Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Quest for the Perfect Little Notebook

With a nice, long holiday approaching, I have been gearing up to make a little notebook. I must have a dozen books about book binding and book making crowding my shelves. Since I’ve long loved books, the fact I could make one myself has long appealed to me.

For a few years, I’ve used little notebooks to jot art ideas down. You know the kind—cheapies from grocery or office supply stores. I disliked their lined and bleed-through pages and their flimsy construction. But I love their size! So small, so slim, so easy to slip into a pocket and make notes; no big, bulky, beautiful book. I tried finding 3 ¼” x 4 ½” sketchbooks through online art supply companies and even Etsy. If it came close to the right size, it was too thick.

So, last week, after looking through all my books, checking one out at the library, and reading numerous art blogs and web instructions, I realized I’d have to make exactly what I wanted. After thinking about it most the weekend, I finally took action and conducted an experiment. Do you do that, too—think way too much about a problem? But, have you found you can let yourself off the hook when you declare you’ll just play around or make a model or do an experiment? Your Perfectionist slinks away and the Muses clap their hands in joy, coming to your side to assist.

There are two kinds of notebooks I’ve used: 1) a mass of signatures all folded together and sewed down the middle into a substantial cover, taped on the outside spine and 2) cut single pages, not signatures, glued at the spine with tape and a not-so-thick cover. The later is much more fragile and pages can be easily torn out, like a note pad.

So, I took the best elements of each design, folding signatures together, adding a 65 lb. cardstock cover, punching holes through pages and cover every ½”, sewing the pages and cover together, tying the tails outside with tape, trimming excess paper and cover (I made it larger than final size so everything would line up), and creating a cover from a gelatin print I did on velum. I didn’t add end papers, but could have.

I’m pleased my “experiment” turned out so well—I absolutely love my little notebook! Encouraged with such stunning results, I have enrolled in a four-session bookbinding class beginning in January.

Next up? The Quest for the Perfect Art Journal.


  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  2. So glad you happened upon my blog, Sharon. It’s it great how way leads on to way, as the poet Robert Frost said? Thank you for your kind words and for visiting.