Robin's House - Make Your Own Sketchbook

  • August 17, 2014 · 12:00 PM
  • Robin's House


Are you tired of the same old boring sketchbooks and yearn for a unique one-of-a-kind sketchbook to work in?  You can learn to make your own!  This session at the Maker House will be about making your own sketchbook using a binding technique called coptic binding.  When you make your own sketchbook using coptic binding, the advantages are:  you get to use any paper you want, you have a book that lies flat while you work in it, and you get the satisfaction of working in a book you made your self --all for a lot less cost than a store-bought sketchbook!

To get an idea of what a coptic-bound sketchbook looks like, and what is involved in making one, please read my blog post about my experience in making them:

You will need to bring some things to this class:

1.  An idea of roughly what size book you want, but the exact size will mostly be determined by the paper you bring. I will be teaching how to make a 5.5 x 7.5" size book in portrait orientation, from paper that is 22 x 30" in size, but we can adapt depending on what paper you bring.

2.  Paper. You got to watch the talk from Sarnoff's on different papers and you might have an idea of what paper you want in your book.  Options include watercolor paper, mixed media paper, pastel paper, drawing paper, sketch paper, card stock, or just plain old copy paper, or a combination.  I like to use watercolor paper in my books.  If you just want to try out the binding technique but don't want to buy watercolor paper, bring 24 sheets of regular copy paper.  When I make a book, I use watercolor paper, either Strathmore 400 Cold Press or Strathmore Aquarius II.  Watercolor paper in sheet form is 22 x 30", and is the most cost-effective way to get watercolor paper for book-making, but you can also make books from 9 x 12" blocks or pads.  Bring one or two sheets of watercolor paper (or a complete 9 x 12" pad).  One sheet of watercolor paper makes a 16-page 5.5 x 7.5" book.

3.  Sketchbook Covers.  You will need a pair of rigid or semi-rigid covers to bind into the front and back of your sketchbook.  The cover is where you can really employ your personal stamp of creativity to make your book special.  First you need to pick a material that is rigid or semi-rigid.  I use non-corrugated cardboard from a heavy-duty cereal box (Costco-sized), but other ideas include:  mat board, book board, wood, leather, old record album covers, or even the covers from old books.  If you are using a material that begs to be covered over (like a cereal box!), I like to glue pretty fabric around it on the outside and line the inside with card-stock paper, but many use decorative paper.  Bring the covers pre-made (if you know the size of sketchbook you'll be making), or the materials to make the covers in class.

4.  Tools.  If you read my blog post, you will see the tools you will need for preparing the paper and covers, and binding the book.  I will bring all my tools and I will share, but it is better if you bring some of your own to save time in class.  Tools include:  ruler (regular 12" is good, but a yardstick is also handy if you'll be tearing watercolor sheets), pencilbinding thread (I use embroidery floss or crochet thread--NOT sewing thread as it is too thin), wax to lubricate the thread (a piece of beeswax or candle wax), a needle that can accommodate your thread (I like a curved upholstery needle), scissors, hole punch for the covers (or drill and drill bits), awl to punch holes in your paper, two thick phone books to cradle your paper as you punch holes in it, bone folder or wooden spoon for folding your paper, and 1 piece of card stock paper to use as a hole punch guide.  If you will be gluing, bring glue, sponge brush, and newspaper (to protect the tables).

I'm sure there will be questions, feel free to ask!

Join or login to comment.

  • Robin Laurel F.

    LOL - for some reason it lists me as a no show - but I was most def. there and loved it. Stacy you are brilliant and the workshop was top notch. Enjoyed the conversation along the way and loved seeing everyone's finished product.

    2 · August 17

    • Karyn V.

      For goodness sakes - it was at your house!

      August 18

  • Robin Laurel F.

    Ok now it shows I was there…phew

    2 · August 18

  • Louise B.

    Stacey "rocks" as a teacher...what a useful project!

    3 · August 17

  • Karyn V.

    Many thanks to Stacy for her clear direction and to Robin for hosting! Ok - what are we going to learn next? lol

    3 · August 17

  • Mary K.

    Great workshop!

    3 · August 17

  • Mary K.

    Great workshop. Stacy was well prepared And a really good teacher. We each ended up with a nice little sketchbook.

    4 · August 17

  • Karyn V.

    Who knew it would be so hard to find beeswax. If anyone is looking, Jay's of Tucson in the Sprouts plaza (left of Sprouts) Speedway/Swan has little rectangles of beeswax for under $2.00 - they are marked $2.00 but are on sale.

    August 7

    • Stacy E.

      That sounds like a good price Karyn. I got mine at the fabric store (Hancock's), and the packaging looks like this:­

      1 · August 7

    • Karyn V.

      I couldn't find anything like what you have - I have a block - I'll have to make grooves, but shouldn't be too difficult. I have my covers made. Next time I'll use rubber cement to glue the card stock on the insides - I have some bumps from the Elmers. Live and learn.

      1 · August 7

  • Judy K.

    Stacy - we will be on our way to LA that morning, so I can't attend but appreciate your thorough directions. Perhaps you can do it again for those of us who miss out. :). J

    1 · August 4

  • Karyn V.

    Per Stacey's recommendation to use Strathmore Aquarius II 80 lb paper in her blog, I ordered 10 sheets. I only need one so I will bring all 10 to Maker House in case anyone wants to purchase any of the remaining 9 sheets at my cost of $4.50 per sheet.

    1 · July 30

  • Karyn V.

    I meant Stacy. (My daughter is Stacey)

    July 30

  • Karyn V.

    Hi, Stacy! I found the cover of a child's board book that's about the right size and will decorate it. What kind of glue do you use?
    Can I have the link to your blog? Thanks!!!

    July 29

  • Karyn V.

    Very exciting, Stacy!!!! Thanks so much - I'm jazzed!

    1 · July 28

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