Sunday, April 5, 2009

Nature Books, Artists Books, Fake Journals

Spring Splendor (Red Bud Leaves)
Gelatin Print (acrylic on watercolor paper)
9” x 12”

This print was done last summer and seemed appropriate as I continued making pages for a small (4” x 4”) nature book. Inspired by L.K. Ludwig and her book Mixed Media Journals), D. J. Pettit (, and Judy Wise ( , who all spice up their books with fabulous fabric, sewing, photos, drawings, gelatin prints, 3-D items, and so much more, I’ve decided to make a Sampler Book and see just how many materials I can make “pages” from.

Although I haven’t finished pages nor bound it/they (it might be one very fat book with several signatures or several small books with 1 or 2 signatures), I brought some examples for show-and-tell at the beginning of yesterday’s book sewing class. When I showed our instructor, Linda Draper, various cover possibilities (fabric, canvas, leather, etc.), I got some good feedback. All could work for sewing and she also suggested putting a backing on the fabric, such as fusible webbing, that would make the cover and spine stiffer and easier to sew through.

When I asked Linda how she used the books she made, I was surprised to hear her say she did not use them to journal or do art in; some she gave to friends. That had never occurred to me--making a blank book just to make it. Since I've loved books since I was a child, I have expanded my definition from an object to read to an object of art. I love creating travel books or daily painting books or theme books using commercially-made hardbound sketchbooks or spiral watercolor books. I love altering the covers, using different techniques on the papers, trying some different things with different tools. Collecting several types and sizes of blank books, I’m exploring what I like and don’t like, what mediums work or don’t work on various papers. Although I like the idea of Altered Books, I have found the paper very frustrating to work in (acrylics don’t work very well in them) and have yet to complete a single one I’ve started!

Creating more of my own books, I enjoy learning and exploring the form. Here is a simple accordion book I made my sister almost two years ago called “In Praise of Trees.” It has two Davey board covers. The folded pages are one long section of a watercolor sheet; you can see the deckled edge on the top.

I’m tempted to take another bookmaking class this summer. Linda showed us examples from a basic bookbinding one taught by another instructor—a travel book that looks very much like a large Moleskine with elastic band and pocket (although with a lovely green cover and endpapers!), another with a paper cover with stubs and envelopes, and a photo album that allows for expansion when photos are added. One of the latter two had a wonderful paper cover with a strip of other paper cut and woven through it with signature sewings showing.

Since I love to keep a journal for writing and for art and for everything in between, I began my fake journal this week, jumping in with others inspired by Roz Stendahl's International Fake Journal Month. For now, I’m holding off revealing details or art in the journal, to keep the creative fuels burning. I will say that I’m really surprised at the medium I chose and how this fake persona is being revealed to me each time I open the special little journal. So much fun!


  1. beautiful print [love those colours!!] and what a wonderful gift the tree book must have been! I love making books too... but like you I haven't had much luck with the altering of books... I seem to prefer making mine from scratch-- then you can be in control of the paper type etc. lol!

  2. Thanks, Elis--the red and green are nice complements, eh? Yes, paper for books just doesn't like much water-based paints, does it? Gesso just doesn't help the pages in my experience.

  3. Hi Gina,
    The tree book turned out very nicely.
    So the fake journal is going well for you? I'm enjoying mine also & like you, mine is staying private fro a while.
    Happy days,

  4. I so want to try these type of book journals some day. Love it. By the way, came here from Roz' blog.

  5. Hi Joanie,
    I had such a fun time doing the fake journal and learned a lot. Perhaps you can start one anytime, not just the "Official" time.

    Glad you enjoyed peering into Ashling's journal, Sandy; 'twas grand!