Category Archives: Inspirational

June Winner: Randy Raysbrook

We put out a call for submissions to see how you were using your Epica books, journals and albums and the response was overwhelming. Every day we are amazed with the creativity of our clients and the chance to share in your photography, art, and writing. Thank you. Without further delay it is a pleasure to present the June 2009 winner: Randy Raysbrook


A few links to Randy and his organization:
The Learning Journal
About the Raysbrooks’

Excerpts of an article titled Engaging People in Spiritual Conversation by Gwen Sellers. reprinted with permission from Randy Raysbrook.

“You remind me of Socrates and he’s my hero,” or so one student told Navigator Randy Raysbrook. Around the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus, Randy has been known as “the guy with the big book.” He has been asking students to write their thoughts in a large, leather-bound journal as a way of getting to know what’s on their hearts.

Randy has been with The Navigators for 26 years and is currently working in the Metro Mission. “Part of my job is to help The Navigators learn new ways to teach and learn, to create new ministry environments that are interactive, creative, and that connect with people,” Randy explains. “We need to continually learn about our audience. So I asked myself, since I had done campus ministry for years, ‘Are students the same today?’ And I know they’re not. So
that’s why I got this,” he says, pulling out his infamous journal. This particular large, handcrafted journal is made in Florence, Italy, and only one U.S. company is allowed to import them. “I think they’re magnificent,” Randy says, “So I bought one of these and I wanted to use it creatively while I was answering the question, ‘How have students changed?’ I want students to teach me what’s deep in their soul. So I knew a provocative question could start a good conversation.”

Journal and pen in hand, Randy begins the process. He walks up to students, targeting the nontraditional ones least likely to participate in any church-related activity, and asks permission to ask them a question. Showing the student his journal, he explains its Italian origins and his desire to use it for student thoughts. Before they agree to answer his question, Randy warns students that it is one they may not want to answer. He then tells them the two conditions to which they must agree: They must be brutally honest saying “exactly what’s on your heart,” and they must allow their answers to be read by other people.

“If you could write a note to God and tell Him anything you want, and He
would read it, what would you say?”

We congratulate Randy for his work with the students of the University of Colorado and in the community. Randy thank you for sharing your story, engaging people and inspiring them to think and self-reflect.

April Winner!

We put out a call for submissions to see how you were using your Epica books, journals and albums and the response was overwhelming. Every day we are amazed with the creativity of our clients and the chance to share in your photography, art, and writing. Thank you. Without further delay it is a pleasure to present the April 2009 winner: Brian J. Connolly. Brian forward sketches from his travels in both Ireland and Italy. Mr Connolly is a principal at Zivkovic Connolly Architects P.C. located in New York, New York, USA.( and after reviewing their portfolio and seeing Mr. Connolly’s sketches it would be a pleasure to work with them on a project.

Have something you would like to share? Send your scans and photos of your Epica book, journal or album to submissions [ at ]

Italy by Mr. Brian Connolly:

The Epica of Harry Potter, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and JK Rowling

Landed on the blog by accident? Click here to return to the main Epica homepage.

Sotheby’s recently auctioned an original edition of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, handwritten and illustrated by JK Rowling. The volume was an one of a kind custom journal with hand forged metal elements and filigree fitting the story and and Ms. Rowling’s Harry Potter style. One of seven copies in existence it was purchased by

The purchase price was £1,950,000 (2,767,050 million U.S. dollars), and Ms. Rowling is donating the proceeds to The Children’s Voice campaign, a charity she co-founded to help improve the lives of institutionalized children across Europe.

The piece is truly an extraordinary work and mirrors several items in our catalog. The exquisite leather and paper closely resembles our Amalfi line while the overall concept emulates Epica’s old world Authentically Ornamented items.

Simply enjoy the links and images. It’s not often we find something of such perfection in both writing and craftsmanship.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is extensively illustrated and handwritten by JK Rowling–all 157 pages of it. It’s bound in brown Moroccan leather and embellished with five hand-chased hallmarked sterling silver ornaments and mounted moonstones.

There is no easy way to define the experience of seeing, holding, or reading J.K. Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard, so let’s just start with one word: “Whoa.” The very fact of its existence (an artifact pulled straight out of a novel) is magical, not to mention the facts that only seven copies exist in all the world and each of the never-before-told tales is handwritten and illustrated by J.K. Rowling herself (and it’s quite clear from the first few pages that she has some skill as an artist). Rowling’s handwriting is like the familiar scrawl of a favorite aunt–it’s not hard to read, but it does require attention–allowing you to take it slow and savor the mystery of each next word.

