Restart with a Single Signature

It can be hard to find that first word, hard to choose that first piece of paper for a project, just alarmingly difficult to begin anything. Over time I have noticed that creative blocks spring up for at least three possible reasons: whenever I feel obligated to make something; internal pressure that whatever I do has to be good; or I'm dealing with something emotionally challenging in my life and I'm trying to push it away.

The first two cases really require turning off my internal editor, calming down, and figuring out what I want to say right at that moment. They may require I take a long walk to get to that place. I start asking myself questions like what subjects feel important to me right now, what stories do I want to tell?

Instead of pushing away the hard stuff, try running toward it. Use it. Exploit it. It has the power to stop creativity, so it might as well be used to restart it. Make things for yourself to get through difficulties. Destroy them if you must, but they may well be the strongest work you do.

Here is a beginning project to get your hands going and your unconscious working. It's about process, not product, so any kind of paper or thread can be used for this very basic single signature (also called pamphlet stitch) book. You can find it and its variations in Making Handmade Books on page 95.

To begin, choose a color. Gather 3-5 papers that contain this color. Plan to fold each paper with the grain, or the easiest way it will fold. Tear the papers, cut them, or shape them however you like to roughly the same height. Fold them all in half. Write or type on them whatever you are thinking about.

Stack the papers so they nest, one inside the next.

With an awl or needle, poke three equidistant holes from the inside, along the fold, through all the papers.

Take a length of thread that is three times the height of your book (top to bottom, head to tail along the folded spine) and thread your needle.

Start sewing into the center hole. If your thread is thin, start from the inside (you will eventually have loose thread ends in the center of your book). If your thread is thick, start from the outside (the threads will be on the outside and you can attach small beads or objects to them later, if you like).

Sew to one of the other holes.

Skip the center hole and go back into the remaining hole.

Now sew into the center hole again. Arrange the two tails so that one thread is on either side of the sewn thread. Remove the needle.

Tie the two threads in a square knot. Trim the ends, if desired.

Make many of these pamphlets in different colors. Attack the book with a hole punch, if you like.

By keeping your hands busy you may think of new ideas for other books.


Kayla said…

Thank you for the tip on making these pamphlets, and for reminding me that to be creative I need to keep my hands busy to allow new ideas to flow in.