All the time I am asked how I became a bookbinder. Well here is the quick version of my story. While studying photography at the University of Oklahoma, I took a few bookmaking classes and immediately loved it, but my focus was on photography and my career path was to be an educator and artist. In 2010, I earned my MFA from Indiana University and started teaching full time at IUPUI. After one year, my contracted ended and I decided to travel. After traveling for 1200 miles on a bicycle, I moved to Asheville, North Carolina. With no access to photography facilities or a studio, I picked up bookmaking again. All I needed was paper, a needle, and some thread. In 2013, I quit my full-time salaried job and started my book bindery, Original Brooks.
Original Brooks is a small bookbinding studio that started in Asheville, North Carolina and will be relocating to Norman, Oklahoma in August. My first studio was a seven-foot counter in the corner of my living room and I only had a few basic hand tools. Five years later and thousands of handcrafted journals later, my studio has expanded to a 300 square foot space with several pieces of commercial binding equipment.
The bindery specializes in hand sewn journals made from reclaimed and vintage materials. I buy paper from thrift stores and estate sales where I salvage composition notebooks, business letterhead, stationery, and other paper ephemera. Since I use materials that are salvaged and vintage, most of the book bindery’s products are one-of-a-kind. I also am proud of the fact that I save over 500 pounds of paper and material a year that was bound for the landfill.
Every journal, whether a custom order or from my Etsy Shop, is handcrafted with great care. I pay attention to the smallest of details and each one is designed for ease of use and enjoyment. Each journal is a handmade original.