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