Category Archives: sketchbook project

The Sketchbook Project : The Sketchbook That Almost Wasn’t (or How to Re-bind Your Sketchbook)

For someone whose life and well-being rely upon order and carefully made plans, I sure do find myself in a lot of How-Did-I-Get-Myself-Into-This situations (typically, without a proper exit strategy).

Such was the case with a recent attempt at working on my Sketchbook Project.

Spurred by some recent comments on Twitter, I decided to finally buckle down and get to work on what I had committed to buckling down and getting to work on months ago. Heh.

Conscious of my tendency to get a bit overzealous with water (and alcohol*) in my work, I knew that the sketchbook’s current pages were not going to stand up to my aqueous abuse. So, I decided to pluck out the staples and replace the thin pages with something a little sturdier.

And pluck, I did (the results of which can be seen in the photo at left)! Then, I got to work on cutting some new pages from watercolor paper and a large sheet of black paper I acquired during a recent art supply buying binge.

After cutting (and subsequently tossing onto the scrap pile) about 7 billion crooked sheets (damn my wonky eyes!), I finally had all of my pages ready to fold and staple back into my sketchbook. Excellent, right?


As I (quite literally) dusted off my trusty (dusty) stapler, I discovered that my new heavy-duty pages were too thick for my wimpy little staples to penetrate. Damn. And here I thought I had it all figured out.

Back to the drawing board (also known as issuing a plea for help on the Internets).

Nothing that I was finding in my book-binding searches was proving helpful. That’s when Jessica Mack of Brown Paper Bunny fame came to my rescue with this video on how to make a stitched notebook. If you don’t want to watch the video, but want to try it for yourself, here are the basic steps.

  1. Fold your cover over the new pages (make sure everything is nicely/evenly folded).
  2. Using a ruler held along the main fold of your pages, mark the middle of the fold with a pencil. Then measure/mark in 1″ increments in both directions to establish your ‘poke holes’.
  3. Hold your cover and all of your pages firmly and poke through the marked spots using an awl or paper piercer.
  4. Thread a large needle with embroidery floss and sew through the top hole from the inside, leaving enough of a tail to tie up later.
  5. Use a running stitch to go through each hole. Then, go back through in the opposite direction (it will look like a backstitch).
  6. On the last stitch, tie the ends of the floss together tightly, so the knot sits firmly on the inside of your sketchbook.
  7. Snip off the loose ends and you’re done!

If any of this is confusing, the video will make it clear. Again, you can find it here.

My sketchbook was back together! And the peasants rejoiced!


Honestly, this method was much easier than I anticipated (especially since I didn’t have a paper piercer or an embroidery needle and had to improvise). I will say that I kind of messed up the cover during the process, but only because I may have forgotten to properly clean my work surface after using pastel sticks and there may have been pastel dust everywhere. Oops.

Now that I have this newly-bound sketchbook, I suppose I should think about what I’m going to put in it. Meh, it can wait. My brain deserves a break.

* rubbing alcohol, not drinking alcohol – heh. See what I do with it here, here, and here.

photos : the sketchbook that almost wasn’t by yours truly



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Sketchbook Project 2012 : Today in My Mailbox

Oy. So far today, the normally loving and docile, Sir has a) kicked me repeatedly in an attempt to get me out of bed (how dare I sleep in until 7:30!) b) bitten me and c) nearly given me a coronary by attempting to jump from a shopping cart in a busy parking lot.

This is the last time I let his favorite parent go out of town for the weekend.

Thankfully, nap time arrived just before he was able to tie me up and feed me to the dogs. As I sat exasperated and grasping at the last shred of sanity I had left today, I realized that, in my haste to get Sir in the house and keep him from running down the street with a pilfered bag of frozen onion rings (true story), I had forgotten to check the mail. I trudged out to the box and what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a brand new pair of ugly shoes AND my Sketchbook Project package!


So, I guess this thing is really real now. That means I’ve got a lot of work to do, and I have a feeling I’ll have a lot of time to do it once the nice men in the white coats come to take me to my new home.

Dear Big Sir,

Please hurry back. And bring onion rings.


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Sketchbook Project 2012 : Here’s to Not Screwing Up! (or something)

Friends, at 4 o’clock this morning, I made a momentous (and kind of scary) decision. Yours truly, the so-so photog, mediocre (at best) wannabe illustrator, and consummate wiseacre, will be participating in the Art House Co-op’s Sketchbook Project 2012.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. The what now? Go ahead and click the link or, barring that, read my very brief description.

The Sketchbook Project is a traveling exhibition of sketchbooks from artists all over the world. My completed sketchbook will travel to all of the North American tour locations before becoming part of the permanent collection at the Brooklyn Art Library. It will also be digitized for viewing online.

It took me countless hours of wondering, worrying, nail-biting and not sleeping to finally decide to do this. Then I started the whole neurotic process over again as I tried to choose one of the 40 available themes. At 4AM, when Sir woke us up to politely request ‘mo wadoo pease’ (which in English means ‘Parents, I fully expect you to get out of bed and fill my water cup…now!’) and I couldn’t get back to sleep, I groggily decided on ‘writing on the wall’.

My not-quite-coherent thought process involved something about entertaining witticisms (in the form of life lessons I have learned), corresponding illustrations, and being forced to finally learn how to do more hand-lettering. But, you know, we’ll play it by ear.

So, there you have it. Now comes the (even) hard(er) part – waiting for the sketchbook to arrive and figuring out what in the world to put in it. Ever the overachiever, I have already begun a preliminary list of the aforementioned witticisms. They seem pretty funny to me. I guess we’ll see what the rest of the continent thinks of them.

I hope to post frequent updates on my progress here. I’m still debating whether or not to scan and share each page as I finish it or keep some of it out of the public eye until the tour begins. Again, we’ll play it by ear.

I hope that at least a few of you will come along for the ride.

photo : drawing stuff by yours truly



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