Creative bookplate ideas

As I’ve written in previous posts, connecting with wonderful people around the world is one of the most fun aspects of the bookplate business. And hearing the creative ways people are using bookplates is icing on the cake.

GramercyPark2Our non-personalized bookplates, which are sold on our site in quantities as small as 20, have become quite a popular item. Recently, Etta wrote about using Design B211 for her Gramercy Park-themed birthday party in the fall of 2013. Gramercy Park is a private fenced-in park located within the Gramercy Park Historic District in Manhattan. According to the NY Times, the park has been fenced in since the 1830s and locked since 1844. In 2012, only 383 keys were in circulation, all given to residents of the historic district. GramercyPark3

Etta ordered copies of the book Gramercy Park, An American Bloombury by Carole Klein from Amazon to give to each attendee of her party as part of a goody bag. Interestingly, since the book is out of print, three different versions came, as shown above. She wrapped each one in raffia with autumn foliage and then placed it in the goody bag with a B211 bookplate attached to the outside of the bag with the respective attendee’s name written on the bookplate.

GrammercyPark1Since Gramercy Park is a well-established garden with mature plantings, Etta felt the gnome walking in the garden bookplate fit the theme perfectly. This lovely artwork was created by John Huchthausen, an artist trained in architecture and religious art who created many designs for the Antioch Bookplate Company in the early 1940s. Etta reported that everyone at the party loved the goody bags with their bookplate attached.

Etta wrote about her party when she ordered another set of bookplates, this time the non-personalized version of Design B253. Etta planned to host a party for her daughter, who was graduating from college in Charleston, South Carolina. Again, each attendee of the party was to be given a goody bag, this time with a book on the history of the college—which was established in the late 1700s—as well as other school memorabilia. B253Etta chose design B253 partly because she likes the inscription in the border, which reads, “A book is like a good friend; my friends I would forever keep.”

Other customers have used bookplates for guests to place in books for baby showers, to memorialize loved ones with a donation of books, for author signings, to put in books as a party favor at a wedding reception….the list is endless. Let me know if you have a unique use for bookplates!

Bookplates, schools and peacocks

cathedral

One of the joys of having an online business is having the chance to work with people from all over the world. And when there is some connection between us, it is the icing on the cake.

A few weeks ago, a customer called about having a bookplate printed for a book fair at her son’s school. Marceline explained that at the book fair, there would be a “wish list” table of books needed for the school library and teachers’ classrooms. While purchasing books for their children, parents could also purchase one of the “wish list” books to donate to the school. She further explained that she was looking for bookplates to put in the books to permanently acknowledge the parents and students for their gift to the school. While discussing possible designs, Marceline mentioned that there are peacocks on the school grounds. I suddenly realized that I had visited this school.

Last spring, my husband and I flew to New York City to visit our son. We had a wonderful time riding the subway and being tourists. One of the places we most enjoyed visiting was The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine on Amsterdam Avenue, which it turns out, is the location of the school Marceline was calling about.

compositeAs we approached the cathedral, I was taken by the garden and Peace Fountain at the side. The Peace Fountain, a magnificent work itself, is surrounded by sculptures created by students at the school. I was astonished by the skill and effort put into these creations and spent quite a while looking at them.

peacockMy husband strolled down the lane at the side of the cathedral and came back to report seeing two peacocks wandering about. These peacocks, one of which was white, were friendly and fearless. They seemed quite used to being around people and, at least while we were there, seemed to enjoy showing off. According to an article in the NY Times, the cathedral grounds has been home to peacocks since the 1980s, when the Bronx Zoo donated some chicks. And the peacocks are named after various deans at the school and cathedral.peacockwhite

Marceline, who is the Co-President of the Parents Association at The Cathedral School, ultimately chose Bookplate Ink’s design B211 because of the animals in the elaborate border, citing the animals in the many sculptures on the church and school grounds. B211 is one of two troll designs drawn by John Huchthausen, an artist trained in architecture and religious art who created many designs for Antioch Bookplate Company in the early 1940s.

As you can see, I removed the troll from the middle of the design, added the logo for the school and the necessary text, and enlarged the design just a little. The students’ names will be handwritten on the bookplate, along with their graduating class year. The printed bookplates are now at the school and the book fair is starting. Marceline reported that everyone is pleased with the bookplates, and I am pleased to be a part of this wonderful event supporting reading and education.Bookplatecomposite

Creative author bookplates

We have had the privilege of printing many wonderful designs with custom artwork over the years, many for well-known authors. We always protect the privacy of our customers and don’t publicize bookplates without permission. Lately, though, we’ve printed several beautiful designs to use for booksignings whose owners have been happy to share. In fact, they are all available on the authors’ websites as a giveaway. We have posted all of these on our Facebook page, but wanted our blog readers who don’t use Facebook to have access. If you do use Facebook, please consider “liking” our page so that you get updates. We will also be offering specials through the Facebook page.

