Icon Altered BooksI seldom remember the dreams I have when sleeping. I’m far more in tune with what I call waking dreams, the dreams that enliven my imagination – the I wonder what ifs, the step by step planning of something I hope to create, or the myriad ideas of how to use the arts to encourage others to go more deeply exploring that one life we each have to live. But sometimes some else has a dream of something they’d like to create and just need some guidance about how to make their dream come true.

That happened back in late October when our son and his wife came for the weekend to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Following a conversation with one of his sons, he dreamed of creating a book of prayers that have been meaningful to him, with personal reflections, for each of his five children. He knew what he wanted to do, but not quite how. I showed him a selection of handmade and altered books I’d made over the years, talked about the ease or complexity of creating each variation, and quickly settled on creating these future Christmas gifts from altered books.

Soon we were off to a used bookstore, hurrying through the stacks until we found five hardcover books the same size. Back home packages of metallic and colored tissue papers were torn in random pieces. Bottles of Mod Podge and brushes lay at the ready on the kitchen counter. The “guts” were cut out of each hardcover book with a utility knife. The remaining book boards were recovered using the decorative papers created from the tissue paper. New signatures were sewn into the spines of each book. Each child’s patron saint was affixed to the front of his or her book plus additional icons added on the inside and back covers. And at the end of the weekend, after the impromptu bookmaking workshop, five glorious, ready to be filled books were headed home for completion. During December, Dave and Joelle spent many hours filling these beautiful books with their heart-felt content. A dream realized. 

Other family members also had some dreams they were interested in seeing realized. As I wrote last week, 11 year old grandson Nate dreamed about learning how to sew. His initial dream wasn’t realistic – a tall collared wizard’s costume, but an Asian themed pillow case, with lots of straight lines, was a good place to begin. With that success under his ninja belt, the dream of a wizard’s robe may come true in the future.

Our fifteen year old grandson Scott has a dream of building a bench for his bedroom, complete with a self-upholstered cushion. It was fun to eavesdrop on his conversation with his grandpa, an experienced wood worker, about how to plan, budget, build and finish his first ever piece of furniture. And it was more fun to visit a local fabric store pricing foam pads and home decor fabrics suitable for the sewing project he dreams of us doing together. But, as you can imagine, it’s a dream come true helping our loved ones, young and older, realize their dreams.

When was the last time you collaborated with one of your waking dreams? If you have dreams, who helps you realize them? If you have youngs and olders in your life, what dreams do they have? How might you help those dreams come true?

Looking forward to hearing about your dreams!

5 comments to Dreams

  • Joyce

    How exhausted were you two after gutting and prepping those 5 books?! Can’t believe how fast you got there! And what a beautiful offering from dad and grandma to the 5 children…


  • found this so interesting as i am a bookbinder
    lovely that you found such an easy way of encouraging the dream to come true
    currently am working on a little tied booklet of pictures of my father
    how nice that your story has encouraged me to go ahead with it
    thanks for that

  • Lynne

    Joyce, actually Dave and his wife Joelle did all the labor intensive work over a three-day weekend in October where I casually stood by and offered occasional in-put on how to do something. Dave was a super fast study. I only needed to demo something once and he was off and running, able to teach Joelle each new step in the process. They were, however, exhausted after spending hours gluing the individual prayers and reflections onto the pages of five books. The books were gifts of the parents to the children. I was only a very proud creative consultant.

  • Barbara Hayes

    I love this, but I don’t understand how your are putting pages between the covers.

  • Lynne

    Barbara, we created three signatures of three sheets of paper each folded in half. They were then stitched into the spine of the book.

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