Hi! My name is Nicole Aufderhar, and I am the creative mind behind Wayfaring Art. I live comfortably wedged between the old oak forests and corn fields of North Branch, Minnesota. I spend my days and nights creating leather journals of all shapes and sizes.
Creating is something that has always come naturally to me. In 2010 I graduated with a degree in commercial photography, but my heart and my hands were still pulling me in a different direction. One night I decided to make a journal for myself just to see if I could do it, and things sort of exploded from there. I am a firm believer that when you are meant to do something and work hard at it, things will happen.
All of my journals start as a stack of paper and a pile of re-purposed scrap leather. I fold and hand tear the paper into different sized book blocks, then design and cut out the leather covers and stitch them on. I adorn the covers with anything from photos I’ve taken to pieces of driftwood. It’s not uncommon to see me digging through bins at antique stores or on the shores of Lake Superior in search of the perfect finishing touch.
I like to keep my designs simple, but I also want them to be interesting enough to inspire someone to start writing. At the end of the journal making process I always have leftover scraps, which I use to make my mini journal items. This is my way of making sure that nothing goes to waste.
When you look at my work it’s not hard to see the girl with the dreads and tattoos who chooses real books and handwritten notes over the latest tech gadgets. Being stubbornly true to myself is what I believe helps to set me apart. I live a simple life, full of tangible objects with interesting textures and rich smells, and therefore I make objects that embrace that.
Etsy has given me a global platform that allows me to do what I love and share something that may not have ever escaped the state lines without it. It has allowed me to connect with like-minded people from all walks of life and share in the stories that are behind every single handmade item. I try to always look into handmade options before hitting up the big-box stores. I can’t possibly expect someone to support my handmade business if I am not willing to make an effort to do so myself.
I’ve made many things that I was quick to fall in love with, but my favorite has to be the most recent Wayfaring Art creation – my mini journal bracelets. These are a true collaboration between artist and buyer. Last year when I was setting up my booth at an art show, a lady walked by and grabbed my earrings and said if they were a bracelet, she’d buy it. I laughed at the idea at the time, but a year later the mini journal bracelet was born. I make it by attaching 38 of my earring-sized journals to a chain; a process that takes roughly a week to complete.
There is no denying that books and the art of putting pen to paper is fading, and it’s my hope that this bracelet helps to make books more relevant. By taking a dying art and turning it into a funky statement piece, a person is able to show off one of their passions in a fashionable way and maybe get others thinking about reading or writing.
To me, a journal will always be the perfect way to record a life. It doesn’t matter if a person writes, draws, takes pictures, or collects recipes; my journals are meant to be both a piece of art and a blank canvas waiting to be filled up with the things that make the owner who they are. It’s my goal to create books that have the look and feel of a rustic adventure and can also be taken on one. I want people to hold one of my books and be taken back to their favorite place or be inspired to go out and find a new one.
All photographs by Wayfaring Art.