Monday, 27 July 2020

July 2020: Update on projects and Quarto's first Zoom meeting!

For the second time this year, we've had to miss our quarterly meeting and workshop because of the pandemic. However, the one good thing about the very strange four months we've spent in lockdown has been the time to do lots of creative projects and this quarter's blog is a quick round up of some of them!  Many thanks to members who have sent these photos!

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology and Margaret Beech's ingenuity, many members were able to take part in a 'virtual' workshop via Zoom to make these lovely 'Nested pinwheels (with little bit of Paper Magic!)'.

Janet Barnett then went on to add her own twist to Margaret's work using the leftover pieces to create a lovely matching  'curly box', perfect, she says, for a Ferrero Rocher!

Janet has also demonstrated her talent for limericks during the lockdown!
Jill Williams has created this fabulous stab bound colouring book for a friend:
Margaret has also been sending us inspirational ideas via email - it's never too early to think Christmas if you are a crafter!

And finally, Alison Topham has put her wonderful bookbinding creations on sale via her Etsy store: visit
to see the gorgeous one-of-a kind handmade books which she has for sale.

If anyone else would like to share their lockdown creations, please just email a clear photo to Jo!

Stay safe, everyone, and have a creative summer!

Thursday, 30 April 2020

April 2020: Strange Times Indeed!

Normally, around this time, I would have been posting the photos of our April Quarto meeting with our lovely swap books and projects.  But Spring 2020 has been anything but normal.  We postponed April's meeting when the UK Corona virus advice led to a full lockdown and we realised that it was very unlikely that we would be able to meet up at all.

However, as 'crafty types', we've not been idle.  Margaret Beech has been emailing small paper projects to members to keep us occupied - the sort of thing that could be easily mailed as a cheer-up in an envelope.  In addition, several members forwarded photos of their lockdown crafting projects so that we can share a virtual gallery of our craftiness!  Some of these are below.  If anyone else has pictures to add, please do send them to my usual email address and we'll do a second post in a week or two...

Jill Williams has created an array of gorgeous cards, using a mixture of different papercraft techniques... well as a fabulous bunting banner for her niece's wedding (now sadly postponed to next spring.) Jill sent this as two photos and I've 'magicked' them together - please ignore the join!!!

Janet Barnett has also been inspired to make some lovely cards, using a wide range of different ideas from Quarto and Northumbrian Scribes workshops:

Margaret has been creating some fabulous monochrome montages:

And Jo and Pat Duncan have been working on a Saturday Recycling Creative Challenge: week 1 was toilet roll tubes which became characters from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream':

and week 2 Matchboxes which became mini theatres:
Finally, a burst of sunshine in paper-form from Ruth Rowland, reminding us that things will get better at some point - I think this is the message we all need at the moment!!

More soon !  Until then, stay safe, stay well and stay creative!

Sunday, 26 January 2020

January 2020 meeting 'Precious Things'

Our Winter meeting was held on Saturday 25th January with seven people attending and we had a very productive day, with Judy Elphinstone leading a workshop on the construction of Hedi Kyle's Blizzard book - a structure requiring neither stitching nor glue.  Having mastered this fairly quickly, we then moved on to the impressive wrap-round cover which proved to be a  lot more challenging than it looked but which we were all proud to say looked fabulous when complete.

In the afternoon, Pat Duncan led a workshop to create 'Shiori Ningyo' - traditional Japanese doll origami bookmarks. 

As is often the case, both of these projects came from books made for  swaps in 2019 - Judy's for 'Italy' and Pat's for 'Japanese Stab Binding'.

The book swap topic for this meeting was 'Precious Things' which, as always, members had interpreted in many different ways, creating books about seeds, concepts and principles, the alphabet, varied personal interests, family history and nature, with sewn, folded and tied structures, and even one book that rattled when shaken! 

Susan Moor's Northumberland walking map book was inspired by John Ogilby's 'Britannica' map which can be viewed here:

Looking forward to the Spring and our next get-together!

Next meeting:  Saturday 27th April
Swap topic: 'Fairy Tales'

Monday, 28 October 2019

October 19 meeting: 'Herbs', surprising circles, herringbones and ancient manuscripts

Our Autumn meeting took place on Saturday October 26th at the University of Sunderland, with ten attendees braving the October rain.  We were lucky enough to have three projects taught by Margaret Beech and a lovely shared lunch to celebrate Quarto’s 18th birthday.
The day's projects
To begin, following Margaret’s instructions, we created a ‘Surprising Circles’ book which was decorative, interactive and very tactile.  The ‘surprising’ part comes in the way the pages fold out from a quarter of a circle into full circles and then refold themselves with a clever twist.

