Trying Something New with Something Old

Dear Liza,

I always like trying something new.


I have been making Art Journals with Ruth Inman for a while, using cracker boxes and other leftovers for covers. But the other day when I found this really old, falling-apart literature book, I thought …. Why not use ITS cover as a cover?


First, I helped the book finish falling apart, trimming the cover and selected pages with an Exacto knife. I saved the very old 2nd place ribbon I found inside. The handwritten inventory numbers and check-out pocket touched my librarian’s heart, so I made sure they were safe. I found one of my favorite poems, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “The Rhodora”, among the anthologized works, and saved it, as well as old illustrations.


Lovely, historic insides

I grabbed a yellow printed fabric from my box, thinking the texture looked like old alligator skin. Once I had it glued onto the cover, however, it became clear that I had mis-judged. It was too light. I resisted the urge to tear it off and decided to highlight the texture and darken the effect with some acrylic paint. It was better.

Improving the spine fabric

Sewing the signatures in

I stiffened the spine with some card stock, then laid in the inside fabric. I made four ‘signatures’ (sets of pages) and pierced the spine carefully to sew the signatures in.

A new book from an old book!

Since the book was printed in 1932, I plan to use it as a journal for my research and ponderings on history. I have been researching English and French history, and am now looking into the many places where they intersect. I am also curious about how they interacted with the Holy Roman Empire and, further away, the many dynasties of the Chinese Empire.

This historic, hand-made journal will give me a place, and an inspiration, to collect these thoughts, as well and other brain bits that pop up.

The Inspiration….

“Tell them dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,

Then beauty is its own excuse for being.”

Love,

Grandma Judy

Making an Art Journal Part 2

Once I had the main shape and look of my art journal, I set it aside to let my nerves settle. Doing too much fiddly detail work gives me the heebie jeebies.

The next day I set out to make the journal pretty and ready to use. I glued the first page down to the the inside of the front cover, and the last page to the inside of the back cover. This makes the whole thing very sturdy and more all-of-a-piece.

First page glued down to inside front cover…

When these had dried, I saw that the pages pulling against the cover had bent the cover a bit, making it rounder at the spine than it had been. This was unexpected, but I don’t mind it. I have seen some old books with this, and now I know why!

A little rounder on the spine…

I realize now that I forgot a part here. I was supposed to poke holes in the front and back cover to put in a closure, like a ribbon, to tie and keep the journal closed. Having missed that bit, I figured out an alternative.

Meanwhile, I got some more pretty paper from Auntie Bridgett’s cupboards and glued them over the inside front and back covers to make them pretty and fit my theme. Since I am going to use this journal to record everything about my garden this summer, there are flowers, butterflies, and birds.

And with the book finished, I can write and create in it and not worry about losing information and Art about my garden.

Here is my Plan B closure. Auntie Bridgett was trimming the handles off an old tote bag, and I liked the look of the crisp black bow tie against the pastels of the cover!

It is still cold out and there is even some snow on the ground, but my imagination is already on its way to summer!

Love,

Grandma Judy