Tag Archives: books

Art Journaling Essentials: Books for Beginers

One of the questions I get asked pretty often is what books I would recommend to someone just starting out in art journaling. There are 3 books I think are essential to anyone just starting out in Art Journaling.

First is Keri Smith’s How to be an Explorer of the World. I reviewed this for the zine and I’ll republish the article here at some point. But this book is all about looking at the world around you. It’s inspiring. It’s full of proposed action. Get it.

The second is Dan Price’s How to Make a Journal of Your Life. I haven’t reviewed this but will. It’s about opening up your perception of the world and learning how to look and to be in the moment.

The third is Danny Gregory’s Every Day Matters. I also should review this book. It’s about learning that life, every moment of it, matters and that we should take time to fully savor and enjoy it.

What you’ll notice about all three of these books is that not one of them is about technique. They are about enjoying your life, opening up your mind and looking at life and enjoying every day. None of the books recommend expensive materials; in fact Kerri Smith’s book is made to be used as a journal. Dan Price suggests you start out in a cheap pocket sized spiral notebook and Danny Gregory suggests a cheap watercolor set, black ink pen and a moleskine.

As I see more and more of the “cult of stuff” filtering into my precious art journal scene I am more and more drawn to “old school” art journaling- a black ink pen, a set of travel watercolors and a simple sketchbook. These 3 books are just that good old fashioned basic books on art journal, full of inspirational text that will get your art journal mojo going.


You can also buy Dan Price's book directly from him via his website.

Continue reading

Moleskine Give Away Contest

About a month ago I was contacted by Chronicle Books about hosting a give away on my blog of products from the new Moleskine line of products. Unable to say NO to anything free, I accepted. I expected a small amount of products, one or 2 sets of books. Instead I received, via Fedex, a large box. In it were several colors and sets of the 5×8 Volants, a set of the pocket sized volants, a desk calendar and the hottest thing in there, several Color A Month Planners.

Continue reading

Blank Books for Journaling

I've been watching more videos on youtube, looking for stuff to post here and also for inspiration. I've also been looking at photos of art on flickr. One of the things that I've noticed is the overwhelming amount of unique journals people are using. Of course there is the ubiquitous moleskine, one of my former faves. but there are also large quantities of other books being used. There is the reclaimed or re-purposed hardback book in which the artist gessoes the pages and works on a printed page. There are spiral bound books, which I've never been a fan of for art journaling but was for sketching- they lay flat, come in a variety of papers and are easily found. The are also great if you focus on writing in your journal. There are the coptic and long stitch handmade books, I've also noticed  and interesting phenomenon in which people are working on a plain flat page and then punching 3 ring binder holes and binding the pages in big giant 3 ring binders or into scrapbook covers. Whichever style of book you choose there are lots of options out there.

Take for instance, you can get a unique decorated moleskine on artfire for not too much more than you would pay for one at B&N or Borders. These are pre-decorated by an artist in many styles.

To find a reclaimed hardback book one needs only go to the local library and look for a book in the sales pile, ask your librarian for help. Also the Salvation Army and Goodwill have book section which you can go through. My local Saver's store has a section of some cool and wacky books, many of which would make great altered books. Also don't look past some of those "employer schwag books" these are the books that employers give out at interviews and job fairs to try and get people interested in coming to work for them. Some larger companies have some really nice schwag books, perfect for manipulation and editing.

Coptic books are a favorite of mine, They are great for sketching outside becuase the binding easily folds over on itself, they are often hardback, which makes for great sketching support, the binding looks really cool, the thread binding is sturdy. The bast part of all, you can stuff the pages full of extra glued in bits and goodies and the won't stress the spine too badly. A search in artfire brings up pages of great and well made one of a kind unique coptic bound journals

The long stitch books are one of my favorites. they come in a variety of leather cover, recycled covers and interesting stitches. They fold over on themselves, can be hardcover or a limp cover, the stitches are visible on the spines and can be very decorative. Best of all they are tough. I've been making and using almost exclusively long stitch bound books for the last 10 years or so and they survive abuse like you wouldn't believe. You  can toss them in the bottom of a bag, stomp on them, spill coffee on them, drop them in a lake and they come out looking pretty good and the binding survives. 

While I'm not a fan of 3 ring binders you might be interested in trying the binder method out. There are some very fun and unique 3 ring binder covers on artfire. I found them by searching for 3ring binder. Very cool. I also found some neat rubber stamps that way.

