Arte Es Vida

The Healing Hands Collaborative Book Project by arteesvida
November 30, 2006, 2:29 am
Filed under: Bookmaking, Journaling, Mixed Media

This article was first posted about a year and a half ago.. This ended up being Deb’s last round of chemo.  The spots they found in her spine traveled to her brain and she died this Feburary.  She loved her Healing Hands book…it was one of the few things she brought with her to hospice.




One of the best things about the Internet is that it enables you to make friends all over the world.  It is an amazing gift to be able to create community that isn’t defined by geographical borders.  However, when one of these long distance friends becomes ill, it is frustrating not to be able to go out for coffee with them, or to be able to reach out and give them a hug.

The Healing Hands project stems from just this predicament.  A friend of ours has been fighting illness for several years now and was recently informed she would have to take 20 straight days of treatment; a daunting and terrifying undertaking.  We wanted to let her know we cared for her and to find a tangible way to send her strength when we couldn’t be with her.  But most importantly, we wanted her to heal.  Not just physically, but emotionally.  The amount of emotional courage it takes to fight illness for months and years on end is something that most of us can only imagine.  We wanted her to know that we were with her.

The idea of creating a collaborative journal, where everyone contributed a page struck me almost immediately.  So did the theme: “Healing Hands” in honor of the wellness work she was undertaking.  Most collaborative journals are done by round robin.  A journal is started by one person and then sent to another person who does a page and sends it on to something else.  Most projects of this nature take months to complete, and many get lost in the passing.  We wanted our friend to be able to have this journal in her hand during her last few days of her 20 days of treatment, so I struck on the idea of everyone creating a page and sending it to me so I could put the entire book together and have it sent to her within weeks.

Because bookbinding isn’t my forte, I decided to make the journal a three ring binder with plastic sleeves to slip the pages in.  This worked best for several reasons:

§          It allowed us to continue to add pages to the book as late arrivals filtered in.

§          It allowed for 3D embellishments be added to each sheet and various mixed media techniques to be used on each without them altering the entire book or making the book uncloseable.

§          It allows our friend to move pages around, take pages out, or even frame certain pages if she wishes too.

§          It allowed people to include personal notes and other trinkets with their pages.  I was able to slip these extras into the back of each plastic sleeve so she would be surprised with the extras when she found them.

Many different media were submitted by different artists.  I used beads to create spiral embroidery on a felt hand, which I then attached to a colorful paper background.  Other techniques people used included paint, collage, photography, and stamping. 

Our friend’s response to her journal once she received it?  It made her feel special…and cared for.  Even though it was a time crunch project, everyone really pulled together to make it happen…and we all felt that every minute was worth it.

I am posting the scan of my page below.  The original article had scans of everyone’s artwork and I will post them all again once I contact the rest of the artist’s on the project for their as for their permission.






11 Comments so far
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I just discovered your website yesterday, and am now looking more carefully at some of the entries. How fortunate for your friend that she had such creative and caring support! I also think your solution to your “lack of bookbinding skills” was inspired. It gave her control over what she wanted to do with the pieces she was gifted. I am also intrigued by what you describe as “wellness work.” What did that entail?

Comment by carolwiebe

[…] also had an e-conversation with the talented writer of Arte Es Vida about, among other things, a collaborative book project she began some time ago with a group of caring and compassionate people to support an ailing […]

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