My nephew and a friend were staying with me a couple of weeks ago. They had bought their sketching materials and stools and we hoped to get out sketching. The weather was against us. A little bit rainy, very windy and very cold.
My nephew had made a coptic book before one other rainy day when he was here, but his friend had not made a book before.
The first damp windy day we made two coptic sketchbooks. The turquoise one is covered in my paste paper, and the tan one has Nepalese paper (more masculine). They each have a little laser-cut cog clued on the front, but we painted the one for the turquoise book silver, because there is also silver in the paste paper.
This is the inside of my nephew’s book. He used pages from an old atlas for the endpapers of his previous book, so I asked him if he wanted the atlas again. He did. But instead of a map, he cut one of the index pages diagonally. Very inventive!
For the turquoise book we used two different kinds of credit card papers for the endpapers. I did that recently in a book for myself. You never look at both the back and front inside covers at once, so what does it matter if you like them.
Another cold wet afternoon we were looking at Alisa Golden’s bookmaking books, and we decided to make a circle concertina. In fact, they made it, without much input from me at all. Apart from the coptic binding structure, many of the other book structures I make are from Alisa Golden’s books. That is how I learnt. I have made a few of this one for myself, and used to glue book reviews into them. There are random stencils throughout the book also, and the inside pages are orange. It has a soft cover and all the paper is Mi-Teintes Canson paper.
I made a book for myself from Fabriano paper for when I come home from my travels, because I am using more water when I paint recently and want to use more still. It takes five sheets to make two books this size. I made the red one for a friend, so this one is for me. I chose the Canaletto paper for my travels because it is so robust and served me well last time. But I think the watercolour moves better on the Fabriano paper. I will have to wait and see. The books are just under eight inches square, but the Canaletto is slightly longer in the portrait format and the Fabriano in the landscape format. A good size when you open it up to a full spread.
I chose this blue and green because it appeals to me even though it is so simple. It has only one coat of paste, then it was scraped with a cheap plastic scraper from the two dollar shop. You can see the brush marks, and now you know that with this most recent batch of paste paper I used a house-paint brush. Sometimes I use a one inch imitation sable, but you can cover the ground faster with a two or three inch brush. I like the brush strokes showing.
I am going to Italy well armed with sketchbooks. The first three weeks (in Sicily) will be a workshop including drawing, printmaking and bookmaking. I have already made my books. I liked the format I used on my last trip, and the Canaletto paper is very robust, so I decided to go that way again.
The red one with the medallion is not for me. It is for a gift for a friend, and it is Fabriano hot press paper, hence the slightly different format. I like the way the paint moves on this paper, so my next trip I will use Fabriano, though the paper is thinner…200gsm I think. Canaletto is 300gsm. The Fabriano makes a thinner book with the same amount of pages. Lighter too, I suppose.
The red paste paper (above) was made on one of the scarce sunny days we have had recently. I made a whole lot more paste papers, but I still need to photograph them.
You will have seen the stencilled papers before. So now the yellow one inspired by Sicilian ceramics is bound, and the other red is pierced, ready to bind. I will take my needle and thread with me, in case I decided to re-bind on my travels. I am taking print-making paper (BFK Rives), cut to size. I may decide to re-order my pages, so the binding of the yellow may be cut up and done again. Taking an unbound book also means I can take just some pages with me if that would be useful.
This red paper is recycled stencils from my Bologna artist’s book. This time I have decided to call it my Vasari book, as although I am going to Bologna, I will also be in Arezzo for a week, where there is Vasari’s house and arches as well.
As for endpapers, my two books are plain. But the one that is for a gift has amazing endpapers. I can’t show you. Something has to be a surprise.
Currently I am working on sketchbooks and notebooks for my trip to Sicily and Italy. I always like to take a notebook with me. It helps when I don’t remember what I did the day before yesterday, and I have still to write in my sketchbook. It holds the addresses and phone numbers of hotels, and the times of trains.
I found this piece of Gelli print for the cover. You can see a video of my demonstration of Gelli printing here, and maybe I even made this print while I was demonstrating that day. More also on the Gelli Arts blog. It is full of great ideas.
