Journaling with Leslie Post
Interview by Song River
Song: Last time we spoke you shared with me a little about how you came to be interested in the craft of book making. It was quite a journey for you. How did you go about first deciding on this old world craft, then going on to learning the process? (If you are comfortable, please go ahead and talk about your military background a bit, how this interest came forth, and how it is now your full time business.)
Leslie: I began journaling in high school, mostly angst ridden poetry as most teenagers do and found it to be a great outlet for my thoughts and feelings. After high school I joined the military and took up journaling my experiences during this time.
I was a military police investigator attached to CID (Criminal Investigation Dept) on the Drug Suppression Team. For obvious reasons having a social life was very much curtailed so spent most of my personal time reading/studying subjects from feminism to mysticism. My writing at that time was more about exploring and "connecting the dots" of the various subject matter I devoured.
I continued this practice after I left the military and when I was living in CO I really desired obtaining a leather bound blank book for my studies. This was in 1990, well before the internet, and had no luck in the Denver area of finding such, SO I decided that I would make my own.
For about 8 months I borrowed every book I could obtain from the public library on all sorts of binding techniques and then one day sat down and crafted my own journal.
Made a few for friends, did a few small craft shows and then was encouraged to purchase booth space at the local Renaissance Festival. My first year was in '92. By '95 I jumped off the cliff, quit my job, and decided to take my bookbinding passion from hobby to full time career which took three more years, but that’s another story!
Song: How is leather overall to work with?
Leslie: I LOVE working with leather! I started out the gate with leather as my primary material. Over the years I have experimented with clothe, etc but really don't enjoy it. For me being self taught.
I did not allow myself to be confined to the traditional methods/techniques and materials and have experimented quite a bit over the years eventually developing my own methods and techniques with materials available to me locally and within my budget therefore creating my own style.
Song: Even though you tried other materials, why is it leather seems to be the chosen material?
Leslie: I do experiment and continue to, but always fall back to leather. It just works for me! In fact, some years ago after being asked by several vegans to craft books not of leather I gave in and did.... they were beautiful, done with tapestry type material and I received quite a few compliments on them, BUT never sold one. I don't think my heart was into it, so it didn't have the energy that my leather books do. I ended up giving them away and now say no when asked to do that.
Song: Is there a certain grade you have to purchase to be able to work on it as you do?
Leslie: I do not use traditional bookbinding leather. I use three different weights (thickness) and I like my leather to be soft and supple not stiff and 'boardy' like other binders use.
Song: Are there special tools required?
Leslie: Not for me. I made my own equipment due to not having the money to invest in fancy bookbinding equipment. I always thought that one day when I had the money I would purchase bookbinding equipment but my simple binding frame and presses I made from scrap wood back in the day has served me so well I have no desire to purchase a fancy equipment. I have no machinery other than a leather sewing machine for the edges of some of my products. Other than that all my tools are simple leather hand tools... once again, goes back to experimenting to achieve the effect I am going for.
It would seem depending on the tool work, size of book, etc... that each leather book would take various lengths of time to produce. What is the approximate time on your larger leather bound books that have tool work done on them?
Depending on the binding method, hand laced or hand stitched, and amount of detail it can take up to 3 or 4 days before I finish a book. Not all labor, there are many steps involving gluing and I have to allow time for drying before proceeding to the next step.
Song: What have been some of your favorite requests to create?
Leslie: All of them! Just when I think I have a favorite I receive a custom even more challenging then the last and it becomes my favorite and so on.
Song: Do you also make the paper filler? Can they be refilled?
Leslie: My hand laced bindings can be refilled. I started out only crafting hand stitched bindings but had so many people wanting refillable that I had to come up with something. There were "refillable" journals out there but in actuality were covers for a manufactured book. I wanted to do something totally different. When books transitioned from scroll form to book form as we see them now one method of sewing was side stab where the book block was drilled with holes from top to bottom and stitched, think Japanese binding. I wanted to create a book not a cover that could be refilled but in a standard size so I came up with the hand-laced method in which the paper was 3 hole punched and could be easily replaced not only with the paper I offered but any paper found at an office supply store. The method of how I laced the books was solely my own.
Song: What is it about our own personal journals that we hold to?
Leslie: This is so subjective I can only answer for myself.
My journaling helps me to clarify and categorize my thoughts (my monkey mind) into something that makes sense. I really don't do daily journaling of my day to day activities.. most of my journaling takes up a thread of something I have read, and I explore those thoughts and how they relate to other aspects of life. In retrospect, I am a self taught scholar constantly note taking on an eclectic array of subjects.
Song: Where did the name for your business come from?
Leslie: I was reading a book on the history of Britain and read a passage on the "divine right" of kings... it was an epiphany moment. I had been stumped on a name for weeks, nothing felt right. As soon as I saw those two words I knew that was my biz name. I changed the spelling and made it look more old English, because I thought it looked cool... sort of regret that now because a lot of people can't remember how to spell it correctly which does lead to problems.
(laughs) Oh well, live and learn!
Song: Each summer you take off across the United States, do you sell your wares at various comic cons across the US, where?
Leslie: Yes I do. Currently, my yearly schedule starts off with AZ Renaissance Festival from Feb to March. My next big shows are Phoenix Comicon and Denver Comicon, end of May and beginning of June. I take off all of July to concentrate on crafting inventory and then I trek across the States to my home in NH to visit my family, and also vend at Boston Comicon.
Then, I make my way down the east coast visiting family and friends occasionally picking up small shows. I return to AZ in September. I have added Tucson Comicon and Fan Fest to my schedule. Other than that, here and there pick up a smaller show for pocket money and sell my wares on Etsy.
Song: Do you take special or custom orders?
Leslie: I do. My website is for customers to pick and choose all features I offer for me to custom craft to order to fit all desires and budgets. My Etsy shop is for crafted inventory ready to ship.
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