Category Archives: technique

Home Brew Pocket Notebooks

I intended for this post to come out BEFORE I introduced No Brand Notebooks, but alas I left it in draft form and forgot about it. That said, I’m a huge fan of open sourcing information and  I’ve offered up patterns for a bunch of my products to others for free in the past. I’ve done tutorials on many of the books I’ve sold in the past, and frankly, I think being open about the process of binding brings more people into the hobby than being closed about info. Sharing is caring and all that fun stuff. I’m a maker not a great salesperson.

Also, before anyone asks, no I will not make diagrams or take photos of the process. The images  provided should give you a good idea of where staples should be placed. Experiment and you’ll figure it out.

Any of you who have read this blog for any period of time know that my obsession with stationery started young, but was really pushed to new heights as I attempted to find a sketchbook that worked for me. As a young artist I tried sketchbook after sketchbook, flirted with altered books, used loose paper bound by rivets or contained within handmade binders. In short I used every paper I could get my hands on, destroying bindings, scrapping books with bad paper, until finally I said, “Screw it!” and started to make my own sketchbooks. Simple single signature notebooks made of junk paper from work were bound one after another after another. I acquired book after book after book on binding books. I graduated from simple single signature books with limp covers to complex hardcover tomes sewn onto cords, and intricate coptic stitches. Leather was soon added to my arsenal, and I made thousands of books filled with paper for writing, art journaling, sketching and all kinds of art making. Those were the days.

The thing is, binding books is as much an obsession as any other hobby and I miss it dearly. I miss the gathering of sheets, folding of signatures, punching of stations, the smell of beeswax as I pass linen thread through the block of wax. The feel of the stiff waxed thread as it passes through paper and card. These days I don’t get to feed the sensory bit of binding, but I have started to make my own pocket notebooks and Traveler’s notebook refills. It’s dead simple, and you can do it too. Since I’m a fan of open source, feel free to share this info or just use it yourself.

Materials:

First, start off by loading 12 sheets of your favorite paper into your printer. Head to gridzzly.com and play around with the settings. I like lines and dot grids for my notebooks. I like dot grid at 5mm and lines at 7mm. Why? Dunno, those settings work for me. I also move the slider to about ¾ of the way to the right for darkness. The lines will not come out as a true black but more of shades of gray. Test out the site and see what you like. Start with mine and go from there. For my notebooks I work the printer setting to print without margins on any side. The printer can’t flood print, so I get a .25mm border with no printing no matter what I do. I deal with it. Print the lines/grids you like on both sides of the 12 sheet of paper.

Utility yellow… dot grid interior. #notebooks #maker

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Stack your 12 sheets of paper and add a piece of cardstock as a cover. Use paperclips or binder clips to hold everything in place. If you are making pocket notebooks set the guide on your long arm stapler to 4.25 inches or 11cm. Starting from the center of the paper, place a staple at 4.25 inches, another at 6, another at 8, another at 9.75, now return to the other side and place a staple at 2.5, and one at .5 inches. You will  have a total of 6 staples.

Soon to be made into notebooks. Warm Neons, QUILTBAG, and midnight. #maker #bookmaking #booknerd #dotgrid

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Cut the stack in half at the 5.5 inch mark, now fold the half along the staples, letting them guide your fold. Use a bone folder or butter knife to tighten this fold. Using a straight edge, trim the fore edge of the book at 3.5 inches. I have successfully used a rotary cutter as well as a craft knife so long as I’m slow and careful. Round corners if you so desire. Placing the books under weight for a night or two will help keep the spines creased. Several large textbooks serve the purpose well, while a board with a brick or two will also work.

If you are making a Traveler’s notebook, you will place 3 staples, one in the center of the book and one at each end, .5 inch away from the edge. Fold the notebook along the staples, letting them guide your fold. Use a bone folder or butter knife to tighten this fold. Trim the fore edge at 4.5 inches. Round corners if you’d like, then place under weight for a night. I do not trim the excess off the height of my TN, the proper height is 8.25 inches.

