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September 2013



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October Journals...finally got some binding done!

October Journals, originally uploaded by Cathy (Kate) Johnson.

I had worked with a couple of styles of folders recently because they're so much faster to make, and I was SO busy, but finally couldn't face another one. I HAD to take time to bind some new sketch journals. Happily--I guess--I was battling an infection, and was full of antibiotics to which I had an adverse reaction, so my brain really wasn't working well enough to do a lot on the new North Light book--I could make art, but editing and writing just was NOT happening.

cutting a handmade folder

Folders really are quick to make--here's the template to fold your own.
A nice hard cover on each of the outside pages will protect them.

So I bound up four new journals for me so I'd have some in advance, and the little red one for godchild Nora, who had requested bright red, square, and small. (Hope she didn't mind the green bookcloth spine, but none of the other colors I had on hand looked at ALL good with that bright red!)

I bind my own books so I can have paper I like to work on. Simple as that. Sometimes I experiment, as well--two of these have a mixture of white and toned paper, but mostly white. They're also mostly Fabriano hot pressed, partly Fabriano Classico from my ancient stash before Fabriano changed the surface, sizing, and orientation of the grain. There are a few pages of my beloved Strathmore Imperial CP paper in there too...so looking forward to using all of these! It's a pleasure beyond tactile to have paper you love...

I experimented with the covers--the glowing sienna one with the green spine is watercolor canvas with random strokes of acrylic, allowed to dry thoroughly. WC canvas is tough, naturally, but a bit thick for journal covers, so my corners aren't as neat as they might have been.

The green and the dark reddish brown ones are both covered with Canson Mi-Tientes paper; I sprayed them with Krylon to make them tougher and dirt-or-damage-resistant before cutting to cover size and gluing in place.

Oct. journals (4)

I didn't realize how much that would make them resemble a rich leather--if they hold up as well as I hope they will, I'll be very happy with them!

But my hands-down favorite is the one at the bottom, covered with recycled Tyvek. I crumpled it for additional texture, then stained it with two layers of thinned acrylic--first a burnt sienna, then a black-green. I allowed that to dry thoroughly and was delighted with the rich effect. Tyvek is extremely tough but also thin enough to be easy to work with, so I'll be collecting mailers and scraps of Tyvek for my next batch of journals!

Oct. journals (2)

Eldest godchild Ann made the wonderful little polymer clay tiles, years ago--I was delighted to find a new use for them here.

I've more or less settled on a favorite size--nearly square, and just right to fit on my scanner. I still make additional small ones from the scraps, but this is a comfortable size to work with--both big enough and small enough.

The normal case-bound book works best for me, too--it will lie flat for ease of working in and for scanning. I love the fancy bindings that show, but I'm just not good enough yet for those...and my journals get hard use! I think the stitches and spines need protecting...

As usual, I've added a bit of decorative work to the front cover, so I can always tell where to start opening the book...


These are absolutely gorgeous!!!

Great job, Kate! Are these all the fold-out, accordion style? It looks like you enjoy working that way quite a bit. I have one I've thought of doing for my husband's birthday (painting Bill related things) but have only got two pages done! I'd better get to work!---Carol C.
Any chance of your summarizing your binding technique, in your copious free time? Or have you already done that somewhere?

Re: These are absolutely gorgeous!!!

No, these are regular case-bound books, with sewn signatures. That seems to work better for me.

I plan to do a CD on simple bookbinding eventually! I've been adding things to the file for a couple of years now, so surely before long I can do it. (AFTER I finish the North Light book, though, I'll bet!)

For an overview right now, though, you could probably pick up some ideas from my Handmade Journals set on Flickr, here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cathy-johnson/sets/72157603223781597/

Re: These are absolutely gorgeous!!!

Thanks, Kate. I'll check out the link but will be looking forward to that CD! ---Carol C.

Re: These are absolutely gorgeous!!!

Look on YouTube for bookbinding, too, that's where I learned a lot!


Love that tyvek!

The threads look slightly iridescent in the photos! Now that I've finally managed to find my way into sketching/painting from life in sketchbooks I guess I'm going to have to start making my own as well - just worked in an old cheapy Strahmore wc book today (no idea how it came to be in my possession . . . ). Egads, talk about a fight! Not sure who won, but at least I finished!

Thanks for the tips and tricks on the book binding ideas too!

~ Laure

Re: Love that tyvek!

It's really nice having paper you like, Laure! I hope you enjoy being able to make your own as much as I do!
Hi Miss Vicky! The text block is roughly 7-1/2" by 8-3/4"--since I tear the paper, not cut it, there's some variation, but that fits on my scanner, when I open it.
I'm wanting to work larger too...but not in a sketch journal! It would be HEAVY! *G*

Yep, I had to have good paper, I was just tired of working on nasty stuff. I haven't used the handbook, but you're right, I know it's not watercolor paper.
I like it a lot too...Google Tyvek and you'll find all sorts of hits!