Book for the soul

Butterflies, symbols of your soul, all bound by a book.


Spiritual woman

Stitched with a buttery soft leather; wrapped with a folding cover. Made of eight divisions of papers handmade, smooth, textured, tucked, folded. Catch the stitching and beading in your fingers, free-formed and purposed, flowing and bound.




The book for a reflexology practioner surely must be useful! Sized at just under A5 and with a conventional cover, it lays neatly on the desk and asks for your notes, sketches, and jottings. 

But this book of all books must, must, must, be sensory-beautiful! Tactile trim, soft leather, gentle chimes. My advice is, drop your own perfume onto card and insert the cards between the nets and the pages. 

And the sparkle. Not just any old sparkle. Here is Qi which I read informs reflexology practice; I've chosen sharp, brittle, sparkle that catches the sunlight and flashes back at you a sudden bright beauty.

Design motifs. I've used the archetypal Hamsa symbol. Reworked in so many cultures worldwide, I think it can stand another reimagining. Then find circles, lines, knots, spheres, curves; a sudden twist in direction or a free flow line. 

And the barriers. You can't come in. But you're invited. All Knicker Drawer Books have this principle behind them: the reveal-conceal. The books play on boundaries of access - permitted/forbidden; denied/invited; private/public; out of bounds/your space to inquire. (For which way of thinking and the expression of those ideas in design form, I still have people to thank.)


This way I lie

Find me, like truth, under the layers.

Peel back soft suede covers, felt and net layers. Paper combinations, tucks and folds. Making treasure books to hold.


Paleobiology meets Tim Burton

Yippee! You people are brilliant. Thanks to you, I have the best job in the world.

Now, how about this fantastic combo of Paleobiology & Tim Burton?

Choice one: book draws on a Gothic Tim Burton style; it's all made up of blacks, whites, greys and tones. The leather wrap is tough, black, with a surface ridging; I've chosen it partly because I feel the curious 'plasticised' texture echoes the 1950s/60s/70s style that Tim Burton films sometimes incorporate, and the design of the stamping is reminiscent of the branching tree structure used in evolutionary biology. (Oh yes it does!)

The cover embellishment is animal bone and wood; the animal bone is finger-picked from the Thames; the wood comes courtesy of a forest walk. With both I've wire-worked beads and the odd bit of sparkle. And I  bet that gently reminds you of a double helix. (Tell me it doesn't!)

The inside book cover I've stitched with net because Grit Design is big on layers. Yes, I absolutely believe in the multilayered nature of our everyday; whether it is digging through horizons of the ground, peeling back the surface to the ideas below, communicating with three different meanings in one, or getting right on down to the woolly vests of my autumn wardrobe. Layering is just how we live.

On selected pages inside you'll discover original artwork inspired by the Tim Burton tree design. You're so right! That tree echoes again the tree diagrams you biologists know so well!

Generous cut outs, odd shapes, quirky bits, and unpredictable angles catch you throughout, and that's just the way the design had to be.


(Expressionist photography mine, in homage.)


Book for an Artist

A note book for an artist!

Do I start with colour? Tricky. Favourite colours, they'll shift, like the complex colours of seasons or the fractions of change wrought by sunlight and shadow, blending over a land in any given day at any point in a year. Impossible to fix.

Then should I start with shape? But shapes, lines, textures, everything! They're all sure to change, when an artistic expression comes through handling of object; then construction, assemblage, unity, disparity. Think of a shape wrought by a guiding hand, but it is growing itself, too; an object making itself, defined, but organic, changing as it endures and falls away. New shapes, new patterns. Good grief. I'm at a loss to pin that down. How could a book begin to tell the life of a shape, and grow it, too?

How about something else. Story? Should I start there? But a narrative through a visual can never be fixed! I tell my children, if I asked ten, 20, 300 artists to draw a tree, the beauty is that I'd get a zillion trees come back at me, each with a different line, shape, colour, motive, a different place in time and space; I'd see them all, with their each different stories to begin me thinking, talking, telling mine.

