Cathy Sketching at Le Bateau Ivre, Sepia pen and watercolor, 8x5

The Drunken Boat, Burlesque Convention, International Sketchcrawl Reminder

Cathy Sketching at Le Bateau Ivre, Sepia pen and watercolor, 8x5

Cathy Sketching at Bateau Ivre, Sepia pen and watercolor, 8x5"

We had a wonderful Tuesday evening sketching and dining at Le Bateau Ivre (The Drunken Boat) in Berkeley. The ambiance and food are fantastic. We sat in the dining room with lovely brick walls and a fireplace. When we sketched there last year we sat in the café area which is equally charming.

International Sketchcrawl 35 is Saturday, April 21!

Here is a link to the Sketchcrawl website where you can find out if there is a group sketching near you (or start a location yourself).

San Francisco looks to be a particularly juicy sketchcrawl, starting in North Beach and ending at a free Burlesque Queens sketching marathon at a hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf, hosted by Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School. The  burlesque performers are in town for the Tease-O-Rama, a “showcase and convention dedicated to the thriving neo-burlesque revival.”

Unfinished sketch of stuff on table with bits of business card

Unfinished sketch of random stuff on table with bits of business card

Monkey Business: New Journal Bound

Monkey Business Journal, covered in flannel, 8x6"

Monkey Business Journal, covered in flannel, 8x6"

When I was a kid I had a sock puppet that looked like this so when I saw this fabric at the store I couldn’t resist. I used a piece of it to cover a cushion on a stool about 5 years ago and then put the rest on the shelf. I needed to bind a new journal right away and was too lazy to go shopping for book cloth or to make my own. Hence off the shelf and onto the book!

Monkey Business Journal inside

Monkey Business Journal inside

For the end papers I used some lovely warm grey paper a friend left at my house from a family history book-making project I was helping her with. This was the first time I could use my case-bound journal making instructions all the way through without needing to revise them and it went really quickly.

Monkey business journal

Monkey business journal

I’ve actually been using this journal already for a couple of weeks and writing this post prompted me to name the journal which I hadn’t yet done. Calling it “Monkey Business” will help me to lighten up as I use it, to get more playful and fool around and let go of “right” and “good” which always trip me up when I get in that judgmental place when I’m drawing, instead of just enjoying the act of looking and sketching what I see.

And since it’s red flannel it’s warm and cozy–perfect for fall sketching.

How to Turn Potato Chips Into a Sketchbook

Foil bag of potato chips, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

Foil bag of potato chips reflecting on red cloth, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

When my friend Mindy sent me a fun little gift box of potato chips (which were invented in her town, Saratoga Springs, in 1853–read funny history here), I was smitten by the cute box (photo below). Then I opened the box, saw the foil inner pouch and had to try to draw it (sketch above, on a red cloth).

Box of Saratoga Springs Chips

Box of Saratoga Springs Chips

The box was charming, a replica of their original packaging from 1853. I remembered seeing  journals created from packaging on the fabulous Make a Book a Day blog where Donna Meyer binds and posts a new book almost every day. In August she did a whole series of recycled packaging books, from KitKats and Snowballs to root beer books.

Saratoga Chips Journal front cover

Saratoga Chips Journal front cover

So I grabbed a sheet of Stonehenge Kraft-brown paper and the excellent Gwen Diehn book Real Life Journals: Designing & Using Handmade Books to find out how to make a pamphlet book and got started. Read More

The End of Harlequin

Harlequin cover, Sketchbook 2011 A

Harlequin cover, Sketchbook 2011 A

When I finished the journal above I decorated the cover and sketched a self-portrait as I do for the last page of each sketchbook. This journal is called Harlequin (theoretically because of the multi-colored cover–the back is turquoise, the front is lavender with black spine covering). I know the word “harlequin” has nothing to do with patching together leftover bits of bookcloth to make a cover, but I let my sketchbooks name themselves and this one wanted to be called Harlequin.

I used (expensive, oil-based) Sharpie Paint markers for the color on the cover but they didn’t show up at all on the black and required several layers on the lavender. Despite the art store clerk’s recommendation, Sharpie Paint markers are not meant to be used on fabric. Annoyed with the markers, I switched to a gold gel pen for the words and lines.

End of sketchbook self portraits, ink & watercolor

End of sketchbook self portraits, ink & watercolor

These are the two journal-ending self-portraits sketched on the last spread of the book above. I don’t know why I refuse to try for accuracy when I sketch self-portraits. I just draw and see what happens instead. The first one (on the left) feels like me, even though the proportions are wrong. The one on the right is wrong in so many ways I might as well have been drawing a completely different person.

