Workshop: Handmade Books with Sarah Edmonds

Upon beginning our Story Book project, I took part in a workshop lead by Illustrator Sarah Edmonds, who broadened my perspective of what categorises something as a book. Sarah brought a beautiful collection of books, some created by herself and others by other talented illustrators and artists. I loved having the opportunity to delve into the books, exploring the processes of their creation and travelling along the journey of their stories.

One book I found particularly difficult to return to Sarah was her very personal ‘Sketches from Sweden’. Whilst on a visit to Sweden, Sarah recorded drawings and images of scenes, later scanning and editing them into a small, square, folded book. When opened out entirely, the A3 piece of art tells a story of a journey through Sweden in the Winter, printed on the back of a vibrant map of Sweden. This book made me smile and sparked me with the desire to create a book similar to Sarah’s ‘Sketches from Sweden’ on visits I hope to make to different places in the future.

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Many of Sarah’s books were interactive in one way or another, whether that be through the removal and replacement of parts of the book itself or the contribution of the art of others towards the completed piece. Both of these were true for the collaborative project ‘Shoe Tales’, in which people wrote memorable stories involving a particular pair of shoes on a post card before tucking it into a page, made of brown envelopes and parcel paper. Reading the memories of anonymous people made the book personal and communal, giving insight into the lives of many people whilst creating short stories containing no characters. Some pages contain memories as simple as ‘I met my true love wearing Pink Plimsols’, whilst others are longer; all make for a beautiful and heart warming read. I loved the delicacy of the book, and the idea that it was the product of many hard working hands and much loved memories. The interactive element of the book was something that Sarah particularly drew our attention to, as she went on to teach us how we could achieve pull-out/pocket aspects in our own books.

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Sarah taught us some basics in creating concertina books, and some other folding techniques. After experimenting with size and folds, she taught us how to create the cover for a book using book fabric and mount board. Through this task, I discovered the precision required in order to have an even, professional looking book cover, despite the simple household utensils involved in its creation. (Sticky back sellotape and scissors).

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I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah’s workshop and found it incredibly eyeopening into the world of her work and the industry of innovative illustrators. I feel inspired and excited for the rest of the Story Book topic.

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