"It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between."

--C.S. Lewis

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Martha Stewart - American Made 2014 - Nominee Badge

How I got here

My name is Kristen Evans, and in 2008, I happened upon a beautifully beaten-up book from 1879 that quickly became my sketchbook. It fit just right in my hand, and it was totally unique. I posted it on the web one day while writing about a painting I was working on, and it took off in ways I could never have anticipated.

From that one book I have gone on to create literally thousands, and I learn something new with every single one.

Physically creating a book is really about creating something that bridges the gap between functional and beautiful. This marriage of form and function hovers in the background of every piece I work on, even as I push the boundaries of my materials and techniques. 

Old books are not always the easiest or most cooperative of materials, but the thrill I get when I see them transformed into a new journal or photo album far outweighs the challenges.

My process

I use books and ephemera from all over the world that date from about 1875 to 1980, as well as a wide range of materials from leather to glass.

I design each journal based on the book's unique qualities, which is a nice way of saying that a book with no spine is going to require different techniques than one that is intact. After the design process, the pages are cut or torn by hand, stacked into groups of pages called signatures, and then sewn using waxed Irish linen thread.

Sewing can take anywhere from half an hour for a small book to several hours for a very large book, and it is all done by hand. Completed books are then put under weights so that they can relax which can take from 2-10 days.