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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. 

March 21, 2014

Odds and Ends

I decided to end my Studying Under the Masters Class after 8 weeks.  It was WONDERFUL and I learned so much more about using my watercolors and my palette - much more because I learned it on my own through trial and error.  The 9th apprentice and artist didn't interest me at all, so now I'm back to other projects.

I needed another new watercolor sketchbook and finally had time to make it.  I overdyed a monoprint I didn't like and then added a screen print of one of my figure drawings that I made into a thermofax screen.  This is a drawing of a pregnant model that I used before for other projects.  This is a 48 page, 140 lb cased-in watercolor sketchbook, made using my standard method.



I haven't talked much about my Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) spring semester class.  I am taking silk dye painting and we are learning many techniques on one 36 X 36 inch piece of silk.  In our second class we mixed a full range of dye colors from our 3 primaries plus black and now we refer to it as a general guide for all of our subsequent painting.  Here is the grid created with gutta and then "painted" with the dye colors we mixed. 


The second vertical row has our 3 primary and 3 secondary dye hues.  Row one has tints of those (diluent added to lighten).  Rows 3 and 4 are classic complementaries of the primaries and secondaries and their tints, and Rows 5 and 6 are their shades (black added to darken) and their tints. 

We've used many types of resists to make butterflies and flowers (gutta, wax and water soluble),  and played with salt and alcohol effects.  They are all on the left side of the silk.

We are now working on "grounds" of wax or gutta/turpenoid and painting leaves.  These are above and below the color grid - and this picture was taken before class this week before I finished my leaves.  At the bottom is a textile design I made using Tjantings, stamps, and several layers of wax and dyes.


The right side of the silk now has a self-portrait I "painted" on the top and will have a stamped textile design using thickened dyes on the bottom section to finish this piece next week.  Then the dyes will be steamed and the wax removed.   In two weeks we will start another project for the second half of the semester. 

Although I have experience with many of these techniques, I am still learning so much - and love being in a surface design studio for 4 hours each week! 


December 28, 2013

End of Year Potpourri

January 4th is the 8th anniversary of my blog.  I had no idea that I would enjoy connecting with a creative world as much as I do.  I've met wonderful artists online, and then in person, and shared so many experiences.  And the blogs that I follow are a continual source of inspiration and information.

I want to wrap up a few projects now before I write a Happy New Year blog post and my yearly "Progress and Goals".

Bookbinding: I made another watercolor sketchbook using hand dyed fabric for the book cloth.  This is the 21st cased-in book I made using my dyed fabric and the 48th watercolor sketchbook for daily drawing and painting.  My earliest books were spiral Aquabee and Moleskine watercolor books.  The rest of my handmade books are travel sketchbooks and figure drawing books.

By making my own books I can control the size and the paper - and that keeps me happy.


 2.  Paper:  This is a page in a watercolor pamphlet stitched book that I started several years ago to draw and paint the tree ornaments that I made since 1976.  While the tree is up I try to identify all of the ones that weren't painted yet and this year I found two hearts from wildly different times.

Here is a link to this project and previous pages (although 6 pages have never been posted):



3.  Threads:  Here are the final products from my Santa's Workshop 2013 - a cotton velveteen quilt and photo pillow for my 2 year old grandson William.  We are going to visit him right after New Year's, so these were the last gifts completed. 

This quilt design was developed when Henry was 2 (now 10) and every grandchild loves the texture of the velvet on one side and cotton on the other.  I machine quilt them in a crosshatch design and they are completely washable.

The photo was taken this Fall and I printed it on EQ fabric sheets.





October 28, 2013

And Then We Rested

Kathy and I spent Saturday out in the City - the Metropolitan Museum of Art for Interglobal Textiles, the Fashion District annual Open Studios, and an opening at ACA Gallery for Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, one of my all-time favorite contemporary artists.  So we decided to spend Sunday, her last vacation day, playing in the apartment.

I taught Kathy how to make the File Folder Journal that I previously posted (from Cloth Paper Scissors).  Here you can see her assembling her journal.  When we finished them, she taught me how to make a bracelet with the beautiful beads on the right of the photo.


Here is my second File Folder Journal - and I'm planning to use it to keep track of my most important current projects.  The paper used to cover the folder and the pockets is color copies of a collage book on alphabets and text that I made at the MoMA Print Studio in 2012.  The cards are gray-toned Strathmore paper that I laminated to 246lb Strathmore acrylic paint paper.

I rotate index card lists in and out of the pockets in front of the cards when I'm using these journals.


Front Cover


Pages 2 and 3:


Pages 4 and 5:


Back Cover: