Filling the New Art Journal

Dear Liza,

I showed you the new kind of Art Journal I was starting. It has fabric hinges and a binding you stitch up with the pages at the very end. Besides being something new for me to learn, it has a few advantages.

First, all the pages are made and decorated before they are put into the book. This means that when you are working on a page, it isn’t attached to the book yet. So if you mess it up, you haven’t got a big blot in your book, you simply set that page aside and try again. For nervous artists like me, this is very freeing.

Also, there is not a given number of pages to fill, with awkward blank bits if you run out of story or art. This flexibility is nice.

As to the content of the book, I have been thinking about the places I have lived and how I felt about them, and the places I may live in the future and the hopes I have for them.

Yep, it’s going to be a map book. Maps of houses, neighborhoods, bus routes, and imaginary places. This should come as no surprise. I love maps!

I have my first few pages finished. One is a collage of the world map, made from colored pencils, florist tissue and bits of the Portland map. I’m not sure if it will end up being Page 1 of the book, but it is the first one finished.

The second one is a watercolor of the neighborhood between our house and your favorite, the Slappycakes make-your-own-pancake restaurant.

The next page I am working on will use the Real Estate developer map of our old neighborhood in Salinas. When it is finished, it will get put in a folder and wait for the rest of the pages.

I will keep you posted!


Grandma Judy

Making an Art Journal Part 1

Dear Liza,

I have been doing lots of art in Journals lately. These have been store-bought sketch books or notebooks that Auntie Bridgett gave me.

But now, my friend Ruth Inman ( has been teaching me how to make my own! Yes, books from scratch! And since I love books and cheap art supplies and I hate throwing things away, I am loving it!

Front and back covers, with flexible spine already glued on

The one I am working on now is going very nicely. I started out with a saltine cracker box for the cover, a lighter weight cover from a drawing tablet for the flexible spine, and some collage-y paper from Auntie Bridgett’s boxes for pretty.

Once I got the cover glued together and decorated, I made ‘signatures’ from odd pieces of art paper, printer paper, and card stock. These can be any size that fits inside the cover. Signatures are folded sets of four sheets of paper that make the pages of the book. There is a lot of trimming to get this part right, so I used a cutting mat, a metal ruler, and an exacto blade.

Then comes the tricky bit. I measured each signature to find the center, and poked three tiny holes (I used manicure scissors) along the fold. Using heavy button thread, I sewed the pages of each signature together along these holes, making sure all the signatures had holes in the same place.

Three hole binding for the signatures

Since my book had a wide spine, I poked holes for four signatures. Again, I was super careful to measure so the holes lined up with the signatures, and also were evenly spaced back to front.

Spaces for four signatures, at three holes each.

The next part was frustrating, because it felt like I needed extra hands! But once I slowed down and took it easy, it was do-able. Using the button thread, I stitched each signature through its own set of holes in the spine, tying a tight double knot to hold each signature in.

And this is what it looked like! It is actually a book! I am so excited!

Threads that hold the signatures in

Of course, there is more to do before it is just right. I will show you that tomorrow!

All the signatures are in!


Grandma Judy