Everyday wizardry

Sometimes I feel like I live with a wizard. Our world is so digital, so computer-based, that I’m sure you can imagine the glories (and convenience) of sharing a home with someone who knows them in and out. Not only does Erik understand how computers work, but he can also program them — which is, as far as I’m concerned, the closest Muggle equivalent to the ability to wave a wand and conjure things into being.

When I got addicted to a computer game, Erik created (at my request) a little program that would shut my computer off automatically at 9:20 PM, so I wouldn’t get stuck playing Aveyond late into the night. It’s still helpful to me in curtailing my evening internet time: every night I get a five-minute warning, followed by a two-minute warning, and then I’m logged off for the night. (There’s a reason my self-discipline flags in the evening!) The other night I couldn’t sleep, and I was lying awake running through all the things I had to do, when I realized it would be easier to have a visual, semi-automated digital version of my to-do list. I jotted down a page of notes, then ran through them with Erik in the morning. When he has more time, he’ll bring my vision into being, and I’ll be able to use it to manage my daily tasks. See? Magic, right?

A few days ago I had the deep pleasure of being able to execute my own little bit of idea-to-reality wizardry. I was in Twig & Fig, a marvelous stationery store in Berkeley, trying to find a cool-looking, lightweight watercolor sketchbook for traveling. They had a wealth of gorgeous journals and many portable notebooks, but nothing that fit all my needs. I was talking to the girl behind the counter, paging through a lovely book that was way too heavy to carry around, when it suddenly hit me that I could make my own. It didn’t have to be fancy; all I’d need would be some sheets of watercolor paper, an awl, thread and needle, and something to use for the cover. I had all those things! I couldn’t wait to get home and give it a try.

Voilà, a mere hour or so later (divided over two days): my new, one-of-a-kind travel sketchbook! I tore big sheets of Arches watercolor paper down to size, folded them in half, punched holes in the fold, and stitched them together with purple thread. I folded a piece of cardboard in half and repeated the process, sewing the papers (the “signature”) into the board. The next morning I dug out some vintage Naugahyde I bought at an estate sale,  the 1924 world atlas I used last year for binder dividers, and my spray glue, and got to work making the book pretty.

Sketchbook covered in vintage world map

1924 world map, vintage Naugahyde purchased from an estate sale

Close-up on sketchbook cover

Close-up on cover

Inside pages of sketchbook

Inside pages

Back cover of sketchbook

Back cover, map from the same 1924 atlas

Close-up of back cover of sketchbook

Close-up of back cover -- see the water damage to the page, along the bottom edge? I think it adds character!

My bookbinding skills won’t be winning me awards anytime soon — the cardboard is folded awkwardly because I forgot to score it first, my cardboard was shorter than the papers so I just folded their edges over, etc etc — but this sketchbook is exactly what I need, it’s nice to look at, and the whole thing took me less time than going shopping for it. Win. Win. Win.

The sketchbook pressed flat by my hand