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October 7, 2014

We Are Going to Paris!

I made a recycled book from a $2.00 used book as my travel sketchbook and showed it previously in a blog post. 


I've done some preliminary drawing/painting etc before we begin and wanted to add those pages to my blog now.  I love "trip anticipation" and these steps make the upcoming trip even more fun.


Here is the cover of the book - and it has 32 pages of varying size watercolor folios mixed with some original pages of Atget's B and W photos.



I sketched and painted a vintage Paris Metro sign in the Scupture Garden at MoMA this summer and decided to print it out and collage it for the title page of the sketchbook.  I will add my identifying and contact information here. 

This is a small page and the word Paris is actually cut-out letters at the edge of the next page.




This is Page 2 - and contains Mickey - the Sendak traveler I put in all of my overseas travel sketchbooks.  The two squares are part of the 2" paintings I do - one for each day of our trip.   



Here is page 3 with the cut-away Paris Letters and some more 2" squares for drawing. 



Page 4 is a scanned and collaged map of the center of Paris.  I love maps and even still have one with all of our walks from our first 2 week trip there many, many years ago outlined in marker. 



Page 5 is one of the original Atget page folios I bound into my book.  Don't you just love the old lingerie shop? 



Page 6 will have our itinerary, collaged over the original French text from the preceding page, with our rental apartment address.

And Page 7 has my map of Ile St. Louis - the location of our apartment.  The other places we frequent on the island will be added to this page when we arrive.   We rented an apartment on Ile De La Cite several times and were thrilled to be staying now on the other island in a 17th C. building, above a boulangerie. 



When I'm traveling with my husband, we walk lots and just stop at places that look interesting, and in the process I do quick sketches - painting them then or later in the day.  I have no idea what the watercolor paintings will be like in this book, but I loved Koosje Koene's travel pages of what she wore that day - and what they ate that day!  When we went to Venice in 2012, I sketched and painted the clothes I brought - inspired by a very old illustration from a travel sketchbook in an exhibit at the Morgan Library.  And in Venice I did a painting of several gondoliers showing what they wore! 


September 19, 2014

My Fall FIT Bookbinding Class

I am taking a Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Design and Communication basic bookbinding course.  Except for one 8 hour workshop on how to make a cased-in book, I am essentially a self taught bookbinder, and even studied and made a different structure each month in 2013. 

It is wonderful to have tips, ideas, and new variations from a professional bookbinder and have already made 3 small books for her to teach us basic skills.  Each book was made with copy paper, so they are only 6 X 4.25 inches.  And each has a soft cover - for which I used white Canson 2-ply Smooth Bristol Board.

This book has 10 folios and was made with a 3 hole pamphlet stitch.  After I made the book I used watercolor to paint the paper.


The cover was cut 5 X the width of the book.  The front piece folds back on itself and then wraps around the book with the flap inserting in the double folded front cover.  I love the structure because it makes a very sturdy, inexpensive little notebook. 



The second book is a double pamphlet book, which I've made before and have a tutorial on my blog. 

It was made with a 5 hole pamphlet stitch, and then painted. 



Book #3 is a Flat Back Multiple Signature Book.  We used 50 sheets of copy paper and made 10 signatures.  Learning how to cut all 50 sheets at once is a skill that I will never forget!  We used a herringbone stitching pattern, which I've not seen listed in any of my bookbinding books, and then glued the spine.  

My cover was made with my last strip of the Bristol paper which I made as paste paper - on a whim - because I had a little paste left after making a new batch of paste paper.  And I made a flap just because I felt like it at that moment.



This week I made nineteen 14 X 17" sheets of paste paper to replenish my stash and this was my favorite piece. 


I was reluctant to start making books, even though I love books in all shapes and sizes.  But in 2005 I couldn't find 140 lb watercolor sketchbooks and eased into making them by recycling old orphan books.  

When Moleskine made their watercolor sketchbook, I tried them and really disliked the landscape format.  So I took the 2008 workshop to learn how the professionals made sturdy covers and started making my own cased-in books.  Now feel like an amateur bookbinder which brings me great pleasure.  

