If you followed along a couple of weeks ago- I did a week long sketch book challenge (all the sketches from the week are up now). The sketches were done in my handmade sketchbook (made from recycled computer paper) with an HB pencil. Doing this challenge has made me realize how much more practice I need at using my sketchbook!! I think next I am going to try ballpoint pen sketching- check out the amazing sketchbook work of Pat Perry, for inspiration!!
This week I’m going to be showing you how I make these little pocket-sized sketchbooks so you can make one of your own. The only way to make sketching a habit is to have your paper and pencil with you at all times and then to use it (<–essential step). This little sketchbook fulfills at least one half of the equation- and is dirt cheap to boot. I think cheapness is the essential requirement in a sketchbook- as it means you are not so afraid to mess it up!
I came up with this design after trying a few bought journals as well as making a few of my own (see this post)– but this is the only little sketchbook that I really like using so far.
What you will need:
Paper: I used recycled computer paper (21 x 29.7cm- A4 size) from the bin at my work (most if it had hardly any printing on it at all)- which is lightweight (more pages) and fine for sketching (and the cheapness of it means you will be less afraid to mess it up- and therefore be more free with what you doodle). I would recommend trying this out first, but if you use a lot of watermedia for sketching, you can definitely try this same process out with watercolour paper (you will end up making less pages though as the paper is so much thicker).
You’ll need 6 A4 size pages if you follow this tutorial exactly.
Card: for cover. I used a piece of navy card stock I had lying around, probably around 300gsm at a guess? Its not very heavy-weight. You can definitely use thicker card but I quite like the flexibility of the cover on this one.
Thicker (decorative) paper for end papers- go crazy with patterns if you like! I just used some white or black card because I didn’t have anything else at the time.
A sharp needle
Strong thread (I used linen thread (this one), but heavy-duty furnishing thread will also work really well)
Sharp stanley/exacto knife
Piece of foam (optional- helps in punching holes in paper signatures)
a few bull clips
1. Assemble your printer paper (or other paper of choice), and mark off one sheet into thirds (make a mark at every 9.9cm) along the longest length. Cut into three sections using your exacto knife and ruler. if you are using paper of a different size to A4 the final dimensions of your pages should be 210mm x 99mm
2. Fold each ‘page’ in half. You will end up with 18 folded pages- which you will then split into three lots of six. Stack each of the pages within one another to make three signatures of 6 folded pages each (12 leaves in each signature).
3. To mark off the points where you will be making holes for binding the signatures together, stack the three signatures on top of each other so they are well aligned. Its helpful to use a bulldog clip to hold them in position so they don’t move whilst you make your marks.
Then mark off five points along the ‘spine’- at 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9cm (I do this by centring the ruler at 5 as the middle of the stack). Make your marks along the top signature in pencil, and then use a ruler to rule across the spine (over the three signatures) so each now has a pencil mark in the same position.
From this point on, try and keep the signatures in the same order and orientation through the following steps to make your resulting book look as nice as possible.
4. Now make your holes in each signature at the points previously marked off, using a sharp needle. Open up each signature of 6 pages and use the needle to make an even hole at each of the five marked off points. It can be really helpful to place a soft bit of foam behind the paper stack or something else you can pin into, so your holes get to the full size of the needle and look nice and neat.
5. Now its time to stitch your signatures together. Instead of doing a terrible job of explaining how to do that here- check out the wonderful tutorial by Damask Love on creating a book block- these were the same instructions I used to bind this book and its the best instructions I’ve come across for the stitching process:
Bookbinding University: How to Make a Text Block from DamaskLove on Vimeo.
6. Now your book block is all bound together- its time to glue the spine to make it more sturdy. I applied PVA glue over the bound edge (after having clamped it with a bull clip) and let it dry. I did this twice to make it nice and strong. You have now created your own book block!
7. Time to cut your cover and endpapers. Cut an A4 piece of card length-ways into a strip 10cm wide.
Score a line approximately in the middle of the strip (at ~15cm) and fold the card neatly. Then place your bound book block with the glued spine butted up against the 90 degree angle made by the card. Take a pencil and mark off the width of the book block spine. This gives you the width required for the spine of the cover.
Score along this line and fold. The cover edges will now stick out way past the book block- so trim them down to the exact size by opening one cover side and using a pencil to mark the edge of the book block on that side, then repeat for the other cover. Trim them down to size with your exacto knife.
You now have a cover ready to glue!
8. Before you can glue your book together, you need to make your end papers (which are pieces of paper that sit between your cover and the book block, and help to stick the book together).
You want your endpapers to be the same width as the regular pages, so in this case 9.9cm wide. I cut an A4 piece of card in half length-ways, which gives you two long strips that when folded will stick out of your book (between the cover and the book block) when you insert them. Leave them long for now.
This is what you’ll have so far:
9. Assembling your sketchbook: First step is to glue the endpapers onto your book block. Apply PVA glue onto one side of your endpaper from the folded edge (spine end) outward, about 2/3rds across the endpaper, towards the outer edge. Align your endpaper so the edges are equal with the edges of the book block, and press the endpaper firmly onto block. Apply the other endpaper in the same manner to the other side of the book block. Clamp this to dry overnight.
Once it is dry you can trim the long ends of the endpapers so they are flush with the pages of the textblock.
10. Now its time to glue your text block+endpapers into the cover. Apply glue over the inside of the cover of the sketchbook- from the spine outwards across ~1/3rd of the front and back covers. Put extra glue on the spine. Place your text block into the cover so all the sides of the block are well aligned with the cover.
Now your book block is fully glued into the cover, clamp the book together with a bull clip or two- or even better, place under a stack of heavy books (less chance of getting marks on your cover from the clips)- and leave to dry overnight.
You’ve made your own sketchbook!!
Let me know what you think of this tutorial!