Zee Southcombe is a mixed media book artist and author/illustrator living in the beautiful Otago, New Zealand. She lives with her partner and her cat, finding inspiration in her natural surroundings, her sense of curiosity, and at the bottom of many a cup of tea.
Why handmade journals?
In some ways, my creative journey began with writing five years ago, but in many ways it started at home as a child, making crafts with my mum and siblings. For me, making art is a mindfulness practice, a self-expression, and a home-coming.
After attending a local bookbinding class, I fell in love with the art of ‘scrappy bookmaking’. Making art from unsaleable books, giving unwanted materials a new life, and the deliciously creative process had me hooked: I became a book artist.
The journal-making process:
Each journal is thoughtfully curated, with materials being built up over time and from many sources. I dive deep into the theme of the book, primarily using original material that can’t be replicated (even by me!) so your piece is truly one of a kind.
Once the material has been gathered, I tear the pages to size and collate them into signatures. The signatures are hand-sewn into a cover upcycled from unsaleable books, and the fun begins!
Each page is embellished with found paper-based materials, old clothing, and lots of washi tape. Pages may also be tea- or coffee-dyed, and pockets are included on some pages to keep journalling cards and memorabilia. When the journal is complete, it is given a name to reflect its unique character and personality.
Do you just make journals?
Nope! I wear a lot of hats – I’m an author, artist, and teacher, who is also branching out into mixed media book illustration. I love hiking (I’m looking forward to exploring the trails in the Otago region) and I also play the ukulele. As well as my own work, I run a micro-press celebrating New Zealand non-fiction called Blue Mushroom Books. Head over to zrsouthcombe.com for my homepage on the web.
What about your mixed media book illustration?
Alongside my mixed media book art, there are a few children’s picture books in the pipeline. First is Pacific Leatherbacks, a book about the endangered leatherback turtles, which will be published in 2018 under the Blue Mushroom Books imprint. The following year will be another mixed media project that has been years in the making called The Train To Nowhere, set in a dollhouse.