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Olde worldly hand bound photo albums, art journals ,customised wedding albums and guest books

Handmade Pastel Ombre Spring, Summer Wedding Guest Books and journals


Spring is in full swing and pastel inspiration is everywhere. I've been working on a new collection of affordable wedding guest books in faded pastel shades with hand painted watercolour 'ombre' effect paperback covers with gold leaf which glimmers ever so prettily when caught by light! After binding the pages, the fore-edges of each book have been decorated with paint splatters, which lends a playful look to the overall design. 

A perfect addition to spring/summer weddings or any other special occasion one wants to document. They make great little journals.

Each book in this collection is hand bound with 110 gsm eco-friendly recycled paper which is suitable to write, draw or sketch on using most art mediums except alcohol based markers as they may bleed through. 


[Available for wholesale in small quantities, please use the contact form above to get in touch. ]

The seasons with P.J. Redoute


The long dark days of winter come to an end as spring embarks on its gentle unfolding of colour and fragrance, like clockwork and never ceasing to amaze. I love waking around the garden this time of year on crisp mornings to see new shoots waking up from their long, cold slumber... at first it's the pillowy softness of snowdrops, hellebores, crocus, daffodils and primulas followed by the fleeting beauty of cherry blossom, then comes the slightly more structured forms of tulips, magnolias and poppies before the grandeur of summer graces up with heavy blooms of roses and peonies.

If I am not taking photographs of flowers I'm usually painting them. Here are some photos of blooms and arrangements I took which I hope to find time to paint and use as book cover designs. 


Fountain - Belfast Castle, 2015

A great inspiration for me when it comes to floral paintings is watercolour artist P.J. Redoute, a 19th century botanical illustrator whose beautiful and realistic paintings I have used to make some paperbacks journals. Hand bound books with Fabriano drawing paper which can also be used to write on. They make pretty little wedding guest books too.

Restoring Art journals by Ayessha Quraishi


I was recently commissioned to restore some old art journals belonging to Ayessha Quraishi, an artist based in Karachi who has been keeping art journals since the 90's. Her art is a form of abstract employing gestural markings. 

I was a little nervous to take these objects of art apart, but after saying a little pray and taking a deep breath, I began to repair the damage and restore these beautiful and intriguing little books, giving them a new lease of life. 

This Japanese stab bound rice paper journal had come apart at the spine, once reinforced, it was stitched back together again with waxed linen cord. The cover was then sealed to keep the rice paper from ripping. 

These smaller case bound journals were a little trickier to rebind as Ayessha had filled them with memorabilia over the years which had caused the spines to bulk and eventually split. The spines had to be reinforced with new book cloth and then painted to match the weathered gold of the covers. Some pages need to be re-hinged. Each folio was then cleaned of old glue and thread before reordering the signatures and stitching back together using a herringbone variation on coptic binding. 

I hope these books will bring many more years of joy to whoever flips though them.

Underneath the skin of languages opens a book, with unbound pages of light written in transparent ink.
— Ayessha Quraishi

Custom Visitor's Book for La Minervetta, Sorrento.


A4 Hand bound Visitor's Book ~ Custom made

A4 Hand bound Visitor's Book ~ Custom made

 If heaven has hotels, then La Minervetta most definitely will be amongst the top 10 up there! 

I was fortunate enough to have stayed at this beautiful, relaxing place back in 2013 for a special 40th birthday getaway. When my husband and I arrived at its hill top entrance [which had a little entrance with a tardis looking elevator cubicle] I was a little worried that we had booked yet another hotel which was going to disappoint...usually when you book accommodation online the photos look amazing, but when you get there disappointment sets in, but not with this place! It is by far the best hotel I have ever stayed in. 

The little lift took us down as it was the only to go to get into this cliff hanging building, we could have taken the stairs, but we had luggage and it was dark. When the doors opened out on to the reception my jaw dropped and I think it remained in that position for the entire time Brian and I stayed there. The lounge area was spectacular with the most enormous book collection I have ever seen. The dining room was ART! The beautiful veranda overlooking the bay, enchanting. The whole place has been designed with impeccable taste that is kind to the surrounding beauty of the bay of Naples and expanse of sea and the mysterious Vesuvius in the distance. Red, white, blue and turquoise, how can you go wrong with a colour palette like that? 

We were shown to our room which had a panoramic view of the bay, being night time I couldn't see much, but knew it was beautiful; little did I know what sights I would see in daylight. I remember waking up at dawn that first day, hearing the sea, when I rolled over I was in awe of the beauty that lay beyond the balcony and window. It was truly hard to leave this hotel and go explore Sorrento as it was just one of those places that kind of feel homely, but with luxury! With only 12 rooms, all facing the bay, I'm sure every visitor wakes up in the morning with that same feeling. 

