Jan 19 2011

Happy 30th Birthday, Buffy Summers!

Happy Thirtieth, Chosen One!  And welcome to those of you visiting from Tor.com and Teresa Jusino‘s great article.  Take a look around, and check out my Etsy shop if you’re looking for a gift for the Slayer who has everything.

Jan 19 2011

The precursor

Years before I imagined any of the Geekery series books there was, apparently, an ancestor. I don’t have it anymore, it was a gift for a friend (or, more precisely, sold to a friend who gave it to another friend.) Compared to my current bindings, it is primitive. Another ancestral trait. And ever since my mind made the connection, I can’t stop thinking of that first one. So, I have decided to make another one. The book in question was a lovely little conception; the covers featured some of my favorite opening lines from memorable novels. Some quite famous, like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice,

and others more obscure. Not all were classics, nor necessarily polite or suitable for children. All were left without sources or annotation, leaving the observer to discover, divine, remember, or research the origins. A game, a quiz, a puzzle, a point of pride, or just a reason to waste some time on Google. If memory serves there were about twenty odd opening sentences on the covers. My graphic design was a bit crude, as was my bibliopegy compared to what I’m doing now.  I can promise that my binding skills have evolved significantly since I made the original “Opening Lines” book… I’m afraid I won’t make that same promise regarding my graphic design.  But I will give it a try.  And this time with more first sentences.

The friend who was the final recipient of the book is quite a writer himself, Adam Hunault.  Someday I might be adding one of his opening lines to my “Opening Lines 4.0” book or something.  You can check his out blog. Or perhaps you’ve already read some of his short stories or plays.  Hey Adam, if you’re reading this, have you figured out all the opening lines yet? When he and I last spoke of it, I believe he knew almost all of them within the first few days of receiving it, but was stumped on a couple.  And he didn’t seem keen on figuring them out simply by Googling them.

So, my next book, coming soon… “Opening Lines 2.0”

(Unfortunately, I actually can’t find any photos of the original Opening Lines books… I’ll keep looking and post any I find.)

Dec 13 2010

Hush, The Gentlemen, the thorough and graphic research of Rupert Giles, and my love of Joss Whedon

Hush, interior of handbound Buffy journal

Giles' depiction of The Gentlemen's modus operandi

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my all time favorite television show. I have seen every episode more times than I’m going to say. There are a handful of episodes that I’ve seen twice as many times as the number of times that I’m not going to say. HUSH is one of those episodes. I love HUSH. I love it as a stand-alone piece, for the part it plays in the fourth season arc, and because of the reasoning Joss Whedon gave for making it.   There is something so intimate about the silence in this episode, too.

Hush, cover pages/overhead transparencies

I made versions of each and every one of Giles' slides, including one for when Giles started the presentation backwards

Hush, Buffy handbound journal

I tried to make the book so that to Buffy fans it was immediately and unmistakeably the box from Hush, while to the non-initiated it looks simply like an embellished journal.

When designing the books in the Buffy series, I knew I had to make a HUSH book. And if I was going to make a Hush book, I was going to use the scene with Giles in the classroom with the overhead projector. (All of a sudden I just pictured a Joss Whedon Clue™ boardgame — it was Giles in the classroom with the overhead projector!) Everybody gets a funny in that scene.  Xander at the mercy of his hormones, The Gentlemen are really after “boobies?”  Anya gets her former vengeance demon moment, as she looks nonchalantly at Giles’ depiction of the bloody removal of a human heart.  Willow gets to just be generally adorable as she pantomimes her brainstorm for logical solutions to the problem at hand, the manufacture of a voice.  Whedon even manages to make a masturbation joke (usually far too base for BtVS, that is, unless it’s Spike talking) seem clever, with Buffy frantically trying to find her stake to clarify her grossly misunderstood gesturing.  And then the beautifully executed moment where Buffy reacts to the proportion with which Giles’ drew her likeness – where we all get to laugh because Saving the World is such a commonplace event for Buffy and the Scoobies, that she still gets that moment. I had so much fun making this book.  And yeah, I watched the whole episode again, even though I just needed to do screen captures from one scene.  I hope it turned out to be a worthy tribute.

Then... The Gentleman, handbound Buffy journal

I love Anya's reaction to these particular slides... eating popcorn and oh so casually nodding as if to say "Yep, that's pretty much how you carve out someone's heart."

