Hey, I made my own sketchbook!

Lately I’ve been nearly obsessed with “building” my own sketchbook instead of buying one pre-made at the art store. I did a bit of research on-line (a couple of good starting points, if anyone else wants to try it, here and here, although I’ve changed a few things to suit my own way of doing it), and got a bit of help from my wife who took a book binding class a while back. This is the fifth or sixth book I’ve bound, each slightly different, as I experiment with different ways of stitching the signatures or gluing the spine, etc. So far this is the best sketchbook to date. I’ve come down to the last two spreads in my current sketchbook and felt the pressure to get a new horse to jump on to, so to speak. (By the way, I have only posted a fraction of those sketches — which I need to remedy. Stay tuned, as they say.)

Below are some of my notes on how I did made the book you see above. They’re not meant to be a how-to, by any means; but more like notes to myself for me to remember what I did this time so I can repeat it or improve upon it next time.

The whole process takes me about two and a half hours, start to finish, then letting the book dry overnight, clamped and weighted down. In the morning when I take the binder clips off it’s like opening a present! There’s something really enjoyable about making these sketchbooks that I can’t explain. And it will be interesting to see how it will be to draw in this new creation. Perhaps I’ll have more of a sense of accomplishment over the whole process. I’m not sure I’m ready to start making my own paper, though – ha.

Also I wanted to have a book that was a different size than what I can find in the art stores and on-line. This one is six by six inches — a square book to try out, and a bit smaller than the HandBook brand I usually use, which is a fantastic sketchbook. It’s good to know I have a great book to fall back on in case this little experiment doesn’t work out. But I’m definitely going to continue making them…

9 Responses to “Hey, I made my own sketchbook!”

  • this is fantastic. i am obsessed with finding the perfect sketchbook (which i never finish) maybe this will motivate me to make one. so far, my favorite is animation paper in a three ring binder or those fabriano journals (although the page count is a bit high)
    what paper did you fill it with?

  • Hey Marco, thanks for the comment. I filled it with 90 lb Canson watercolor paper that was in a 9" x 12" Biggie Jr. 50-sheet pad ($11.99). Most of my sketching these days has been fountain pen with watercolor wash, so a thin hot-press watercolor paper is perfect. The funny thing is, I only used 27 sheets to create a 104-page sketch book. You should definitely try it, very fun and not as difficult or time-consuming as I would have thought.

  • I was so happy to see this post as I too have been wanting to make my own sketchbooks. I just got a couple books on the subject, recommended by Roz and have been looking at what other people have done. Did you make the outside of the book too or did you use Martha's technique of recycling an existing book. It seems like that's the best way for starting out so I've been watching for books with interesting covers to recycle. I tried but wasn't crazy about the Handbook books, though I liked the square shape better than the Moleskines. I've been using a Fabriano Venezia sketchbook that I really like but have to order from Wet Paint in Minneapolis.

  • Thanks, Jana. Yes, I made the cover and everything too. I keep hearing about that Fabriano paper. I should try it out.

    Thanks Andrea. It's not that hard to do, thankfully.

  • Fantastic ! That's the best sketchbook I've never seen !

  • Oh. I’ll try this out.

    Thanks for the visual tips.

  • Awesome! Okay, I am so doing this.

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