A wedding guest book filled with Polaroids

Our dear friends Amy and Drew celebrate their one year wedding anniversary today. This time last year, my husband Tony and I headed up to Chicago for their big day.

Tony and Drew have been best friends since middle school, and Tony was the best man in their wedding (just as Drew was the best man when Tony and I tied the knot). For my contribution to the festivities I created a custom wedding guest book, which was filled with Polaroid pictures and messages from guests.

wedding guest book display table

I made a handbound hardcover guest book with landscape-format pages. Amy and Drew wanted each page to be large enough to hold a Polaroid photo and a handwritten message.

The book was displayed on a large wooden table near the entrance of their wedding venue. Several Polaroid cameras and a box to hold the photos as they developed sat along side the guest book. And the table decor was completed with an awesome print from Hatch Show Print that they picked up on one of their trips to visit us in Nashville. 

polaroid wedding guest book

Amy and Drew picked out some great film from The Impossible Project that had golden, rounded edges. The photos really looked great against the textured, light gray pages and the black photo corners. They requested a minimalist design for the covers — black bookcloth paired with black handmade paper and black thread for the exposed binding — so the photos inside the book would be the focal point. 

handmade wedding guest book by linenlaid&felt

I don't often get to see exactly how my handmade books are put to use once they leave my studio. But I love it when I get the chance. I really enjoyed seeing guests interact with the book and pose for pictures at the wedding, as well as writing in the book myself. 

And when Drew and Amy came to visit us in Nashville again earlier this month, they brought their guest book with them. I had the chance to flip through the finished book, filled to the brim with photos and congratulatory messages. There's nothing better for me than to see one of my blank books transformed into a treasured keepsake, and I was honored to be able to create such a book for my friends.

wedding polaroid photos

To see more examples of how my handmade books have been filled and enjoyed, check out the inspiration page on my website or explore the #myusedbook hashtag on social media. 

Instagram photo album filled with pictures of paper flowers

Early last year, my friend Meredith and her mom launched a paper flower business called Amaranthus Paper & Flora. They make beautiful handcrafted crepe paper flowers that are always in bloom. I have a bright bouquet of their flowers on display in my home, and it's so nice to have a lovely arrangement that won't ever wilt or fade. 

When Meredith and her mom started selling their paper flowers at craft shows, she picked out one of my handbound leather Instagram photo albums to use as a portfolio to showcase their paper flowers to potential customers. She printed her Instagram photos using this service, and the finished product turned out so well. Plus, she posted these pictures of her new photo album in action using the hashtag #myusedbook, to contribute to my new project showcasing ways to use handmade books.

To learn more about these beautiful paper flowers, visit the Amaranthus Paper & Flora website, shop on Etsy, or follow their creations on Instagram

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 linenlaidfelt@gmail.com 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!


Instagram photo albums — they're leather and they fit Polaroids too!

Instagram photo album
Are you on Instagram? Of course. Do you ever print your 'grams? I bet not.

But you should.

And I'm here to help. I've hinted at it recently, but now it's official: my leather Instagram photo albums are in my Etsy shop, and I know from personal experience how rewarding it has been to make prints of Instagrams and to preserve and display them in albums.

After researching the most common sizes for square prints, I settled on two standard sizes for my leather albums. Both hold 48 images. The larger fits 6 x 6 prints (as well as traditional 4 x 6 photos and Polaroids) and the smaller fits 2.5 x 2.5 images. No matter the size, the photos are easily mounted in with photo corners, scrapbooking adhesive, or double-sided tape. And the pages are made of an especially thick and sturdy watercolor paper.

I'd love to hear what you think about these albums. If you have any questions at all, please let me know. And to learn more about them and see more photos, please follow these links:

Facebook: Photo album

I've mentioned often how I put my own handmade books to use, and these Instagram albums have been no exception. I've already made one for my husband and one for myself and plan to create more in the future.

How to print Instagrams to display in a photo album

I'll be debuting leather Instagram photo albums this weekend at Porter Flea AirCraft here in Nashville, and I want to share with you my guide on how to print Instagrams — everyone's favorite square format photos.

The first Instagram album that I made was an anniversary gift for my husband, who uses Instagram often while reporting for the newspaper and to capture odd things around Nashville. Once the book was finished, it was exciting to see the images printed out and so much larger than we typically see them on an iPhone screen. The book that I handbound for him worked out so well that I decided to make more. Each of my albums has leather covers and 48 pages, made of thick watercolor paper. I have since been making two sizes, each designed to hold the most common square-format photo sizes available.

