Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Collective Arts Event & Royal Brunei Air Fundraiser

 We were invited by The Collective to participate in the fundraiser event held at the Royal Brunei Recreational Club for the local Breast Cancer support group and YASKA Brunei (Children Cancer support group).  My partner in crime and I decided to come up with a pink book series where ALL of the sales from those books, we give to the fundraiser. We also added, sales from our non pink books, 50% will go towards them as well.

 We did this in memory of our late grandmother who passed away of cancer when our parents were still small. In memory of our favourite late aunt who passed away of breast cancer not so long ago. In memory of my husband's cousin who passed away last year leaving behind her children and husband. And to the survivors of relatives and friends who faught the battle and won... maybe minus a breast or two... *grin* **battle scars**
 We came out in full force, pretty much all the books we had between us. (And furiously finishing as many pink books as possible prior) And our table set up all awesome like, our mantra was, attract attract attract! So that's half the battle won, get them over to our table and buy buy buy! More buying means, more funds we raise :D

 We had people coming up very surprised to hear all the books were made by us. We had people who came looking specifically for us. We had people who came up and said they wished they didn't wait as the book they wanted was already gone. We had people who kept coming to the table several times and finally bit the bullet and bought. We had a mum who bought three in one go, one for her and one each for her daughters. We had people buying for early christmas presents. We We talked about our books, the type of binding each have, the workshops we can do, and promote our retreat coming up end of November.

This picture was taken half way through the afternoon and our pink books were flying! (Also table fully decorated) We moved whatever that's remotely pink from our non pink side to the pink side just to fill up the space the bought pink books left behind. We were on our feet all afternoon, taking sales, wrapping books, curling ribbons, thank you labels.

By the end of the day, I was only left with three A6 size secret belgian pink books, which two I had already given to friends who were survivors themselves.

We raise so much more than we expected and felt very proud of what we achieved to do. We thank The Collective for inviting us to participate and the wonderful set up of the place. We thank the people that came to the event. We thank those that bought our books. We thank you and are thankful. We exchanged our materials, time, effort and skills to raise as much as we could and we couldn't achieve that without your support.

Beautiful books for people with beautiful souls, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts <3 p="">

'Make A Book' Retreat Season 2 is Open For Registration!

 Click on image for a larger view. All info is in the flyers. Please feel free to contact for further inquiries. Limited spaces :)

The First Bookbinding Retreat

 I've always ran my workshops at home, and this year I decided to expand the horizon. On the 26-27 September, 9 people (10 including the host of Kunyit 7 Lodge) signed up for a bookbinding retreat. We held it at a bed and breakfast called Kunyit 7 Lodge located at the Water Village, Kampong Ayer, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. Its near enough to 'home' yet different enough for a holiday feel. With the cooperation of the owner of the B&B, we created a package, of an over night stay combined with a workshop on bookbinding.

The retreat started off with a group heading down to the lodge, and get settled in before the lodge host took the participants around the water village for a walking tour. The workshop was held after dinner.

The next morning was for the participants to test their muscle memory and made their second book with us watching over to help with steps they've forgotten.

The location, sights, sounds, scenery made the bookbinding workshop very memorable and a great experience for everyone.

For more photos, feel free to browse through the album here.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Day I Got Introduced To Washi Tapes....

Coptic bound books with washi tape spine
I blame it on my cousin... She texted me one day saying we just signed up for a washi workshop. I was like, eh? Ok. Feeling open to the idea, always good to be a student. The best thing was, we get unlimited use of the washi that was available duration of the workshop. And we were encouraged to bring our own things to washi. Naturally I brought along three sets of book blocks, plan on washi-ing the spine.

 Sigh.... by end of workshop, I bought 15 rolls of washi tapes and well, needless to say, my coptic bound books have never been the same.

 The only thing I'm having a hard time with is trying to match my washi to my covers. And that chuck me into another dilemma, do I get more pretty paper to match my washi???