Time? Perhaps this book should be located in a time; a moment in history? Or the future? Would the contents reflect or foretell? Hmm. In my experience, some artists, unless it's their thing, are not so good with time. The trouble is, artists tend to leap out of time, even while trapped in it. They're always challenging the clock! Mixing up the fleeting and the constant; merging a blink of an eye with the geological dust of planets.

This arty one, it's tricky, isn't it?

Perhaps the book I begin should begin with a setting; a physical place. Tied to the land. I liked this idea. I fancied rubbing soil into cloth, then I wanted to bury the book, dig a place and leave it there for months, years. (But not exactly helpful if she wants it for a week on Tuesday.)

Then I began to think, I should make a book that isn't any of these things. A book simply to use, treat badly or well. A book that changes in space, place, its moments in time, each moment it is used.

This book I make says, I am practical, a resource-filled space; treat me how you want, cut, pin, tear, stitch, stamp me. Stash, stow, store more stuff in me, fold me this way, fold me that way, make new combinations everytime: call it use/abuse. I need not be pretty, not presentable. I am what you make of me. If I become stained, bear the mark of a hand, scar of glue, splash of paint, a slice, tear, or burn, then so be it. I am more valuable, more precious for it; I have more history, more future, more stories to tell. I am a book to use an as artist needs.

Made from materials brought from history and flung into the future: canvas, papyrus, recycled papers, linen, wax, metal, silk, glass, and stitched inside, sound.

Colour, add as you please.



I was hesitant to begin this book. It seemed such a difficult start! Not least because the brief included the words Jewish Educator. I know nothing about Jewish Education! I'm sure to get this wrong! Then throw me out my normal stride with a book in fabric, not leather. (Rush to V&A to swot up on textile art.) And in pink, please. Not my natural colour. Give me my natural incline, deep-breathe Victorian Gothic, black and brown. But pink! Pinkety-pinky-pink-pink!

I thought about this. I have learned a thing or two about humanity. So I started there. And this is where I've arrived.

Cloth! I looked hard for the right cloth to cover this book. At first I wanted an embroidered cloth, reminiscent of a ceremonial covering; the sort of cloth that matters, whatever the religion or ceremony, people, or custom. Cloth that is worn would be better; passed from generation on, handed through the ages; a remnant of a different time and place.

I quickly changed my mind. I found a simple plain canvas-style pink. Textured, with enough of a weave to see, but one that does not dominate. Heavy and dutiful, purposeful and functional. No baby pink, no girly pink, a practical, smooth, firm, cloth. A cloth that says, don't treasure me, but use me, handle me, pin things to me. Bring the colour of your hand from outdoors, a wound from rough handling, a memory of marks where pins have been casually used. A true background, a new beginning, but an echo too of practices and customs in a different place and time.

I wrapped it double, then double again to catch that echo of cloth used in ceremonies which move, which are required wherever you are, a cloth that encloses many objects, rolls and clips and stows away fond handling, for use in private and public moments, for memory in a telling.

And I have a straightforward design need too. The items passed to me to work with, they're intricate, three dimensional, curious. I wanted them to stand against the background. A simple frame for a complex piece.

The weight. The book shifts slightly unsteadily in my hand; the weight of the given objects, the cloth which responds not like leather is slightly novel to me. At first I tried to eliminate that mis-weight, that slight shifting clumsiness.

Then I thought again. I thought, this is perfect handling of a book, when the story is of a culture which must change in handling changing communities. A different balance of people and place will bring new independent tellings of stories; new creations. Then I sought to introduce strange weights, unusual foldings, a heavy card on a lightweight textured paper, multiple tucks and pockets for new objects. And there are pockets, oh how many? I've lost count. Put your hand this way, find a closed place. Put your hand that way, another layer to collect a paper before you move it on, elsewhere, making new balances again and, each time, a new created book.

The roughness of the edges; the textured paper. The hanging threads, I kept. And paper edges, torn. You can clip them away if you like, or neaten everything up. But the uneven edges, they're intentional. I thought about customs, beliefs, songs, music, dance, symbols, foods, memories, humour, and story of any culture. Some threads will be bound up, put in the past, and lost, thought of as archaic, things we once did. But some will hang, like a thread, waiting to be picked up again and woven somewhere else. It seems a perfect way to make a book of that: an edge that has no clear definition, but offers strands to take up and connect again.