Handcrafted Remembrance Books - Imre van Buuren

I have something very special to show you today...  handmade remembrance books with companion boxes made by Imre van Buuren in The Netherlands. Educated at Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, she works as a professional graphic designer, yet always looks forward to spending time in her studio where she creates detailed artist books.

blue and white handmade remembrance book

Not only is Imre's frequent use of blue and white timely for a summer feature, but there is a soothing peacefulness to her books and boxes. I wasn't at all surprised to learn she enjoys making them as much as the end result, and wrote to ask about her work.

detail of central circular handmade paper motif on a remembrance box cover

What is the purpose of a remembrance book and box?

The books can be filled as you like, with your stories, thoughts and images. You can write in it and paste photographs so it really becomes Your Book. It fits into a matching box that features a collage positioned on the front... for example, small objects found in nature, folded bundles of silk, embroidered French poems, calligraphed fragments on paper, or origami animals. The box can be placed upright to become an art object.

interior of a blank page remembrance book inside a handmade box

What gave you the idea to create such special books and companion boxes? 

I don’t know if you would like to mention this because it is so sad, but after our second son was stillborn, I started creating paper using all the petals of the white flowers that friends and family sent to us. With those papers I created my first book, a remembrance book for my baby. It also helped me a lot to get through the mourning process. 

handmade remembrance box with blue paper butterflies on top

What are some reasons you have been commissioned to create unique boxes and books and how have you decorated them?

Some have been requested as alternative guest books for marriages or as reception books for funerals, baby books, and memory books for the loss of a loved one. I use Italian and French paper, retro wallpaper, Japanese rice paper and silk paper that I manipulate by folding, sewing, embroidering, stamping with Indonesian textile stamps or adding thread between paper sheets. Sometimes I apply paint. 

hand painted paper butterflies adorn the cover of a handmade remembrance box

You've been a paper artist since 2001. Why is paper your material of choice?

Paper has an irresistible attraction to me by the appearance, the fragility, even the crackling sound it makes when it is moved and because it can be used for many applications. Any irregularities can be seen as part of its appeal... if a bit messy and crooked, well, that is just how life is. My focus is on structure, not colour.

handmade remembrance box with hand stitched text and origami bird on lid
Tell us about your process and influences.

I enjoy experimenting with paper in combination with other materials. Textiles, for example, because textiles and paper are closely related... they are often the raw material of paper, and thread and cotton are used in many handmade papers. I don't create paper from pulp, but I combine existing paper with silk, cheese cloth and thread to create new sheets.

handmade book with thread bows stitched on white cover

I'm inspired by couture and textile art because the way fabric is folded and processed can also be
applied with paper. As the daughter of a textile artist, I grew up in a home surrounded by silk and embroidery threads. Combining paper with fabrics and threads makes it possible to create the subdued atmosphere that I look for in my work.

handmade remembrance box with blue coral motif on lid  

Old, yellowed books with dried petals, hand written letters and dried roses held together with cheese cloth... this tranquil atmosphere can only be achieved by using these textile materials, precisely because they have such a fragile character. This is also why each book is sewn by hand in a loose manner. You can still see threads sticking out, a little messy and unfinished... just the appearance that I am striving for.

white handmade artist book with loose threads - side view

Imre's website is Paper Objects Imre and she is on Instagram and Pinterest. Her remembrance books are for sale via Saatchi Art. Contact her via email: info@paperobjectsimre.nl


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Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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  1. Beautiful and unique. Love the colors too.

  2. What a beautiful story...thanks for sharing.


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