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Commonplace Books

Commonplace Books

Commonplace Books:

A Bookbinding Project in 2021by Ursula Jeakins

Guild member Ursula Jeakins has produced a series of beautiful Commonplace Books. Here she tells her inspiration behind them.

"On New Year's Day, listening to 'The Death of Nuance' on Radio 4, I was struck by the call to consider the use of a traditional Commonplace Book, to record and look back on things we may have read , or overheard, and which we consider to be well expressed.

This is not only a means of enriching our thoughts but also our own linguistic expression.

I've kept one myself for as long as I can remember and I decided to make Commonplace Books a focus of my stationary bookbinding this year. It seemed just the right activity for people experiencing Lockdown times!

All sorts of famous people have kept commonplace books including John Milton, Napoleon Bonaparte, Lewis Carroll and Virginia Woolf. They also present an interesting record of our social and cultural history, especially the voices of women from the past, whose thoughts would rarely have been put into print. They might include poems, passages of text, recipes, reading lists, drawings, sayings, family turns of phrase, calligraphy, aspirations - all making up a miscellaneous collection that creates a trace of what catches the author's interest or imagination over a number of years.

I've chosen to feature some particularly lovely covers on some of my books, including the unique blocked-printed papers of John and Jane Jeffery. These are painstakingly hand-coloured using stencils, and are a feast for the eye.

A few of my special marbled paper collection will also be emerging on the Commonplace Books, such as the papers of contemporary German artist, Dirk Lange. But there will also be designs by some popular favourites such as Angie Lewin, Cressida Bell and Mark Hearld and some vintage patterns from the 1940s."

Dirk Lange Marbling Mark Hearld John & Jane Jeffery

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