Most of us are inclined to use whatever is handy for a bookmark - a bit of paper torn from an old envelope, a tissue, a gum wrapper, a small photograph or even a $1 bill. But I prefer handmade bookmarks, which surprise me with their beauty each time I open my book to the page I left off reading.
Among these pretty bits of ephemera I have collected over the years is a counted cross-stitch bookmark made by a friend. It resembles a miniature sampler. I also have one made of satin ribbon and dried flowers laminated in clear plastic. I have bookmarks made of a length of leather cord with beads strung on both ends and several as simple as a length of pretty ribbon.
Anyone can make a bookmark — not that anyone has to. Bookmarks can be created at www.nationalgeographic.com/kids/bookmarkfactory/ which allows the creator to choose a background design and to add or subtract elements. Print it out on a color printer by the dozens to pass along to friends.
Bookmarks featuring the art of children’ s author Jan Brett are available at www.JanBrett.com. Harry Potter fans will find a selection of bookmarks sporting characters from J.K. Rowling’ s famous series at www.harrypotter.warnerbrothers.com.
For those who would rather fashion bookmarks using their own creativity, there’ s no better way to start than with a dozen beads and 14 inches of waxed linen thread, items readily available at craft stores and departments.
Here’ s what you do: Tie a knot at the end of the waxed thread (or dental floss if you want to avoid a trip to the store). String six of the beads on the thread and tie another knot. Measure up 8 inches and tie a third knot. String another six beads and tie a fourth knot to hold them in place. And there it is, a lovely, dangly bookmark to lay in the book. This is not an exact bookmark recipe. Make the bookmark longer or shorter depending on the size of the book and be sure the beads don’ t have holes that are too large for the cord you are using.
For a slightly different technique, crochet a chain about 14 inches long, using crochet cotton with a gold or silver thread running through it. Add pretty glass beads at both ends.
Use perforated paper to create bookmarks done in cross-stitch. Cut the paper to the size desired, perhaps 8 inches long by 2 inches wide. Try charting your own design — something simple, such as your initials, or small squares in bright colors. Add a cross-stitch border to highlight your work. If you prefer to work from patterns, visit www.crossstitch.about.com to find free charted designs or go to a bookstore or library to find books on cross-stitch. Depending on your skill and preference, you also could use fine linen or the easily available Aida cloth. Fringe all four edges if you use cloth.
Organizations might consider asking local artists to design a bookmark to be used as part of a fundraising effort. I still have a series of lovely bookmarks created especially for a Bangor organization in the 1970s. They are way too pretty and interesting to throw away, so I guess that means I now have the nucleus of a bookmark collection.
Making bookmarks is an activity children enjoy. Check with a local library to see if it would like donations of child-made bookmarks that would be made available free to patrons at the circulation desk.
Buy packages of bookmark stock for the children to decorate with rubber stamps. Or cut bookmark shapes from construction paper and let the little ones decorate them with glitter glue and stickers.
A bookmark, simple as it is, makes a sweet little gift and in the process, serves a useful purpose.
The Web site address in last week’ s By Hand column about selling arts and crafts was incorrect. It should read www.craftah.com.
The Bangor Area Sewing Guild will conduct the class Quilt With Your Home Sewing Machine 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Hampden municipal building, Western Avenue. Chris Thornton will be the teacher. The class is free. Call 941-8815 or 278-7270 to obtain a list of supplies needed and to register. More information also is available at www.bangormeasg.com.
The Hampden Historical Society is already gearing up for its Christmas bazaar set for Nov. 15. Organizers of the event are seeking donations of handmade goods, such as Christmas decorations, centerpieces, wall hangings, gift baskets and knitted, crocheted and sewn items, for the event. For information, call Jerry Stanhope at 862-3463.
To find a free crochet pattern for a neck pillow shaped like a cat, visit www.coatsandclark.com. The site also has many free patterns for knitting, sewing and other crafts.