It is ridiculously easy to make your own notebooks with a minimum of investment. A long reach stapler is now only $11 on Amazon, while years ago they cost well over $30. If you keep an eye on thrift stores you can find them for less. Often offices toss them out when the person who did the office booklets quits or retires. I kick myself for turning down an old school cast off of a booklet stapler. Oh how I regret that choice. The investment for making notebooks is minor, but the reward is well worth the effort.

If you make some notebooks I’d love to see them. Hit me up on instagram with pics.

 

Enter No Brand Notebooks

For those of you who have been here since the start, you own’t be surprised when I tell you that I’m making books again, specifically pocket notebooks. This was, after all, my bread and butter for a good long time. Hell, it’s why I started the blog- to discuss my nerdy interest in all things bookbinding. Well, age and labor caught up with me and I have carpal tunnel as arthritis runs in the family. There are times when I can’t pull a needle though a signature of paper. The act of making stations in my signatures can be excruciating. The last time I made a serious number of books, well my wrist was in pain for days and I realized that I cannot make books in the same manner that I once did, so I put away my awl, sign vinyl, and stopped hoarding reams of paper. 

Anyway. I picked up a long reach stapler off the clearance rack at staples a few years ago. I let it gather dust until recently I wanted dot grid in a notebook and none of my hoarded Field Notes, Word Notebooks, or Story Supply Company had dot grid. I had some 24lb HP laser Jet from my experiment making my own planner books (still do this, still need to write a post about it) so I printed off some dot grid and pulled out that stapler and started making books.

For the most part this is not bothering my wrists. Which makes me so happy.

that said. I’m happy to begin offering my notebooks again. You can find them on etsy here.

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Follow Up: Lightfast Testing

A month ago I created some samples of art and writing materials to see if their pigments were lightfast or fugitive. I’ve checked them here and there throughout the month to see which pens fared the worst. There were some surprises and with other expectations were met.

Let’s start with lightfast expectations met. The Uniball and Zebra pens all proved to be lightfast. This was expected, every Uni pen I’ve ever tested has been lightfast. In this case I tested the Air and  Jetstream 3.0. I also tested the Zebra Surari 3 and Sarasa 3, both were lightfast.IMG_0056

The lightfast surprise was that all of the highlighter pencils did not fade, at all. I tested all shades of the Yoobi,  Very Best, Koh-i-Noor Dry Marker, as well as the Koh-i-Noor MagixFX series. None of the colors shifted, changed or faded. Quite amazing given that the general rule is that highlighter and neon colors shift.

For fugitive properties I expected that all of the Bic colors would fade or shift within a short period of time. Most met this expectation in both tip sizes. Purple, red and pink all shifted in a week and at the end of the month we’re extremely faded. I have no doubt that if I were to continue with the experiment these colors would be gone in months. Blue and Black had noticeably shifted in shade and begin fading at the end of the month, with the black fading the most. Interestingly light blue, light green and dark green exhibited the least amount of color shift and fading.  I would not suggest that these 3 colors are lightfast merely that they did not shift as much as the other colors.IMG_0060 IMG_0059 IMG_0055

I also expected that the 4 fountain pen inks I tested would show fading and color shifting. There was no surprise here. Both Edelstein shades faded within a week, and by the end of the month the Turquoise was on it’s way to being gone and Tanzanite had only the black left behind. Emerald of Chivor had shifted shade noticeably and was showing signs of fading. Interestingly of the fountain pen inks tested only one was lightfast, the Platinum Preppy black cartridge used in an EF Preppy pen.IMG_0054

I tested 2 ballpoint pens- the Retro 51 REF71 (a Schmidt refill) and a Schmidt mini refill. Both proved to be fugitive but still easy to read at the end of the month. The black ink was quite faded.