This notebook is A6 size. It has six signatures sewn into a concertina, then it has bands glued under the endpapers to hold it together. The Gelli cover is two layers, a lemon, and a mesh of onion bag. Colours are Matisse Emerald and Australian Red Violet. Both with Open Medium. The endpapers are Credit Card Papers. There’s another demo video of that (and paste papers).
Now I can start writing in it. I’m looking forward to filling it up on my travels.
When I got back from my trip to Europe, my adult nephew from Brisbane came down to visit. I showed him my travel sketchbook. after a while he said, ‘I would like to do that. But I failed drawing when I was six’. And then he said, ‘But then again, I do technical drawings for my work.’ I said, well, in that case you can do it. Anyone can do it. I showed him Danny Gregory’s book The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be the Artist You Truly Are. I also gave him some paper and a pen. He sketched several times a day for the next few days, and when he wasn’t doing that, he was reading Danny’s book. He got on to amazon.com and ordered it too.
Then I gave him a sketchbook – a bought one – but he expressed the wish to make one like mine. A few weekends later he came down again ‘to go sketching’. The weather forecast wasn’t good, so I went up to the art shop and bought enough Canaletto paper to make two books. Just as well.
So Friday night we talked sketching and painting and he ordered The Art of Perspective: The Ultimate Guide for Artists in Every Medium. I have a review half-written to post on this blog. This book is perspective but so much more. He also ordered The Complete Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook: A treasury of watercolor secrets discovered through decades of painting and experimentation. This is two books in one and has everything you need to know about watercolour, particularly for landscape.
Saturday it poured with rain. I made the blue book above. I really loved this format while I was travelling, and I think I will stick to it for a while. My nephew chose some of my paste paper in burnt sienna and green for his covers, and an old map for the end papers. He had never done this before, but he took to coptic binding like a duck to water. Stitching faster than me, and a beautiful professional result. He has every right to be proud of it.
Then later he looked at some more of my books and ordered Danny Gregory’s An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers, and also The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing On Location Around The World. I think you could say he is hooked.
Just before I went to Bali recently, I made two tiny notebooks. One for Broni, one for me. They were for writing down things like phone numbers, exchange rates, things like that. They were so useful that we pretty much filled them up. Well, when you’re working in millions of rupiah, all those zeros take up a lot of space.
We decided that we would need new ones for Europe, and that they would need to be a bit bigger. We will have train times to write down, a few more hotel phone numbers, and besides that, the trip goes on a lot longer. So, these new ones are A6 size, and the structure is a concertina with a signature sewn into each valley fold. They are stitched with pamphlet stitch, and a band of paper has been threaded through the stitching on the spine and glued into the cover to stop the concertina unfolding. The covers and endpapers are made from credit card papers.
We will be off at the end of the month…….Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Thailand. Send me a message if you want to catch up.
I’m going travelling with my friend BB who i have known since the 1970s when we worked together in Christchurch in New Zealand. Yes, the place where the earthquakes were.
At Easter I made a largish Coptic bound sketchbook for each of us, using my own paste paper for the covers, and Canaletto watercolour paper for the signatures. Then I made an ox plough book for BB from Fabriano Hot Press paper, using some Balinese fabric I had turned into book cloth. I had previously made a reverse piano hinge book from this book cloth and I found there was enough left to make a book for BB too.
We are going to Bali in June and I can’t wait. This will be my twelfth visit to Bali and I am looking forward to seeing my friends there. It will be a bit of an adventure though, because we are going to Lovina Beach, up on the north coast where I haven’t been since the1980s. We are staying at Rambutan Boutique Hotel. If you look at the photos on Tripadvisor, you will see that there is enough to sketch without leaving the gardens. It’s at Kalibukbuk. Don’t you love the name of the place?
After a few days there we go to Ubud, my second home, and because Ubud Village Hotel is full we are staying somewhere else. That will be a change for me. I have always stayed there since it opened but they are renovating right now.
Then in late August we are going for a longer trip to Europe. Starting in Switzerland, then spending most of the time in Italy and finishing in Barcelona.
Currently I am working on my Indonesian language skills, then after that trip I have to brush up my Italian. As far as getting in shape for sketching, I am planning to sketch some of the Balinese things around my house, starting now.