My large books are 7 x 7, which holds square images as large as 6 x 6, and standard 4 x 6 photos. The smaller books are 4 x 4 and hold 2.5 x 2.5 square photos.

There are many printing options out there, so I think it will help for me to share what I've learned about Instagram printing. Some services are user-friendly and simple, while others may require you to do more of the work in exchange for saving some money on each print.

Read along for my guide to printing Instagrams.

Instagram photo album

Printstagram — Easy to use, web-based
Sizes: 4 x 4 (perfect for large album) and 2.5 x 2.5 (fits small album)
Cost: $12 for 24 large images or 48 small

PostalPix — Order prints directly from iPhone
Sizes: 5 x 5, 4 x 4, 2 x 2
Cost: 29 cents to 89 cents per print (details)

RitzPix — Many options, prompt delivery
Sizes: 6 x 6, 5 x 5, 2.5 x 2.5
Cost: 49 cents per print
Note: For 2.5 x 2.5 images, you'll need to use photo editing software to set up a 5 x 5 document with 4 photos in a grid. Once printed, you'll need to trim them.

I've found other options as well, but these seem to be the easiest to use and most affordable. Another option would be placing your square images on 4 x 6 prints and then trimming them. For more information, check out this tutorial. If you go this route, you could print one 4 x 4 or six 2 x 2 images per 4 x 6 print, but you'll need photo editing software to set up the files.

I know that my husband and I have found it extremely satisfying to finally print our photos — somewhat of a lost art, these days. And I hope my new square-format leather photo albums can be another encouragement that will save more photos from collecting digital dust.

leather Instagram photo album (handmade)

A wedding album to hold Polaroid photos of guests

Japanese stab binding hardcover thread

Picture this: a little table at your wedding that holds a Polaroid camera and your guest book. Your best friends and family members snag the camera, take awesome photos, and immediately mount them into the book and write messages to mark the day.

This particular book was made just for that purpose.  I've found that more and more brides are opting for something a besides a traditional book with lined pages in which guests merely sign their names.  Rather, a book with more space for guests to leave messages and plenty of room for photos leads to a more meaningful keepsake, and one that's more likely to be treasured and enjoyed long after the festivities are over. 

Another exciting thing to note about this book is that it was just featured in Nashville Lifestyles Weddings magazine among their round-up of "lovely local details."  The most recent issue is on newsstands now, so if you're in the Nashville area pick up a copy and check out all of the local talent in our city. 

Aside from binding books and scoring magazine features (this is my second one of the year; check out the first one here), I've been busy applying to art shows, planning new classes, and filling my Etsy shop to the brim.  

Be sure to take a peek at my latest e-newsletter to find out about all the exciting events I have coming up this fall.  (You can sign up for my mailing list to ensure that you'll never miss out on my beautiful, informative e-mails packed with gorgeous photos.)  My busy season is starting off with the Handmade & Bound book arts festival this weekend. I hope to see you there!

A sweet gray and yellow baby book

Handmade book with Japanese stab binding and floral print

If you've been looking around lately (hint, hint, on Pinterest) you're probably familiar with "grellow." That's the chic gray and yellow combination that's as popular in home decor as in fashion. This book takes that scheme and glams it up with silver accents in one of my favorite handmade papers.

Floral print paper handmade book

This baby book was made for a little girl named Zoe, and in my opinion, she has one of the prettiest baby books around.  The paper used for the covers was made in India from natural plant materials, and was printed with a yellow floral pattern.  Depending on the way the light hits the book, the silver outline around the flowers shimmers.  The hinged spine edge of the book is covered with a grey linen bookcloth that I made myself, and the book is sewn together with a sunshine yellow ribbon using the Japanese stab binding. 

Custom handmade baby book

I designed the pages of the book to coordinate with the yellow and gray color scheme, and handmade photo corners are attached to each photo spot so pictures can easily be added to the book.  There are pages for Zoe's parents to record all of the important details, starting with pregnancy memories and baby showers, and spanning through the delivery, her baptism, important milestones, and holidays. There are also pages for a family tree, for handprints and footprints, and for Zoe to write a message to the future on her fifth birthday. 

Handmade baby book

Handmade baby book family tree

Japanese stab binding with ribbon

Fall bookbinding classes at Watkins College

I'm already a few weeks in to the Introduction to Graphic Design and Typography class that I'm teaching at Watkins College of Art, Design, and Film this fall, but there's still plenty of time to sign up for the two exciting book arts workshops that I have scheduled for next month.  