Hush, a Buffy journal

The weight of the world is on her shoulders, and as Giles shows the next slide, Buffy looks horrified, and then gestures to her oversized hips

The outside of the book is made to be a pretty literal nod to the metal trimmed wooden box that The Gentlemen use to store all of Sunnydale’s stolen voices. When you open the book, I did something a little different. Every signature has a cover page. Each cover page is made of translucent vellum and is one of Giles’ overhead transparencies from his presentation on his research of The Gentlemen. And I drew them, they aren’t photo copies, so there are some imperfections (really, I don’t draw.) Still, I think they’re pretty awesome. I have to say, every single time I look at these cover pages they make me laugh. This book took a LONG TIME to make. A REALLY LONG TIME. But it was really fun, the whole way through… a labor of (buffy/whedon) love.  I think I want to make another version of this journal and try to send it to Joss Whedon.  After all, Buffy’s birthday is coming up!  So, if anyone out there is reading this, and knows where one should send something intended for Master Whedon with a chance of it maybe actually getting to him, or even quite near to him, please leave me a comment or send me an email.  🙂

Dec 12 2010

The Geekery Collection

It is exciting to finally be writing this blog post. I have been binding and binding and binding this new series of books, all alone in my studio, and one after another putting each completed book silently away on a bookshelf.  I haven’t blogged about them, or listed them on etsy, or shoved them into my friends’ faces (at least not many.)  I have been quietly collecting them.  Until now… I have a fair number of them done (roughly about a quarter of the books I have planned are completed) and I feel like I can now finally release them.  So without any further ado, may I introduce… THE GEEKERY COLLECTION.

The Geekery Collection, by Whitney Sorrow

selections from The Geekery Collection

And they’re just in time (barely, I know) for your holiday buying pleasure. Within the collection are differently themed series, basically tributes to all my favorite t.v. shows, movies, and other geeky pleasures.  (Let’s be honest, just about half of them are a tribute to my favorite favorite, Joss Whedon.)  Included to date are selections from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, the Doctor Who series, the Firefly / Serenity series, and the Comic Book series.  I will be featuring one selection every day or so of the upcoming week; although you can see all released to date in my portfolio and for sale in my etsy shop.  I have tried to make each book with some special, unique detail, to make you smile or smirk. Some of these scream to the world your fanboy/girl status, while others are subtle enough that only those in the know will recognize the reference.  Making these books has been very inspiring for me; ideas for new books hit me all the while I’m obsessively attending to one of the many little delicious details in these books.

Quick, while their eye-stalks are turned!

Ungh... book braaains...

Mr. Pointy closure, Whitney Sorrow

Mr. Pointy - when keeping your book closed is at stake.

The ideas are definitely coming to me exponentially faster than I can bring the books to life, and I have no idea how long I will remain enchanted with these thematic books.  But I can confidently say that you’re likely to see some clever or overt references to LOST, the Evil Dead, Torchwood, Atari games, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, and others before I’m done.

If you want to see something special, if there’s a favorite show, comic, heroine, hero, villain, episode, issue, or prop you’d like to see referenced, please leave me a comment. I’d be happy to steal your ideas.  Just kidding.  Sort of.  Or if you’re really keen, contact me via etsy to commission a custom book.  I can’t promise that I’ll do your suggestion or request, mostly because I’m not a patient person, and if I don’t like the show/character/prop that you’re requesting, it’s doubtful that I’d be eager to spend as much time concentrating on it as it takes to make one of these books.  But, please, give it a try!  (And, before a bunch of you mention it, I’m already well into the T.A.R.D.I.S. series!)

So, here’s my Geekery Collection.  Enjoy!

Oh, and if you’re lovely enough to buy something from my shop as a Christmas gift, be sure to purchase it before 6pm Monday December 20th so I can get it to you in time for the holiday.

Dec 2 2010


This project was serendipitous on a couple of levels. My husband, who is a comic illustrator and an avid comic collector, and I had been talking for awhile about making my blank books using comic books. Sometime during these musings of ours, I was contacted by someone on Etsy about doing a custom photo album. It started off as a common enough request. But then the potential customer told me she wanted a Superman theme. A bell went off; this would be a perfect foray into the new comics series. Then she told me that she and her husband had called their late son their little Superman. And another bell went off; this would be a very important book for these people. Their son had been born with a larger than life spirit, but tragically with a number of complications. They only had a few months with their gorgeous little boy. His name is Beck and he was his parents’ Little Superman, and of all the bookbinders on Etsy, they had found and chosen me to make the photo album that would catalog the photographs of his all too short life. His mother, Lindsey, is an inspiring, positive and open woman, with strength that I can only admire awestruck. She has blogged about her life with and after Beck, just follow the links if you would like to read more about their story.

