Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On Handmade Journal Making

Good morning. I have been away. Not so much physically, but emotionally. I think that I have been shifting gears. Laurie Adams, the once-potter and now paper artist, used to plan a come-down period after she'd take her pots to a big show. It just takes some time to shift from that "out" energy back to the inner focus of home and studio work.

I appreciate the time I spent in an outside-my-home teaching studio, but the timing wasn't quite correct, and now I am glad to be home with my excellent homeschooling teens. I have gotten our groove re-energized and the solidity that I feel there is spilling around.

Lately I have been getting some calls and emails about my studio work and here is a post about journal making, thank you to S from Alaska. :)

We always have questions about the sizing of our hand made journals. The answers are found in what we use them for, and what they are made of. The focus today is using brown paper grocery bags - the big ones. It is a sturdy paper and able to stand up to lots of paint, crumpling, collage and more. I love working with it.

So take a bag and cut off the edges of the two long sides of the bottom. Then slip your scissors inside and cut the two short sides.
(Sorry that this pic came out sideways!) This wierd little layered and folded piece can be saved to make a wierd little piece book:
Cut the circle of the bag open along the seam in back.
And you end up with a lovely, huge piece of art paper.
(Another crazy sideways pic - I don't know why the computer turns them and won't keep the corrective rotations that I do..)
Anyway, here are two journals that I made with brown paper pages. Both of them had covers - that I made first - from painted cereal boxes, so the size of the boxes determined the size of the journals. The brown paper didn't easily fold into the correct sizes and so I folded the bags in half twice, and then I bound pages that were too long for the covers making some of the pages into fold-out pages where needed to fit the pages into the covers. Check this post to get a few more photos.
Another thing that you can do with the bags is to NOT cut them, but bind them just as they are. Stack them bottom to top and then top to bottom. Fold the stack in half (this book uses 4 big bags) and stitch them together down the middle.
The flaps of the bottoms of the bags make secret hiding places for writing...
And the open end of the bag tops make huge pockets for extra pages, or storage of art materials.
Here is a bottom flap (sideways, grrr) taped up to make a shallow pocket for these three mini-tag-books.
Another brown paper and cereal box book:
Punch an odd number of holes through the center of each signature of paper as well as through the cardboard of the spine - sooo much easier if you make a template, use an awl, and use an old piece of "blueboard" (hardware store) as your surface. The binding here left a long tail of ribbon at the top and I sewed a running stitch down, and back up again. I rather like the hand binding. Thicker signatures are possible. But experiment with your heavy duty sewing machine and see what happens.
And notice how much space I left between the signatures: I am planning on adding many layers of ornamentation to these pages and the wider spine and signature spacing will give me all the room I need to not have the book bulge.
Here is a photo of the flaps that open the spread a little wider.
Another question to consider is whether to bind the book first or to paint the papers first. Here is a journal where all the painting happened before the binding. The journal looks a little neater but functions more like a book (content first) than like a journal (place, not perfection). It's just a choice. There are advantages both ways.
Notice on the yellow page the ripped, uneven edge, and the green paint showing from the other side of the page. When I bound this book I found that the pages kept sticking together and so bound it with paper in between each painted page that is very like tracing paper - that weight and texture. It does the trick.
And the "hand" of gessoed and painted, double sided, is just great, kinda cloth-like, like canvas.
In this pic you can see how widely spaced the signatures are. Clearly, I am not finished yet. :)
As for binding, (if I am not using the whole cereal box) I like, and use most of the time, a strip of cardboard for the spine. The spacing between the two covers and the spine makes the covers very easy to open. You can use a strip of cloth wide enough to span the edge of the two covers, the spaces and the spine in the middle. Glue the boards with gel medium, white glue or whatever you have. Alternatively, a couple of widths of duct tape will hold your book together. And check out the wonderful colors that duct tape comes in now.
Good luck Have fun, S, with your children. I love answering questions. Anyone is welcome to write with more.
Now I am off to quilt a boat. (Pictures to come.)