My DWYL Book

It’s about time I blogged about the product of my attendance at the Do What You Love Retreat, which was a gorgeous handmade book!

As you’ll know from my previous post I took a class with the lovely Rachel Hazell, the travelling bookbinder.

First of all I was excited to get some free supplies (always wins me over)!

Book making gift pack!

We were told to bring papers, maps and ribbons and I had plenty of all of those which I’d packed (in contrast I left packing my clothes until the last minute and barely had space for them).

In making our books, we could use the theme of a journey and take that wherever we wanted to go with it. For inspiration, Rachel passed around two of her own artists books, both of which were stunning, tactile and fascinating, and included embroidery on paper as well as interesting pockets, pull outs, cut shapes and folds.

Some people chose to use their book to tell a story, from their own life or made up. Others had a more abstract approach, focusing on images and themes that appealed to them personally.

As for me, as the retreat were based seconds from the Coast to Coast footpath (which you may know I loved and made a zine about), and so being at the retreat linked two inspiring, exciting parts of my life, I chose to kind of focus on that, and do something which mixed the themes of walking with creativity.


I put in snippets of things which spoke to me about growth, journeying, and creativity.


As the book progressed I found myself getting really perfectionist about the processes involved. I really wanted it to be GOOD. I really wanted to do a good, professional job in constructing it.


Some people managed to completely fill their book with their amazing stories, but I ended up with more pages and less content. I was more interested in creating a beautiful object in its own right than the content of the book itself – I felt that could sort itself out when I got home. For me, the paper qualities, putting together the mixture of vintage, recycled and handmade papers was so enjoyable in itself. Paper is beautiful in its own right even without masses of content!

We were encouraged to make differently sized pages, pockets, flaps and windows.


We had some discussions about how small a piece of paper has to be before it gets thrown away. For me it’s the tiniest sliver – at one point I even grabbed some bits out of the discard bin that someone had put there…

My book in progress

My book in progress

I loved the way the layered pages looked, accordion style, before being gathered together. I loved it so much I almost didn’t want to sew it up! Although admittedly it would have been a bit tricky to write in like that.


As we we told how to make the cover, I started to get a tiny bit stressed as I’d never done that before and I was worried I’d mess it up. But after testing it out once, I was hooked. I loved it!

We were given some stunning, thick, handmade paper to choose for our covers. As I put the cover on my book I gasped excitedly “Oh it looks like a pebble!”

On the cover of my book, predictably, I put St Bees, the start of the Coast to Coast, symbolising new beginnings, ambitions, and adventures.


I was able to use some vintage lace I’d picked up at Brighton’s Snoopers Paradise on the spine of the book.


SO proud of my completed book – and I can keep adding to it, too.



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