You may be familiar with Boston-based Bexx as the creator of the awesome online restaurant guide, VeganBoston, but did you know she also makes books?
In addition to an assortment of adorable journals, sketchbooks, and albums, Bexx has created two outstanding miniature books, How I Get My Protein and How I Get My Calcium. Each illustrated, handsewn book contains a short list of vegan nutrient sources, the amount of nutrient per serving, and percentage of daily value. Also included is information on how much protein or calcium the average person needs each day and a list of resources on vegan nutrition. Bexx recommends: “The next time someone asks you ‘How do you get your protein?’, suppress the urge to strangle them by handing them this cute little book!”
Through the magic of Myspace, I sent Bexx a few questions about her bookmaking business. She was kind enough to respond.
SuperVegan: What are some of the non-vegan tools/ materials used in traditional bookbinding and what do you substitute them with?
Bexx: Traditional bookbinding tools include leather, vellum, hide glue, beeswax (for waxing thread), silk, and bone folders made of real animal bone. For cover materials, I stick to cloth, decorative paper, and the occasional faux leather instead of using animal skins. I use wheat startch paste or PVA (synthetic) instead of that smelly hide glue. Instead of beeswax, I use microcrystaline wax, which is what they use for industrial sewing. To sew endbands, I use very fine linen thread instead of silk. I use a teflon or wood folder instead of one made from bone to fold my paper. Some of these materials are more expensive or harder to find, but I think the extra cost is worth it. Because all animal based materials are organic and therefore will decay over time, I think that staying away from them means my work has more archival posibilities!
How did you get started binding books?
While getting my Masters in Library Science, I began taking book repair classes, which led to some basic bookbinding workshops. I was hooked from the start. Now I’m back in school doing a full-time bookbinding program.
What inspired you to create How I get my protein and How I get my calcium?
As a vegan, I get asked these two questions CONSTANTLY. Most people really and truly believe that you cannot get enough calcium or protein from a vegetable based diet and they aren’t willing to take your word on it without some cold, hard facts. I wanted to have something to present to naysayers of the veg diet to show them that I can avoid animal products and still be healthy. These cute little books are portable, and help me to avoid getting flustered or feeling attacked.
Why did you decide to take an artisan approach to sharing this info, rather than running off a Word document at Kinko’s or posting the info on a web page?
The internet isn’t always at your fingertips. Flyers tend to get lost, thrown away, or aren’t considered trustworthy source of information. But adorable miniature books? Who can resist?
What other book and or web projects are you working on?
I make a variety of vegan books, photo ablums, and journals, all of which are for sale at www.thisisbexx.etsy.com. To complement the protein and calcium books, I am also working on a book called How I Get My Iron.
I also run a web based dining and shopping guide for the Boston area, www.veganboston.com. I’ve been neglecting it lately, but I hope to add a lot of new stores and restaurants over the summer.
What other crafts do you enjoy?
I used to sew a lot, but my sewing machine is now a very large, dusty paperweight. Books have taken over my life.
New Yorkers inspired by Bexx’s handiwork should check out Booklyn, a Greenpoint-based artists alliance that “works tirelessly to put books in the hands of the people and to encourage the people’s hands to make more books.” The nonprofit will teach you a bookmaking skill over the course of an entire month for a mere $20. The group also hosts a free open salon the first Tuesday of each month from 8 to 10pm; the next one is this week on May 6th.