Friday, May 12, 2023

Making an Experimental Sketchbook

Hi, I hope that Spring has finally shown up in your part of the world (on the top side of the equator). Otherwise, I hope that you're enjoying your Fall weather 😊

Making an Experimental Sketchbook

Before this year, I had no idea how many ways there were to bind and make a book, journal or sketchbook. What a fascinating world! This sketchbook was made following a workshop through, with Jennifer Collier, an amazing textile artist who does incredible things with paper. 

The cover of the sketchbook is made from the top of a SusyQ doughnut box. The donuts were awesome and their box was too cool for the recycling bin!

Front of the Experimental Sketchbook

I learned a lot through this workshop - including paying more attention to the instructions! 😁

For the signature pages, Jennifer encourages us to use all types of old papers, envelopes, etc. I did use one envelope to make a pocket. I also had some glossy magazine pages that I had tried to make photo transfers with. That project wasn't a success, but it was great to be adding them to the sketchbook. 

Two altered magazine pages glued and stitched together

I used some found music photocopies to create a page. Since the edges of the photocopies were black, I glued on some washi tape to cover them.

Recycling music sheets with washi tape

I also used scraps from other book making projects to decorate the pages. These are pieces of scrapbooking paper used as an accent and a book tab. I glued the book tab and then stitched it. I also used some pretty printing paper that I've been collecting for years.

I used a strip of bookbinding tape between the signatures. I recently bought a few bookbinding tools and love them!  

Using scraps of other projects to decorate the pages.

For the inside of the sketchbook, I glued a lovely piece of craft paper instead of gluing the first page to the book cover. I did this mostly because my cover was a bit larger than my pages. 

The inside of the cover

Of course I had to chase a squirrel within my squirrel! I made this page using a thick scrapbooking paper. You can see in the next picture that on the inside I glued a couple of pages from an old book. Since I didn't feel like taking out my paints, I added tule over a part of the page and stitched it down following the pattern of the scrapbooking paper. I really love the effect.

Stitching following the pattern on the page

The real squirrel is the circle in the middle of the page. On a scrap of hand-painted fabric I attached a piece of tule that is cut into strips at one end. This allowed me to weave tule, wool and rope. I then stitched around the piece to keep it together. 

Woven piece with tule

Finally, for something different, I glued tissue paper to one of the pages. I love the texture that it created.

Tissue paper glued onto a page

This is the sketchbook cover. The binding of the signatures is in the middle (for the middle signature) and then on each side for the other two signatures. This is very cool 😎.

Sketchbook cover with stitching for each signature

What I learned
  • When I saw Jennifer Collier's first workshop in 2020 with, I didn't think that paper was for me. It's incredible how time and experience has changed my opinion and practice. Fabric may be me first love, but paper is pretty impressive!
  • Using the altered magazine pages was a great idea, but they shouldn't be placed in the middle of a signature since that is where the pages are tied. These were too fragile for that.
  • Old Washi tape tends to loose its stickiness. After learning this from making my washi tape journal, this time I glued the tape down.
  • I also learned that spreading glue down with a brush seems to work better than using a glue stick. 
  • It's great to use what you have to make books but I don't ever want to use a needle in a cork instead of an awl. What a difference using the real tools makes!
  • I love to experiment. Gluing the tissue paper to the page is a great way to add texture. It could even be cool to write on it 😎
  • I've also been experimenting with layering in my art. The pages with the text, tule and weaving is part of that effort.
  • I should have re-listened to the video before I started making holes and stitching the book together. Other than extra holes everywhere, the damage was I didn't have to buy more donuts...unless I make another book 😋
Related links
Linking parties
I'll be linking to many fun linking parties. Let's see what's going on out there! Put your foot downCan I Get A Whoop Whoop?Peacock PartyOff The Wall Friday, Sew & Tell, Patchwork & Quilts, Slow Sunday Stitching


  1. Tu as fait un bien beau carnet, bravo ! Très original et créatif, superbe !

    1. Merci beaucoup Frédérique. Je n'ai pas été capable d'arrèter à un!

  2. I have a friend who makes books like this. I have several little (purchased) sketch books that I have laying around to be able to capture inspired ideas when the moment strikes. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Melva, I use many purchased sketch books but now I guess I'll be making my own! They are so addictive!


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