For anyone who is interested in seeing the many types of books I've made, scroll down the page - and on the right to the category section of my blog.    

September 4, 2014

Making a Travel Sketchbook for Paris

I love to make special travel sketchbooks for our vacations, recycling old books about the location.  I found a $2.00 damaged book of Eugene Atget photographs at the Strand bookstore in New York City.  By carefully clipping the old binding threads, I was able to preserve some of the folios, using two of them for my end papers and inserting two others amidst the watercolor paper.

The book is 8 1/4 x 8 1/4 inches, a perfect size for my purse or backpack.  I filled it with Fabriano Artistica 140 lb soft press watercolor paper, with some irregularly-sized pages for fun.  


Front Cover:



Front End Paper:



Back End Paper: 



I sketched an Eiffel Tower that I will place on the title page - and then make a grid for  a daily small image, a calendar for daily events, and a map showing the location of our rented apartment.



Several years ago I posted a 3 part  tutorial for recycling an old or damaged book as a travel sketchbook.   The book was called Italian Dreams and I made it for a trip to Venice and can be seen here. 


June 10, 2014

Making a Simple Sketchbook - The Double Pamphlet

Making a Double Pamphlet Book is one of the easiest and fastest ways to construct a watercolor journal, a sketchbook or simple notebook.  This is a watercolor sketchbook that I made in less than one hour and it has 24 pages of 140 lb watercolor paper which is perfect for a short trip or special project. 

The cover illustration is one of my watercolors that I scanned and printed out on matte presentation paper.  You could paint, collage, stamp or stencil the cover based on the cover paper you choose.




You can select any paper for the two signatures and cover.  The only requirement is that you determine the paper grain and make the folds parallel to the grain.  But I suspect that it is less of a requirement for this simple book than a hard-backed, cased-in, multiple signature book.

The other supplies are relatively easy to collect - and there are many substitutes.  Here is a photo of the supplies that I used.   


Ruler, Scissors, Bone Folder (or something else to press in the folds), Awl (or any sharp tool to punch holes), pencil, pen, Binder's Needles (or any other sharp heavy needle), Linen Bookbinding Thread (or carpet thread, dental floss, embroidery thread etc), X-acto Knife. 

Preparing the Paper:

Fold 2 signatures out of the paper you want for your journal.  I used 140 lb paper and I tore 3 folios for each signature.  With thinner paper you could increase the number of folios in each signature.  See the definition of folios, signatures, and paper grain below.


Some Useful Definitions

A folio is the full size page that gets folded in half to make up the signatures.  Each folio will make 4 single-sided pages in the book.

A signature is a collection of folios, all folded together.  I use 140 lb watercolor paper and only two - three folios can be put in each signature.

Grain is the orientation of the fibers in the paper - very much like fabric.  Handmade papers don't have grain.  When making a book, the grain of the paper needs to be parallel to the spine of the book unless you want a wonky book.  This is the first and last rule of bookbinding. 


My folio measured 7.5" X 11.25 ".  The signature measured 7.5 X 5 3/4".


I used Canson Mi Tientes paper for the cover because it comes in many colors and is like card stock in thickness.  It is easy to fold and punch for stitching.  The paper grain is parallel to the short side of the sheet, so I wanted a paper that was wide enough to make the book (11.25 + 1" for the inside tab + 4-6" for cover flaps).  This will become easier to understand as you read the next section.


I used a metal ruler and X-acto knife to cut the cover across the longest width of the paper and then folded it in half.  



It is then necessary to score the paper 1/2" from each side of the fold and fold the front and back covers along that scoring line -in the opposite direction from the center fold.  See the next few illustrations to understand why - it is the only confusing part of this book structure.  

You will create a tab in the center of your cover - and this will be the part of the cover you use to stitch the signatures to the cover in one simple pamphlet stitch. 




Getting Ready to Stitch Your Book Together:  THIS IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT PHOTO!!

Open each signature and line up the folds against the  fold creating the tab.  Note that one signature opens in one direction and the other signature opens in the opposite direction.  You are now going to use a single pamphlet stitch through all 3 layers at the same time!  I cut my cover 1/8" more than the height of the folios to make sure that the cover protected the paper. 

