art, art retreats, book arts, dyeing, Nature printing, North Carolina beaches, Topsail Beach

Riveted by Nature on Topsail Island

Friday morning I set off on my own to drive to south Topsail Island, near Wilmington, North Carolina. I’ve been there a few times before, and the last few times I’ve been there to take a class from Leslie Marsh. This class was similar to one I’ve taken from her before, but this time we riveted a leather spine onto the soldered, stamped metal covers. We leaf printed the inside pages in a nature dye vat for the inside signatures, and bound them with a variation of longstitch.

Molten metal scares the crap out of me, otherwise I would fully embrace this technique! I enrolled in Leslie’s wearable metal book class during the pandemic, and I have all the supplies, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it without someone knowledgeable standing by. My first go on these covers were kind of pitiful, and I almost settled for them, but after I saw the other covers in the class, I went back to the soldering station and I resoldered and stamped the covers on my own, so, yay me!. I plan to find a cool bead or shell or other natural object to attach to the top of the spine. I liked this cabochon that Leslie provided because it reminded me of the little turtle I rescued earlier this month.


If I ever do this again with the rivets, I will not solder or stamp with a lot of texture on the sides next to the spine or anywhere else that the rivets go. That presented a problem for me in drilling and inserting the rivets. My drill kept slipping and my holes got wonky and I messed up the leather in places. I also dyed all my pages instead of inserting white pages in the signatures, which I think made the other text blocks pop after I saw them. Still, I’m quite happy with the result.

I didn’t follow directions very well this time either. I placed the cabochon at the top, so my leather binding had to be shaped differently. Plus I was ready to bind before everyone else so I did my binding a different way. HA. If you’d like to see the other books from the class, you can see them on Leslie Marsh’s Instagram page

The pages and the felt bag were dyed in Leslie’s dyepots by rolling them onto copper pipes with leaves and tightly binding the bundles to the pipes. One of my discoveries in this round was redbud leaves. Also, the leaves from my eucalyptus tree didn’t give the reddish oranges that the silver dollar eucalyptus leaves do. I wish I had used more of them. I didn’t get good definition on my wool felt so I’m going to embellish it with embroidery, and next time I am not going to bundle paper with it on the same pipe.




If you are interested in taking any of Leslie Marsh’s classes or buying her fabulous work (she is a multi-talented artist!), her website is  I must warn you that her classes sell out very quickly!

I’ll make another post for my other photos from Topsail Beach.

4 thoughts on “Riveted by Nature on Topsail Island”

  1. That book cover is stunning! Did you make the metal bits yourself?

    I actually bought a (small, cheapie) soldering iron a while ago to fix something that it turns out probably isn’t actually metal and I should just use superglue. But since it also double as a tool to burn designs into wood, something I have wanted to try since my cousin gave my mum a present of something he did in school (for reference, he is now over 50, so that’s a good long time ago), I bought it. I had only ever thought of soldering as something you do to fix things, and never, for some reason as something to do decorative work with. The cogs are spinning in my mind now.


    1. Well, HELLO! I was surprised to see your comment in my spam folder, which I admit I hardly ever check. Glad I did!
      Not sure what you mean by the metal bits – the covers were textured by stamping a large rubber stamp into molten solder. There was a bit of an issue with them sticking so I ended up melting most of it again and restamping them. For these we used creme broulee torches.


      1. The entire cover looks like metal to me, so I think I meant the stamped bits. It’s beautiful whatever it’s made of.

        I do try to comment here from time to time but wp hates me and usually ends up losing my comments in the ether or not letting me log in. I got fed up of resetting my password every single time so now I log in to wp before I try to leave any comments and sometimes that works. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, the cover and the stamped bits are metal, but I don’t remember what kind of metal the solder is. Not lead! The base is brass, and some people let parts of the brass show, which was a nice effect.


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