Sunday, 27 January 2013

Something Close To Normal

Well, just now it seems to be fairly "normal" round here.  We still miss our dear old puss-cat and the house seems quiet and a bit empty without him.  But we're getting on with our lives - you have to really.

* * *

I'm busy helping my mum, as usual, but she is coping a bit better now, which is a relief to both of us.  She's sorted out some problems she was having with the carers who come in on the three days that I don't go to make her lunch & tea - and she is a lot happier with the new arrangement, which starts at the beginning of February.  I will still be going over as usual, but a lady my mum has known for years is taking on the other days, but hopefully there will be less problems with the timekeeping and arrangements for the other days (phew!).

* * *

Last Tuesday I went to Milton Keynes, to visit an old friend, M, who I hadn't seen for quite a long time.  We had lunch and a great chat, during which I told her about James' music lessons at school.  He has been learning the classical guitar for about seven years, but recently the school have sponsored him to have lessons on the double bass. 

He started towards the end of last term and has had about five or six lessons now.  Because he has learned the guitar, which is tuned in the same way, he has picked up the bass very quickly and is already playing pieces that would be graded at Grade 4 or 5. 

He's very enthusiastic and we had been thinking that we might have to rent a double bass at some point, as he was finding it difficult to get the use of the practice room at school - there is only one practice room that contains a double bass and it's not quite small enough to take backwards & forwards on the schoool bus! 

So, I mentioned the double bass lesson arrangement and how keen James has been.  M's reply was "Would he like a double bass?".  Her son, B. is a musician and had played both guitar, bass guitar and also the double bass, for a while, but apparently the instrument had been sitting in the spare bedroom for about four years, unused.  She said she was a bit tired of dusting it and would I like to take it home!

I came home with a 3/4 sized double bass in my car (it did fit - just - good thing it wasn't a full-sized one!).  It's on long-term loan, for as long as James wants to use it.  I am just so thrilled for him - how generous!
Now it lives in the corner of the dining room and is used every day!
I need to find someone who can give it a bit of an overhaul and also check over the two bows we were given with it; one of those is in a rather sad state - it needs to be restrung - but the other seems okay and is quite a good one.  James is over the moon and can hardly resist playing it at all hours of the day and night.  I have had to threaten that I'll take it back, if he won't stop fiddling with it when he should be doing homework!
* * *
I've been finding some time to work on various bookbinding projects.  I have three commission books to work on, which are all at the planning or quote stage, but it looks as if I'll get those done in plenty of time. 
I've been able to make a few smaller items and start on a project that I have thought about for a while.

I've made some more leather books. These are pocket-sized journals with a longstitch binding.
And a cream leather book, with covers lined in a beautiful piece of soft, fine, gold-marbled red paper (which was actually given to me by a fellow blogger at the Bloggers' Weekend, in November 2011 - I saved it until I found a special project for it!). 
This is big enough to be a guest book, or a sketchbook, as well as a special large-sized journal. I gave it a longstitch binding in deep red waxed linen, to go with the red lining of the covers. 
And this is the start of the Project:
These are Guest Book Covers, in grey linen. 
They have a hinged section, for a side-binding (like stab-stitch, screw-posts or perhaps a ribbon-tied binding) 
The covers are lined with plain, soft white art paper (the paper behind this cover is ready-cut sheets of cream text paper, which could be bound into this album.

The idea is that I can sell a customised book, without having to do all the work completely from scratch.  If it is already established that the covers are a particular size and are grey linen, also that they are pre-made, this takes away a significant chunk of the preliminary planning for me and also means I save time on making up the covers.
I will offer the customer the choice of coloured silk edging for the covers - like in the photos above.  They can choose pretty much any colour they want, as I have a very wide stock of silk pieces (52 individual colours/shades just now!). 
They can choose the type and colour of paper inside - either 30 pages of white or cream text paper, or 20 pages of stiff card for a photo album.
The covers can be lined with coloured art paper, to fit with the customer's colour scheme.
And the binding style can also be chosen, to be one of the styles shown - a Screw-Post binding, Ribbon-tied binding, or a Japanese-style Stab-Stitch binding. 
I have listed this pair of covers in my Etsy & Folksy shops.  So far I have had one enquiry, though the customer asked if she could please have the album shown in the bottom left corner of the last photo (above), only in blue rather than purple (!).  I think she kind-of missed the point...  I clarified the listing with a note, to make sure it was really clear what was on offer.  
Better luck should follow, I hope!  We will see...  I hope to make a few more pairs of ready-to-customise covers in the next few weeks.  I'm really hoping this will work out well, as I don't have time to make custom orders completely from scratch just now.  This seems like a good compromise. 
* * *

