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January 15, 2012

Making a Watercolor Sketchbook - Intro to Tutorial

I love making cased-in, multiple signature, watercolor sketchbooks - and alternate between recycling old books as travel sketchbooks, and making new books for my daily sketches. 

We are returning to Venice this Spring and I wanted to recycle an old book as a watercolor travel sketchbook.  I photographed the process of making this Venice book and will post the tutorial, in several parts on this blog over the next few weeks. 

But first - How to select an old book for recycling.

Some people find it very difficult to repurpose an old book.  I love books as much as anyone, but when I see a book on the $1 carts at Housingworks Book Cafe in New York City, or the $2 outdoor carts at the Strand, I know that I will be adopting an orphan and giving it a new life. 

Last Fall I found a fabulous book called Italian Dreams - for $2.00 - on the outdoor book carts at the Strand.  The cover was beautiful and in excellent condition.  And the book was just the right size to carry around on our travels (approx. 6 3/4 W X 8" H).

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   The original end papers were beautiful - and I will save them for collages inside the book.

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The book has lovely photos of Italy and quotes by notable people on facing pages.  I carefully took the original page block apart to save these folios to add to my sketchbook. 

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When selecting an old book, I also carefully examine the original binding, and only buy books that have multiple sewn signatures, and a page block that is not glued to the spine of the book.  The brown spine heading that you can see in this photo is NOT attached to the spine.  You can see that by opening and closing the book covers while looking carefully at the top of the spine.

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I will post the complete process in several parts over the next several weeks (Wed, Sun, Wed).  If you want to follow along, you should look for an old book now and think about the other supplies.  I've added parenthetical notes for common substitute supplies I've seen mentioned.

Part 1 will be:  Removing the Page Block, Measuring and Saving the Folios from the old book, and Tearing Down the New Watercolor Paper.  These will be 3 separate blog entries uploaded on the same day because there are so many photos.

Supplies Needed for Part 1:  craft (x-acto) knife, scissors, ruler, bone folder, watercolor sheets (22 X 30") or some other format of watercolor paper, and one decorative sheet for end papers.  I needed only 2 sheets of 140 lb watercolor paper to fill the 1/2 " spine of my old book.

In Part 2 we will stitch together the signatures, glue on the end papers, and glue the spine.

Supplies needed for part 2:  linen bookbinding thread (dental floss, quilt or carpet thread), and a needle, awl (ice pick or other sharp object) for making holes in the paper, mulberry paper and book mull to glue the spine (or other thin, but strong paper or fabric) PVA glue (or white craft glue), a glue brush, and heavy books to use for weights.

In Part 3 we will "case-in" the new page block - attaching the page block to the inside of the old cover with glue.

Supplies needed:  Glue and glue brush, weights

I hope that you will join me and learn how much fun it can be to make your own watercolor sketchbooks.  After making approximately 6 of these recycled books, I took a 1 1/2 day bookbinding class locally to learn how to make my own book covers, and now make both types of books. 

January 6, 2012

One Journal Complete, A New One Begun

Last year at this time I took the online class "Remains of the Day" by Mary Ann Moss.  I created a fabric art journal and this year filled it with sketches, photos, and ephemera from my art sketchcrawls and projects with one or more of my New York City friends.  Five of us gather together regularly (Journal Study Group) to share skills for art on paper and art on fabric, and those are the photos that are included.

This is my very fat, full journal - which represents many fun days between Jan and Dec.

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The pages in the journal are made from random printed papers, with lots of other attached decorations.  Then more stuff is added.  It is hard to explain the multilayered scrapbook quality in photos.  But here are a few of the finished pages. 

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I had so much fun making and keeping this journal, that I decided to make another one for 2012 and to again document my art adventures in New York City.  Yesterday I pulled out all of my hand dyed and painted fabrics and made selections for the new cover. 

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And I added my first pages, including my sketches of caricatures in the Infinite Jeste exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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December 30, 2011

Last Blog Drawing and Art Progress For 2011

I sketched today during a Gallery Talk on Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

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Last January I outlined my art goals for 2011 - just to have a map to guide me through the days.  I maintain a sketchbook for pleasure and get joy from recording the little things in my current life.   No one is monitoring my progress, but I still like to reflect on how I spent my time, so I can make plans for 2012.  Here is my progress on 5 goals.

