Last Thursday, I showed you my first attempt at Japanese stab-binding. Once I had practiced the technique, I was ready to try something a little riskier in terms of end-use. This was for a class project: a "correspondence book," if you will. My professor introduced us to the Griffin and Sabine trilogy--a brilliantly written and designed series for people who enjoy mystery and romance and peeking into the lives of others. Our projects were to reflect a similar intimacy. We were to choose a friend or relative with whom we would correspond for the remainder of the semester. Rather than sending letters, we could mail our handmade book back and forth. The only true requirements were that the book be impeccably designed, use a stab-binding technique, and be returned from our correspondent in time to showcase the books on the last day of class.
I had some crazy reversible vellum on hand, so I chose to use it for my covers:
Underneath the vellum, I added a cardboard cut-out of the @ symbol...the idea being that we have become almost totally electronic in our correspondence and this book was a way of going back to the old way of letter-writing: pen on paper. I used the reversed side of the vellum for the back cover, and pink hemp yarn to do the Noble binding technique, which creates a set of nested squares on each corner.
My friend Tyce (the friend who led me to Christ and is the closest thing I have to a brother, besides my actual brothers-in-law) agreed to do the semester-long project with me and we sent the book back and forth between my college in Savannah, GA and his college in Chicago.
We wrote stories and anecdotes from our day-to-day lives and included old pictures of us hanging out and being silly in our home state.
And then there were the pictures that were taken during the corresponding period. The one shown below was taken outside a rest stop in (where else) Metropolis, Illinois.
There were the silly letters and the serious ones, those that talked of life purpose and God and mortality and the future.
We shared our respective cities with each other through photos.
And I created a pocket in the back for storing extra photos and memorabilia, with the plan that the book would eventually be filled.
Since that semester, the book has long been packed away. Tyce and I are still great friends, it's just that life has created new priorities for the both of us. We began this book in 2003 and since then, I have moved 5 times, Tyce has moved twice (We are now in Oklahoma and Texas, rather than Georgia and Illinois). We have both married our soulmates. Tyce and his beautiful wife Bethany have two young sons, whereas I married Andrew and inherited two gorgeous daughters. Yet no matter where life takes us, I know I will always treasure our friendship and the memories that are contained in my penpal book.
Whether you make a book or buy one, I STRONGLY encourage you to do something like this with those you love. Life is short and you never know when you'll want to remember the stories from the past. Keeping them in a book like this is so much more personal and engaging than any sea of emails could ever be.