Emily Giffin’s general bookplate

One of our well-known and loyal customers is Emily Giffin, author of Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof, Love the One You’re With, Heart of the Matter, and her latest book, Where We Belong. We have printed bookplates for Giffin that are for her books in general, and ones that are specific to each book. She will sign bookplates upon request through her website.

Where We Belong bookplate

According to her site, Giffin has been dubbed a “modern day Jane Austen” and a “dependably down-to-earth storyteller….Her five novels, all filled with her endearingly flawed characters and emotional complexity, have been translated into twenty-nine languages, with five million copies in print worldwide. In addition, three of her novels have been optioned for the big screen, and Something Borrowed has been fast-tracked for an early 2010 shoot by the production companies of Hilary Swank and Edward Burns.”

J&P Voelkel write a really interesting adventure series called Jaguar Stones, based on historical facts about Mayan culture, appropriate for young readers. Books in this series include Book One: Middleworld, Book Two: The End of the World Club, and Book Three: The River of No Return. They recently ordered their second bookplate design from us, with the Mayan theme evident in their artwork.
I found the biographical information on their website to be really interesting:

J&P Voelkel bookplate

Jon Voelkel grew up in Peru, Costa Rica and Colombia. He was not a natural-born adventurer and found life in the jungle difficult, to say the least. Having survived monkey stew, an attack by giant rats, and a plane crash in the middle of the rainforest, he escaped to college in Minneapolis and went on to business school in Barcelona. After working in advertising agencies in Spain, Holland and England, he started his own agency in London with four other partners – one of whom would be his future wife. In 2001, the London Financial Times named him one of the top fifty creative minds in Britain.

While Jon was battling the daily perils of the jungle, Pamela was growing up in a sedate seaside town in northwest England and dreaming of adventure. As soon as she graduated, she escaped to London to take any job with “writer” in the title. After stints reviewing books, writing catalogs and penning speech bubbles for photo-romances, she became an advertising copywriter and award-winning Creative Director.

In 2001, J&P moved from London to rural Vermont, and began work on ‘Middleworld’. In an interesting male/female collaboration, Jon focuses on the action scenes (much of it based on his own childhood memories and the bedtime stories he tells their three children), while Pamela enjoys thinking about the characters and deciding how they feel about things.

When they’re not writing and illustrating their books or visiting schools, the Voelkels are usually traveling in Central America, attending Maya conferences, and studying Maya glyphs.

Maryanne O’Hara’s bookplate

Writer Maryanne O’Hara’s debut novel, Cascade, has just been published, to very positive reviews, including this one by Kim Edwards, author of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and Lake of Dreams: 

“I stayed up very late into the night to finish Cascade, captivated by Dez Hart, a woman torn between competing loyalties: her marriage and her freedom, her sense of responsibility and her desire to live an artist’s fiercely disciplined and passionate life. Past and place come alive in this book; these characters are richly drawn and complexly human. Compelling and fascinating, the story unfolds in such unexpected ways, and with such gathering tension, that I couldn’t stop until I’d read the final, beautifully written, line.”

According to O’Hara, her brother, Michael Bavaro, designed her bookplate to look like a postcard since this is an important element in Cascade. These were printed on a slightly heavier white paper stock, which gives it a nice feel and texture. More information is available on her website.

Meagan Spooner’s bookplate

Author Meagan Spooner’s young adult fantasy novel, Skylark, the first in a trilogy, has also just been published. Skylark has already been selected to be featured as a Young Adult Buzz Book at BEA 2012. According to New York Times bestselling author Carrie Jones, “Skylark‘s rich narrative and plucky heroine will transport you into a mesmerizing and horrifying world.” Spooner also co-authored with Amie Kaufman the young adult science fiction romance These Broken Stars. Read more about her bookplates and work on her site 

Bookplate for Malawian book

Who knew that printing bookplates would be such a great way to find out about interesting projects around the world?

We recently received a second order from Richard Hewitt, a customer from the United Kingdom who teaches at the Kamuzu Academy in Malawi. Mr. Hewitt’s first order was for bookplates for his own use. This second order is for bookplates that will be placed in presentation copies of a book by Fr. Claude Boucher about a traditional Malawian dance, Gulu Wamkulu. For a fascinating explanation of this dance performed by select Chewa men, see http://www.unesco.org/culture/intangible-heritage/22afr_uk.htm.

Fr. Boucher is a Canadian missionary and White Father, a popular name for Missionaries of Africa, a Catholic religious order founded by Cardinal Lavigerie in the nineteenth century for missionary activity in Africa and the Middle East. The name “White Fathers” comes from the white habits worn by the early missionaries. Nowadays, just about all new recruits to the White Fathers are Africans themselves. Boucher came to Malawi from Quebec in 1967 and founded the Kungoni Centre of Culture and Art in 1976.