 1.  Continue to work on drawing skills with daily drawings and monthly live figure drawing. 

I averaged more than one sketch per day for the full year, and went to figure drawing monthly at the Society of Illustrators.  I also went to figure drawing at the Battery Park City summer program for the first time.  Although I want to eventually try using just a brush and watercolor to "draw" figures, I stretched a little and sketched figures, during the 20 minute poses, with a watercolor pencil and then water to shade the figures. 

I'm working on a 100 Faces project from Carla Sonheim's Drawing Lab book and added 33 portraits - drawing from live people who usually didn't know they were being sketched.  I now have almost 70 done.  And I even tried sketching portraits of my mother and a few grandchildren, although I still struggle trying to schieve a likeness of their faces.

2.  Continue to work on watercolor painting skills.

I'm not sure that I'm making progress although I am trying to increase my range of values.   And I'm using watercolor pencils more in my daily sketches, especially when I'm sketching faces on subways and buses.

3.  Continue making my daily watercolor sketchbooks and expand my bookbinding skills.

I made and used 7 watercolor sketchbooks and one recycled watercolor book during the year and now I'm working on an artist's book -  collaging, drawing, and painting Christmas ornaments that I made over the last 30+ years to document my collection. 

4.  Continue education through on line classes, workshops, and directed reading.

Participated in the three 2011 Strathmore online workshops.

Took an online mini-class with Kate Johnson on watercolor pencils

Took an online class with Mary Ann Moss to make a "Remains of the Day" journal and then slowly filled it over the entire year.

Took a class with Judy Coates Perez at Quilt Festival, painting and drawing on fabric with Tsukineko inks.

Worked through several DVDs on Art Journals, Read Cathy Johnson's Artist's Journal Workshop twice, Reread Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit, Read Eric Maisel's Coaching the Artist Within and Peter Steinhart's The Undressed Art or Why We Draw.

5.  Enjoy and nurture connections to the art community. 

I blogged 8-9 times per month (2X/wk), met regularly with members of my Journal Study Group to visit museum exhibits, go on sketchcrawls, and "make art" together, attended 8 Central Park Sketching and Art Meetup Group sessions, and followed Everyday Matters (Yahoo Group) and many art blogs for inspiration and contact with the broader community.

I'm am thoroughly enjoying my retirement and I'm thrilled that I found another passion to add to my other lifelong interests.  My blog will be 6 years old next week and hopefully I will make some plans for 2012 by then. 

December 21, 2011

Mixed Media Artist Book

In 1976, the year after our 3rd and last child was born, I started to make fabric ornaments for our Christmas tree.  I usually made 20-24 of the same ornament so I could give some away as gifts.  And over the years I made several more for our family when I found a new pattern, design or needlework technique (for example smocking or silk ribbon embroidery).  After giving away 3 full sets of the ornaments to our children, when they were married, I still have 139 hanging on our tree. 

Each of the last few years I sketched and painted random ornaments in my daily watercolor sketchbook during the holidays, and then last year I decided  that I would make a mixed media artist's book of my favorites.  So I am scanning and printing some of the ornaments from my sketchbook pages and collaging them into the book.  And on other pages, I'm drawing and painting them directly on the pages in the 8 x 10" watercolor book. 

Here are 3 of the first pages.  This will be a long term project for the last two weeks of December each year.  Once we take down our tree and pack up the ornaments, they will be forgotten until the next year.

 

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September 12, 2011

More Watercolor Sketchbooks

These watercolor sketchbooks were made with my bookcloth - white cotton fabric that was manipulated and dyed using procion MX dyes.  All of them are full, even though I haven't numbered the last two before they were put up on the shelf. 

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I learned how to use soy wax resist with procion dyes earlier this year and just had to try it out with all of my dye colors.  Here is my "Harlequin" design,

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 I just finished two more - one 5.5 x 7.5" portrait style and one 8" square.  The blue one is my current daily sketchbook.  Each of my sketchbooks has Fabriano Artistico 140 lb Soft Press paper.  Getting the book size and the paper I liked was my initial motivation for making a sketchbook.  Then I decided that I really loved binding books and making my own bookcloth is a complete joy.  I get to work with different resists, fabric manipulations, stamps, screens and monoprinting.  My series of black sketchbooks that were made with commercial bookcloth are so blah!

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The recycled books, sketchbooks with black bookcloth, and covers of some of these books can be seen by scrolling through the following blog category.  There is also a tutorial for how to recycle a book to make a watercolor sketchbook - that was how I started on this journey.

http://www.paperandthreads.com/bookbinding/

http://www.paperandthreads.com/2008/03/recycling_an_old_book_as_a_wat.php

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