For Tim

Dear Liza,

Your great uncle, my oldest brother Tim, is having a birthday next week. After enjoying making an Art Journal for myself and a book for my friend Pat, I decided to make a book for him, too.

Tim is eight years older than me, so even though we grew up in the same house, we were at different parts of our lives at any given adventure. He taught me to climb trees, fish, and change the oil on a car. He joined the Marine Corps when I was 10 and retired when I was 40. He was, and still is, a rascal.

So I decided to remind him of some of our childhood adventures. I chose six to include and did a bit of writing and illustration for each. They are silly and short and should tickle his memory.

Trees played a big part in our childhoods. Climbing them, mostly, to test our wits and have space to ourselves.

Of course I included Momma’s recipe for Heavenly Buns, her go-to quick lunch that fed about a million neighborhood kids.

Camping and learning about outdoor living was an every-weekend activity. We learned about making fires, cooking in cast iron dutch ovens, and, one Thanksgiving, burying a turkey in the ground with coals and hot stones. “I bet it’ll work,” Dad grinned. He was right.

Since I had made the book small to fit in Tim’s pocket, but wanted to tell longer stories, I got creative about the page design. Accordion folds and other devices let me fit the stories in.

Maybe the best summer ever…

I am really enjoying this ability to tell stories and make them into books all by myself! A lot of my last few years have been spent researching and writing a story, and in the back of my head I was always wondering… “How is anyone going to see this?” Well, maybe I have solved my problem. We’ll see.

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

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 (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!

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!

Love,

Grandma Judy