Quick Update

It’s been almost three months since my last post and it seems like a lot (and not much) has happened simultaneously. Oxymoron much?

The “a lot” is surgery at the end of December 2019 went as well as could be expected, but my body hasn’t exactly cooperated in the healing department. This has caused two more surgeries to “fix” the issue, the most recent one last week.

The “not much” is that I’ve been at home a majority of the past three months on extended medical leave from work. I was back for five days right before finding out I needed to go back in for a third surgery. And now with the COVID-19 pandemic happening everywhere, it leaves me wondering how work will be once I’m cleared to go back next week. My immune system isn’t in the best state at the moment. A lot of places are closed down to the public, events have either been canceled or postponed, and it’s difficult to get motivated beyond the minimal effort for a lot of things.

We have been working hard to get ready for the major event we were vending at – Paganicon 2020 – that was scheduled for this weekend in the Twin Cities. But it’s been rescheduled for September 4-6, 2020. We’ll be there then. So instead, we were going to vend at the Holistic Health & Wellness Fair put on by BodyLabUSA – Wisconsin this Saturday at the University of Wisconsin – Superior campus…but alas, that has also been rescheduled for June 7, 2020. So, our weekend is wide open!

We are hoping to vend at Ren in the Glen in Glenwood City, WI over the weekend of July 25-26, 2020, but waiting for the application to be available is like watching paint dry – long and boring! Let’s hope it isn’t too much longer before that comes out.

But with COVID-19 and self-isolation being the norm at the moment, it’s hard to say what we will be looking at in the near future!

In the meantime, I’m still working on healing, homework, journals, witches balls, and Matt is still working on spirit bottles for our inventory. I’m hoping to get more photos up on the website showing what we offer. It takes time. And effort. And motivation! And WordPress isn’t exactly the easiest to always work with…it’s trial and error on my part. Until the pandemic panic has passed, it’s business as usual. You can always contact us by email or online for information on our products, or if you’re interested in anything. Let us know, and we look forward to hearing from you!

New Year, New Ideas

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s now 2020 – a new year and a new decade. So new ideas? Possibly. Here at Magical Musings Books, we’ve talked about goals and dreams, and some of them we’ve started working on, but haven’t announced it here yet. Others are still in the talking phase, while some are still in the beginning production stages. Here’s a few of the things that are in the works for this spring…

The first thing we decided to add to our book options are what we call travel (or mini) journals. They are approximately 6″ H x 4.75″ W. They are blank journals with anywhere between 150-200 pages and are much more portable than the large or small journals that we started with. We’ve already sold a few, which is awesome! But again, we’ve made a goal for how many (15 mini, 10 small, and 5 large) we want to create in a specific amount of time (before I start Spring Semester/go back to work from my medical leave – 3 weeks for school/2-4 weeks for work). It’s a do-able goal in our eyes, but of course my medical leave threw a bit of a monkey wrench into the mix with major surgery on Dec. 23rd and restrictions for certain things like pushing/pulling/lifting put on me for awhile. These have really dampened our enthusiasm, but we are committed.

A few other things we are planning on creating are spirit bottles, wood burned spoons for the kitchen, and witch balls. These are more of the “magical” part of our business (following our spiritual path). If you have questions about any of those things, please don’t hesitate to contact us to ask about them. Hopefully examples will be put up in our gallery soon and a spot added in the shop for them to be purchased. Eventually, we knew our name would change from Magical Musings Books to include “& Baubles.”

One exciting announcement is that we have been chosen to be a vendor at Paganicon from March 20-22 in Plymouth, MN. We’ve been attending it for the past 4 or so years, and this time we also wanted to be a vendor. We are sharing a booth with a couple of friends who also make journals and other things, so this is going to be an exciting spring for us!

Goals and Dreams

Coming home from a very restful weekend at our friends’ place on a lake an hour away from our home, my husband and I were talking about our journals and the vision we had for them. We had spent a majority of that day working on making a 200-page, large journal for our friend, which took approximately 8 hours from start to finish. But it ignited the passion and desire to dig in to make some product to put in our gallery. We set a goal…10 complete journals in 3 weeks!

As some people may know (but most don’t), both my husband and I work full-time during the day, but I’m also taking a full course load online trying to get my Writing degree. That weekend was the first one of my three week break between semesters in August. Perhaps it was a lofty goal, but it was something we could strive for and see the progress made!

By September 3rd, we had finished 8 small journals (approximately 9″ tall by 6-6 1/2″ wide) and 3 large journals (approximately 11 1/2″ tall by 9″ wide) – which included the large journal made for our friend (she gave me permission to post it to the Gallery page as SOLD). During those weeks, we also started 2 small journals and 4 large journals that are in various stages of completion. But now Fall Semester has begun so my time is quite limited.

However, we do have some idea of how long certain parts of the process takes…for example, a 200 page, small journal text block takes around 1 hour to sew together – a 250 page, large journal text block takes between 2 1/2 to 3 hours to sew together. But what part takes the longest? Waiting for the glue to dry during the various stages!

We are already talking about a new goal for the month between my Fall and Spring Semesters to work on, and hope to start vending at different venues next spring. So here’s to Goals and Dreams…only your imagination will limit you!

