“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.”
–Johann Wolfgang Goethe
I am sure my right arm* is stronger for all of the writing and stitching and hauling of pages in journals for so many years of my life. So many miles we’ve traveled together, me and my books. I wonder how many miles of words I’ve written if strung end to end? I've always made books (I have one from when I was 6!), but I began to keep a journal regularly when I was 12 years old, and started making my journals when I was 25. I won’t do the math, but there are a lot of years of books and a lot of years of scribbling between now and then. I was always stitching a book or filling one up.
Hunter S. Thompson invited me into his limo one day, outside of The Strand in NYC. Actually, it wasn’t me he invited in, but my journal—I was holding it. I didn’t know anything about Hunter beyond Fear and Loathing, but I climbed in and sat next to him—shoulder to shoulder. When he asked if he could see the journal, I handed it over. Then he asked if he could write in it. I said yes, of course. He wrote a message in Latin and I don’t remember what else. I never did get to translate it because I went to Amsterdam shortly after the encounter and my bag—with my journal in it—was stolen.
That was the first proper journal I had built. I’ve made hundreds since then. But the first one was stolen in a café in Amsterdam. What the journal thief couldn’t possibly know was that his actions would set me upon a path, for despite my initial despair, I struck out in search of a book bindery. After a day of walking and asking nearly every stranger I could make eye contact with about the shop, I’d finally found it. And what a magical place it was! I stocked up on supplies I’d never known existed then went to an upholstery shop up the street, where I discovered antique leather in a dusty floor corner removed from a chair made in the 1800s! With tools and material from the bindery, I set to work making my second journal, using my thighs as a book press. The result, with its battered old leather, looked like it had travelled through time many hundreds of years, and its pages begged for stories like that of The Journal Thief.
The very objects that started this adventure are a foundational piece of our shop. Putting these Tomes into production was no easy task and after much planning, many trials and many years, we’ve got the process down and have been able to explore with variations in headband, textiles, and leather! I appreciate everyone’s questions and interest in these Monsters!
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*since writing this, I've been using my left hand for drawing - beginning with the #100dayproject 2021! I'm still at it, so my left hand is catching up a little.
Tim Canny says...
On October 21, 2019
Oh, I need one of these!