Instead, Im trying this route, use my cousin's washi collection to mix with mine to create more combination which hopefully will match the pretty paper I got at home waiting to be used up! Hehehe...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Little Temporary Corner

I have a little corner in the house which is more stable temperature wise and also quite pretty I think... And I can actually see how many books I've been making. And honestly, this is probably one of the rare times when I do have a collection building up. Preparing for a charity event happening on the 18th October at one of the recreational club in town (RBRC). Unfortunately after what happened thanks to the fiasco involved preparing for the book retreat, I am all out of boards. Until I can get some cut, there will be no books to make for a while... *cry cry cry*

Lets admire back at the books. Currently am in love with coptic binding with washi-ed spine and secret belgian binding. So I guess until I run out of ideas of washi combination, you'll be seeing a lot of these for a while.

Fixing The Ong Kiat Family Tree Publication

A while back, I was asked if I could help fix a family tree book. I asked to have a look at the book first to see how fixable it was. The leaves have fallen out and it was a perfect binding, as expected. This kind of binding will never last, unless you never open the book. And in this case, it being a family tree book, definitely it will be looked through many a times.

Two options, I could redo the perfect binding as it was before, OR I give it a new binding that WILL last the many times the book will be flipped through over and over but it means I will have to physically mar the book.

Client chose the latter and I chose the stab binding method for it.

Stab binding literally involved stabbing all the way through the thickness of the book. In this case, a power drill helps. Also since we don't have that much allowance, a smaller drill bit was chosen.

Using a neutral bookbinding thread, I added a bit of detail with the spacing of the holes, subtle and smart.

The overall look, I felt the new binding added on to the appeal of the book. It is a strong binding, and they can look through the book to their hearts content. I'm pretty proud of this fix.

The client was happy, but I was a bit insulted when she asked how strong was the thread -__-


Sigh... I am aware people do not know. Or just don't know. Bookbinding threads are strong. They can be used to stitch leather. They. Will. Last. Forever if you don't put anything sharp to intently cut it.

For me, the statement hits on my credibility. The trust. The knowledge. The years.

Maybe the client had been burned before by others. Who knows. Cool part about it was I caught myself, all these feelings. And put it down to, do not take it personally. And left it as that. Notch it up to another personal growth experience.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bookbinding Retreat @ Kunyit 7 Lodge

 Soooooooooooooooo looking forward to this retreat! We are going to have a great time! Got few more spots left, , got a couple of surprises in store for those signed up. This is a win win for everybody!

 The first time we stayed an Kunyit 7 Lodge, it was a wonderfully fun time. We had a proboscis monkey boat ride experience, a gorgeous sunset view, beautiful light up of the landmark mosque it was practically glowing. And had such a fun evening session bookbinding nobody wanted to go to bed.

Hoping to have that fun again. Its close enough to home, yet far away and different enough.  If you got nothing planned on those dates of 26th - 27th September, we love to have you join us! More details on the retreat in the brochure images in this post! (click on photos for a larger view)

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Come Back Pop Up Event @ Mabohai Shopping Complex

 Right after feeling all invigorated after my bookbinding weekend, I thought ok, gears are turning, lets go. And drum roll please! Pop up event! In one of the fancy shopping malls in Brunei.

And with me, my partner in crime. And the creator of the mini books. I taught her all the bindings I know and she ran away with it and created minis! So adorable I tell you. Follow her on IG @from_chloes_garden.

She was the mastermind of creating our display. All that woodwork came from her. Mini books needed mini shelves. And big books needed proper display stand. She was awesome.

 Some of my big books, hello lovelies! All but one is left shown in this photo. So so happy! Reception was  great, people came and bought books of all sizes. Bookbinding tools were bought We were only around for two days and it was a good enough experience considering it was our first after so so long. People actually asked if we'll be around longer! Maybe next time, thank you for asking :)

And we had workshops running as well! First time in public, it was great! They came, made books, and stayed all day and made more books! We had such a great time, even Mabohai management came and hung out with us throughout the day.

It was a great experience, and we hope good things come up because of it :)

Thank you to those that came, looked, bought, and did the workshops. Thank you to Mabohai Shopping Complex management for having us. Thank you to my awesome partner in crime / cousin.

Time to restock and make more books!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Coptic and Kettle bound books

A combination I've been wanting to try. Rainbow sections with rainbow binding. The exposed spine works great for this. Combined with black textured cover it complimented the rainbows awesomely!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Crunchy Nut

I like upcycling. I sometimes get a guilt complex with groceries, bizarre. I know. Great graphics! 'Pop' corn flakes culture! Too thick to wrap, and too thin to use on its own. Until I doubled them over, it gives enough thickness and with this binding method its works well!