A Sketchbook, made with a sheet of gorgeous handmade paper, in a soft mauvey colour.  It has a deep red-purple suede quarter binding on the covers and a traditional Case style binding.  
The cover lining / flysheet are also in the same handmade paper.   
The book is bound with deep red-purple hemp cord.
This is a gift for a lovely friend.  The label will have her name stamped on it in matching mauve ink. 
It's going in tomorrow's post!
And that's about it for now - my "Normal Life".
Off to make my mum's tea for her now... bye all!


  1. how lucky to have a friend that could help out with a double bass!

    Gorgeous books. The linen grey looks perfect x

    1. Still amazed and so grateful about the dbl bass. They are too much to buy and quite a bit to hire. How lovely of our friend :)

      Glad you like my work - thanks for the kind comments. X

  2. I'm glad to hear that things are settling for you a bit. The books look beautiful, especially like your guest books x

  3. I hope the new arrangements for your mum work out - I know just how worrying and disruptive these things can be.

    What amazing luck to get the double bass! It's a sign that things were ment to be.

    C x

  4. yay for friends with double basses to loan out. always a gr8 help. loving the new books, they look incredible. i also miss having holly but i suppose i still have willow so can't complain but she is a different girl all over. take care
    jo xx

    1. Thanks for the nice comments about the books.
      Sorry you still miss your Holly cat - but I suppose we always will miss favourite pets. Glad you have Willow to keep you company. X

  5. Well I could give you a recommendation for someone hear in Winnipeg to take the instrument to, but that's a tad far for you! Isn't it wonderful having live music in the house everyday? My daughters play violin and piano and my husband is a musician as well.

    Love to see all your new books! Great work as usual!

    1. Yes I love to listen to James play his guitar - and now his dbl bass too! I must get started back with learning guitar too. Music is a great way to relax & switch off for a while.

      Thanks for the comments about the books - its a treat to be able to make them still, even amongst the muddles of daily life. Maybe I'll be able to take custom orders again at some point, but just now I'm enjoying whatever I can make. Thank you for your interest :)

  6. As always, your books are beautiful.

  7. Thank you very much Rinda! X

  8. Oh the books are gorgeous, the double bass is such a wonderful gift and yeah for a new arrangement for your Mum. Delighted to see such good news. Hope the new listing makes more sense and you've got takers soon.

  9. How odd that my replies - done via my iPod - don't show under the correct comments... And there is no option for Replies via my PC.
    Very strange...

  10. Glad things are settling down and what a generous gift/loan for your son! Perfect timing.
    I *thought* I recognised that paper ... glad that you've found a good use for it. Lovely, lovely books.

  11. How great to have a musician in the house. :) And all your books are so lovely! xox

  12. thank you Karen! :-)

    Yes Jemma, it's That Paper! I love it and it really works with that book.

    Pam, the Musician is currently playing guitar and singing to me. He is lovely!
    He's learning "The Elephant" from The Carnival of the Animals on the Double Bass - it's fun and a lovely piece and he's learning it quite quickly too.

  13. Lizzie you are so talented. I love the grey and the yellow combo of the linen books. Beautiful! Fab news about the double bass too.

  14. Your books are amazing Lizzie, what a good idea to prepare some covers in advance when you have time.
    I'm glad you are finding ways of supporting your Mum. We have had similar problems with our parents at different times. It is a huge worry and commitment. Gladly offered of course, but when you work and have your own family help is appreciated.
    Lucky you with the double bass. What a lovely friend!


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