What I did on Saturday

Vala Sketchbook Workshop - sketchbooks
Vala Sketchbook Workshop - sketchbooks


In September 2010, I went on a writing retreat where I met Sarah Bird who was about to set up a community publishing collective, Vala (have a look at Vala Publishing Cooperative on Facebook).  I love the idea of starting a publishing company.   I love the audacity.  We keep on reading about the demise of the book, and anyone without a kindle or an iPad is made to feel horribly old-fashioned and frankly not trying, but I’m not so sure.  I think we underestimate the tenacity of the tactile.  So, Sarah and her co-co-opers are committed to making books which are a joy to read and to handle, so I wish them all well.

Sarah asked me if I would do a workshop with her on how they could think about making artful and soulful books, and so I suggested that they actually made books.  So, we chose our day and invited people to join us in making books.  I used the most simple book form there is – the rubber band book with an upcycled scrap cardboard cover (have a look at www.accessart.org.uk for details), to get people started in the morning, and then in the afternoon, we ‘tricked out’ the books, as a Danish architecture lecturer described the process of personalising and customising sketchbooks.

I was a bit worried about not having enough to fill the day, but I started off by showing them books that I had made, and they were off.  They had to  be forced to stop for lunch and again at 4.00 pm for show and tell and a discussion about what Vala could do to make their books distinctive.  This is the workshop in full flight:


Vala bookmaking workshop, March 2011
Vala bookmaking workshop, March 2011


The books they made were just fantastic and each one really reflected the personality of the person who made them.



And yet again I was amazed at how people diving into the same pile of materials could come up with quite such different end results.


There were gorgeous details,

and a real flair for personalising the pages,

And people started to work in the books rather than leaving them as blanks, like I did!

They were luscious and I would have loved to have taken any or all of them home:


At the beginning of the day I promised the participants that they would take home a finished book and some of them were a bit sceptical, but by the end of the day they were talking about making notebooks for presents, to commemorate birthdays, and to use in school with quite small children.  I loved doing this workshop because the energy in the room was so high, and people were so enthusiastic.  It was a lovely day and I am grateful to Sarah for inviting me.

3 thoughts on “What I did on Saturday

  1. Wow! You are already harvesting on the wonderful sketchbook conference! How great, I would like to attend one of your workshops, I am still so timid about doing my own books…

  2. Yes, we had a great day. It is so good to see people working with their creativity. I’m pretty sure you would have run the workshop just as well as I did!


  3. Hi Ann

    Just had a cuppa with Chris and she said how much she enjoyed your bookmaking day & showed me a beautiful piece of your work – all in blue – a pic on her mobile phone. Lovely. We went on to talk about hideaways near the sea shore. x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s