WIP: DIY Re-Binding Project

A few weeks ago, I mentioned my notebooks and sketchbooks. I also keep a calendar-style scrapbook, using a 9” x 12” wirebound mixed media Strathmore Visual Journal as the substrate. Each two-page spread covers a single month. I glue in decorative paper, photographs, ticket stubs, and ephemera I’ve found along the way.

By the end of 2013, my scrapbook documented two years of my life. It had grown fatter than its spiral binding could accommodate, even after I removed six months’ worth of unused pages from the back of the book. It clearly needed to be re-bound with a larger spine to allow the pages to turn freely.

I decided to re-bind it by hand. I could have taken it to the office supply store and paid them to rebind it for me, but I decided to re-bind it myself. I purchased a pack of wire binding spines and a pack of spiral binding spines from the craft store, pulled out my pliers, and got down to business.

After prying open the existing wire binding, I removed it and inserted the new wire spine into the holes. That was the easy part. Closing the wire was more of a challenge. Machines that can do the job more quickly and with more grace, but I was doing it by hand. I struggled with the first few teeth, but it got easier after I inserted two wooden dowels to use as leverage. (One larger dowel would have worked, but I used what I had on hand.) The result is a little messy and uneven, but the new spine gives my scrapbook pages room to breathe.

I decided to rebind my current scrapbook using the spiral binding and limiting the number of pages to just cover the current year. Spiral binding is much easier than wire to insert by hand — you just keep threading it through the holes as you twist it in, then finish by bending a little tail on each end to prevent it from working itself out. The result is cleaner and looks more professional.

When I do this again (because you know I will), I will definitely use the spiral binding spines.

Notebook binding

Notebook binding

Notebook binding

Notebook binding

Notebook binding

Notebook binding/

Notebook binding

Notebook binding

Art Journal Workshop 1: Do-over

My first attempt at the Strathmore Visual Journal workshop exercise was less than satisfying. I didn’t like working with the oil pastels. I thought the charcoal dirtied up the page. I didn’t have gesso, so I used a semi-opaque watercolor instead.

So I decided I needed a do-over, using materials that I’m more comfortable with. After all, they keep saying it’s all about the process, right?

Art Journal Workshop 1.2 - Materials

Steps from Lesson 1

  • I resized the sketches and reformatted the text and printed them out.
  • I prepped a two-page spread with a random application of turquoise watercolor, added texture, stenciled stars, and random sprays of ultramarine blue.
  • Strips of blue metallic tissue paper provided my vertical element.
  • After topping it with my sketches and text, I brushed on a light wash of my turquoise watercolor to tone down the white and darken some of the shadow areas.

Art Journal Workshop 1.2 - Supervisor Art Journal Workshop 1.2 - Lesson 1

Steps from Lesson 2 and Lesson 3

  • I added a few details and “underjournaling” in white crayon, which will provide a resist under the next layer of water-based color.
  • Using Derwent Graphitint and Inktense water-soluable pencils and an unknown brand of watercolor crayon, I added the shading in blue and purple, and highlights in yellow and green.
  • A thin application of white gouache enabled me to smooth out and re-establish the white areas, and to add highlights to the eyes. I then added more shading and color.
  • For the stars, I made a stencil using cardstock and a punch.
  • I used a blue Faber-Castel brush pen to re-darken the text.

Art Journal Workshop 1.2 - Lesson 2 and 3

Lesson 4 is still a mystery. I expect we’ll be able to access the video for it this weekend.

Artist Journal Workshop 1: Continued

In an earlier post, I shared my work-in-progress for the Strathmore Visual Journal Workshop 1. Picking up where I left off, I began adding other media to the now-dry collage page.

Lesson 2 called for adding more layers and color to the page, such as using gesso to paint over unwanted elements, adding “under-journaling” using graphite, enhancing the depth and shape of the elements using charcoal, adding color with oil pastels, and pulling it all together with a gesso wash.

Lesson 3 called for adding more color and texture to the negative space and image elements with oil pastel, re-doing outlines with pencil, and adding hints of color throughout.

I made an honest attempt to follow instructions, but ultimately my method varied in several respects.

Layer 4 — The instructions called for adding lines with graphite and then shadows and depth with charcoal. I also added conte’ crayon because I liked way the reddish color echoed the layer of scrapbook paper. The charcoal just seems harsh and dirty.
Art Journal Workshop 1.1 - Layer 4

Layer 5 — The instructions called adding color with oil pastel, and then giving the whole thing a light wash of gesso. I used oil pastels as instructed, but I simply did not like working with them, and I’m unhappy with the effect. (For more on that part of the process, see “Warming up oil pastels: Cup Warmer vs Warm Cat”.) I couldn’t find my gesso, so I used light washes of white gouche and a mostly-opaque flesh-tone watercolor to tie the elements together.
Art Journal Workshop 1.1 - Layer 5

Layer 6 — I added more color using watercolor, a step that was not in the original lesson.
Art Journal Workshop 1.1 - Layer 6

Layer 7 — The graphite disappeared completely into the page, so I used ink where I wanted to see the lines. This is where I stopped, after adding more color, more charcoal, more oil pastel, and ink. I probably should have stopped sooner. Like the page says, you’ve gotta start somewhere. Knowing where to stop is something entirely different.
Art Journal Workshop 1.1 - Layer 7

I still don’t know what Lesson 4 will hold, but I bet it involves adding more layers to this piece. I’d like to try a do-over, using only the materials I’m comfortable with.

Artist Journal Workshop: Getting Started

I signed up for the Strathmore Visual Journal workshop series. I was intrigued by the idea of working with new media (collage) in a new format (bound journal).

I’m getting a late start because I packed up my office/studio over the holidays so I could remove the carpet. I’m still unpacking, but I’m itching to get caught up on this workshop.

Today I watched the first 3 of the 4 lesson videos in Workshop 1, and I’ve read many of the discussion forums. I must admit I’m baffled at the concept. The materials and the process I understand. The purpose of doing so, not so much. Then again, the whole reason to take a class in something new is to stretch your mind and your comfort zone, right?

Since I always start a new sketchbook by jotting down “New Sketchbook!” and the date, I took a similar approach to this new project — but in the spirit of the workshop.

I resized some scans of sketches I did last summer, and manipulated the fonts and font sizes on a few phrases until I had a starting place. I printed them out using my Epson Artisan 710 on plain inkjet paper.

I cut the images apart and moved them around on a blank page until I was satisfied with their placement.

Art Journal Workshop 1.1 - Plan

The arrangement was very horizontal, so I decided it needed a vertical element. I chose a piece of scrapbook paper, mainly because it was a color and design I’m least likely to use in cardmaking. I ripped it into strips, then used YES paste to glue them to the page.

Art Journal Workshop 1.1 - Layer 1

Next, I glued down the sketches and phrases in the arrangement I planned out in Step 1.

Art Journal Workshop 1.1 - Layer 2

From previous experience, I know that YES paste causes my paper to curl, so I’ve placed a heavy book onto to hold it flat until it dries.

Next up — add color!