Former lawyer makes unique newspapers for Guilford’s shop

GUILFORD — Lawyer Mindy Pollack remembers bringing distinctive, colorful journals to business meetings for note-taking.

“I would open a bright red or blue notebook in a meeting and people would smile and ask me where I got it,” she said. “It was a topic of conversation.”

It was the reaction of his peers to the notebook that spurred his passion for handcrafting a one-of-a-kind journal.

“I started thinking, ‘How can I make them look like it’s me? I want to have a handy book to take notes on, but I also want something that’s attractive. I want something that’s going to go up. morale,” the Guilford resident said.

Before starting to manufacture them, she sought the advice of her colleagues at the insurance company.

“They gave me really strong feedback — bright colors, like reds, greens, yellows, blues,” she said. “Then they said ‘contrast’.”

She decided “color is going to be my thing”.

So in 2003, when she was working part-time and her son and daughter were young, Pollack got into the business.

“It gave me the creative outlet I needed,” she said.

She honed her skills at the Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven under the guidance of Paulette Rosen and also took a course in leather working at the Guilford Arts Center.

“His enthusiasm, dedication and sense of color is what has always stood out to me,” said Rosen, who taught at the Creative Arts Workshop for 25 years and is currently head of the book arts department at the Creative Arts Workshop. .

The hobby was put on hiatus for several years, after Pollack returned to full-time work.

It wasn’t until last year when the 66-year-old retired that she retired all her supplies and Books by Mindy became less of a hobby and more of a business venture.

Pollack’s journals can be purchased exclusively at the Mix Design Store on the Guilford Green.

Mix owner Maggie Moffett recalled the first time she laid eyes on Pollack’s work.

“One day she walks in and she has this bag with her,” Moffett recalled. “She said, ‘I just want to show you something. My friends all say they’re awesome, but I don’t know.

“She pulled out these journals and I said, ‘Mindy, they’re phenomenal. Your friends are right and these must be in the world!’” Moffett said. “Mindy was so modest.

Looking at his newspapers all together is looking at a kaleidoscope of colors. Their covers are handcrafted in brown, red, yellow, green and blue leather, vegan leather and marbled paper, with unique leather ties and button closures.

All the work is done by hand, from cutting the leather or vegan leather to marbling the accent paper and stitching the books together.

Pollack is assembling the newspapers on his south-facing kitchen counter. It has stunning views of Monroe Cottage, known locally as the Grass Island Shack, across from Guilford Town Marina.

“It’s delicious,” she said.

While some of the stationery is bound into the book with glue, some is hand-stitched onto the leather.

“I drill holes in the right places, depending on the design I want to use,” she said. “I punch the holes in the paper, then the leather or faux leather, then I sew each one of those.”

This creates a unique, colorful pattern on the spine of the journal.

All of this sewing is done by hand. “It has to be,” Pollack said.

While she does all the sewing in her home studio, she assembles her journals at the creative arts workshop.

“All the pasting of all the papers inside here,” she said, pointing to the inside of one of her journals.

“And the presses, where I can press hard and squeeze the bubbles out and where if something isn’t even, they have big, huge, huge paper cutters that slice all of that,” she added. , pointing to the thick log.

There are three different sizes – 8 ¼ by 5 ¾ inches, 6 ½ by 4 ¾ and the minis, which measure 3 ¼ by 2 ½ inches, with 192 pages each.

Each journal has a unique paper inside, much like an end page in a picture book. Most of these papers are marbled by hand.

“It’s a very elegant paper,” Pollack said of the marbled stone effect.

“I started doing it after we took a family trip to Rome,” she said. “I walked into a binder where there was marbled paper. I said, ‘That’s it. I come home and do a lot of them because I think they really add something, give it that little extra simple elegance.

Pollack travels to Chena River Marblers in Amherst, MA to work with expert marblers.

“One of the fun things is to keep trying to get better at what you’re doing,” the 66-year-old said. “Even if you’re retired.”

She is looking forward to a two-day session in July to learn “about marbling.”

“You do a few layers,” Pollack said. “So it won’t just be a sheet that I put the paper on and my drawing appears. I’ll wait for that to dry, then I’ll do another pattern on top of it so it clashes, connects, or contrasts whatever with that bottom color.

Pollack’s journals are unique. No two are the same.

For Moffett, they are a popular addition to his store.

“One of the things my customers love about them, unsurprisingly, is that no two are the same, so you know you’re truly getting a one-of-a-kind item whether it’s for you yourself or a gift for someone,” Moffett said. .

“They’re complex and unique, but still accessible,” she said. “I think a lot of what I come into contact with, in the design world in particular, are things that are either too beautiful or too simple. Having both is quite spectacular. They are elegant, but simply elegant.

Rosen echoed that.

“Things that have something really tactile about them are very, very inherently satisfying for a lot of us,” she said. “So I think that stands in stark contrast to all the screen time and scanning things.”

Guilford resident, Mix Design client and Books by Mindy fan John DellaVentura agreed.

“When Maggie is selling, especially a local product, from a local supplier, we like to be supportive,” he said.

“I’m still old school,” he said. “I always like to take notes and have hard copies of different notebooks.”

DellaVentura said he uses the notebooks for “everything from work to personal ideas to brainstorming.”

He prefers the medium-sized newspaper so that he can carry it comfortably. Currently, he is working on filling three journals.

“Last, I made sketches for my garden,” he said.

Moffett added how great they are to hold.

“From the moment you buy one, you feel like it’s already broken in, but it’s still holding its shape,” she said. “It’s relaxed but beautiful.”

“It’s rare to find something that can be so incredibly useful and stay special every time you use it,” she said. “It’s something she does masterfully.”

When people hold his diary in their hands, Pollack wants them to think, “I love the color, it lifts my spirits. The paper inside, the contrast and the color, just make me smile and the design, the seams on the side, the button, give it that elegance, that sophistication.

Moffett is currently working on completing her fourth Books by Mindy diary. She refers to it as her “literary catch-all”. Just everything I need to drop off.

This includes lists, orders, quick sketches,” she said. “Always in my bag!”

Pollack said “it’s wonderful” to see people appreciate his work.

“It gives you a sense of validation, absolutely,” she said. “It’s also that feeling of ‘well, somebody appreciates something that I put together, that I created.’ It’s just a good thing.

Rosen talked about how people feel about having a unique item, like one of Pollack’s diaries.

“I think people think it’s special,” she said. “It makes everything more special, when there’s a card, when there’s a handmade book, when there’s beautiful paper.”

“All of these things contribute to a sense of specialness about everything you do with this writing,” she added. “I think it’s really appreciated by people, a lot.

“I think the book and books in general become even more precious and even more precious, even more appreciated when we spend our lives with screens,” she added. “So I think Mindy is really contributing to that goodness in the world,”

Books by Mindy Instagram booksbymindy; Mix Design Store, 29 Whitfield Street, Guilford, 203-453-0202

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