Learning to Make a Sketchbook
I really never thought I’d even try to make a sketchbook, but when my friend Marta came to Paris and gave me a beautiful one that she had made, I began to wonder if maybe I could….! My friend Dominique, a qualified bookbinder and teacher, offered to show me how.
First I had to order the paper. I chose Fabriano Artistico 300 lb (ok, stop laughing, all of you experienced sketchbook makers!) When Dominique saw how thick it was, she paled a bit, but quickly came up with a solution. Here are some pictures to take you through the first part of the process :
First, we decided on the size of the sketchbook. The paper I’d bought was 1/4 imperial, and I thought half that size would be good – a little larger than the watercolor sketchbooks I’ve used before. So we chose 16 sheets which we cut in half, after Dominique had looked carefully at the paper to make sure it was all in the right direction, and then she carefully trimmed it to make sure every sheet was identical (yours truly had done most of the cutting, and precision is not one of my strong points)
The next step was to find some end papers to glue onto the watercolor paper, as 300 lb watercolor paper is way too thick to fold or sew. She rummaged around in her workshop until she found some paper scraps that matched in color, and measured with calipers to determine the exact size they should be.
This was based on the thickness of the paper, which we tried to match by folding the end papers several times. Dominique has an instrument just for this purpose.
She then scored the watercolor paper to show me where to put the paste (I used old magazine pages as a guide and painted it right on.) She generally uses a mix of flour and water in bookbinding, but she decided to add a little acrylic glue this time to add extra strength :
Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of the pasting process, as I was concentrating so hard on seeing the scored line – hmm, it might be time for glasses!
Once the little end papers were glued on, she showed me how to fold the up once, and then again, giving a four-fold thickness :
After each fold we flattened them down :
This is what the pages looked like when we’d finished :
In the first picture above the end paper is a bit longer than the watercolor paper, but Dominique trimmed them at this point:
Next week, we’ll sew the pages together and start the cover. She has a wonderful piece of furniture (which she designed and built herself!) full of all sorts of beautiful papers, some of them handmade, and she’s letting me choose from them :
Well that’s it up to now – I hope this was comprehensible, and I’ll post another installment next week.