Welcome to my site. I am a creative exploring around in life. I bind books by hand in an old way, and cover them in reclaimed materials. I also make art, and currently am working with ink a lot.
This site is some form of portfolio, and I update it (fairly) often.
Check the blog section for more up to date updates.
Hope your days are long as we come out of this winter in the North!
If you haven’t been to my site before, welcome. I post a letter here every now and again as an update. More specific updates are on my blog!
I run a small business called Vagabound Craft. I make books from scratch the way they used to in the (wayback) olden days. Hand torn pages sewn onto cords, hand stitched head bands. I cover in reclaimed materials.
I also can’t seem to stop searching for more outlets of my creativity. (As if I would wanna!)
A new year, and everything is becoming refreshed. I am back in Philadelphia and following new paths to and fro in this life. I have some things in the works for the coming months and the next few years. I am slowing my travel down quite a bit, as I have been feeling a need to be more grounded.
I am finding new incredible ways to love this life, and all it’s little pieces. Especially those I think I “don’t like”.
I hope this year finds you right where you NEED to be, and that you are able to morph that into right where you WANT to be. That is my resolution.
Big Love from the city of brotherly love!
Last letter written was May. So many things happen so quickly on the road.
My birthday just passed. Many great birthday wishes, thank you for those. I find myself in a sort of odd limbo.
I leave Philadelphia tomorrow night, to Denver. I leave Denver the next day for Moab. I leave a few days later back to Northern California. This is where the plans get more gooopey. Baja, Mex. followed by a shot all the way north to Alaska? Boulder? Denver? Southern Cali? India? So many places to think of, to dream toward.
So here be the intention as of now: I keep working, remembering as much where I am as where I like to see me going. I REALLY wanted to get back on the road In the early part of this year. It worked, it is working.
Sure hope to keep seeing all the smiling folks I run into….sure helps me from getting too lonely feeley.
May 28, 2015.
Hello there. Thank you for coming through this site, however you have gotten yourself here, you can spend as much time as you want.
I left Philadelphia on a spring road trip to sell books at a couple festivals here in California. I have read Kerouac plenty to know that the road trip tells you when it ends, never the other way around. I have lived through this time and again, getting caught out here in the floaty travel space…and yet thought I would just turn around at this ocean and head east again. Anywho, I am staying in California for a few months maybe.
This floaty space is my favorite. It exists totally concurrent and parallel to the “normal” world. When I get myself really loose inside of my moorings, opportunities are available, and I am free to follow them. This is why I do what I do and live how I live. I have a distaste for patterns of excuses when I am still.
Things like “I worked all day, no time for guitar”.
So I am free from any self expectation right now, living to work and working to live. Travel and movement are an incredible pair of muses. And love. I think it may be best to fall in love daily, even if with yourself. Fall in love deeply and fully, but do nothing to hold it. Let it flow, there is no end to the volume of available happiness.
Anywho, from the top of a nice little hill outside Yosemite.
March 18, 2015.
Hello, and welcome to my site!
I am a bookbinder, artist, and musician with a feeling of restless wandering in my bones.
I am leaving tomorrow for a spring road trip all over the USA. Check out my books here. The links along the menu up top will show you around as well.
I am driving with friends of mine, John and Jess. They are music loving brits with a lust for the west coast. They are working on a project to find some sort of pulse of the American landscape through music and sites. Follow them here.
I will pick my brother up in LA, fresh off a long stint in Thailand. We will be making the trip back to Pennsylvania together for the solstice (well, a wedding on the solstice).
This trip has been planned and worked toward for many months, and the mid point are two festivals in California. I am setting out with the intention to find my “why” again. I am making a very sincere go at trying to have my own business that gives reason for travel. The travel will inform my business.
I will be playing as much as I can on this trip, in every way. If you want us to stop on through your town, you can email me at email@example.com and we will see what feels good.
So with hours until I am supposed to be leaving…I must pack the van.
Love and safe travels to you and me both!
Dear visitor of my growing site-
Thank you for somehow landing here, I feel there is no room for chance. You might just be reading this for some reason of importance to the larger spinnings of the world. I started about a year ago.
Anywho, my name is Joe Kirby, this site is trying desperately to keep up with my workings. Currently, I am working on things and often forget that I need to share them with the world. If one is creative for the sake of creativity, that’s great….but why keep it to one’s self?
So this is my attempt to share. One attempt. I am seeing it as a multi front maneuver in order to bolster my confidence, to ascribe some sort of meaning to the things that drive me as a person and an artist.
Coming soon (always): More paintings, more pen and ink, more journals, more music, more ideas.
So check back if’n you want to. You are always welcome.
It is with wonder and amazement and some fear that I meet the sunrise each morning, that I leave off with each night. The world is a really malleable construct…let’s bend it around our passions.
This about sums it up for me.
