|Handmade journal modeled on the purchased one on the left|
When the e-mail arrived announcing this year's version of Sketchbook Revival, my first thought was to sigh. I still feel like I have so many things I am frantically trying to catch up on; do I really want to commit chunks of time for 13 or so days watching videos and doing exercises in a sketchbook? But I had to admit that I enjoyed the information and discipline learned from last year's immersion so opted in, knowing I could skip what wasn't helpful or things I already knew, and take advantage of whatever new info from a wide range of instructors might be presented, all for free. One small catch of course. The Strathmore multi-media Visual Journal that I used last year got pretty much filled and my many other journals wouldn't quite fit the bill. Am I going to have to order one, I asked, sighing once more. Heck no! Of course, I could make my own while trying out a new binding from my Handmade Book Club. Yup, kill two birds with one stone.
I studied that commercial journal that had served so well for last year's lessons and decided it would be my model in terms of kind of paper and size. Not needing it to be any more sturdy than for use here at home, I decided to reprise my cereal box "boards" covered with tissue paper. Boy, was I excited when I found the teal tissue paper and the beautiful printed one. Not enough of the teal to do two layers scrunched and I didn't really want to add a lot of texture anyway. So after gessoing the boxes, only one layer of tissue paper was smoothed into place and it was enough. The smoothing wasn't perfect so there's a bit of wrinkling here and there but basically, not much texture. The teal became the outside of the covers while the print became the endpaper on the inside. Taking a cue from a tutorial on how to use paper napkins on substrate, I used acrylic varnish to cover both sides of the board to give the tissue paper extra protection. What I have on hand is high gloss, which probably would not have been my first choice, but it actually mimics the gloss of the commercial journal covers.
I checked my paper supply because yes, I'm starting to have a stash of it, and had a couple of choices in multi-media paper. The least waste when cutting down to size would be in using a pad of large sheets where I could get 4 pages out of each sheet. Rather than cut, I tore the pages to size which left rough edges (deckles) and I decided there was no point in trimming them smooth once they were stacked and folded into signatures. These four signatures would have given me about the same number of pages as in the Strathmore journal but at the last minute I decided to add four more signatures to accommodate the binding stitching I'd be doing. Besides, all that tearing was a bit therapeutic considering all the closures and stay at home recommendations finally descending on my little community.
Once the boards dried and they, along with the signatures, spent some time under heavy books, everything got their sewing holes punched, and I set up on the small table where my laptop resides so I could follow the video tutorial on what the teacher was calling the dragonfly stitch.
That dragonfly stitch - I'm not the only one that struggled with it. I was wishing we'd added the back cover first since I did a much better job on it than I did the front cover. Just look at the beautiful printed tissue paper! It makes my heart sing when I see it.
Once the front cover was on, the rest of the signatures went on much faster than I anticipated and quite easily. On each end is a kettle stitch which is what we used on the first books - 2 and 4 needle coptic binding - and supposedly is a sturdier stitch than the chain stitches in the middle which are more what I think of a coptic binding looking like, all done with a single needle. If you look closely along the edge of the top board, you will notice a slight buckle. I had the same thing appear on my other cereal box board book. I think it's a failure to get the paste evening distributed and all the way out to the edge before putting to two pieces and their cardstock stiffener together. Recycling is a nice idea, but I may have to rethink using these boxes in the future.
I think my stitches got tighter with each signature I added so the book doesn't close totally flat. But flat enough for my purposes. This is a working sketchbook, not meant to be fancy although those deckle edges make it a little bit so.
I nearly used the French Link binding again because I know for a fact how nice and flat the pages all open and that is pretty important in a sketchbook like this. However, I'm still catching up on binding tutorials so I didn't really want to repeat a binding yet, and I'm not sure how rugged that French Link would turn out to be over time. Decided to trust that this Dragonfly Stitch binding, essentially a coptic stitch binding, would lie just as flat. And it does! The dark line down the middle is the stitching thread in the center of the signature, a grey thread which was the only color of the appropriate weight of thread I had on hand. Yes, if I keep this up, I will no doubt be accumulating a different kind of thread stash from the quilting one I already have.
And in spite of feeling like my stitches got tighter as I went along, the spacing between signatures is fairly consistent and not too much of a gap. I am very pleased. The book, by the way, measures 8 by 5-1/2 inches.
It's a bit exciting to be starting this year's Revival in this book I made myself, covers in my favorite color. Better get cracking and see if it really works. The videos started on Monday and I have yet to watch one.