At Grace Notes Press ... I love handmade paper, history and the aesthetic of a well-designed book. I love making beautiful, useful things, and the process of figuring out what the thing is, whether it’s a journal, a list, a photographic print, or a memory album ... I am passionate about photography, writing, calligraphy, books and art as means to express what brings us joy and comfort, as well as working through hard times with courage and grace. I love to document the beauty of nature, the minutiae of daily life, the expansiveness that travel offers, the pomp of special celebrations, the love of friends and family ... my expertise is design and bookbinding. The intersection of love, passion and expertise is what makes Grace Notes Press: a unique expression and approach to documenting life & love. 

My name is Beth Rose and I’m a designer, bookbinder and memory-keeper with a heart for documenting the beauty and minutae of the world and our lives through words and images, captured within beautiful handmade journals, books and albums.  

Trained in Graphic Design at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, I’ve been interested in reading/writing/creating books all my life. I worked designing books for a university publisher and printer as the desktop revolution began in the 1980s, learning on the job how to translate my traditional design methods into computer skills. While in the midst of computers and large printing systems at work, I began to explore quieter, slower methods of making books by hand, enjoying the flow and process of handwork and the unique results.  

At Grace Notes Press, I combine my design aesthetic and modern computer techniques with traditional bookbinding methods, beautiful papers and fabrics from around the world to create books, journals and albums that are made meaningful when filled with your words, photographs, art, collage and memories. 

What is important to me in the making of things? Beauty, texture, colour, order, simplicity, usefulness. I find inspiration in the shapes and colours of nature. The typography in my work is lovingly composed to suit the purpose of the piece. The paper or cloth’s colour and design further enhance the tone and theme. All elements come together to form a useful, beautiful item. 

The world’s most beautiful papers are handmade from natural fibres: Japanese Chiyogami and Katazome-shi from the kozo plant; Nepalese paper from the lokta plant; Quebec’s St. Armand papers of recycled cotton clothing offcuts and linen, flax, jute and sisal. Marbled papers are one of a kind pieces of art. Japanese prints are silkscreened or stencil-dyed in several colours per sheet by families that have passed the craftsmanship down through generations. The strength, beauty and history of these papers make them perfect for timeless books, journals and albums.  

Cotton or silk that I have personally eco-printed, or fabrics designed by others with graphic intention have recently become new favourite elements of my hard-cover albums and journals, blended with the beauty of Coptic-bound exposed spines. 

I make a few at a time ... I cut boards and sheets of paper by hand, fold them, collate them, wrap and glue covers, sew signatures, assemble all parts together with glue, put them to bed under C-clamp pressure till the glue is set and the final book emerges. All steps are done by hand, using a variety of knives, waxed linen threads, bone folders, wooden boards and papers. I perform all steps in the creative and production process, then present them in person at artisan shows.   

Beth in the studio. | Photo by Ron Zabel

Beth in the studio. | Photo by Ron Zabel