Creating a Custom Journal

Q. I would like to know if you would be able to recommend a bindery for a custom journal. After years of trying others journals, I decided to create my own. I want to move from the ring binding to something a little more book like.

David Zook asks a question close to my paper-loving heart. Before I tackle the subject of having a journal custom made, let me point you to a post I wrote elsewhere about choosing the right paper, which gives an overview of journal options. Let me also reiterate some advice I gave in the last post: check out the Seven Seas Writer from Nanami Paper. I've grown obsessed with this journal since it came out late last year, to the point of springing for the Gfeller leather cover. It just might cure your need for a custom journal. If not, though, here are some thoughts.

Just about any bookbinder should be able to create a custom journal for you. The key is to choose the right paper. Whatever you do, try to get samples of the paper in advance and test how it handles ink. There's no point in having a journal made only to find it doesn't work well with the kind of pen you intend to use.

Because I haven't had a custom journal bound for myself, I can only give you options based on hearsay. Hopefully other readers can chime in to fill in the gaps!

Papercut Bindery posts swoon-worthy blank books on Etsy all the time, and takes custom orders, too. There are a number of bookbinders on Etsy, so it's a good place to check for small outfits willing to take on custom work.

18th Century Bibles also binds blank books, as I mentioned in my last post. Check out the Facebook page for recent photos. I love the meticulous craftsmanship (nicely documented on their website) that goes into these books.

I'm not sure whether Leonard's Book Restoration will undertake a project like this, but it's worth asking. If you like the Seven Seas Writer I mentioned earlier, they now offer uncased book blocks a shop like Leonard's could trim and bind to your specification.

This barely scratches the surface, but it's a start. One possibility I haven't mentioned is creating the journal yourself. I've made a number of them since taking a bookbinding class at Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and while I wouldn't compare the quality to any of the above, it's satisfying work. I ransacked my photos and found a couple of snaps of one of the simple journals I made:

journal2

journal1

So readers, give me some help: who's had a custom journal created, and how did it turn out? Or maybe you haven't gone through with it yet, but you've done the research and can share some insight with David?