So far 'crunchy nut' books are totally upcycled including the paper used for signatures. They were single sided printed office papers. Useless for office, great for me! I thought its wasteful to just throw out paper when the other side is still perfectly useable.

I like using these, so much fun turning up at a corporate meeting and taking this out. Makes meeting a bit more relaxed. I'm eccentric that way.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

'Make A Book' workshop is starting up again!

Book making workshop is back after 5 years haitus! And we'll start off with coptic binding! Come on down!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I'm not alone!

I've been on this journey for a quite a while, and it got lonely. I know I got the internet to connect me all around the world. Sometimes it's just nice to physically hang out. There was no one else making books, or this kind of crafts here where I am. Also am in the need to review my skills and techniques. I wanted to be better. Better skills, better techniques, better quality to what I'm making. But where? 

"Why not hang out with scrapbookers?" Thats like comparing apples and oranges. They got some great techniques, and if I was interested I would've been doing scrap books a long time ago. Thanks, but no.

It was around the time I started learning how to use Instagram properly, its like google with hashtags. And I came across a Malaysian bookbinder. Oh my gawd! I'm not alone!! Seriously that was like a revelation. And on top of that I was in awe. Here was a bookbinder, malay, malaysian, and she was specializing in *gasp shock horror* SECRET BELGIAN BINDING! The one elusive binding which I tried to do all those years ago but couldn't because that time I was not able to comprehend the instructions available online.

Instagram as it was, leave a comment here and there, kinda sorta had a conversation. And she mentioned I should really be following her sensei. Really? Another? Malay, malaysian and a bookbinder?!? Needless to say I became a stalker. I stalked her IG, I read her whole blog. I wanted to be her! Our backgrounds were so similar, except she had tons more creative corporate experience under her belt, and now she's living the dream! I must meet her!

And workshop dates popped up. *gasp* Opportunity! Didn't think I'll be flying again but why not. Finally this was something I always wanted to do. Granted, the workshops were in bindings I already know how, but if its one thing I've learned in my previous 'adventure', you don't know what you don't know, and i might learn a new trick or two. And I've never experienced what its like to be a participant in a workshop, what better time? This was going to be awesome.

 I had the best weekend ever! For three days straight, I made books books and more books! I learned how to use certain tools, new techniques, filled in the blanks that's been missing. It was great! See those books? I made those! My memories.

And these girls here, its them! Hi! Love you all! Shasha whom I stayed with, I landed in the evening and straight to her home and half hour later I was in her room, looking at all the books she made, her tools, her studio, and her cupboard was inspiring, I've never seen so many handmade books before.

Asma, who started the whole ball rolling, if it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have had this.

Syam! Little Syam is her brand. Google her up :) It was so good to talk to another fellow binder. I learned so much from her bookbinding and beyond. Her story. Her experience. It was a journey of all about building and building yourself. Have that belief. Keep doing. Follow your instincts. Hell, yeah that's what I'm doing now. And the french girl at the back, she met Syam on an off chance when Syam went back to her old education grounds looking for her bookbinding master who encouraged her to develop this skill in New Zealand. Two years later, that french girl turned up at Syam's door!

Thanks to this weekend, I came back feeling renewed, trust in the journey I am on. And going for more! Plans to go back is there. Maybe a creative holiday with them. Anybody wanna come with? :)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Secret Belgian: Star Trek

Resistance is futile! Borg Picard
Resistance is futile! Before I got married, all those years ago. There were talks about the secret belgian binding. There were no tutorials online available then. And I felt it was that one binding that will be elusive to me. Until, when I decided to put my arty crown back on after hanging it up, and finding inspiration via Instagram after learning how to use it. I kept on seeing the secret belgian bound books everywhere. Everywhere! Surely it can't be hard.

Itching to try but needing to find, googled for instructions and abundance! Well, needless to say my first one wasn't that fantastic looking. I just used whatever boards that was handy. But it was good enough for me to make.

