Art Saves • by Jeannine Stein
Two things have been a constant throughout my life: crafts and books. Both have been at various times a refuge, a release, and a respite from the mishegoss of life.
How Crafts Have Shaped Me
My parents were writers and readers, so I obviously inherited those genes, and my mother was incredibly artistic. Her classical piano playing was flawless, and she was such a good sewist she could have sewn a car if she had wanted to. Needless to say she was thrilled when I took a liking to scissors, the sewing machine, paper, glitter, and macaroni, and she was only too happy to indulge me in whatever craft I wanted to learn.
I don’t think she was as thrilled about the hardened blobs of hot glue that took the paint off my desk or the time I permanently dyed the bathroom sink blue, but those are stories for another time.
I continued to craft through college and beyond, trying everything under the sun. But it wasn’t until I took a bookbinding class about 17 years ago that I had an epiphany: This was what I was meant to do. I guess it was the crafting equivalent of finding your soul mate.
What Books Have Taught Me
Handmade books have given me so many gifts over the years. They’ve allowed me to slow down, focus, and shrug off the pressures of the day. They’ve shown me that there’s no shame in embracing your inner geek and talking about things like bindings and paper and closures for hours on end.
They’ve been the catalyst for meeting the most amazing creative people. And they’ve shown me that it’s OK to make mistakes and occasionally fail. When you do that, and you go back to the drawing board, you can come up with some pretty great ideas. Books have also taught me patience. I don’t always get things right away — sometimes it takes me a few tries to learn a technique or remember a series of steps. I used to become so frustrated and angry with myself, thinking I had to understand things immediately.
But that’s silly, isn’t it? We live in such an instant gratification world that we forget that some things — many things — take time to learn.
As much as I love the satisfaction of holding a freshly made book in my hands, I love the process of making them — and filling them — even more. It’s why I’ll never stop.
To learn more about Jeannine Stein, visit jeanninestein.typepad.com. Also, don’t miss her books, Re-Bound and Adventures in Bookbinding.