Meet the Maker

I grew up in the mountains of Colorado, in a small house in a family of five.  I was a quiet kid, with a lot of energy, strongly encouraged to spend most of my time outside.   I was an avid reader of adventure stories and mysteries.  I was sure I was going to be a detective when I grew up and I wished to be lost in the woods and have to survive on my own.  I also was obsessed with flying.  I used to build elaborate planes out wood and nails  and prey to the gods it would take off. 

Our family vacations consisted of camping and exploring the southwest and learning about the native Americans and visiting ruins. Though I wished to see the turquoise waters of Mexico and play on boats like my friends families were doing, my parents wanted us to learn about the native Americans.

In College, A friend and I spontaneously decided to buy a motorcycle that was for sale in front of someone’s driveway. It happened to be a woman who was selling it and she was thrilled that she was selling it to another woman.

At first it was the ultimate escape from the monotony of classes and reading and writing essays of school and but it quickly became a tool to explore nature and to reflect and synthesize all that was transpiring around me.  Get out and have some beautiful alone time while riding at breakneck speeds and finding the art of turning sharp corners into smooth ribbons, gently unfolding. Cruising on those curvy roads was heaven on earth. It was my yoga, my meditation, and my nature escape, my mental wellness plan!

One day I saw a poster of red canyons in southern Utah and a friendly guy talking about rafting on the raging rivers and climbing these stunning walls and camping in the mountains, for weeks on end!  I gawked. Those striking canyon walls and raging rivers, whispered of the adventure that loomed in that far away exotic landscape tugged at my wild heart. I was working so hard to tame in the concrete, academic, intellectual, civilized, wealthy, sorority, fraternity world and it was eating me alive. It was quite an expensive trip and I didn’t think I could go but they offered a scholarship. I applied and got it! Off I went, thank you God!

The guides talked about working together as a team, not being the fastest one up the mountain but rather, moving at the speed of the slowest group member.  We cooked food at night and told our stories of our lives and our experiences. In our sleeping bags underneath a symphony of stars, those three weeks were some of my most memorable days.  I learned a different way of existing in the world. I began to see myself as having an athletic, comfortability and deep curiosity at exploring nature and a quiet, empathetic confidence around people. My identity as a struggling college student who wasn’t pretty, skinny or smart enough began to see a whole new identity emerge. I heard such different perspectives about our world. I was so moved by peoples life stories. These crazy and different lives we’ve all lived!

Back at school, I remember my first class how boxy and claustrophobic the room felt.  One morning, I woke up to the awful news that the world trade center had been attacked.  My cousin, whom I looked up to in a big way had just gotten her new fancy insurance job on the 92nd floor the week before. Our family waited in anxious anticipation to hear that she had made it out, but she didn’t. She was just 5 years older than me. It was the top thing on my do list, write an email to her sharing about my time exploring the rivers and canyons and mountains and asking about her Spanish immersion experience, but I never got to.

In the weeks that followed, I spent a lot of time on my motorcycle. I felt like she was riding on the back with me as I wove though the mountain roads. I spoke out loud to her telling her of my struggles in College life and all my philosophical spiritual ideas. I felt smart and connected when I talked to her,  I also felt closer to her then, than I ever had.  

Eventually, I decided, you never know when you will randomly die. And I didn’t want to die in the middle of doing something you “should” be doing but had zero passion for. 

One day I walked into a beloved paper store in my town, and there on the shelf was the beautiful leather journal of my dreams. This stunned and thrilled me.  I talked to the shopkeeper and she said in fact the artist who made the beautiful leather journal was teaching a workshop that weekend. Without hesitation, I signed up. This was the beginning of my journey to making journals. The artist’s name was Jeff and he has been kind and helpful in answering all my questions whenever I had them and has allowed me to come to his studio a few times to teach me different aspects of the process. I became his apprentice. His education includes classes at the American Academy of Bookbinding, workshops with local and nationally known binders, and trial and error. Having been a bookbinder for many years he had a lot to teach!