According to the Kungoni Centre website, Fr. Goucher is an initiated member of the Nyau secret society and as such “has been privileged to see and document songs, dances and information that have not previously been revealed to any non-Malawian. This rich cultural heritage is in the process of being lost as Gule Wamkulu continues to be pressured by Western values and urbanization.” Boucher’s book, When Animals Sing and Spirits Dance: Gule Wamkulu: The Great Dance of the Chewa People of Malawi, is due to be published in August, and will be the first book-length study of this traditional Malawian dance. More information will be available at http://www.kasiyamaliro.org/.

The bookplate we will be printing for the book, shown here, is Claude Boucher’s own design. It offers a literal illustration of a Chewa proverb, appropriate to thank those who have helped to fund the book. Malawian villagers support the roof of a traditional village hut by carrying it on their heads. They are helped by ancestral spirits (supernaturally elongated, pale, androgynous), who collaborate with the living in their work. God is depicted in the form of a mask with tribal scarification. Two of his aspects are suggested: Mphambe, the God of lightning; and Chiuta, the God of the rainbow, who serves to unite heaven and earth.

We are pleased to be a small part of this wonderful project supporting an important part of the Malawian culture.

Bookplate ideas for children

One of the fun aspects of printing bookplates is discovering the creative ways they are being used.  In particular, I love hearing about wonderful ideas using bookplates to encourage children to read and to love books.

Recently, I received a request for a second order of bookplates that a school used last year for their “Donate-A-Book Program.” This school asks the grandparents of their students to donate a book to the school library in honor of their grandchild. A bookplate is added to each book telling which child is being honored and by whom. According to the school librarian, “The children are excited about having award-winning books dedicated in their honor! Not only do the children feel ownership, they are beginning to understand what it means to honor and to be honored.  In this fast-paced age, it is a wonderful value to plant deep in their hearts.”

Other schools have a birthday book club. On students’ birthdays, a book is donated to the school library in their honor. Often, a simple border design, perhaps with the school logo and room to add the child’s name, is used. Imagine the pride of young students when they see a book in their school library with their name printed as the donor.

Many bookplates are purchased for gifts to newborn babies or even as baby shower gifts. An idea that I love is to have a “book shower,” where guests are asked to give a book for the upcoming baby, with a bookplate included. One customer wrote about the process: “I explain in the invitation for guests to purchase a favorite book to help start the baby’s library (a bookplate is included in each invitation).  I ask guests to personalize the bookplate and adhere it to the gift.  It’s a unique theme for a baby shower and books make a cherished gift.”

Bookplates make great baby gifts from individuals also. Another customer wrote, ” I originally found you online, but this is my third order, and I’ve got more friends having babies soon!! This is my favorite baby gift — a few classic books with labels inside, and the rest in a lovely box. Just perfect.”

I used this same idea recently when a friend had her first child. I bought a couple of children’s books that I love and inserted one of my favorite bookplates with the baby’s name printed on them. I included a box of the same bookplates for use with other books. The bookplate I chose, design JH100, features an illustration from the classic fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk, created by artist Jim Harris. This was a recent addition to our gallery that I’m thrilled to offer. Jim is an American illustrator currently living in New Zealand. His books have sold over 3,000,000 copies, including award-winning titles such as Petite Rouge, The Three Little Javelinas, Jack and the Giant, and Ten Little Dinosaurs. Jim also creates art for private collectors and corporate clients, including the Franklin Mint, IBM, Chicago Tribune, and National Geographic Books.  You can see more examples of his work at jimharrisillustrator.com.

Bookplates can create a connection between grandparents and their grandchildren in a personal and lasting way. One grandfather recently wrote, “This is my fourth order of the same bookplate for my four grandchildren. Tyler is the most recent. I started with this design when I was in college and have enjoyed sharing it with my grandchildren.”

And finally, an additional idea for children was brought to my attention by a comment on this blog. A delightful new customer, Susie Champion, explained that she adds a personal message on the bookplates in books she gives her grandchildren: “Just a note to tell you how important your bookplates are to my grandchildren. Every book I give has an Antioch plate inside. I write a personal anticipatory note about the story’s importance, adventure, life lessons, or pure fun and silliness. In simple ‘kid talk,’ I explain why it’s tailored to that particular child. So the books have piled up over almost five years between two families. Both daughter-in-laws have told me how they have been severely reprimanded by four- and two-year-olds at story time because, ‘That (the first page of the story) isn’t the beginning! You have to start reading at the beginning Mom!’ Your bookplates with their personal message, after the title on the cover, are now the beginning for all my grandchildren. Thank you so very much.
P.S. The oldest came home from pre-school and said how sad it was that all the books there were ’empty.’ They did not have ‘our special page.'”