Finally as predicted the Papermate Flairs proved to be incredibly fugitive. They showed rapid color shifting- radical color changes in a week and several colors complete gone from the page at the end of the month. Both shades of purple and pink were gone and no longer at all visible. Yellow and Peach were nearly gone. Red, both shades of blue, black, both shades of green showed fading and massive color shifts at the end of the month.IMG_0058 IMG_0057

What does all of this mean? For me, anything that shows color shifting or fading should only be used in an art journal, or something that will not be displayed. Because even artificial light can fade and alter colors it’s not safe to allow work done with these fugitive pigments to be anywhere the sun or light shines.

Sarcastic Pencil Portraits

I’ve been working on a series of portraits as a method of working though my thoughts and feelings surrounding the Orlando Massacre. I started the series using BIC pens but they seemed to colorful for the grim theme, and I switched to pencils pretty quickly. These images have almost exclusively been drawing with Palomino Blackwing pencils. I’ve used the MMX (original Palomino version), Pearl, and the 24. I’ve also used the Casemate’s Premium as well as a few Pentel Sign pens*. I am drawing all of these images in a Hand Book travelogue series sketchbook- 5.5×7.5 in size. Each image is takes up roughly one spread in the book, with the bulk of the image on one page.Doing a portrait series like this is a GREAT way to get drawing portraits. As these people are relatively well known, there are loads of images available via Google.

I look at about a dozen images and use them to create a single image. I might use the eyes from one image, the nose from another, and the mouth from another. Finally I look at how the lighting affects the shading of their face and I take this into account. I am NOT trying to create flattering portraits. They are meant to be unflattering and harsh. Think Alice Neel’s realism. If I were to use colors there would be a strong pink, yellow, and orange coloration in these images.shitbag

I try to spend no more than 10 to 15 minutes per drawing and I try not to erase unless I need to bring out a highlight. This is going to be an image heavy post, so I’ll hide a few image after the cut.shitbag shitbag shitbagshitbag

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Portraits of “Presidential” Candidates

In an effort to learn more about politics and be balanced, I decided to read about each of the declared candidates for president. That wasn’t making things stick, so I decided to make art for each of the declared  candidates for US President. It turns out there are many of them. I could end up making little paintings about them all summer if I wanted to. I don’t but I’ve decided to highlight a few of them and fill a journal. Here are a few without my color commentary.

IMG_20150723_214208 repuglican repuglican repuglican repuglican IMG_20150727_112355 IMG_20150727_112355 IMG_20150727_112355 repuglicanHere are a few close ups of what the paint looks like after it dries. I’m working very wet into wet and in the humidity the paint takes forever to dry. I’m also working with a #10 and #20 brush on a hand-book travelogue series sketchbook. Which I’ll have to do a full review on soon enough.

granulation granulation

Technique Today: Mandalas

This week I'm looking up videos about one of my favorite topics, mandalas. Mandalas are great tools for relaxation, mediations, and adding a touch of focus and calm to a journaling practice. You can get out a compass and make precise circles or make shapes that are loose. It's your choice.

If you have issues viewing the videos here on my blog please click the title of the video on the upper left of the video and it will open up in YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

 

 

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Technique Today: Watercolor Pencils

Watercolor pencils make me incredibly happy. A 12-pack will give an infinite range of colors allowing for bright jewel tones to dirty muddy earthy colors. Anything is possible with watercolor pencils.

If you have issues viewing the videos here on my blog please click the title of the video on the upper left of the video and it will open up in YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

 

 

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Technique Today: Color Theory

Color is often discussed but understanding the theory of it can helpful for mixing paint, layering markers, and color choices. Like composition we talk about it, some understand it intuitively, and other study color theory. Like anything some understanding of the theory is helpful.

If you have issues viewing the videos here on my blog please click the title of the video on the upper left of the video and it will open up in YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

 

 

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Technique Today: Ink

I love ink. It's a great thing to fiddle around within art journals. It also goes well with last weekk's topic, lettering.

If you have issues viewing the videos here on my blog please click the title of the video on the upper left of the video and it will open up in YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

 

 

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Technique Today: Lettering

Lettering is one of those things that the more you practice it the better you get. Lettering can be fun and interesting.

If you have issues viewing the videos here on my blog please click the title of the video on the upper left of the video and it will open up in YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

 

 

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