Amazingly beautiful in it’s presentation, detailing and story: The Tales of Beedle the Bard at Amazon and via Sotheby’s

It’s not often we get to show them off so please excuse the pitch but we have some exquisite journals similar in both concept and design, as well as our custom made solutions:

Epica 8×10 Leather Authentically Ornamented Handmade Italian Distressed Leather Journal
Epica 15×22 Worlds Second Largest Journal Full Authentic Restoration Journal
Need a custom made journal solution? Something to your exact specifications?

Wouldn’t it be nice

Senic Tari


A couple days ago, a girl whom I went to high school with called me out of the blue and said, “What are you doing?”  I told her I was just finishing lunch and she said, “I’d love to see you. I’m here with an Italian friend of mine whom I’d like you to meet, can you come by now?”  Timing was perfect so we met at a restaurant minutes away from where I was.  She speaks Spanish and English, he speaks Italian, Spanish and English and I speak Italian, Spanish and English, so no sooner did I arrive did we find ourselves in a triangle of language a Spanglish and Italish.  I caught up and I found out her worked at a near by fine dining restaurant.  It was a brief but fun meeting and our conversation lasted maybe ten or fifteen minutes at the most before we went our separate ways.

Last night I took a girlfriend to dinner and it happened to be at the place that Italian guy was was working, though I hadn’t made the connection yet. Well… We no sooner walked in the door and I see this tall figure do a double and triple take of me from at least 30 feet away. I recognized him and smiled broadly but his response was unprecedented.  He came rushing over, arms in the air, huge smile, an even bigger “Ciaooooooo!!!!!” followed by an enormous hug and an additional trail of friendly Italian speak.   You would have thought we were reuniting as long lost brothers! The hostess was flabbergasted and smiling, Jenna was smiling and marveling at how she could know who this person is who must certainly be a best friend.  Italian guy  gave me another firm embrace, and I introduced him to Jenna and caught up for another moment before we were seated.  The look on his face was complete elation and joy, like nothing else mattered in the world except that we catch up for this one moment.

I was rolled over. Steamrolled with happiness. Giddy even. (And I have to say giddy is not a response I am familiar with when it comes to other men…)  What a reaction! We barely sat down for two seconds when he came darting out to the table again speaking a 1000 miles a minute in Italian, hands animating each word, “Now look! I can’t be your server but I’ve already had words with the waiter who is handing this section. I told him he better take exceptional care of you, or he’ll have me to answer to!”  Wow! More smiles and then he walked away.

Immediately Jenna wanted to know WHO this guy was. I said, “Baby, I met him YESTERDAY for fifteen minutes!”  She said, “Wow! You met him YESTERDAY?  I thought you’ve known him for years!”  And we talked about it a few more minutes before finally perusing the menu.  What I was struck by most though, was this idea of, wouldn’t it be nice if that was the default way we greeted people?  Can you imagine? If infectious laughter and smiles and embraces was the default way we approached the world?

Before you get to logical on me and say, yes but if everyone did that it wouldn’t be special, or that’s just not how the world works, or that is cheesy, or you’ll never get EVERYONE to be that way, some people are just cold.. and all the other refutes…  stay with me a moment longer.  Besides, when you’re laughing and smiling and having a the time of your life do you ever interrupt yourself and say, “Wait a minute! This might be a problem! I might get to used to happy stuff… or there may be limited supply and I don’t want to use it up. Back to seriousness.”?

What if ONE person treated you that way Italian guy treated me on a daily or weekly basis?  What if throughout your entire week, once a week, ONE person lit up like a Christmas tree when they saw you and greeted you with overwhelming acceptance, friendliness and joy? If all fears and concerns of judgement or what people would think went out the door… Would that make a difference in your day? In your week?  For me it brightened my evening.  In that moment I KNEW, without a doubt, I want more experiences like that in my life. I want to feel this good and this appreciated even more!

There is nothing like the power of a good question and nothing quite like a great question:

What if that one person was who made that difference was you? What if you were the one who people couldn’t wait to see because your energy and zest was so off the charts, or pleasant to be around that more people couldn’t get enough of you; and they wanted to be around you, talk to you, have fun with you.

All too often our friends and family call us or we call them and we’re greeted with an, “Oh hey!” or “How are you?”  Can you think of ways to break the pattern for your relationships and friendships and set a new tone of zest for being alive?

Yes we can.