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Old 03-24-2016, 04:23 PM
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CharM CharM is online now
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Smile Art Journaling

At the Centre where I lead 6-week Workshops several times per year, I am currently teaching an Art Journaling Session. Because this is a nose-to-tail workshop, I thought I'd share it with you.

Week One:

Make your Journal:
  • Try to avoid journals with very slick or lightweight paper, though many swear by the Moleskine type, especially for ink or pencil. (If you don’t get the Moleskine specifically made for watercolor, you’ll want to add a bit of soap or detergent to your paint water to make the paint adhere to the slick surface— or use watercolor pencils, crayons, colored pencils or something else to add color to your pages.)
  • If you plan to use watercolors, watercolor pencils, or even acrylics, you’ll most likely want paper that’s easy to write or draw on with pencil or pen, but that will take some wet media. (For obvious reasons oils don’t work as well in a journal because your pages would need to dry for a long time before you could shut the book.)

What you'll need:
1. One sheet of 140# watercolour paper, 22 x 30"
2. A length of thin string
3. A piece of heavy cardboard, matte board, backer board or chip board.
4. Drawing paper if desired
5. A glue stick, acrylic medium
6. Decorative paper to finish the covers

Prepare the Signatures:
1. Fold the water colour paper tearing it into two pieces.
2. Then fold again and tear, as shown in the pictures.
3. You will now have eight pieces that are about 15 x 5.5".
4. Fold the paper in the middle. Press down the folds with a ruler or something.
5. You have eight folded papers, about 7.5 x 5.5".



If you want some drawing paper in between the watercolour papers. Cut as many you need in the same way as before. You can always pull them out later if you don’t want them in the sketch book. Put drawing paper in between each piece of watercolour paper if you’d like to have thinner paper for notes or pencil drawings.

Measure the thickness of your “signatures”. They should be about 3/4 of an inch to an inch in depth. This will be the width of your book’s spine.

From heavy cardboard, matte board, chip board, etc., cut three pieces. Two of them will measure 5.75” x 7.75” and one piece which will become the spine measures 5.75” x .75”.



Assemble the Covers:

Line up the three cover pieces.
With masking tape, leaving a small amount of space between each piece, tape them together to form a single unit.
Turn this over and tape the outside of the cover in the same manner. This will provide strength to the spine.

Line up the three cover pieces.
With masking tape, leaving a small amount of space between each piece, tape them together to form a single unit.
Turn this over and tape the outside of the cover in the same manner. This will provide strength to the spine.



Using decorative papers, glue them to the front covers. Ensure that the pieces are about a half inch larger than your cardboard. Use matte medium or glue to affix them.



Trim the corners and the spine and fold down the single sheet of decorative paper over the inside of your book. Once this has dried, affix your decorative papers to the inside covers overlapping your papers over the spine. You won't see this because your cording will cover it.



If making the faux leather, tear the brown paper into small pieces and randomly glue it to the covers. It should wrinkle. After it has dried, “antique” it using a thin wash of burnt umber acrylic and a damp paper towel. You don’t want to paint the paper so much as highlight the wrinkles.
Turn the cover unit over when it has dried and fold the overlapping papers to the inside. Glue them down. At this stage, the covers tend to warp a little while they’re drying. Don’t worry about this, they will flatten out.

In this example, I used newsprint which really wrinkles as it dries. If you don't want this effect, you can use heavier paper to keep it smooth. I "antiqued" the wrinkles with a darker colour of acrylic paint. And then, using a hot glue gun, I affixed buttons to the front of it.



In this example, I glued more decorative papers to the faux leather cover and then ran some washi tape (available at craft stores) across the length of the covers.



Measure a piece of string equal to the width of your eight signatures plus two widths of the book. Beginning on the outside of the book, wind the string snugly around the spine.

Cross the bottom and top end strings over one another and then bring the left string under the group of eight wraps. Then tie the two pieces tightly.



Turn the book over and slide each signature under the string. It may get a little tighter as you add the pages, but they’ll fit. Just take your time.





When opened, your book will look like this:



I added a decorative button over top of the knotted string on each of these books.





I punch a hole in each cover, finishing it with a grommet. Then I used a piece of leather binding to tie the book closed. The blue book has two holes in the back and the closure is elastic.





Next week, I'll post the steps from that Class. We'll be focusing on the purpose of our journals and creating a title page that will help maintain it. I hope you will find this helpful!
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Old 03-24-2016, 06:21 PM
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Re: Art Journaling

I love it so far!
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Old 03-25-2016, 01:26 AM
Catwoman2 Catwoman2 is offline
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Re: Art Journaling

Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Char -- so much great information and inspiration!!!
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Old 03-25-2016, 04:49 AM
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Re: Art Journaling

A wonderful thread Char, one for the handbook eventually. I have stuck the thread so it is easier to find.