So I began making a book that I felt not terribly qualified to make. My dear husband immediately recognized the importance of this new book to me, and jumped online and with some help from his other comic collector friends, found me a beautiful reprint of the very first Superman comic, Superman no.1 (not to be confused with the first appearance of Superman in Action Comics no.1!) It wasn’t in the best of shape, even for a reprint, but that just added to the authenticity of the retro look of it (and honestly, made it affordable enough to be used for the book.) We bought the reprint on Ebay and when it arrived, it was perfect.

So, the front and back covers are the front and back cover of Superman no.1.

With a simple light blue as pastedowns.

I used some random internal pages for spine- and fly-papers, which turned out to be an affect that I really enjoyed, and have since employed on a number of my new comics books.

On the spine, I tried to sew the central bindings in a shape that would be a nod to the Superman emblem, but I’m afraid it got a bit lost in translation. I was actually envisioning this to be much clearer and at one point nearly tore the book apart and started the sewing over. Thankfully, my husband can talk me back from the ledge when necessary.

I’ve included a couple of step-by-steps shots for this post. When I sew bindings in any way but straight horizontal lines across the spine, I use a white charcoal pencil to mark where to punch. Although the top and bottom bindings are straight horizontal lines, the center binding is a (vaguely) in the shape of the Superman emblem.

Prior to sewing, I punch each signature by spreading it along a cardboard box.

As long as I’m divulging Eyes Only details… I’ll show you what I use instead of a bodkin. I use bodkins, but rarely for what they’re intended. Instead I pull the blade from an Exact-O knife and insert whatever size needle I’m choosing to sew with in the blade slot. That way, the holes punched are no bigger than I need.

I think the book turned out pretty darn cool. And how cool is the subtitle of Superman no. 1? The parents really seemed to like it, too. I don’t think any book could have been quite special enough for this little boy, but I tried my best to at least make it pretty darn cool.

Oct 23 2008

New journals, now with LINED paper

I’ve begun making lined paper for some of my journals. I modeled it after lined moleskines. The line weight is quite light and there are four lines per inch. I offer lined paper in three paper types:
– 25% cotton, 32lb, 30% post-consumer recycled, WHITE
– 25% cotton, 32lb, 30% post-consumer recycled, IVORY
– 100% post-consumer recycled, 24lb, WHITE

I’ve been making the journals entirely with lined paper and then also I’ve been experimenting with alternating lined and blank pages. The alternating format I think is quite useful, personally. I find that it’s great for an idea book, I can sketch some of my ideas for new sewing techniques and patterns and keep notes along side. I’m sure you creative DIYers have a million ideas for how to use these alternating journals that I haven’t thought of, so please leave some comments or email me with how you would use it.

I’ve also created a very simple month-at-a-glance section that I can add to any journal. It also comes in the same three kinds of paper as the lined.

Oct 23 2008

Mini Books

This is a series of mini books I’ve been working on. They’re great little practical and fun pieces that are great for tossing in your purse, backpack or laptop back, keeping next to the bed, in the kitchen or at the office for to-do lists, those profound yet passing thoughts, or spontaneous sketching and doodling. They are approximately the size of a check book. The covers are sturdy but pliable and the book block is made of 100lb premium Strathmore bristol illustration board, perfect for pencil or ink (even sharpies will not bleed or show through.) The pages are perforated for easy removal or using as a business card on the fly. Each book features either a lovely, textural ‘caterpillar’ stitch stretching from back to front cover or an elastic or button closure. The elastic covers work in the same manner as a moleskine.

I’m having a lot of fun with these — using up some of my favorite paper remnants and playing with lots of color. They are for sale on my etsy site, for $15 each or $50 for a grab bag of four. The grab bag will have two with caterpillars and two with closures. Keep them in mind for the holidays… they’re perfect gifts for co-workers, white elephant gifts, stocking stuffers or those last minute gifts even the most organized of us occasionally need. Hey, you might even need one for yourself to keep track of all your holiday shopping! (And yes, I’m aware of my shameless self-promotion here… please forgive me.)

They are archival quality, exposed spine sewn with a two needle Greek across the spine method, with waxed Irish linen thread.

Aug 31 2008


This book is made from a Prince and the Revolution “Purple Rain” record cover. The front and back covers are made with the front and back record covers, with the interior covers featuring the artwork from the record sleeve (which contains the lyrics.) The book is made with 25 pages of premium Strathmore Bristol paper, ideal for sketching, drawing, pen and ink, and heavy enough to support plenty of photos to be used as a photo album. The fly- and end-papers are made with a deep violet silk lace paper and lavender pearlescent paper. The edges are finished with purple duct tape. The book is sewn using an eight needle Greek method with purple waxed Irish linen thread. This book is for sale on my etsy site.

