Through The Magic Door

Distractions aplenty

Handmade Books Workshop

At the beginning of last year I was feeling a little brave. After spending 6 years in Exeter feeling totally isolated and barely leaving the house, I took a giant leap of faith and offered up my baking services to The Hub On The Green (who I found out about via Twitter) for one of their Craft Fairs. Much to my surprise this turned out to be an enjoyable experience, and so I did it again for the next one.

hub on the green

I soon became involved in the setting up of the Exeter Baking Club. I also started helping out at The Hub’s Craft Fairs serving the tea and cake. Both things I never thought I’d be able to cope with doing. It hasn’t always been a smooth journey and many anxious, panic filled tears have been spilt. But I did it. I got myself out there, met new people, did new things.

Then I started to realise I had stopped getting out there and doing new things. I was going to The Hub all the time and constantly hearing about this exciting workshop, or that great crafting afternoon, but I wasn’t doing any of them. I had done all the hard work of originally getting myself out of the house and interacting with other people, but I’d built up a new comfort zone that I was becoming just as scared of leaving.

And this is where we come to the Handmade Books Workshop. I had seen the posters advertising it and was immediately intrigued. Any book lover would be. But then I did nothing. It didn’t enter my mind that I should actually go.

Fast forward a few weeks and I’m sat at home flicking through Facebook out of sheer boredom when I see a post about the Handmade Books Workshop again, mentioning how you should book a place quickly because they’re going fast. So on the spur of the moment, I sent off an email asking to book a place.

The next 3 weeks of waiting for the night of the workshop were an anxious hell. All of that hard-earned confidence from last year has completely vanished.

Come Monday night I had almost decided that I couldn’t bring myself to go and stressed myself out so much about it that I didn’t sleep at all. But as yesterday evening came around I kept saying to myself, “you’re just going to The Hub, you’re just going to The Hub” and eventually this was enough to get me out of the house.

Once there I decided it would be unacceptably rude to leave and with one familiar friendly face in the group calming my nerves slightly, I sat down and just hoped my anxiety and slightly uncontrollable shaking wouldn’t ruin the entire experience.

The shaking caused some slight problems. Cutting straight lines was comically difficult but I have ended up with two very lovely concertina books and one slightly dodgy looking one that I’m just going to forget was even attempted. I had intended to put a spine on one of the books too but didn’t get around to it in the end.

handmade books worshop

It was a wonderfully creative workshop. Nina gave brilliant demonstrations for us to follow and then set us free to play and experiment. Making a book can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. I kept it simple. Nina’s own work was incredibly impressive (books with compasses and paint palettes built-in!) and some of the other ladies created some stunning things too.

concertina books

I don’t know if I’ve proven anything to myself through this experience; that I did do it despite everything I was feeling. I don’t feel particularly proud of myself. Especially not after bursting out in uncontrollable tears as soon as I left. Just once I’d like to be able to enjoy something without the experience being tainted by my ridiculous problems.

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5 comments on “Handmade Books Workshop

  1. Rachel
    February 27, 2013

    I understand very well how debilitating anxiety disorders are. I have struggled with similar issues on and off for many years and you know what? I think you should be proud of yourself for last night. It was a big step and you managed to get through it. The books look ace too 😉

  2. Nina Fenner
    March 16, 2013

    Hello you, just found this while ambling about the Hub website. Thank you so much for coming along and I’m really glad you enjoyed it. I think you are a very brave person. Remember bravery isn’t about not being afraid, bravery is acting despite the fear. That makes you a very brave person. Well done, and great pictures. May I use that one of the workshop on my blog as I never get round to taking pictures when I’m teaching? I’m hoping to have a stall at the craft fairs when they start again, and looking forward to trying out the tea and cakes, yum.
    Nina x

    • throughthemagicdoor
      March 16, 2013

      Thank you, Nina.
      Feel free to use any photos, there are a few more on the Through The Magic Door Facebook page too.

      • ninafenner
        March 19, 2013

        Thanks, found the facebook ones too, and I’ve done a blog post with a link to your blog. I like the look of the chick pea recipe, I love chick peas but haven’t had any for ages..

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This entry was posted on February 27, 2013 by in Crafts, Days Out, Paper Craft and tagged , , , , , .

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