Questioning the Validity of an Idea

Once in a while an idea will come along and grab hold that you just can’t shake loose. But it’s difficult not to question the validity of the idea, especially during the start-up phases. Doubts permeate the mind, making you question everything having to do with it. That has been our journals for me.

I’ve found that it hasn’t been easy. The idea has been kicking around in our brains for quite awhile, and even though there’s a vision in our heads of what (and where) we want our journals to be, I find myself constantly questioning every little thing to do with them and the process. Those nagging self-doubts about whether our books are good enough, whether they are a commodity that someone else would want to purchase, keeps knocking me back a bit.

But it’s at those precise moments that I need to tell that doubt to “shut the (insert the expletive of your choice here) up” and just do it! That’s when I need to rely on my better half to support me (and I him) and say “we can do this!” and show ourselves that indeed we can and we will.

So it’s time to set those goals and set those ideas in motion. Tomorrow is a new day!

My Go-To Resources

When I first started making books, I had no clue where to start. So I turned to YouTube and searched for several different things like journals, books, making books, book of shadows, etc. It was all hit or miss. Some videos had great content! Some…not so much.

But what I realized is that the more varied videos I watched, the more inspiration and ideas I had. Therefore I was able to hone into what I really wanted to make! So my first book was actually a tri-fold, 11″ x 17″ monster. It’s definitely not a travel sized book!

My first book - 11" x 17"
My first book – 11″ x 17″

This was a great size for what I had planned for it – a lot of writing and art work. But it wasn’t practical to take it with me. It’s too bulky, even for moving around my own house. So I kept looking for different types and sizes to make. So that’s where I decided to go beyond the YouTube world and check out some books. These are my go-to resources for books and YouTube channels to watch:

Bookbinding: A How-To Guide by E. P. Carter
Making Handmade Books by Alisa Golden

YouTube Channels:
Sea Lemon
Mrs Cog

There are so many books and YouTube videos out there that it may seem overwhelming. If it doesn’t catch your attention right away, I suggest you move on to the next.

What’s in a Signature?

The first question to answer is “What is a signature?” In bookbinding terms, a signature is a section or group of paper folded in the middle, then bound together by thread through evenly spaced holes punched in the creased fold by an awl.

Several signatures ready for threading together to create text block
Several signatures ready for threading together to create text block

Depending on the thickness of the paper, the signature will consist of anywhere between five to ten sheets. You may find other sites to suggest a different number, such as four to eight sheets. Sometimes, the size of the page will determine the number of sheets to use as well. It can always be more than what I suggested, however the more paper used in the signature will cause the open edges to feather out (see photos below). I’ve found that five sheets tend to be a good number to work with no matter the thickness. It also makes it easy to count how many pages end up being in the text block because five sheets folded equals a signature of ten pages. Ultimately, it will be up to you to decide as aesthetics may be a factor.

Top - feathered with 10 pages vs. Bottom - with 5 pages each
Top – feathered with 10 pages vs. Bottom – with 5 pages each

Once I’ve decided on the type of paper I would like to use – whether it is white copy paper, tea stained copy paper, thicker white paper, etc. and have an idea of the size of the book, I will grab my bone folder (insert photo) and my stack of paper. Folding the short edges together, I crease the folded edge. I repeat this for as many sheets that I’ve chosen to use. After the initial fold, I go over each one again with the bone folder to make it a sharp creased edge. Then I place five sheets together, one nested inside the next.

Nested signature - 5 pages within each other to create one signature
Nested signature – 5 pages within each other to create one signature

Usually by this time I’ve already decided how thick I want my book, and that will determine how many pages will be in the book. This is also dependent upon the paper thickness. Using standard printer paper, a 200-page book will be approximately an inch to an inch and a half thick (20 signatures with five sheets in each signature).

Once you have all of your signatures folded and nested, you’re ready for the next step…the Text Block!

Creating signatures
Creating signatures can be done just about anywhere!

It’s all about Intent…

“The only limit to success is your own imagination.” ~Shonda Rhimes

Why create your own journal, you may ask? Well, there’s a few reasons is my reply.

First, you have complete control over the creative decisions you make when choosing the materials that will be used for each specific purpose. Second, there will never be two journals that are exactly the same because of this. Third, you are adding your own energy and intent into each page which makes it more yours than anything else!

So what is the actual process to creating the journal? Well, before we get to that part, here are some of the decisions to be made before you start:

1. What will the journal be used for? Is it for drawing/sketching, writing, scrapbooking, crafting, painting, junk journaling, bullet journaling, dream journaling…?
2. What size should it be? (Trust me, in this case size does matter…) Do you want a small one that will be easy to take with (travel size) or a larger book to keep in one place?
3. What type of covering should be used? Fabric, leather, vinyl, paper?
4. How many pages would you like it to be…50, 100, 200, more? Should they be tea stained or plain white, lined or blank? Should the pages be removable or fixed? If fixed, what is the best binding method to be used to make the signatures/text block? A Coptic stitch? Kettle stitch? Although that may be up to the individual bookbinder…
5. What types of end papers should be used?
6. What is the color scheme that matches your personality? This can play a big role in choosing numbers 3 and 5, plus don’t forget the ribbon to use for a bookmark, if you decide you want one.

That’s a lot of things to think about, isn’t it? Never fret…there’s no one specific way that it has to be. That’s the beauty of it. It’s absolutely personal to you!