I Love Making and Giving Customized Books

I don’t consider myself an artist.  But I do consider myself a passionate creator of hand-made gifts.  And yes, I have started making gifts for Christmas 2017.                                                

One of my favorite items to make and give is a customized book! I call it a “quote book” and I have made roughly one a year for friends and family over the past fifteen years. I love making them and am lost to another world when I am putting them together. The book is very personal to the recipient because I use only photos of them; alone or with people or places very significant to them.                                                                                                                

Most of the books look like small versions of an old fashioned photo album- spiral bound, black pages. On one page sits a photo and on the opposite page I hand-pen a quote that I have picked to go with the particular photo. I use quotes from famous people from all walks of life, the recipient's favorite people,  as well as complete unknowns, myself---and even my mother! Matching the text with the image is the most fun and immersive part. I have to know the recipient well in order to arrive at just the right impactful blend of quote and photo, so that he or she will be reminded of the humor of a happy event or--and I try to be very tender--the poignance of life’s heartbreak. I also include images of contentious people, because I try to encompass a whole life and conflict is never completely absent. Finding the perfect accompanying words is just the kind of search which takes me to that timeless place.              

In the case of books I made for my immediate family, the needed photos were available to me in my own house. For others, I have had to recruit a conspirator to help me get my hands on their family photo archives, then convince them to let some of those images go forever into my book, and finally keep this all to themselves until Christmas. This part of the creative process has led me to into some exciting secret rendezvous.                                                        

 I feel very fortunate--come Christmastime--to be able to watch as the intended recipient sinks into their book and experiences the texts and images of their own life story wash over them. Their faces change from page to page, creating an effect like a living animated flip-book, with chuckles, tears, ahhs and oohs and ultimately smiles of happiness.

Here are some examples from the book I made for Larry.                                                               The first photo is of Larry’s mother, followed by the quote. The next 3 are of Larry; one with his favorite species and two at favorite places - Camp du Nord and Ireland.                                  

The thumbnail image which accompanies the title is from a little window cut out from the front cover of Larry's book. It is a photo of Sarah's hand with a gift.

Mab Nulty