I spent most of my weekend preparing a couple of journals for a couple of activities in which I will be participating next year. It will be interesting to see how the two intersect with one another and how I also manage to keep up with my own personal projects.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I will be participating in Wanderlust 2016. It is an online course in mixed media art in which art journals will be employed at times. This is a year-long course with weekly lessons and I am pretty sure I’ll be putting most of those lessons into my art journal unless I feel so inclined to branch out to a canvas, which is another setting on which some of the lessons will be given.
I had to consider if I wanted to intersperse Wanderlust lessons into my personal art journal (the one in which I define that I’m doing projects that are all of my own design–not lesson-driven via Wanderlust.) Or, if I wanted to dedicate a journal just for those lessons so I have an easy reference the look back into when thinking about courses and the techniques applied.
I decided upon the latter. At which point I was also then left with the decision on what kind of journal to use. Hand-made? Purchased? If purchased, what kind?
My decision was made for me yesterday while I ran some errands in the morning. My path took me by a Hallmark store, which I decided to enter and peruse. I was actually looking for something Christmasy to buy, but what I ended up with was a beautiful leather-bound journal. Of course it’s a journal made for writing in, not mixed media art. So I spent yesterday afternoon prepping the journal to be used for mixed media work. This basically translated to gluing 120 pages together in groups of four to make a sturdier, stronger base to start from.
I did this using Mod Podge, a heat tool, and a whole lot of patience. It took a few hours to complete (all while watching Coming to America and Kate and Leopold on Netflix). I was definitely relieved when I got to the last batch of pages. But I know I’ll appreciate all this work I did beforehand so when I’m ready to get creating I can just jump in and do it instead of getting held up spending time gluing some pages together so I could just work.
The pages are kind of wrinkly and such, but that’s okay. Part of the charm of art journaling, to me, are the little imperfections found within.
So that journal is out of the way, however, and ready for some creative love.
Next, this afternoon I finished up work I was doing on a coptic stitch journal that I will be sending around in a Pass the Journal activity that I signed up for last month with a few Facebook friends from the Art Journal Junkies Facebook group. The Pass the Journal Facebook group is limited and at capacity at this moment–we smartly decided a maximum of 15 participants for this. We are all currently purchasing or making journals that we will be sending out to each other in which we will create layouts, take pictures and send the journal on to the next person on the list. The idea is that we all get to receive our original journals back at the end filled with beautiful art from our talented group of participants.
I decided at length to make a coptic stitch journal for this activity. It serves a couple purposes – for me to bind another journal as I haven’t done one in a while, and to get everyone’s feedback on working in it as I’m curious how well these coptic stitch journals do and if they’re worth the effort and time to put together and sell.
I went the route of watercoloring the pages, as well, to give my friends a creative starting point, if they so choose. They’ll also be free to just cover it all up if they’re not feeling inspired by the painted background at all.
I used 140lb. Strathmore watercolor paper for this, which I trimmed down to create a book that measures approximately 5 1/2 inches by 7 1/2 inches. It has twelve signatures consisting of single folded pages so the book has a total of 48 pages. People will be allowed to work on a spread or a single page, so there’s the potential of 23 spreads to work in–more than enough for 15 people (which means… hooray! there will be some remaining pages for me to work in the book myself when it returns!)
I was going to design the cover, too. However, I decided at length to leave the cover completely blank. This way the people working in the book don’t need to worry about getting the cover messy while they work. I’ll design the cover when I get the book back, which is normally how I work with art journals, anyhow. Although for a hand-made coptic stitch journal, this process is working backwards for me because I usually do the cover art before I bind the book up.
This was fun to put together with one exception.
I have learned a valuable lesson about working with nylon thread.
Never. Ever. Use. It. Again.
I used some nylon thread from a bag of scrap crafting items I had purchased at Hobby Lobby a while ago. Well this stuff was a nightmare to work with. I will be sure with my next coptic stitch book to go back to working with cotton thread.
The problem with the nylon was that it kept either twisting in on itself at the beginning, or towards the every end of my stitching, the thread then went the opposite route and started to completely unravel. This all happened even after I had waxed the thread beforehand.
It was an extreme pain to work with and it slowed me down significantly.
I was extremely grateful when I was finally finished binding the book.
So word to the wise out there: avoid nylon thread for book binding purposes. Unless you’re some kind of genius and know of a way to prevent the aforementioned problems from happening.
There you have it. Two books ready to have beautiful art put inside. I can’t wait for them to get used – both for myself to start working in them and for others, as well.
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List of materials:
Strathmore watercolor paper
Grumbacher Academy watercolors
Winsor & Newton Watercolors
Recollections Bone folder
Martha Stewart scoring board
Fiskars cutting board
Recollections cutting mat
J.A. Henckles Scissors
Hallmark leather-bound journal