Recently, I took a sewn book making class with two friends at a local art gallery. I was very excited, but even more than that I was scared. Of what? It was just a three hour introduction to a basic craft. What was so intimidating about that?
The class got going, and I felt so damn jittery. What was wrong with me? What was I so afraid of? But I dove in (over?) eager to learn everything and to absorb as much as possible.
As the class progressed I thought, "I am good at this," and I suddenly decided to make one for practically everyone I know. In my head I began picking out colored papers and delicate jewels for the spines. I mentally budgeted for beeswax and colored linen thread.
A few weeks goes by, and the three of us gather again to make more books, share supplies, and chat. My friends talk about their teaching jobs--one is a creative writing professor and the other an artist and instructor at the art museum. I listen to them talk about classes, about the pieces they are working on.
I push the needle and thread through the paper--stab, pull, tighten.
The scissors make a zip, sip, zip, sip sound as I try desperately to keep my lines straight. I don't want to waste the pretty and expensive paper we are using.
I look at my girlfriends, and they are so beautiful sitting there sipping their wine while I munch snacks, and I am grateful to have their warmth and beauty gracing my life.
It is late, well past midnight, so we close up shop and clean up scraps of paper and bits of thread. We examine what we have made and feel proud, good. I set the wine glasses in the sink, and put away the leftover snacks. My artist friend hands me an unopened bag of chips as she goes to leave.
"Nine pounds to lose, still, I say," as I decline the offer.
I brush food crumbs off of my baggy sweatshirt as we say goodbye.
I've made books non-stop since that evening. Some I've already given away, and a few I am saving for Valentine's Day presents. They sit in a colorful stack on my shelf waiting to be presented to their new owners. Their pages are blank and empty, begging for a story to be written.