04 November 2010

The Sketchbook Project 2011

I've signed up to this fab project run by Art House Coop - the Sketchbook Project 2011! Basically you create a sketchbook, at least loosely based around a set theme, which then tours the US with thousands of other artists sketchbooks!

I've never participated in anything like this before and am very excited. I chose the theme 'Boys and Girls' with the intention of focusing more on the girls side of things as most of my artwork lately is of females, but I will try to branch out to the other sex!

I received my Moleskine cahier a while ago and I did make a start on it – I did a pencil sketch of a little girl in the rain and a coloured pencil sketch of a woman in a pretty dress. The only problem was the thickness, or should I say the thinness, of the paper in this book. Virtually everything goes straight through to the other side and is very visible. Even pencil can be seen through it. I tried adding gesso to the pages and I created an acrylic paint background ready for a pen and ink drawing, but it still didn’t feel right. For one, drawing with an ink pen on a gessoed (no idea if that is a word!) page is difficult because of the texture; and two, I would have to start glueing pages together or missing out pages completely to make the book look neat.

After searching on the net and finding that other artists had had similar problems with the thin pages (see  ), I decided to take the drastic and daunting action of replacing the pages with better paper. I chose 135gsm sketchbook paper, along with a few sheets of bleedproof marker paper and a middle page of 240gsm acrylic paper. 

After unpicking the stitches holding the cahier together, I cut sheets of my chosen paper to size using a guillotine. This took ages, especially because only a few mm needed to come off one of the edges. I lined up all the pages to the flat cover and held together with bulldog clips. Then I took some strong thread, changed the needle in my sewing machine to size 16/100 and sewed through the existing holes on the cover – I lined each stitch up exactly with the holes to save having to make more holes through the thick cover. I then tied the ends off and carefully folded the book in half. Of course, because the pages in the middle have less distance to bend they are longer than the ones on the outside, so I trimmed off a mm or 2 from each page using the guillotine again – this was a little fiddly but worth it to make the book neater.

I was so pleased with my finished book. I won’t win bookbinder of the year with it but I now have a book full of pages I can draw on with ink without the fear of ruining the next page. I feel more inclined to get on with filling it up now!

I’ll post some of my sketchbook pages here soon......

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