Monday, September 7, 2009

New Journal

Here’s the new leather travel journal I completed yesterday. The thick leather cover comes from a distressed leather journal kit from Volcano Arts. But, I modified it by setting aside the brown thread, button, and paper and substituted Fabrino Artistico hot-press watercolor paper, a different spinal sewing design, a concho, turquoise beads, an eyelet, and four corners. Six signatures of four folios each needed trimming on three edges to fit this cover and I toned down the shiny silver-finish corners by rubbing some black acrylic paint into the grooved etchings so it would match the Southwestern screw concho.

Overall, I’m thrilled to have finally finished this project. Although I see some flaws to correct on future book, such as centering the signatures better and spacing them closer together, the latter problem may be solved once the pages expand with paint, collage, transfers, and layers.

Since I have become enthusiastic about limp leather bindings with long stitch spine sewing, I researched types of leather and wasn’t sure about purchasing bookbinding leather as it was too thin and needed to be glued around boards. The good news is I found a local source for leather and embellishments. There is a Tandy Leather Factory in town and upon my first visit last week I was pleased by the helpful staff and abundance of materials. Pulling out my yet-unworked piece of leather as well as another commercially-made leather journal as examples, I told one staff member what I was looking for and he showed me different choices in full hides, adding the owner might be willing to cut them in half.

It was small but fascinating place to see all the various colors and thicknesses and finishes, to hear Texas-accented customers asking for project materials, to smell intoxicating leather in every aisle. There were leather scraps, kits, and rolls, and hardware such as conchos, buckles, belts, rivets, tacks, clips, eyelets…it was dizzying. They carried every kind of leather, from hair-still-on-the-hide pieces to untreated hides ready for tooling and leather burning, to dyed and treated leather suede, upholstery, and rawhide. There were also scrap bins, some with exotic skins mottling such as ostrich and crocodile (or merely tooled sections? I couldn’t tell). Perhaps they could function as straps or tapes to sew on for future projects?

Selecting a stoned oil cowhide in a neutral brown, I asked if I could buy half of it. With such a large piece I could cut up various rectangles to fit my torn-down papers. The owner obliged, spread out the hide atop a table piled high with others, folded it, drew out a sharp knife from his belted leather knife holder (naturally!), and neatly sliced it into two as if he was cutting butter. Wow, what a display!

Along with my rolled up cowhide piece, I also bought Southwestern and Celtic conchos. Now I can really play!


  1. Wow Gina! You did a wonderful job with this journal!!!

  2. Hi Leslie. This will be my New Mexico journal and I envision filling it with past photos, petroglyth stamps, journaling about past and future trips, and plans to make real my long-held dream to move to the state next door!

    Thank you so much, Manon. I really learned a lot doing this and have already begun another, smaller book.

  3. Lovely journal. I imagine it feels good in the hands. There's something about a leather cover isn't there.

  4. I found your blog and I love this journal..I am wanting to make my own hand made journal.

  5. Yes Robyn, there are many special things about leather. Wouldn’t a design burned into a leather journal be wonderfully tactile and touchable, too? I purchased a Celtic leather journal cover many years ago at a Renaissance fair. Perhaps it has been the inspiration for learning to make one!

    Thanks, Cousin Chris. I can picture you putting some of your wonderful photographs in such a journal.

    So glad you found my blog, Katelen Tays (Poetic Artist). You are doing a wonderful thing caregiving for you ill Mother as well as taking care of yourself through your art.