Jen Hawes,
Mixed Media Artist

Found object pressed into leather+cotton paper hand bound=journal, notebook




     Each journal, notebook, log book, or sketchbook made by MJ notebooks begins with hand cut leather.  To start my process of making a cover, which are the main focal point of each journal, I cut the leather to size taking into account the unique aspects of the piece.  To further enhance each one of a kind journal, I use a book press to imprint found objects into the leather before custom dying and painting each cover.

     For the book block, I use acid free cotton paper and hand bind them using the Smyth Sewn (A.K.A. Section-Sewn or Coptic) style of book binding which leaves no thread on the outside of the book. This style of book binding gives each journal a refined look and classic feel.

     All leather is sourced from a locally owned shop. I am currently searching for a suitable vegan leather, in line with MJ notebooks high standards.


      I am a completely self-taught journal maker and book binder.

Initially, I would decorate generic journals purchased from local shops. Later, I attempted to hand sew my own journals using standard paper and bookboard.  The AHA moment came once I began experimenting with leather covers and using my grandfather’s jewelry tools.  Everything felt right. This is when I really made the process my own. How I style and finish the leather to how I complete the binding process are what makes MJ notebooks unique.


      Being in my workshop and creating each and every journal is where I find my inspiration outlet. My workshop is filled with tools that belonged to my grandfather, a designer of fine jewelry, which I use to suite my journal making needs. One of the most important tools I use is my grandfather’s polishing lathe. Rather than burnish metal, I now use it to burnish the edges of the leather, giving each journal a comfortable feel.  Turning a journal into something you want to hold and take everywhere. Never leaving behind your record of ideas, art, data, travels, or memories. A partner for your inspiration.

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