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Susie H.

Meet the Author

Hey there, can you introduce yourself?

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I am a graphic designer and bookbinder who loves to create things and also enjoys teaching others. I first learned how to bind books while studying graphic design. The hands-on aspect of creating books caught my interest right from the start. I experimented with combining traditional binding techniques with recycled and repurposed materials. Eventually I started an Etsy shop to help thin out my growing collection of handmade books.

After making hundreds of books, I thought that it would be fun to teach others how to make books too. I created a kit to teach four traditional Japanese stab bindings which eventually became the springboard for At Home with Handmade Books.

Tell us a bit about the book?

At Home with Handmade Books is part of the Make Good: Crafts + Life series published by Shambhala Publications. This series is influenced by the style of Japanese craft books, and as such, the projects in At Home reflect this style as well. I based all of the projects on traditional Japanese binding techniques and then paired these bindings with ordinary, yet unexpected, materials.

The projects vary in difficulty and in purpose. The book contains projects that are great for beginners, such as simple accordion folds or basic stab bindings sewn through only two holes. It also contains a selection of more challenging projects, with more complicated stitches and folds.

Each project has an intended purpose upon completion, that way you can have fun making a book and then use it afterward as well. One example is the set of travel books. The set is made up of three different accordion books, each useful in its own right. A hardcover album with a paper map cover is great for displaying trip photos. Another book in the set has postcards for covers and is filled with blank paper for jotting notes and thoughts about your trip. The third travel accordion is created with small envelopes as pages, each able to hold small mementos collected during your travels.

What was the inspiration behind it?

My editor developed the original idea for the book. She really has a knack for great book ideas! As mentioned above, the book was inspired by a Japanese book binding kit that I created and was influenced by the style of modern Japanese craft books.

Which is your favourite project?

I have several favorites! My favorite accordion book project is the "Read and Write Bookmark Book", which is a tiny book that is also a bookmark. It is a traditional accordion book and is really quite simple, but comes in very handy for keeping notes while reading.

My favorite Japanese stab bound book project is the "Cut, Keep, Collage Storage Book". The materials used in this project are very unique (zipper bags as pages) and it is one of the most challenging projects to construct. I use one of these books to store my collection of tiny paper scraps for collage projects.

Another favorite project is the "Pillowcase Dream Journal". I love how this project combines paper pages with a soft fabric cover. The cover doesn't open up like a normal book cover either; it slides over the pages like a pillowcase over a pillow.

What is your craft space like?

My husband and I share a room in our apartment which serves as our dedicated studio. Our studio space is filled with the tools and equipment we use for our varied jobs and interests, including graphic design, teaching, bookbinding, painting, photography, sewing, and more. Our studio also includes the products and packing materials that we use to run our Etsy shops. Somehow we squeeze it all in there and we make it work! I do most of my work at a standing-height table in the center of the room. Since we share the space, neither of us can leave our messes out for too long, so we have learned to stay organized and clean up frequently.

Have you always been creative?

I believe that all kids are creative. Thanks to my mom and dad, I was encouraged to never stop. My parents provided my brother and I with art supplies and allowed us to make messes. As a result, I was always making things. This is probably what led me to study the arts in college, eventually majoring in graphic design.

When did you first start crafting?

I made all kinds of crafts as a kid. As far back as I can remember, I would find things around the house to make Christmas gifts for my family. I once made my dad a pair of slippers out of old rags found in the cleaning closet and decorated them with markers. The soles were floppy, and I'm pretty sure they were way too small, but he seemed to appreciate them anyway!

Who are your crafty heroes?

I really enjoy authors who share great ideas and creative thinking. My favorites tend to lean toward illustration and design as well. Keri Smith is an inspiration. Lately, I'm also enjoying projects from Christine Schmidt's book, Print Workshop. My favorite bookbinding authors include Esther K. Smith and Keith A. Smith.

Where do you find inspiration?

Much of my inspiration comes from materials. I love to browse art, craft, and fabric stores for undiscovered materials and think of the possibilities. Some of my favorite projects are inspired by papers and materials discovered at the thrift store or even items destined for the recycle bin.

What's next for you?

I am working on another book, scheduled for release later next year! I won't disclose too much, since it is still in-the-works, but the next book will be full of unique bookbinding projects, similar to At Home with Handmade Books, but completely new and different.

Publisher's Description

The handmade books presented here offer creative ways for you to explore your personal styles and interests: Create a record of this year's garden with a book made out of seed packets. Collect your favorite recipes under the protective cover of a plastic cutting mat. Make simple memo pads out of recycle bin scraps. In this collection of twenty-eight Japanese bookbinding projects, traditional techniques meet contemporary style, from easy-to-fold accordion books to the intricate and interesting Japanese stab-stitch bindings.

Book artist Erin Zamrzla makes Japanese stab binding easy and unintimidating. Her clear step-by-step instructions make even the more complicated stitches easy to re-create. Information on the basics of bookbinding, including terminology, tools, and techniques are included and many projects encourage the creative use of ordinary and recycled materials.

Make the projects in this book and discover creative ways to chronicle your life's adventures.


SugarNSpiceLily · East Rutherford, New Jersey, US · 11 projects
Thank you for this book! I love looking at the pictures and hope to get started on a project as soon as I can!