Notice that the fold in each signature is lined up with the folds you created to make the tab.  You will punch holes into the fold of each signature and in the folds that are 1/2" from the center fold in the cover. 




I made what bookbinders call a jig to punch my holes in both signatures and the cover.  A jig is essentially a pattern that you can use to mark holes in the same positions on multiple signatures.  Mine is a piece of paper that is about 3" wide and the height of the book cover.  I marked the jig 1" from the top and bottom of the cover and in the middle - for a total of 3 holes.  I then laid the fold of the jig in the fold of the signatures and the folds of the cover and punched holes with my awl.  A phone book makes a wonderful support for the process because you can nestle the folds of your signatures and cover into the fold of the phone book.  I punched the holes in each section separately because the papers were too thick to do them all together.


In the next photo you see the cover being punched.  The tab is to the left, under the jig and the rest of the cover is to the right, and I'm punching the holes through two layers of the cover in the folds creating the tab.  


After the holes are punched, align both signatures, one on either each side of the cover tab as demonstrated in the earlier photo - and you are ready for stitching!


The Pamphlet Stitch:  There are many diagrams and video tutorials to learn a 3-hole pamphlet stitch.  I've included a basic summary below.

Cut a length of thread 3 times the height of the signature.  Pass the needle out the center hole, leaving a 3-4" tail for tying later.


Pass the needle back in through Hole #2 and out of Hole #3.



Then pass the needle back in through Hole #1.  It is important to have the two threads that are in hole 1 to straddle the long stitch between Holes #2 and 3 as in this photo below.


Make sure the thread is pulled tight through all of the holes and tie a secure square knot ( I tie a square knot twice so it can't come undone). Then clip the ends to about 1/2".




Creating Flaps:  If you added several inches on each side of your cover, you can now fold them in over the signatures creating flaps.  They can even be glued down across the bottom to create pockets.



You can now decorate your cover with collage like I did, or paint, stamps, stencils, screens etc.




HAPPY BOOKBINDING AND PLEASE CONTACT ME WITH ANY QUESTIONS.  I'd also love it if you would leave me comments if you would like more bookbinding tutorials. 

Here is a link to my tutorial for creating a watercolor journal from an old, orphan book. 


May 16, 2014

Making Watercolor Sketchbooks

I started making my own watercolor sketchbooks when I couldn't find commercial sketchbooks that I liked.  First I taught myself how to recycle old orphan books ($1-2), and then learned how to make case-bound books with black commercial book cloth. 

But soon I developed a way to make my own bookcloth, fusing dyed fabrics to mulberry paper. 

It gives me enormous pleasure to use these 48 page sketchbooks that are made with Fabriano Artistica 140 lb soft press watercolor paper. 

I just took a picture of this group of sketchbooks - all now full of watercolor paintings and/or graphite drawings. 


Last week I made two New Watercolor Sketchbooks:  The first book cover was made by overdying a monoprint.



And this one was made using Tsukineko inks mixed with aloe vera gel as a thickener.  I transferred a drawing to dyed fabric and painted it using small paintbrushes.  I learned this technique from Judy Coates Perez and made a Coptic stitched watercolor sketchbook using the image I painted in her Quilt Festival workshop.




Book made from bug painting I did on cloth at Quilt Festival Workshop.



Recycling Books:  I also still recycle books to use as travel sketchbooks and summer beach sketchbooks.  I just finished recycling a square book that I bought for $2 at the Strand Book Store in New York City and will use it on vacations this summer. 

It was a book of photographs entitled Seeing:Details. 



I was able to use two of the folios as endpapers in my new book. 


I tore my folios from 2 pieces of Fabriano Artistico soft press 140 lb paper (grain short) and some of the folios are folded asymmetrically and others are shorter - making the pages an interesting mixture and minimizing waste. 



In 2012 I recycled a book called Italian Dreams before we went to Venice.  I made a multipart tutorial as I was making the sketchbook and here is the link to those blog posts if you would like to make one. 

I'm interested in learning how many readers would like to continue to see blog entries or more tutorials about making watercolor sketchbooks - please leave a comment.  I would be happy to share what I've learned.