Hand-made books and sketching journals

April 22, 2011


A little aside from sketching proper, I’ve been getting a handle on books written by Alisa Golden. She is wild about print and matching book structures with text, but has the knack of simple, straightforward explanations of all manner of book structures and accompaniments such as slipcases. 

I’ve also recently enrolled in a local handmade book course which starts in a couple of weeks, so it’s a good time to review structures I’ve made in the past, with a view to the future in terms of sketchbooks.

Having recently filled up a 5×7″ ox-plough structure with sketches in portrait format based on work done in the Royal Botanic Gardens, I’ve made two more in landscape format: both with hard covers, one in heavily-textured green momogami paper and one in grey handmade paper. I have no set purpose in mind for them; I just wanted to consolidate some of the learning from Wendy Shortland’s Bookbinding & Sketching Workshop series. I’ve identified the front covers of both sketchbooks with a small square of temari-patterned Japanese origami paper. All three use a single sheet of Como paper. They turned out reasonably respectably and I’d give myself 7 or 8/10 for them; I need to watch for both the size of the boards so they can open out flat and the chance of excess paste at the outside near the spine end of the accordion, not just  what’s happening  with the square and the fore-edge aspect of things.

I’ve pushed this idea  a bit further in making a smaller and longer version: a single , large sheet of Como paper, but cut ox-plough with four folds going one way and eight the other. This creates 32 pages which I will use for the daily sketching initiative, EDM Every Day in May (http://www.flickr.com/groups/edmeverydayinmay2011/). Since the content is largely Object Drawing done at home rather than Location Drawing plein air, I may end up putting on the boards after having done all the sketching. Because of the thickness of the book, it may require more than just two separate hardcovers on front and back; Golden’s The Elephant Lesson (p.53) in her Expressive Handmade Books might work instead. Because of the pace of the daily sketching and for other reasons (sketching touching at least two if not three sides of the page; variety of media, working small), I’m happy with pages not much bigger than playing cards. The finished sketches will go up on Flickr, but I know already that some sketches will give rise to other material, worked out on much larger pages, which will be useful here on the weblog.

Expressive Handmade Books is a good book to start with because it’s first 30 pages deal with materials. In terms of structures suitable for sketching, The Circle Accordion (p.32) would work, especially with a soft cover in ‘credit card paper’. Another which would work with a soft cover would be the Japanese Album Accordion (p.49) and the 7-or-8-Panelled Book (p.52). Many sketchers involved in Location Drawing work on single sheets, especially when working in pen-and-ink or watercolour, so the Single-Flag Book (p.57) would work: do the sketches first, rearrange in an appropriate order and then glue to the accordion. More advanced structures include the Single-Signature Book (p.77) and Multiple-Signature Binding (p.88). Certainly by the end of the course I’m attending, I hope at home to have had a go at the Coptic Binding with Accordion (p.97).

Unique Hamdmade Books starts off with an Ox-Plough Quilt in 12 panels (more complex ones are described in Shereen LaPlantz’ Cover to Cover). I’m intrigued about the sketchbook potential for her Back-to-Back Accordion Book (p.32) for a limited series of, say, 12 (portrait) sketches. In terms of drawing the figure, there is potential too in the Exquisite Corpse Book (p.94).


2 Responses to “Hand-made books and sketching journals”

  1. quirkyartist Says:

    I very much like the circle accordion structure, though I’ve never used one for a sketchbook because I prefer hard covers. I have made some small coptic sketchbooks from one sheet of Canaletto paper. They are very big sheets & make a small thick book with 8 signatures & 2 sheets in each signature. Cost is $6.95 for 300gsm or $3.95 for 200 gsm at Art on King. It is watercolour paper.Same as the paper in the Sketch and Wash pads.

    • rodbyatt Says:

      Will do! I’ve noted Roz Stendhal’s sketching in gouache and having seen some fine hand-made books using watercolour paper at The Paginated Garden exhibition, I’ll definitely follow this through.

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