It was easy! (So say the person who figured out most things)

My Secret Belgian Star Trek Book:
This was an upcycle book, the covers were made from adverts in a pop culture magazine. And the cover looked almost seamless image wise. I also quite like how the top stitching looked like its part of the forehead of borg Picard. The end sheet not pictured also had images of Captain Jean Luc Picard. All in all, extremely pleased with it.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Accidental Graphic Designer

Eons ago, I barely passed my graphic design module... which was a good thing or else I wouldn't have known about making books. Eons later, we have this! 

Ok, I better back track, there have been several years missing in this blog. I'll try to fill in the blanks... Somehow... Lets just talk about the current!

Day job has been interesting. I'm now under Public Relations and Marketing for the organization I'm in.  And it had undergone transformation and we are responsible in uplifting the image. Initially we have or had our own graphic designer but, there were challenges involved. And then, this work came up! Was brain storming with the director about something else one day, I needed to understand what was knocking around in his head, and what happened after resulted in me coming up with this:

Isn't it cute!! First time ever I would say a flyer be cute, hah! I like that it's compact when folded and opens up big.

 Initially I wanted to arrange the course titles into a star burst. Then I realised its going to be a tight squeeze. I like the circle concept, the programmes are circling around the 'parent'.

 On the reverse showed helpful general information. How I got to this concept was map folding the circles. And that's how the squares came about. It was and wasn't a linear process.

To keep in line with the parent, each campus open days have similar design, to echo the the squares in the general info. Below are a three of the seven campus we have.

Same info, dates, courses thats running in each campus for all seven.

My style is pretty clean, not fussy. All text. I also used parts of the campus logo as decorative elements to add interest and fill in the too blank space just to balance and add individuality. The higher uppers liked it. It's different to the usual flyers / posters design that government bodies produced. Enjoyed the work, of course, with information you'll be sharing with the public involved repeated edits.

From concepts to design, to production to dissemination. Mass produced work!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Did it, tried it, got the t-shirt...

Two years. It took me two years to realise what I've been looking for I had it all along! Go figure.

I have to thank the experience I had in the two years. I learned how to apply my face, make up was a mystery until one day I had to learn instantly, I can cat eyes now. Woohoo!

I learned how to stand up in a crowd, presentation, that whole voice projection thing. Tens and hundreds up front, and I don't need that 'picture them naked' kind of thing like people always tell you when faced with a crowd.

Travelling was fun up to a point. Then it was all moving through the motions. Learned how to pack, moving around with a trolley bag with wheels is a definite plus. Useful to have a foldable spare bag in the suitcase cos you never know. And cable ties.

And when traveling to new places, I learned where to get sim cards for phones. Thats a bonus.

I saw and experienced flash. Flash cars. Flash places. Flash people. Success equates flash items. Nothing I would have had the opportunity to meet. It was fun while it lasted. Anybody interested in a Gucci bag? I don't need it anymore. It does not bring joy.

And lots more stuff I did, and done, and bought. Some great, others not so proud, remembering back the experiences.

I started that journey, thinking, yeah, I could do with more time to do what I always like. Being creative. Make stuff. Yet, the longer I was in it, the futher away I was getting to what I hoped for. I was always tired and drained. There was no down time. It was literally time is money. If you're not always constantly switched on you're going to lose out. Everything was 'an exchange'. Exchanging time for this with that, its ok, you'll get all the time in the world after that. And you believe it, as thats the only thing you can hope for to happen.

It was a lot of giving. Giving yourself, your time, your effort. But what I wasn't giving was to what really matters. I didn't have time for the family, the house, for myself. I was fortunate my husband was pretty understanding and supportive. It was something I had to do. Just hid the fact I wasn't happy doing it, 'things will get better'.

The system worked. Ideally. I could be too emotional, lack of focus and belief in self, fighting against inherent nature. Probably. Its chasing a dream, a desire. I did or did not have.

I became depressed. I just stopped 'believing'. I avoided. I wasn't sure what I was thinking, but instinctively I was avoiding. Removing self from all that. Self doubt even bigger.

Cheesecake. Hello friend. Can't say you were great for me. Thanks for being there at least while I pull myself together.

Took me months of depression, half a year almost to fully realise, I already got what I was looking for. That awareness just hit me. Oh my god, what I thought I needed I already had!

Its been a fun ride, but its not for me. Like Douglas Adams have said, so long and thanks for the fish. I wish all those who are still on that journey, all the best, may you find what you're looking for.


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