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2012 Hardcover Calendars – Better Late than Never, Right?

2012 Cat Art Calendar by TaraFly, Victorian Cat in Easter Bonnet

I have a confession to make, which I feel comfortable sharing because it’s not really a secret at all….

I’m a procrastinator. I’m flaky, scatterbrained, and absent-minded, too.
And I don’t use calendars.

I love the concept of calendars, though. And I usually purchase one every year… you know, just because.
Well, except for last year, because my good friend Jessica Doyle e-mailed me one of her 2011 printable calendars for free, to test-drive her website functionality. (Jealous?! ….Hahaha, you should be! But her 2012 calendar is still available.)

I printed her calendar pages, carefully cut and assembled them, and proudly hung the finished calendar near my workstation. I even remembered to change it monthly, albeit belatedly… up until May. My confession is that her lovely calendar has been stuck on May’s image (titled “Soft” – a starfish-amoeba-looking creature) for the last seven months. *blushing*

I could argue that June’s image was too scary for display… (not really, but it resembles a fanciful mushroom… and well, mushrooms are scary to ME).

Honestly, I just forgot to change the calendar because I never used it. Same goes with the monthly planners that I keep in my purse, in a last-ditch effort to be seen as a “sophisticated” adult business-person. Two or three sheets will be filled out with meticulous notes, and the rest….. are blank pages.

I never know what today’s date is (without checking my computer screen), and holidays ALWAYS catch me by surprise. Christmas is only 3 weeks away?! Yikes!

Yet calendars continue to fascinate me.
As an artist, I love the pictures of course! I’ve collected calendars of black cats, kittens, fairies, Disney princesses (for Lydia), English castles, and Michael Whelan’s dragons (I’ve got his checkbook cover too! The checks were too expensive to re-order… LOL)

As someone who hides under the nearest rock (Hellooooo, Plymouth!) whenever a holiday rears its ugly head, calendars can make great warning signs: “Beware, Christmas Ahead!”

I realize that I’m in the minority… heck, can a “minority group” even consist of just one person?!

Most people use calendars, and most artists and photographers are eager to supply the demand for them.

This year, as I watched all my artist friends busily designing, printing, listing, and promoting their 2012 calendars… in September and October… I began to consider doing one myself this year.
Many folks are getting theirs printed from places like Zazzle and RedBubble, because it’s much more affordable to create wall-sized calendars through a major printing company (even if the profit margin for the artist is very teensy).

Other artists, like Jessica, print mini calendars at home (or sell the PDF files)… the cost of ink and paper being too expensive to print large images every month. Could anyone afford to buy a $240.00 calendar? ;)

I could do what everyone else is doing, and perhaps next year I will. This year, however, I asked myself: “What would you actually use?”

I don’t really need a wall calendar or desk calendar, to be honest, because computers are everywhere in our house. And I can check the date on my cellphone from anywhere else.
I kept returning to the monthly planner idea…. if I could have an attractive portable calendar for my purse, which included pages for jotting reminder notes, it would likely get used for a few months at least. ;)

So I began with an idea… created a template with scrap copy paper… and spent 4 hours assembling my prototype (because there were some glitches along the way).

I wound up with this: a small, portable calendar bound with ribbon inside a hard cover (to protect its pages from the chaotic mess inside my purse)….and No, I will NOT show you the insides of my purse, you’ll just have to trust me! It’s unforgiving territory.

handmade calendar notebook

I’ve included major holidays for the US, Canada, and the UK… (forgive me if I miss anything, blame Google instead).
I’ve also included religious holidays, and as I’m somewhat of a nerd when it comes to researching religious stuff (having once spent hours reading up on Thomas Aquinas simply because someone quoted him)… this proved to be quite a distraction from actually finishing the calendar.

At one point while looking up Jewish holidays, I came across a website specifically dedicated to which dates were particularly favorable, or forbidden, for Jews to marry. I also learned that the Shia and Sunni sects of Islam each have their own lunar calendar, and apparently their holidays don’t always occur simultaneously. Pretty heavy stuff! But anyway….

Once I had the layout for my calendar, I printed 4 months onto a 13″x19″ sheet of Ultra Premium Presentation paper using my pigment ink. The print quality would be the same as purchasing from my Etsy shop. Each calendar page measures 6″x9″, with the image itself measuring 4.5″x6″.

sheet of calendar pages, cat artwork by Tara Fly

Since I’d planned to fold the calendar and staple it, I had to print the calendars opposite the actual image for that month. So October’s image of Trick-Or-Treat Kittens was printed with March 2012 beneath them, and my Easter Bonnet Cat is paired with September. Once everything was folded and assembled, though, it worked out perfectly, thanks to my experimentation with the scrap paper model. ;)

Actually, assembling the pages was essentially the same as creating my greeting cards… which I shared on video… the same measuring, cutting, and folding process. Except these 12 “cards” when stacked together wind up becoming one calendar.

Each sheet is blank on the reverse, meaning there are two blank “pages” between each month in my calendar. Perfect for writing notes!

mini calendar pages, cat artwork by Tara Fly

Of course, I could always invest in some double-sided Epson papers for printing on the front and back of future calendars.

I did purchase a heavy-duty stapler, and 3/8″ staples, specifically for this project… only to discover that its throat wasn’t deep enough to reach the centerfold of my pages. There were a few moments of panicked head-banging and a subsequent headache, before I switched gears and decided to sew my calendar together instead.

See, I’m learning to be crafty! A couple of years ago, you would have NEVER found a needle in my willing hands! LOL

sewing calendar spine

I'm not really sewing left-handed.... I needed to hold the camera in my right hand.

At first I wanted to create a softcover calendar, simply by gluing some decorative cardstock onto the front and back of my little booklet. But knowing how much abuse the contents of my purse suffer, I changed my mind and opted to create a real cover (aka cardboard covered by decorative paper).

creating calendar book hardcover

Once upon a time, I had an instructional book on bookbinding… which I casually flipped through and misplaced. So this was done completely free-style, but the result looks rather nice!
I added the ribbon as an afterthought… as a fancy way to keep the calendar shut, and hopefully safe, inside my deathtrap purse.

portable hardcover calendar book

I’m still debating whether or not to add an image to the front cover. Or a title. 99.997% of calendars have images AND titles on the front.
But Joe liked the plain cover, and I’m beginning to agree with him… it has an understated elegance.

This first calendar took hours to make, but fortunately I’ve worked out the major kinks so things should run smoothly now. Sans stapler.

I’ve decided to list these as made-to-order, because they do require assembly (cutting, gluing, sewing) … and it will allow customers to choose their own color palette (including ribbon color) for the cover. I have additional sheets of this green patterned paper, but I also have patterns in various other shades: apricot, brown, dusty rose, grey, ivory, plum, magenta, and sky blue. (And if I don’t have it here, there’s always Michael’s Crafts or A.C.Moore, right?)

Personally I can’t wait until January so I can begin using this new calendar! I might even start now by writing my 2012 New Year’s Resolutions on a blank page… to remind me to plan early for 2013 calendars!

Regency Cat Calendar small portable hardcover

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