Inspiring ways to fill handmade books

For years, my husband and I have been passionate about using handmade books in our everyday lives and for special occasions.


But we do meet people — often at art shows — who aren’t quite sure how they would fill a blank book. “I don’t journal,” is a common refrain.

But that’s the thing. I don’t journal either, but I have many other ways in which I do use my books, along with those made by other great bookbinders.

With this in mind, I’ve started a new project to document all the ways that handmade books can be put to use. This way of thinking has already changed how I talk about my work, how I arrange my booth at art shows, and how I encourage students in my classes. I’ve also dedicated a page on my new website to showcasing these inspiring books in action, along with using the hashtag #myusedbook.

For starters, I’ve been looking closer at all the quirky and meaningful ways that my husband and I use books.

When we bought our first home we started a guestbook that began to be filled at our housewarming party and which continues today to hold messages from overnight guests. We’ve printed Instagram photos and bound them in leather albums. And we stash little notebooks in our pockets while traveling.

I keep a garden journal now. My husband fills in a “house book” with all of our home improvement projects and the ongoing story of our home. And I love the colorful sketchbook I made for myself.


We’ve found that keeping these books encourages us to observe our lives a little more closely, and to preserve the things that matter.

In turn, I hope this project inspires others to put their books into action and then share the results with others.

To take part, you can either email your photos and a story to me at or post a photo of how you use your book on social media with the hashtag #myusedbook — and you can tag me in it with @linenlaidfelt so that I take note. I hope you will!