Newly bound journal

Newly bound journal

I’d planned to experiment with dying my own bookcloth for the new journal like Shirley does, but when I went to the store to get the Wonder-Under (iron-on stuff to fuse fabric to paper backing) I fell for this linen fabric and used it instead. My adventure on the previous journal was figuring out how to patch the bookcloth together. This one was figuring out how to fuse the fabric to the Thai Mulberry paper per Shirley’s instructions (the hardest part was figuring out how to peel the almost invisible paper backing off the Wonder-Under). Maybe next time I’ll dye fabric.

I’ve also updated my file How to Bind a Watercolor Journal (as I do each time I bind a journal and learn more) and it’s available to download on the Comments & Resources page of my website, JanaBouc.com.

DUI: Drawing Under the Influence

Hydrangeas; Attempt #2, ink & watercolor

Hydrangeas Attempt #2; Painted directly without drawing and ink lines added after finishing attempt #3

During days of dismay at my disappointingly dismal drawing dexterity I determined to draw ’til I improved. But I was under the influence of migraine medicine which fixed the headache but left me drowsy. I actually fell asleep at the drawing table, dropped my brush on the page which woke me up, and had to go lie down for a spell between drawings.

Hydrangeas Attempt #1, ink & watercolor

Hydrangeas Attempt #1; drawn in ink, painted with ugly dark background which was then sponged off and a bit more paint added

My hydrangeas are bursting with vibrant blooms so I made them my subject. The first attempt got off to a decent start until I painted a nearly black background, probably due to my really dark mood and being too doped up to know when to stop.

I couldn’t stand the way it looked, so before scanning tonight took a soft, wet sponge and washed off the dark background. Then I dropped a little more color into the wet background.

Hydrangeas Attempt #3, ink & watercolor

Hydrangeas Attempt #3, ink & watercolor

I had the most fun with this last attempt, where I drew and painted more loosely, trying to capture the flavor and personality of the flowers.

New Journals Bound, New Problems/Questions

Newly Bound Journals

Newly Bound Journals

On the left is the new journal I bound for International Fake Journal Month and on the right is my next all purpose journal that I bound with Legion Multimedia 140 pound watercolor paper.

Since it had been a few months since my epic journal binding learning experience, I had to replay many of the videos and look at my notes to figure things out. And I made a bunch of new mistakes to learn from.

I have one big, confusing question. (UPDATE: See Comments for answer from Roz and note from Shirley) When I punched sewing holes I followed Roz’s video, along with Shirley’s tip to use a phone book to support the signatures. I punched four holes just like Roz did in her video demo, instead of the five I punched last time. But when it was time to sew the signatures together I couldn’t figure out how an even number of holes could work. When you have an odd number of holes and you start on the outside of the folded signature you always end up on the outside at the end of each row so you can attach each signature to the next. But with four, if you start on the outside you end on the inside. I’m guessing Roz was preparing a different sort of book.

Fortunately I had torn down extra sheets, thinking I’d bind two journals but I put aside the set I’d punched with four holes and punched five holes in the second set. Either I’ll find out how to bind with four holes or I’ll go back and make one more hole in each signature before binding them.

I also used Shirley’s tip to glue up the binding board and then place it down on the book cloth instead of putting glue all over the cloth and that was sooo much easier.

Some new mistakes I’ve learned from this time:

  • MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE! (or in my case measure 3 times just to be sure).
  • After gluing down the board pieces to the book cloth, I should have burnished them with the bone folder to ensure a consistently strong bond (a few small wrinkles showed up in the cover where it didn’t bond 100%).
  • Don’t make the book so thick; use fewer signatures so it is lighter and less tiring to hold when sketching standing up.
  • When you use “self-endpapers” that doesn’t mean adding yet another folded sheet, making the book even thicker. It means just gluing the book block directly to the covers (I think–correct me if I’m wrong). I had picked an ancient map print to use as end papers in the green journal but decided I didn’t like it at the last minute. I liked Shirley’s idea of just using colored drawing paper instead.
  • Make the  sewing thread long enough so you don’t have to join it in the middle (thus having to once again struggle with knot-tying from diagrams that are totally confusing).
  • Don’t use white thread and white headband ribbons on black books.

Now I’m coming to the end of my journal bound with 90 lb Arches cold press paper. I will be sad to put “The Mutt” as I named it, on the shelf, as it has become a trusted friend and companion. And I really came to enjoy the paper, once I started using my Lamy Safari fountain pen to draw with.

Soon I’ll be getting to know a new journal, with new paper and new possibilities. I think I shall name it Froggie, given its green color, warts, and all. Someday maybe I’ll make a journal that is elegant and give it a posh name but for now, mutts and toads R Us.

Mechanical FrogAnd I’ll write more about the black/brown journal in April when I start using it for International Fake Journal Month.

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