Aug 31 2008

Cool new books

This is a collaborative series… the covers feature original linocut relief prints by none other than my awesomely talented and generally wonderful husband, Casey Sorrow. The above book features a portrait of the revolutionary Ché Guevara, simply titled, “Ché.”

The first “Ché” book measures 10.5″x6.75″ and is bound at the top. The image has a white border. The book block is made of premium Strathmore Bristol, a high quality artist paper for sketching and drawing with a smooth finish perfect for pen and ink drawing with no bleeding.

The second “Ché” book measures 7.75″x5.75″ and is bound on the side, in a conventional journal style. The image on this book goes right to the edge. The 96 page book block is 32lb 25% cotton rag paper, a high quality writing paper.

Next is the first in a series of four books featuring Casey’s artwork inspired by old war comics. All of these books are journals, measuring 7.75″x5.75″ with 96 pages of 32lb 25% cotton rag paper.

Below is “Blood Groove.”

The next in the series, “BOHICA.” (An acronym for Bend Over Here It Comes Again)

I especially love this next one, “A New Day.”

And finally, “Gun Bunny.”

The artwork on the front covers are original Artists Proofs of the relief prints, they are not photocopies. You’re getting the real art here!

Casey’s website also offers these and other prints for sale individually, ready to frame. There is a limited run of each print, but I believe he still has some for sale of each image.

All of these books are for sale on my etsy site.

Jul 27 2008

May and June books

Here’s what I’ve been working on. A book a day is my goal this summer and so far I’ve only fallen short on 8 days (since May 1st.) There is no reason other than inertia and a bit of laziness that I couldn’t have added a new post with a new book every day. So, my obedience of Newton’s first law… an object will stay at rest or continue at a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external unbalanced force. Though hard at work on my books, the law of inertia has been governing my blog. But, alas, today, some yet unidentified external unbalanced force has rocked me into movement. And, here it is… a new post, blog motion.

This sounds wonderfully more cosmic and romantic than if say, for example, I walked past my laptop and thought to myself, “shit, I have to get off my ass and post those fraking pictures.” So, yeah, I’m sticking with the Newton story.

So, I’m not posting every single book I make this summer, but here’s a sampling:

7.5″x11″ photo-journal, 10 quarto signatures, totaling 40 pages of Premium Strathmore 100lb Bristol. Sewn using two colors of waxed Irish linen thread in a variation on the classic Greek two needle method. The cover paper is made by this cool company called Iota that concentrates on recycled content, vegetable dyes, all that eco-goodness we all need to support. Check ’em out.

5.5″x7.5″ journal with 12 octavo signatures for a total of 96 pages of 25% cotton rag, 32lb ivory paper. Sewn with two colors of waxed Irish linen thread using a variation on the classic Greek two needle method. The variation is basically in the length of each stitch being sewn across three signatures rather than two. This particular sewing pattern required sewing with 8 needles simultaneously. I wanted to pull someone’s hair out. Not mine… I was already in enough pain trying to keep 8 threads and needles straight! The endsheets on this one are particularly nice… a Thai Banana mash — basically a tissue weight paper made of 50/50% kozo and banana fibers in a natural wood fiber hue. This book was a commission for an avid botanist and tree lover. The cover paper is an Italian reproduction of a classic Florentine botanical print.

I made this one for my girl, Kiersten.

This, unexpectedly became one of my favorite books this summer. I freaking love the skeleton! It’s an Italian reprint of a Florentine classic print.

The Tarot…

Just playing with closures on this one. It’s waxed Irish linen thread braided, and a mother of pearl button.

Super cool paper handmade in Italy.

This is Nepalese Lotka paper dyed by placing a stencil and then exposing to sunlight.

The Queen of Sheba! Paper courtesy of my sister in Dublin. I tried to give the spine sewing a little art deco feel. I used a method of packing the spine sewings using a burgundy thread.

This one has a little bit of everything… maybe a little overworked. There’s a closure with waxed Irish linen thread and a wooden button, it’s sewn on tapes with a French herringbone stitch, and then to top it all off, I added an Ethiopian coptic style endband.

More Iota peapods…

Cool, super deco paper that reminds me of some lady’s prized wallpaper. With big birds and lily of the valley.


More caterpillars!

Most of these are still available. I’m doing art fairs this summer, so I’m working diligently to keep my inventory significant. Please email me with sales requests or custom orders. Pretty much all these styles and methods can be combined, shuffled, exchanged, etc..

Let’s see if Newton is as relevant while I’m in motion as when inert.