book design

FBF // Work it, Wendy!

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It’s not everyday that we source a shoot location that comes equipped with the perfect puppy-model. And believe me when I say that when we do, we get a model release form signed and we put that puppy in a book!

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Wendy was the sweetest and added the perfect touch of hominess to Alyce Blyth’s beginner sampler book, Mini Masterpieces, for Lucky Spool.

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Kristy

OTP // Mini Masterpieces

A few weeks ago, Mini Masterpieces by Alyce Blythe for Lucky Spool was sent off-to-print. What a fun book to work on! The quilts on this book cover are not photoshopped together, they are the actual quilts hung on a wall. Aren’t they great? They really are minis.

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Designing and photographing a cover this way appears like it should be pretty quick and simple (Spoiler: the more simple the layout, the more challenging it was to put together). There were endless configurations that we could place these quilts in, it seriously began feeling like a giant game of tetris! Playing with the shapes and balancing the color, considering where the title would be placed and which quilts worked best together…I’m kicking myself for not recording a time lapse of this set up.

Composing the image while keeping the text in mind is my favorite way to design. I suppose it’s a good thing that I know a great photographer.

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Kristy

Project: Mini Masterpieces
Author: Alyce Blythe
Publisher: Lucky Spool
Book Design + Photography: Page + Pixel

National Craft Book Week

Here is just a small sampling of some of the #craftbooks we have worked on over the years. Between production work, book design, cover design, photography, art direction...we’ve collaborated and contributed to hundreds of craft-sewing books and have loved working on every one of them.

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As a book designer, I’m not sure of a better job out there for me. I get to work with artists every day and am always learning something new and am constantly being inspired. To be able to contribute to the sewing and quilting community in this way is an honor and I do not take it for granted.

Here’s to #nationacraftbookweek and ALL of the publishers, authors, editors, photographers, illustrators and designers that are keeping print alive and thriving.

+ Kristy

DESIGN ARCHIVES // Brave New Quilts

I’ve been fortunate to be designing books for the craft publishing industry since about 2004. And for 3 years before that, I was a Production Assistant getting the books ready for print. Needless to say, I’ve worked on a lot…A LOT…of quiltmaking books. And while I find myself extremely lucky to have worked on each and every one of them—even the tough ones!—I do have my favorites. Books become my favorites for a whole host of reasons: a connection with the author, the quilts really inspired me, the book design was a fun challenge, the photoshoot was a blast.

And sometimes, it’s just all of it: the content, the author, the book team, the design, the quilts. Brave New Quilts by the late Kathreen Ricketson is one of those books.

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I remember sitting in the focus meeting for this book before it had a title and I was so very excited throughout the entire 90 minutes. I couldn’t get over how wonderful the concept was for this book: quilt projects inspired by 20th century art! From the minute the editorial and marketing team concepted the title, I was in love.

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Working with Kathreen was a pleasure. She and her family were busy on an epic year-long road trip during the book design and production phase and she was very generous with me as a young designer—open to my unconventional layouts and layering of images. Her one comment about the cover design was, “That’s some big type.” I couldn’t disagree.

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The project was very personal to Kathreen. She and her husband shot the photos in their home, with their children in some of the images and her drawings, sketches and notes are sprinkled throughout the layout. This book has a heart and soul and I felt it as I was laying out each page.

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Back in 2013, when I was in the middle of finalizing the book to send to the printer, I received an email saying that Kathreen and her husband had died in a tragic accident while on their trip. This incredibly heartbreaking news still stirs me up a bit as I think of it today. Just as flipping through her book still inspires me to play and think outside of the norm when I work.

I am grateful for Kathreen’s influence on me as a designer and her book will always be one of my favorites. Together we pushed what a typical quilt book cover looked like and gave readers something new to consider as they read and flipped through the pages. Her ability to let go and trust another creative with her work has stayed with me and I try to practice that with others that I work with. Thank you, Kathreen. You truly are missed.

Who has inspired you in your work? Who has made a lasting impression?

+ Kristy

Brave New Quilts
Book Design: Kristy Zacharias (pre-P+P)
Publisher: Stash Books
Author: Kathreen Ricketson

Photo Styling // The Surface Matters

Bird’s eye, layflats, still life….whatever you call them, these are photos that require a surface to be shot on. With the camera positioned just above the subject, the styling will rely on a more graphic look due to the lack of dimension that will come from the angle of the camera. As simple as these types of photos appear, they do require a fair amount of propping and styling. It can be quite fun to create interesting lines and juxtapositions within the photo composition, but when you are short on time or on a tight budget, giving some extra thought to the surface that you’re shooting on can elevate your photos without a ton of effort.

