As a way to get making and baking again, the Occasional Book Club (OBC) was set up to bring a small group of people together to share thoughts and ideas whilst making books. I am also increasingly drawn to the ideas of ‘potlatch economies’ where the personal exchanges of ideas, skills and action replace those of money and goods. Finally remembering that ‘thinking about it is not the same as doing it‘, I made a call for a response. The invites (thankfully) survived the postal service and as a result the first OBC took place on 14 March 2017.
Make: Victorian Puzzle Pouches and Envelope Books
Bake: Yummy, Scrummy Carrot Cake + Pear & Ginger Loaf
These require no gluing or stitching, just folding. They are designed as containers for other books/objects/gifts. We have all experienced the pleasures of receiving and opening a gift, the promise of a handwritten envelope on the doormat… an effort that makes a simple connection and spreads some joy. The idea was to move away from, or subvert conventional formats, to add curiosity, intrigue and engagement of the recipient.
PUZZLE POUCHES were very popular in the Victorian era. They were easily made by hand and many were covered with intricate hand drawn or painted patterns. They were often used to pass secret Valentine messages, a lock of hair or other personal gift.
It was a simple way to start and gave the time for people to get to know each other. Lots of common ground was discovered, ideas were shared and help offered. We discussed ideas of the haptic both as maker and receiver and how the thought and the hand work added value to the action. It was also a very useful way to recycle and re-love some of the small mountain of ‘that will come in useful for something’ scraps I have hoarded. Paper and covers were recycled from old prints and make ready sheets or from paper off-cuts. Additions were made with rubber stamps, sequins and googly eyes. Jane won the inkiest hands competition and I think lovely time was had by all.