now, here’s where the sometimes part comes in.

All the covers are taped down, which is easy enough to handle (left). However, some of them may be glued down as well, along the edges of the front and back cover (right).

I did remove a glued-down cover, once, for a book I wanted to turn into a journal. Taking the cover off pulled most of the lining paper on the front and back covers with it.

So I don’t do that anymore! But I can show you how easy it is to remove the covers which are only taped down.

Hardcover - Tape Showing

There should be tape holding both the top and bottom of the plastic jacket to the book, both front and back. Either peel it up to release the jacket, or if it’s stubborn (especially on older books where the tape’s been on it for years) carefully slit the tape between the book cover and the jacket. The tape left on the book will be hidden by the jacket, once it’s back on.

Now, you’ve got a plastic-wrapped cover on your hands.

Hardcover - Loose Jacket

The protector isn’t fastened to the original jacket, only wrapped around it. If the adhesive holding the plastic to the paper backing isn’t strong, you can open the seam and lift the jacket out. Or, if that proves difficult, you can pull the jacket out from one end, like a limp onion sliding free of its fried, delicious casing. (Onion rings are a favorite of mine, but I hate it when the onion falls out!)

If the jacket has any library stickers on it, now would be the time to attempt to remove them: my branch sometimes puts genre stickers on the bottom of the spine, and those come off easily, but I’ve had zero luck getting the bar code stickers off.

Hardcover - After

Wrap the poor, nude book back up in the jacket, and you’re done!