Doug
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Old 03-25-2016, 06:17 AM
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painterbear painterbear is offline
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Re: Art Journaling

Looks lovely and also practical for doing those watercolor studies.

I have added it to the Watercolor Handbook in the section called Watercolor Paper and Other Supports — Sketchbooks & Journals.

Sylvia

Last edited by painterbear : 03-25-2016 at 06:24 AM.
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Old 03-25-2016, 07:28 AM
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Re: Art Journaling

I like the way each signature is held in place with its own bit of string. Looks very doable! Thanks, Char.
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Old 03-25-2016, 01:25 PM
Caroleanne Caroleanne is offline
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Re: Art Journaling

Thank you so much for this Char...I've made one this afternoon with Arches, Saunders and sketching paper in and am thrilled to bits with it. We just need the weather here now and I'll be out there! I love the simplicity of it and the fact you don't need lots of equipment to make it. Great idea.
Carole
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Old 03-25-2016, 10:21 PM
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Re: Art Journaling

Oooo, I just saw this! Thank you so much for inviting us, Char!!

Eve666 just shared this video with me, if you'd like to see someone build one of these.

I might make one of these for my friend that's due a travel palette from me, then invite her to join the class.
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Old 03-26-2016, 08:00 AM
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Re: Art Journaling

This is one I'm going to follow.
Thanks Char!!!
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Old 03-26-2016, 09:03 AM
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Re: Art Journaling

These journals look fantastic and I like very much the innovative way you use to bind the signatures. I will follow the instructions and I'll try to make one like this myself.

I have to ask though some queries, of technical nature of course.

Doesn't the strings loosen up or get tighter with water during the use of the book, ( I might use f.e my sketchbooks for quite long time and I have to admit that I ...bit them hard ). Have you checked if the strings mark the paper signatures in the long run?

And my second question is: Why you didn't choose to use elastic bands in the place of the strings as I have seen used in other similar bindings? What are the pros and cons in your opinion of binding with strings or binding with rubber bands. ( I haven't used either.. I'm just asking because I'm interested about the matter)
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Old 03-26-2016, 04:25 PM
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Re: Art Journaling

My sketchbooks end up with the strings hidden by the cover wrap, but are otherwise similar. Have never had issues with them getting in the way of a painting, or stretching much. My current book is wrapped with upholstery thread and might be getting a *teeny* bit loose, though it has been getting knocked around for the past 6 months. I may try proper bookbinder's thread next time.

Rubber bands in my experience dry out and break, I would not want to pick up my book some day and all the pages splat on the floor.
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Old 03-26-2016, 06:51 PM
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Re: Art Journaling

I want to try this.

I tried making a journal once, and was very pleased with the cover and the paper. But I used a tutorial I found online to sew the pages and cover together, and the thread I used ripped through the holes, tearing the papers and separating the book.

This would solve that problem nicely.
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Old 03-28-2016, 09:49 PM
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Re: Art Journaling

Thanks for all the nice comments. I have to confess that leading this particular Workshop was making me very nervous. It's not in my comfort zone and I was afraid of so many things that could go wrong.

The best thing about this process, is that it's pretty difficult to make it go wrong! I've made three of these sketchbooks and each of them looks professionally done. What a thrill!

The devil's in the details, and choosing your materials for decoration are as important as the support materials beneath them. The twine I chose to use is quite fine and can be purchased at the Craft Store. It's about the same weight a crochet cotton which would likely work just as well.

Marialena, I never even considered using elastic thread and I'm going to check it out. It would make a good binding I think. I considered waxing the string, but I felt that it definitely would affect the fold of the signature. Otherwise, I have no problems with marks.

I have not had any problem with the twine loosening. It's not like I'm pulling on the signatures, though, so there doesn't seem to be any worry there. The twine is 100% cotton so I suspect there would be some give to it.

You can definitely double up on the signatures. I've tried it and it works, along with sliding other paper types among the watercolour pages, also.

I'd absolutely LOVE to see photos of the books you've constructed.
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Last edited by CharM : 03-28-2016 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:30 PM
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Re: Art Journaling

What a fantastic idea! It's that perfect combination of a bound book and removable pages. I've got to try this one. Thanks so much for sharing.

Here's another one-sheet homemade type journal that I've done for special trips or subjects. A 22x30" sheet makes an 8x10" journal with some fold-out three page spreads. An 18x24" sheet makes a journal about 5x7". These are stitch-bound. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z6qmXGRrsE
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Old 03-29-2016, 04:57 AM
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Re: Art Journaling

This is brilliant! Thanks for sharing, Char! A question...I'm trying to figure out what to use for the boards from general stuff around my house. I don't have any mat boards lying around anymore, but used to have lots...sigh. Any suggestions? And for the string...would that be parcel-wrapping string? Could I use embroidery thread (I think I've seen it at the dollar store)? Sorry, my one question turned into a few!
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