Ruthie Inman has done it again, showing me a new way to make an art journal.
This one starts with an old magazine. Since magazines have really thin, cheap paper, you spread glue (or Mod Podge) and fold each page over on itself to give you a thicker page to work on.
I started with the cover, using a Payne’s Grey craft paint and some silver sparkly paint. Then I slathered craft paint over the pages, making sure to let each one dry before pressing the whole thing flat under a pile of books. This step took a few days.
But what sort of art should be in this journal? At another suggestion from Ruthie, I started using the idea of “The Exquisite Corpse”, a drawing game Cousin Kestrel taught me, to play with a new kind of collage.
Cutting different people, animals and things from magazines, I join them together to make some pretty cool Exquisite Corpse style images.
Is there no end to the nonsense I can get into with art supplies? I sure hope not!
We are coming up on spring, and I am making my garden journal for this year. At the end of this month I will be pulling the burlap off my garden plot in the Blair Community Garden, and I want to be ready to write it all down!
Besides the usual encouragement from Ruth Inman and Bridgett Spicer, I am using “Making Books by Hand” by Mary McCarthy and Philip Manna as a guide.
First, I used the heavy backing of sketch pads for my covers, and layered some thinner tagboard with Mod Podge to make the spine. I glued these down to a nice canvas fabric, put a pile of books on them, and went for a walk. The canvas allows the heavy covers to bend properly.
When the spine was dry I covered the cover with some pretty paper, mitering the corners and folding them inside.
While these dried, I cut the paper for the pages. Each signature, or group of pages, takes four sheets of paper, folded in half. I gave them a nice sharp crease with the edge of my metal ruler.
I used a trick from Ruthie to make my measuring device for where to put the stitches in the signatures. A strip of paper as long as my pages are high, folded in half, then each end folded to the center, makes a perfect guide for three holes without nit-picky measuring.
Poking the holes through all the pages with a steel artist’s tack before you sew makes everything easier. Sew the four sheets of each signature together with a strong thread.
I made five signatures because the spine of my book was wide enough to accommodate them. This will be my thickest book yet!
Again, use the steel tack to poke holes for each sewing point. Then sew each signature into the spine with a heavy thread. I used embroidery floss. This is a bit fiddly, but you will get better with practice.
The trickiest bit is making the knot tight. This is easier if you have a friend put their finger on the knot for you while you pull it tight. Trim the ends of the thread short.
Once the signatures are sewn in, apply glue thinly to each of the inside covers and lay the first and last pages against them, pressing the air bubbles out so they are smooth. This will stabilize the book and hold everything together. Put weights on these and wait a few hours.
The last step is to cover the inside covers with pretty paper. Press these flat and let everything dry overnight.
And there it is, my Garden Journal for this year! C’mon, Spring!
I have always loved making gifts. You great grandma Billie taught me to sew, and I have made baby quilts and wedding quilts for friends and family. I have sewn goofy dolls, Covid-19 masks, and helped with Auntie Katie’s wedding huppa.
I have baked tons of celebratory cookies and rum balls, peanut butter balls, and Bundt cakes for Kosher luncheons. I have even knitted scarves and hats, for those who wouldn’t be upset about a few dropped stitches.
And now I have something new I can make and give to friends: Art Journals!
I just sent my dear friend Pat a journal, a book built from scratch via lessons from Ruth Inman. It is filled with silly poems, by me and other people. It has thoughts and thanks and bits of art to make her smile.
There isn’t another one like it in the whole world. It was made by the ME I am right now for the Pat that she is right now. It has politics, pets, wine, art, and memories of travel.
I love having a new way to show my special people how much I love them!
I am still making a new piece of art each day for the Art-Ober mixed media challenge. Subjects like “cactus” and “stripes” tickle my brain! And as I gain confidence, I am willing to paint scenes I never would have tried a few months ago.
While this is all happening, I got a note from the wonderful woman who is caring for my big brother Tim. “I don’t want to tell you what to do, but I’ve got about ten small frames from the Dollar Store…” she said. Ah ha! A project!
So I went through the pictures I’ve done so far, picked my favorites, and made smaller copies to fit into her frames.
Tim has always been an outdoorsy type, fishing and hiking and such, so I chose scenes of flowers and forests.
This picture of a pair of jack rabbits nibbling on a sage brush reminds me so much of our old campsite at Vallecito, it makes me homesick. Great Grandpa Lowell took us there for about a dozen Easter vacations, enjoying the desert before it got too hot.
I made sure to write my name clearly in the pictures, so Tim could remember where they came from and know I am thinking of him.
I hope he enjoys them! I will make more and send them off. You can make me pictures, if you like. I’ll bet I could get some frames from the Dollar Store, too.
I have started an art challenge: To make a piece of art everyday for the whole month of October. My friend Ruth Inman posted a list of things to give us ideas, like ‘bread’, ‘sea creatures’, ‘salt water taffy’, and all sorts of things.
Auntie Bridgett, who is very sweet, gave me a big hardback, spiral bound notebook to use. It has nice heavy paper so I can draw, paint, or even glue things down to make a collage!
I started with decorating the cover in Fall colors. All our magazines are full of oranges and browns, so it was easy to put together. I even found a nice picture of Multnomah Falls to be right in the middle.
The first page came from my own need to make something seasonal and orange. Crayons, then watercolors, then some words, and taaa daaah!
The first of the challenges was ‘bread’. When I think of bread I go straight to a French baguette, eaten on the banks of the Seine at sunset. This piece is watercolor, colored pencils, and waterproof ink.
Ruth’s second challenge is “alcohol”, so I thought of wine enjoyed while looking out the window of a classic California winery… yummy.
The one I did this morning was my favorite so far, because it was about YOU. The actual topic was sea creatures, but I painted them at the Aquarium, with you.
I am going to take a break for the evening and not look at the challenge for tomorrow…. until tomorrow.