Whatever you chose try something handmade and unique to get you through this holiday season. By careful Artfire shopping you might find that you make it through spending less than if you bought mass produces crap made overseas.

Book blocks, glue and leather

Whew. In addition to mowing the lawn* I managed to finish that fat stack of 7 hedgehog/ moleskin notebooks I've been sitting on for close to 2 weeks. The elastics and envelopes went in in no time and pressed for a few hours. In that time I glued 6 more blocks into leather covers.

I pulled the finished books out of the press, signed and dated them, stuffed business cards in the pockets and then shot pictures. Edited said pictures and then listed all the items to my artfire shop. It went smoothly and everything looks good.

Thursday I visited my friend in Swampscott and she had been hoarding some paper and advertising posters for me. I walked away with 20 or so posters and about 2 reams of paper. I'll be able to use the guillotine to chop them up into nice matchbook notebooks. The posters are already chopped to size and will be stored until the next time I make a big batch of jotters. I also got some plastic posters that I use for jigs. I set up a jig to make covers with some of the left over scraps as the spine with some great backer board as the cover. I picked up some 30×40 sheets of backer board at the Charette clearance sale in Woburn.So I'm going to try out some new books and stitches. Fun stuff planned.

Tomorrow I'm headed to Western Mass to help a friend set up an ArtFire and an Etsy shop. I"ll spend the afternoon testing out my skillz.

*no small feat considering that it's rained every weekend for the last 3 weeks and I've not been able to mow for that whole time. The grass was halfway to my knees and I"ve got an electric lawn mower… It wasn't pretty.

Christmas Wish List for a Begining Binder

So you came to my blog looking for items to buy that
bookbinder on your Christmas list? Well here’s what I would get that person,
from a bookbinder to a bookbinder:

#1 A selection of fine Irish Linen threads. There are
several things to consider when buying thread, size and color. A good size to
go with if the person does bindings where you can see the thread (exposed spine
bindings) is 12/3 and wonderfully enough JohnNeilBooks.com has a great
selection of colors in that size. I’d go with the basics: natural, black and
red. It’s a good starter selection.

#2 A selection of knives, sounds odd under the Christmas
tree or wrapped for Chanukah but a nice knife will last a lifetime and get
hundreds of hours of use. I’m particular to a few knives myself- my Olfa brand
click knife. The body is steel wrapped in plastic. It’s comfortable and
strong. Next on my list is a simple box
cutter. You could decorate the body of the cutter with paint, fabric etc. These
are available at any home supply store or even Walgreens. Lets not leave out
the illustrious exacto knife. If you person has been crafting for any amount of
time they probably have one, but you could get them a new fancy handle or a box
of 100 blades.

#3. Bone folders. I’m not sure if this ranks up there with a
knife in terms of oddness under the tree but my bone folder has seen hours of
use and is one of the few things that I’ll search for and clean off my bench to
find. There are a bunch of different shapes out there but the basic 8 inch or 6
inch folder with one pointed end is the best.

#4 Instruction books. Often bookbinding books are hard to
find. Barnes and Noble has a notoriously crappy selection with Borders
following them up with a just slightly better selection. Check online for
better selections. Alisa Golden’s books are fantastic; Shareen Laplantz’s books
are also awesome. If the binder is more advanced go all out and get them some
Keith Smith, just be aware that the rest of the holidays will be spent intently
pouring over the books. (Keith Smith books are like pr0n for the active
binder.) I just purchased a new beginner’s book by Ester Smith. It’s a good
book to start with has great pictures and a lot of diagrams.

Book Board

I made a few covers book board and paper from my stash of decorative papers. I made them to specifically cover hedgehog book blocks. So each cover is 3.5×5.5 inches and the spine is .75 inches thick.

To go with these covers I made some paper covered hemp cored headbands. These are glue on style and you probably can’t see them in the pictures, but they are there. I used dark red/burgundy colored washi paper. I used it because it’s thin, glues easily and I knew would wrap around the hemp cord with ease. I also knew that once it was glued up it would become stiffer than it was before and even with that the washi would absorb glue easily as I stuck it to spines. I’ve seen several other methods of making end/head bands before with fabric, paper and one I particularly liked was one that uses ribbon.

I’m listing one of these to etsy, one to ebay and keeping one.





This one will go on eBay.


The one above is mine. 🙂



This is a shot of all the other covers that I’ve made. I"m pretty happy with how they came out now I need to make some more bookblocks. 🙂