by Ana Matos
Hi, I’m Ana from Portugal and currently producing custom and handmade bookmarks under the name CraftsforYou.
Before talking about the work that I do and the types of bookmarks that I create, I want to share a little bit about my experience with books. Last Christmas I had a flashback about those times when buying a book was rare and receiving one was amazing. I had a lot of books in my school backpack but few, for leisure times, on my shelf. Back then having a book was so precious that I used to read the same book more than once during summer vacations. Later, in university, I had a lot of technical books to study asap and still no money (as a typical broke student) to buy and add books to my library, or should I say shelf. Fortunately, between friends, we would trade books which was a good solution and a way of increasing the sense of responsibility for shared things. I treated the books with care and tried to read them fast to give them back. But with my own (few) books I didn’t use such exemplary treatment. I used to underline the text and bend the corners of the pages – no bookmarks in my vocabulary! I feel so ashamed! Last week I was picking some books to give away for charity and again revisited my horrible crimes. Underlining was a bad habit I got from school, to facilitate studying and concentration.
Things are different now. I have books all around me, use bookmarks (paper and my own handmade) and have never bought so many books as before. They are still expensive in Portugal, at least for us, but now there’s more competition and so more good deals. Despite all you can see that books are special to me but the start of creating bookmarks didn’t arise from that - it was not at all premeditated.
In the end of 2015, before Christmas, I decided to reproduce some simple bracelets I saw on Etsy, so I bought materials but encountered so many cute charms that I ended up buying more than needed. The bracelets didn’t attract much attention, although now and then people still order. One day my other half was thinking about a present for a cousin and asked if I could do something with my materials. The person in question liked books, so why not a bookmark? Later I searched on Google to see if there was something that seemed like our ideas and there it was: bookmarks in cord, leather, etc.. So I made one and a few days later selected charms, and other stuff I had, and made a bunch of bookmarks. I posted on Facebook with friends and they bought as Christmas gifts. I really enjoyed the results and people buying more than one item to give. Like I usually say, money shouldn’t be a reason for not giving a present to someone. That was not the case because they were affordable, and still are (LOL), and above all I was spreading my handmade items, and so my dedication/energy. That is a lovely feeling, believe me. Am I forgiven for my crimes now that I do cosy bookmarks?
After Christmas time I started to have requests to make custom bookmarks. A client showed me book covers and asked me to do specific pieces. So that’s how it all continued.
In the last year I have been producing three types of bookmarks: custom with faux suede cord, zen and cork bookmarks. Along with these materials I use charms, pendants, stones and crystals, things I pick from mother nature, and sometimes things customers send me to re-use or because it has a special value to them.
Custom bookmarks usually are made in faux suede cord so it can match the colours of the book cover.
Zen bookmarks are the ones where I incorporate crystals, stones and charms related to zen, spiritual and healing vibes. For this type of book marker there’s also a partnership with an online store that sells stones and crystals – Prenda Natural. They choose these last parts and the rest is pretty much up to me. We have created a unique style and for now they are selling these pieces exclusively.
The last type I'm assembling are the bookmarks made in cork. Portugal is a leading country in exporting cork, so how come I did not have this idea before? These [bookmarks] don’t need to match the book cover colours. People just have to choose the combination of charms they prefer or ask for a specific one. I hope cork bookmarks one day become a vintage item, like some old and exclusive bookmarks IFOB members have been sharing.
There’s a world out there of people like me creating bookmarks or even doing for themselves, because there’s no limits when it comes to imagination and materials to use. And who ever likes books likes to accessorize them to enrich the entire experience of reading. Because picking a book, contemplating the cover, smelling the paper and diving in the story is a sensory experience I don’t intend to switch entirely to ebooks. Besides, how could I use my bookmarks in this case?!
Bookmarkly yours ;)
My website: http://crafts-for-you.site123.me
Our new member Gaby Dondlinger from Luxembourg is not only an avid bookmark collector, but she is also the inventor of a new type of bookmark exhibition, the so called "coffee table exhibition". She has sent us some pictures to let us see her idea of displaying her most precious bookmarks which were given her as gifts by friends and family or she brought home from foreign countries. "I keep them under the glass of my coffee table, so I can look at them every day," as she puts it.
I must say I was totally surprised by her pictures because I had never seen such a storage and display method yet though some of the collector colleagues has written various articles about how to store and display bookmarks. It will be interesting to know about the history of this table later.
"Since I was young I have been attracted by bookmarks, not as an expert collector, but rather as a random buyer and keeper of bookmarks," says Gaby about her collecting passion. "I like bookmarks from different countries which show the speciality or the character of a country, be it by the material, the symbols, or the way it is made."
Bookmarks from different countries on display in the coffee table exhibition of Gaby: Folded paper bookmarks from Japan, and an Edelweiss bookmark from Austria.
Black lace bookmark from Malta, bookmark handwoven and stitched in blue and white from Wisconsin, USA, purple felt bookmark from Lapland.
Other bookmarks from foreign countries, top and below.
by Asim Maner, January 2017