May these pages hold with humility the greatest triumphs, with grace the darkest moments. May this book accept willingly all of the twists and turns of life. May these pages, bound into one book, represent the tenacity of will of the bearer, a willingness to confront and explore the deepest thoughts and the lightest of humor. This journal is a place for honesty.
These letters are an gestalt style update. For more often, off the hip updates, go here.
I don’t know how clear the point of this is. It strikes me as a little bit ego-maniacal to build a public place all about one’s self. Ignoring that, countering with a for business purpose only kind of phrase. The little shoulder angel and devil argue on and on.
I ought to explain that this site is kind of a portfolio so I can remember what I have done. It is a referral of sorts. A (loosely) curated section of my life and personality and work ethic and abilities in a nod toward transparency. For years I worked on all of this stuff, but I have not been working with any mind to posterity. Now I am, just a little.
I like the idea of a portfolio. This is one that I am molding and shaping as I go. It changes little for weeks on end, then there is a flurry of activity. Natural rhythms, I suppose. It is a bit unorthodox on execution, bare with me.
Writing. If anyone is interested in proofing a story in about a month, I will trade you books or art..just to read it and be merciless.
So I am in Philadelphia.
I find myself at home-base, sifting through my own few, and my father’s many belongings. All of this seems foreign to me now, though so familiar. Receipts from seven years past trigger memories of days spent wishing they would end quickly. I realize the line between natural and unnatural has blurred. As I look back into history, searching for respite from the guilt (I now redefine) for altering the universe in so grandiose a fashion. Flight. No, impossible.
I am as senselessly afraid as the rest of you. I find it difficult to take the licks life throws. I am sensitive to feedback, and somehow more sensitive to the negative than the positive. Well, I look to change that now.
I have some great momentum built up. I learned so much this summer from the renovation of a farmhouse, and the interaction with many, many animals. With horses, it seems, you can try to “break” them or you can learn from them, communicate with them. The sensitive nature of these gigantic beasts is shattering to the idea of separate ego. So, lesson learned. I am nothing without everything else.
I am outfitting the new workshop that will serve as home for a few months, have cancelled a trip to California. Build. I have a fantastic group of folks that are helping me out with marketing, and will have my craft in a few stores next month? In communication with stores in PA and Tucson. I am reworking my pricing, and rehashing strategy. Calligraphy is getting better. Voice is getting stronger. Hands and wrists are feeling wonderful.
More importantly: I am working. I am discovering my creativity. Have been lopsided in the left brain, and will lean right until balanced. Got some HUGE canvases. Have a beautiful guitar to write new music, and rework old.
I am smiling. At you. I am remembering that holding anything for too long or too tightly makes for interesting wake up calls.
We are going to be fine, as long as we keep ourselves intact. Your art, your passion, your dreams are real. So are mine. Let’s get busy in the face of ourselves.
Thank you to each and everything that has brought me to this point. We are going to be better than ok. We are already perfectly flawed.
Keep your eyes out for some new stuff.
Bursting with Love,
After a trip that took me many thousands of miles, I feel a little bit different than I did four months ago. I saw many places I have been to previous, and many more that I had not seen. I feel rooted in myself, but also aware of how little my one little self is in this large smorgasbord of souls. If there are souls….I feel them.
I am still a bookbinder and artist, a musician and traveler. I still have yet to find boundary. I walk gingerly, with a fire that sometimes comes on too hot. I will become best friends with a stranger in moments, and walk away from a shriveled friendship just as quickly.
I have less attachment than previous, and am also more drawn toward people than before. I have little notion of what I am trying to say or accomplish with this life, with this project.
I have learned the easy way that binding books on the road is tough business that requires more focus than I tend to show on the road.
I have learned once more to live in the moment I am experiencing. I will continue to write about what this means. Bear with me while I bear with myself.
Finding something you cannot be away from is a continual practice.
Love you, even if perhaps we have not met.
January 7, 2014
I am launching a project called Vagabound Bindery. I am a traveler, yet this journey is new to me. I am beginning a world trip that has no destination or boundaries. I create while traveling in order to make enough money to get to the next material I will work in. I have a plan of action, and you can watch it all unfold here, on my site.
I am a bookbinder, artist, writer, and musician. I bind books by hand in a mixture of styles from old tradition, as well as my own tweaks and design. I enjoy all creative pursuits. I believe that though I was born in the United States, I am a citizen of the world, and want to see my home. What would you do to wake up each morning wherever you wanted, and got to do anything you chose?
Our lives are short, the world large, and the possibilities endless. Freedom is scary. I am always practicing to not let this fear in, and to move forward with a smile.
Please feel free to contact me for a chat. Maybe you have a jacket you have retired that would make a great something else? Let me know, maybe I will come bind with you in your jungle hut or your penthouse in the UAE. Either way, I would love to meet you. We are already friends, and our time is now.
See you in the world.