So, I decided to quit school and travel to Costa Rica and Panama. I took my summer earnings and convinced my best friend, who was attending an ivy league school, to take the semester off with me and travel. I wanted more than anything to take a trusty journal, toss it in my motorcycle side bags and hit the open road, stopping along the way to write at cafe's and bars. What an adventure!

The biggest take-away from that experience was how many different people are out there in the world, shaped by their culture and their experiences and the stories that they have to tell. Their trials and tribulations, there passions the hilarious situations and decisions they have found themselves in. The horror and the beauty of their lives! That experience blew my mind open.

I came back to the States for the summer to lead trips for Outward Bound.  It was an incredible summer, exploring stunning landscape and spending all my time outside with inspiring people.  At the end of the summer, I decided to treat myself to quiet reflective time, hiking on the Appalachian trail.  After a summer filled with weeks of rafting, backpacking and climbing trips, as an introvert I needed to be alone and couldn´t wait another minute! 

I decided to plan a solo motorcycle trip to Virginia. I spread out on my bedroom floor with Maps and excitingly planned my cross moto trip.  I would camp out in church parking lots and farmers’ fields. This was a dream a long time in the making. I had a vision of beautiful, simple strong leather journal that was super rugged that you would toss into your pannier and ride across the country.  Taking very little change of clothes, just your trusty journal with you for the ride.

My motorcycle, my relationship with my motorcycle and my body became my teachers. My formula was figure out myself. The more deeply I could know myself the more deeply I could understand the world around me. For 700 miles I had left long journal entries at the shelters I stayed at. 

I returned to take a memoire class from a woman who wrote a book about working with a healer on a reservation. In this class, she provided prompts for us to dig into our lives and explore some of our experiences. We were all different ages, from different cultures and in different economic class systems.  It was fascinating hearing these people´s stories and it was watching to see what emerged on the page. I would leave feeling on top of the world and deeply connected and appreciated, seen and heard.  In this way I learned to put less value on intellectual and grammar and more value into creating a space where people feel safe to speak and share the things they hold closest to their hearts. The courage to speak the vulnerable things. The scary things. The things that aren’t usually pushed forward as their “Story”.

By its trueness, its resonance with my understanding of the world, its vulnerability and courage. Its wildness. I think staying true to, and protecting and shepherding this raw and wild voice is one of the most important jobs we have in this life-time. 

Though I have had a plethora of jobs, I keep coming back to making journals for people. Now, 17 years later, I have honed my book making craft and I am excited to present you with a one of a kind, rugged, hand crafted journal for your own unique adventures. Providing a simple yet elegant unique and safe place for people to explore their inner world creatively.

Nature is the context to which I understand everything.  Ever since an early age, My life journey has been about finding and validating my own voice in the cacophony of voices out there.  Especially within the loudest and surest and most authoritative and charismatic.  How on earth does my quieter unsure voice get heard or recognized or validated?   My personal truth in the colorful tapestry of humanity.  I feel passionate about people having space to play and create and find ways to express their unique voice. I see journals as a medium of expression that allow people to reconnect to their deeper sense of self.

In a world where we are programmed by schools, media and other social institutions with so many expectations of who we should be, often the magic of who we really are gets lost.  It is my personal mission to discover for myself and support people in discovering avenues of their own self-expression.  The magic of who we are!

I handcraft the journal, with deep care, a quiet confidence, and in a symbiotic relationship, to the paper, the leather, Earth and my book binding tools.  Allowing the unique spirit of the journal to emerge. Each journal is completely one-of-a-kind Somehow It feels important for me to guide people into excavating deeper into their truths. Whether it be on a motorcycle journey, a vacation, a shamanic journey, a love story, a weekly planner, a music songbook, a cancer story or for artistic expression. I believe that people need to be seen and heard before they can really move forward.

It can be so powerful to express that which is inside of you!

Turning Shame and doubt into Love and Light

-Laura Zick