Built in the 1950's, the hotel has belonged to the same family who have really created a special place to stay in Sorrento. It's a little out of the way, but a pleasant walk down its beautiful private staircase and then along the marina will get you into town within 20 mins. 


I remember when leaving the place that it would be so wonderful to have one of my books sitting in a hotel like this for guests to leave comments in about their stay as I know people must only ever have good things to say about it.  So you can imagine I was so thrilled when the owner Marco contacted me to request a custom designed visitor's book. Something simple with a hint of nautical and of course stripes! Here's what I made. I think it turned out well and pleased to say they loved it too. I am looking forward to seeing some photos of the book on display in their stunning lounge and reception once they reopen in February 2016 for another season of knocking the socks off their guests with one of finest, most homely accommodation in Sorrento, which in my eyes is more than 5 star! 

If you ever plan a trip to Sorrento in Italy, it would be a tragedy not to stay here, even just for one night...if not a night, go over to see it at least, it is worth it. 

[ Costal hotel at it best. La Minervetta Maison ]

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 13.59.23
Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 13.59.23
Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 13.59.23
Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 13.59.23

Bookbinding workshop in Belfast at the Studio Souk


Want to learn how to bind your very own Coptic bound book to use as a journal, scrapbook album or sketchbook? Then come join me for a fun class at the Studio Souk in Belfast city centre. You will be introduced to basic bookbinding tools, learn about paper grain and use the best materials to create a beautiful Coptic Bound book covered with screen printed decorative paper. There will also be the option to embellish the cover of the books with some vintage embroidery remnants. 

This a rare workshop to take place in Belfast and a great opportunity to make a handmade gift for someone this Christmas. 

==== Suitable For Beginners ====


Hand painted art journals with ancient Italian frescos


 All art is but imitation of nature.

~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca 

If there is one country that has stolen my heart and fills me with inspiration, it has to be Italy - in particular, Rome! This ancient city has stood the test of time and becomes more beautiful as the years weather its already fading art and architecture.

I wanted to capture some of this ancient art to add to some hand bound albums or art journals that I hope will inspire whoever these books find a home with. The books below have been made with handmade cotton rag paper in keeping with the overall rustic look and an image transfer of close-up photos I took of Italian frescoes.

This pair features a part of the stunning painted garden of the vaulted subterranean rooms of Villa Di Livia, these are the most beautiful frescos I have ever seen! If you ever find yourself in Rome, you must visit the  Palazzo Massimo where these walls are now kept safe for future generations to fall in love with as I did. 

[ 4x6 inches art journal - Orange Tree ]

[4X6'' art journal - Lemon Tree ]

If you like these books and are interested to see more, pop back soon as I will be adding a more OOAK albums and guest books in a similar style. 



Let's write a handwritten letter like days of olde.


It's been many years since I last sent or received a handwritten letter and experienced the joy of reading some long awaited news from family and friends. Even emails seem to be dying a slow death, for nowadays we choose instant messages or social media to communicate - I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to that. But, there was a time when I was a prolific letter writer, something I miss doing, but just never make time for anymore. I guess back in the days before internet and smart phones it was the only way to stay in touch with people living faraway. Now, everything is instant.

I used to be that kid who spent all their pocket money buying beautiful stationary sets to write letters to loved ones. There is nothing quite like setting out some crisp paper and using an equally swish pen to scribe cursive letters ever so carefully so as not to make a mistake, sometimes adding a drawing, maybe a pressed flower or photograph along with a doodle on the envelope before sealing it [sometimes with a lipstick kiss],  adding stamps and popping it into a letterbox, this just does not compare to hitting a few keys, running spell-check and adding in some emoticons, no? In our hurried world of today what a pleasure it would be to have a letter delivered through the post; knowing someone has spared some of their precious time to put pen to paper would make my day and I think it would even put a smile of my Postman's face! Sadly, the only letters that seem to pop through my letterbox these days are bills, reminders of an insurance expiring or some junk mail or the other. Also, how boring is a email inbox, not half as exciting as opening a real letter is it?

I would like to see our lovely vintage red letterboxes filled with handwritten letters like days of gone by. 

A letter can be can put away to rediscover years later. Imagine pulling out a pile from the back of a drawer or a shoebox under the bed - to pour over words of encouragement, happy news, sad news or maybe even a declaration of loves young dream from an old sweetheart. 

A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend.” 

                      ~ Emily Dickinson

Sending a letter can be a creative process too, not just with the words we choose to use, but also in presentation. Some mail art is just so exquisite you could spend an age just looking at the envelope before even getting to devour the words inside it.

 I have been longing for that excitement of curling up in a favourite armchair with a cup of tea reading a handwritten letter, so I decided that I will make an effort to send my first letter in a long time. I wanted it to be extra special, so I made some block printed letter sets on lovely khadi paper I recently had delivered from India. I hope I will receive replies by snail mail! 