Whether you're interested in spending a day learning to bind a book with a leather cover, or a few days creating handmade photo albums, I'd love to have you join me for one (or both!) of these workshops.  The classes are open to anyone in the Nashville community.  To register just call the college's community education office at 615-277-7455 or sign up online. Check out the Watkins fall course catalog to read more about the other creative classes happening this season. 

handmade books Nashville linenlaid&felt

Traditional leather bookbinding 
with a contemporary twist 

When: Saturday, October 13; 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 
Where: Watkins College, 2298 Rosa Parks Blvd., Nashville 
Cost: $45, plus $20 materials fee
Description: Learn to bind a soft-cover leather book that can be used as a journal, a sketchbook, or a photo album. Using the Italian Longstitch style, a historical binding that dates to 14th Century Europe, each student will create a book with a leather cover that features exposed, decorative stitching on its spine and pages that lay completely flat when open. Students will use leather for the book cover and have the option to include interesting contemporary papers inside. No previous bookbinding experience is required, and all materials and tools will be provided.

linenlaid&felt photo albums

Binding handmade photo albums

When: Saturday, October 27 – Saturday, November 17 (4 weeks); 
1 - 5 p.m.
Where: Watkins College, 2298 Rosa Parks Blvd., Nashville 
Cost: $125, plus $35 materials fee
Description: Learn to make several styles of handbound photo albums to preserve and proudly display your favorite photographs. These books will be more unique and meaningful than a typical store-bought album and will give you a reason to finally print those photos that have been collecting digital dust on your computer. Using archival materials, this class will cover three hardcover binding styles: the accordion, the Coptic, and the Japanese stab binding. You’ll learn the basics of bookbinding while creating beautiful, functional books. No previous bookbinding experience is required, and all materials and tools will be provided.

brochure cover Watkins Community Education Nashville

Click the image above to view the full Watkins course catalog as a pdf.

A photo book for a world-traveling photojournalist

When a book leaves my studio and is shipped to its new owner, I like to think that the book's journey has only just begun.  The pages are folded, the covers are glued and pressed, and the binding is stitched neatly into place, but the book is not yet complete.  Most of the books I make are meant to be filled.  Perhaps with congratulatory notes from wedding guests, or records of a baby's first steps and words, or photos of travels far and wide.  Once a book is filled, it takes on new meaning and importance, and it is transformed into something even more special than when it left my studio.

I wish I could check in with all of my handbound books months or even years later to see how they've come to life in their new homes, but I don't always get the chance to see my books when they've been put to use.  On the occasions that I do, however, it's always thrilling to me. 

Photojournalism book, handmade

This particular book was commissioned by Lianne Milton, a San Francisco-based photojournalist, to hold a special collection of her photographs. She requested a simple design for the book.  The pages were made from thick, textured watercolor paper.  For the covers, I made my own bookcloth using a soft grey linen fabric.  And I bound the book with the Coptic binding using navy waxed linen thread.

When the book left my studio, the pages were blank and I was curious to see how they would be filled.  Lianne was kind enough to photograph her book for me once she had added photos to the pages, and I'm excited to share her images of the book here.  

Lianne Milton photography book

I highly recommend that you take some time to look through Lianne's online portfolio of her photographs.  She is a world-traveling photographer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and many other publications.  Her work mainly focuses on the effects of politics on people and their environments, and she travels around the globe to capture her stunning images. She also photographs a limited number of weddings each year, in a similar documentary style to her editorial work.  You can view her wedding portfolio here.  

Lianne Milton photography handbound book

The craftsmanship of the blank book is very important to me and I enjoy the detailed process of creating a handbound book completely from scratch.  But a book like this clearly takes on more meaning once it has completed its journey.

Photos courtesy of Lianne Milton.  

A handmade baby book welcomes Liam to the world

This summer, I made a baby book for a little boy named Liam.  For the covers, I used a colorful paper with animal shapes, which I think is a perfect choice for a baby book.  I paired the paper with an orange bookcloth for the spine of the book, which perfectly matches the color of the lions on the paper.  To complement the orange, I bound the book with blue thread, which also coordinates with the printing on the pages and the endsheets.  And the handmade photo corners made with and orange and yellow striped paper adds a playful touch to the pages.  

The customer came up with some great ideas for things that she wanted to include in the book, like a spot to write the story of Liam's name (what a great name, by the way!) and a page all about Thanksgiving.  I've since added both of these to my standard baby book template.  The design for my baby book continues to evolve.  I love the way that it started out last year, but with every customer I've worked with, I've come up with ideas to make the book better.  

As always, you can find more info about customized baby books in my Etsy shop.