The following images were taken for Heidi Staples’ new book, Patchwork USA (Lucky Spool Media). We played with a lot of surfaces in the styling for this book in order to achieve a warm, nostalgic aesthetic. By swapping out the different surfaces, we were able to keep the styling minimal so that the projects took center stage.

Color Book // Shot on the reverse side of a quilt in order to give a warm, sweet feeling to the image.

Color Book // Shot on the reverse side of a quilt in order to give a warm, sweet feeling to the image.

The window light was perfect in one of the bedrooms of the home we were shooting in. In order for the shot to make sense near that gorgeous light, we laid down a quilt with the back side up so that the top design didn’t distract from the Color Book project. The result was a textured and colorful backdrop for the cloth books. The color and the pattern immediately indicate that this is a project for children.

Scout’s Honor Pencil Case // Shot on top of a vintage map.

Scout’s Honor Pencil Case // Shot on top of a vintage map.

A strong theme that runs throughout Patchwork USA is that of road trips. Heidi sent us tons of vintage maps and postcards to use in the photography and one of my favorite ways to use the maps was as a background surface. Laying out the map adds a wonderful graphic quality to the image and it helps carry the road trip theme. Best of all, it was so easy!

Curio Pocket // Shot on top of a vintage steamer trunk.

Curio Pocket // Shot on top of a vintage steamer trunk.

Nissa and I have a favorite piece of perfectly weathered wood. It has the best tone and texture and it is very tempting to use it in every photo…everything looks beautiful on it! But we want to keep our images feeling new and one-of-a-kind, so we decided to play around with shooting on this vintage steamer trunk that belonged to my Grandpa. We love it!! So much life and texture is added to the photo from simply placing the projects on the edge of this trunk and by utilizing the brass details. Simple and effective!

Beachcomber Drawstring Bag // Shot on a vinyl seat.

Beachcomber Drawstring Bag // Shot on a vinyl seat.

Serving multiple purposes, this vinyl seat was the perfect place to shoot this drawstring pouch. Indicating “road trip” as it is the bench seat inside a Shasta, adding an easy pop of color to the image, and creating some visual texture with the stitching on the seat, we loved using this surface as an easy way to tell a story.

While all of these projects would have looked great on our favorite weathered wood, the varied surfaces do more to tell the author’s story and really bring each of the projects to life.

What are some of your favorite surfaces to shoot on?

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Kristy

Patchwork USA
Book Design + Photography: Page + Pixel
Publisher: Lucky Spool Media
Author: Heidi Staples


FOCUS + Recent Work // Inspiring Improv

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I’m stuck. I’m supposed to be working on a new book design and I’m getting hung up on details that don’t usually stump me. I’ve just spent the last precious hour and a half going in circles about a design decision. I keep telling myself to “Focus”...”Stay focused”…”Make some tea and get focused”. 

All I can think of is this photo that Nissa shot this past summer.

What a wonderfully creative, exciting, invigorating photo shoot that was. We were in Mendocino County at the beach, shooting Nicholas Ball’s book, Inspiring Improv for Lucky Spool . We rented a beach house and made a beautiful mess inside with quilts and pillows and random props all over the place and we had a plan and we stuck to it and we made a bunch of gorgeous photos. 

Imagine that—a plan! I had a plan today and it was to get this book design going, but then I got stuck—unfocused.

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After sitting in my pitty-pot for a few minutes I started looking through the photos from the Improv shoot and reminded myself to take a break from what isn’t working. Stretching a different set of muscles for a while will do me some good. 

How about that image with the glass tray in focus? Maybe it’s just that easy to shift focus and to not dwell on what’s not working. Maybe I can remind myself that I do know what I’m doing, it’s just not what I’m focused on right now. Maybe if I let myself be confused and let myself play without a deadline and let myself be tired and rest, it will all come back clear to me. There really is no “maybe”, I’ve been here before so many times before. I know it comes back, I know this is part of the process, it’s just inconvenient.

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When the focus comes back it feels really good. I feel settled and feel a quiet satisfaction, much like dusk in a night garden near the ocean.

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Kristy // DESIGN


INSPIRING IMPROV is debuting at QuiltCon in February.
Book Design + Photography: Page + Pixel
Publisher: Lucky Spool Media
Author: Nicholas Ball

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