Go ahead, take your time, collect your thoughts, write them down and make someone's day that little bit brighter by sending them a handwritten letter. 

Let's give our kids a chance to have a pile of letters in a shoebox to rediscover years later. Let's get them to write to a friend or cousin maybe?  A great way to get children to enjoy letter writing would be to get them to create their own mail art as most kids love to draw. Why not encourage your child to write a letter to their grandparents this weekend, I am sure they will love it and so will the grandparents.

 I hope I have in some way inspired you to send someone a letter, or better still...

Handmade shabby chic wedding photo albums


My romance with shades of blue continues...

This collection of shabby chic wedding photo albums in shades of pale blue are made with textured hardback covers and block printed pages. Available in three different sizes of 12x12'', 8.5x11'' and 9x6'' - each one custom made to suit any style and colour scheme. Also available is the option to add on protective glassine interleaves in-between the pages to protect precious photographs.

[A4 size photo album ]

[Hand block printed pages]

[Hand bound using traditional binding techniques with an element of high design] [12x12 inch photo album] [9x6 inch wedding guest book or photo album][Photo albums come in a labelled drawstring bag and a pack of acid free photo stickers]

Shibori handmade notebooks & sketchbooks


The first time I saw Shibori dyed textiles, I wasn't sure how they were created as it seemed very different to the tie n dye fabric I had seen before, also the fact that it was purely made in Indigo had me intrigued enough to find out more.

After reading about all things Shibori I was itching to take a class; a little research later I came across Mottainai Textiles and was so thrilled to know they offer classes right here in Belfast from their studio in the refurbished Conway Mill. Armed with a bunch of handmade paper from India, I went along to get messy using an indigo vat!


Shibori is a Japanese technique of folding, creasing and securing the shaped cloth with small stitches or even chopsticks before dipping the bundle into a natural indigo bath or Vat.

The word Indigo actually comes from the Roman term Indicum which means a product of India, however the Indigo plant grows in many parts of Asia and Central America. There are so many ways to use Indigo, but the one that sticks in my mind from when I was a child is the use of it in laundry…. our Dhobi [laundry guy] used to wash our whites with a pinch of Indigo powder to make the whites brighter -  'Neel' this is the Urdu/Hindi/ Arabic word for blue and most households would have a little box of a product called Robin Neel. I grew up loving this vibrant colour.


After being given a little history on Shibori, the class was then given some Irish linen and taught different folding techniques that would create beautiful patterns. Here I have folded linen and paper into fans, concertina folds and triangles. 

 Catherine Quinn, my teacher for the afternoon was very patient while I spent ages stitching through these bundles.

Little samosa shapes ready for the vat.

 A sludgy oil slick looking cauldron full of Indigo dye awaits…

It took around 20 or so dips into the dye to get the vibrant Indigo colour. At first it turns yellow, then green and once  oxygen hits the fabric, it develops into a delicious Indigo like magic!

The gloves seemed to be a bit restrictive so I had to ditch them, but then I ended up looking like I had Smurf fingers for a few days! I advice keeping gloves on if you have nice manicured hands unlike mine!


Dyed linen and paper airing out.

So after ending up with loads of paper and linen Shibori style sitting in a corner of my studio for a few weeks, I finally found a little time to make some sketchbooks with some Italian Fabriano paper and a kraft paper notebook. I used the naturally created framed areas to paint in. I enjoyed this shibori class so much and using the finished paper for my books that I am planning my next visit to Cathrine's studio very soon.

Sketchbook with Fabriano Drawing Paper + Tamarind Branch Pencil  {available here }

 6x4'' Sketch book with Fabriano paper.

6X6'' Sketchbook with Fabriano paper.

Handmade guest books with a Woodland Wedding theme


A wedding is probably one of the most special occasions a couple will experience apart from the birth of a child, so it is only natural to spend a lot of time choosing the perfect setting for their big day. Themed weddings seem to be a big thing and out of all the different weddings I have made guest books and photo albums for recently, the woodland wedding theme or garden themed weddings are by far my favourite to work on.

Woods and forests are a romantic and magical place where time seems to slow down a little as we connect with nature. I can't think of a nicer place to spend a day with loved ones celebrating in a relaxed environment away from the stuffiness and sometimes over organised feel of hotels or manor homes. 

One of my most favourite designs and most popular is the Forest Finds Storybook ,this book is perfect to use as a wedding memory book as it is both a guestbook and photo album. Ireland has plenty of woods and forests to explore so I love going for longs walks with my family where I am always on the look out for twigs,bark and leaves basically anything earthy to use in my woodland inspired books. Here are a few guest books and albums I have made recently,these are all available to customise in my Etsy shop.