After a delicious lunch – we do put on a good spread for these occasions! - we were fortunate to have a visit from Susan Moor with her current work in progress - a facsimile on vellum of the opening page of St John from the ‘Durham Gospel’ fragments. Although not nearly as well known as the famous Lindisfarne Gospels, this page of the Durham Gospels has recently been on display at the British Library.  

The design is breathtaking in its complexity and detail, with complex interlacing and some fascinating zoomorphic creatures. We were all in awe of Susan’s skill at re-creating the work of the anonymous scribe who created the original on Lindisfarne in the 7th century and really appreciated the chance to have a close look at such a fabulous piece of art.  Susan also very generously allowed us to photograph the piece, which is a commission.
A few details from Susan Moor's work-in-progress

Our book-swap theme was ‘Herbs’ and green was the colour of choice for many  as a result. Structures included concertinas, a border book, a star book with swivel panels and some interesting open spine binding. Although most members had taken the title at face value and concentrated on herbal plants, their medicinal qualities and the history of herbal use, there were some creative ‘off-piste’ books as well.

We learn so much from each other at this part of the day – and not just about bookbinding.  By the end of the swap we’d discovered the ‘Nine Herb Spell’, William Turner, Greek mountain oregano, a much-loved 1960s children’s TV programme, the automotive film star ‘Herbie’ and several famous people called ‘Herb’! (Hopefully all of the swap books are shown: apologies to anyone whose book I’ve accidentally missed out!)

Following Margaret’s instructions, everyone had brought multiple copies of the haiku they had written at the last meeting to be bound into a collaborative ‘Herringbone’ book.  A very simple but effective structure: we bound ours with double-sided tape, but Margaret showed two others she had made using pamphlet stitch and Japanese stab-binding.  The books were quick to make and looked very effective with our words inside.

Right at the end of the day, Margaret completed her ‘hat-trick’ of projects with a very simple origami fold which turns two squares of paper into an interesting box – a disphenoid (or isosceles) tetrahedron! -  perfect for small Christmas presents and table favours.  We left totally inspired to glorious Autumn sunshine!


Many thanks to everyone who helped make the day such a success and particularly to Margaret who organised the programme and demonstrated.

Next meeting: 25th January
Swap Theme: Precious Things

Sunday, 13 October 2019

From our Achives 1

Looking forward to our upcoming meeting on 26th October and seeing what creative responses members have had to this quarter's theme - 'Herbs'.  In the meantime, here's a look back at some of our books from April 2015 - 'Butterflies'.

 Not all the books we created are represented here but these are a sample of the range of structures made by the group.

Can't wait to see what everyone has come up with for this month's meeting!

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

July 19 meeting: 'Italy', Jacob's Ladders, Haiku and Origami

Some of our Italian themed 'swap' books for July's meeting
Our Summer meeting took place on Saturday July 27th at the University of Sunderland, with thirteen members attending.  

In the morning, we followed Pat Duncan’s instructions for making a Jacob’s Ladder structure. Several of us had tried this before, using a range of different methods with mixed success.  However, Pat’s simpler process - using a template to position the ribbons correctly - enabled everyone to complete a working ’ladder’ without too much difficulty and the results were impressive. 

Margaret Beech has forwarded a photo of this fabulous version she created after the meeting:
Our book-swap theme was ‘Italy’ and the topic inspired a wide range of different responses and some impressive structures. It is always fascinating to hear the  stories behind the swap books, the thought processes, triumphs and occasional mishaps that lead to the finished pieces. As is often the case, several of the structures were requested as demonstrations for future meetings. (Only some of the swap books are shown above: apologies to anyone whose book I’ve missed off. Several of my photographs were not clear enough to reproduce: I think I needed better light to do them justice. I promise better photography next time!)  

After lunch and the book-swap, Jo Duncan reminded us how to write haiku: a simple Japanese poetry form of three lines and seventeen syllables. There was (silent!!) concentration for half an hour with much syllable counting. Everyone completed at least one haiku before sharing our mini-masterpieces round the table.  These will be used at the next meeting as the contents for the ‘Herringbone’ Book Margaret Beech will demonstrate.

Finally, Janet Barnett demonstrated two simple origami folds which can be used to create impressive concertina book structures and we finished the day by creating our own versions with the pretty papers she provided.
All in all, a very successful and productive day! 

Next meeting: 26th October
Theme: Herbs
Shared table to celebrate our 18th birthday