Monday, February 11, 2013

New Pagan Art Journal

I am so delighted to participate in the 52 Weeks of Pagan Art Journaling Project that I decided I didn't want to just start cramming my entries into my regular daily journal.  So, in typical overachiever style I made a journal just for the project.
I cut 15 pages to size for the outside of each signature so the spine would be uniform looking.  I pressed each fold crisp with the bone folder visible on the top of the stack.  The distracting pile of sketchpads was there to supply paper and later to provide pressing weight on top of the bull dog clips. 
I stitched signatures made of all different kinds of paper together, just to begin with some variety already built in to my new journal.  I've been kicking this idea around for a while but I admit I usually make books in a big hurry for a gift or specific need.  For this book I had time to go slowly and play with papers, and I did.

I used a few watercolor monochrome pages I painted and stored to use when I needed some texture and color but not a specific picture.  Last year I bought a book of card stock with general monochrome print backgrounds from a bin of discount scrapbook paper and have hardly found a use for it so that got cut up too.  Along with ivory colored sketch paper, these made the bulk of the 10" x 14" sheets which folded to 10" x 7" pages.  After that, I added some envelopes, partial sheets of plain watercolor paper and a few pages of odd sized brown craft papers.  There are 15 signatures of 3 pages each, one or two have 4 pages.  That should be plenty for 52 entries even with a few duds I cut out and remake!
I folded the signatures together and added a smaller page or envelope to most of them.

After folding the signatures and adding the odd sized pages I pressed them well again with a bone folder.  Then I taped the three linen tapes for the spine to my work surface and stacked them in the order I wanted them to appear in the book.

I made a card with marks where the holes should go near the ends and beside the tapes.

You can see the card with the hole markings here, and the punched holes beside it.
I added arrows to make the marks more visible for the picture.

Then I took each signature off the pile and punched holes in the fold through all the page layers.  I used a magazine opened to the middle to make a place to lay the fold and punch into it.
Row of holes ready to stitch and linen tapes attached to
 the surface below the work.  Beeswax and linen thread on top ready to go.

 I stacked them back up in order and then moved the whole pile to the side.

My assistant was no help whatsoever.
 As soon as she realized that my awl had an antler handle
she forgot all about hole punching until she was caught.

After all of the holes are punched and you have the pages in the order you like them you stitch along the length of each signature and tie it to the one below.

As you stitch around the cloth tape at the spine you form a flexible back edge that will open well for writing or drawing.

Leaving the tail on the outside you bring the needle through the first hole to the inside, then in and out along the row of holes.

Tie the starting tail to the thread as it exits the hole on that end the next row.  After that, loop a stitch around the row below on the outside each time you reach the end of a row.  The pictures below show the linked end stitches one above the other.

Sew the waxed thread through the pre-punched holes in each fold.  

Pull the thread to the outside and be sure to go around the outside of each tape.  Keep everything nice and snug.

In, out around each tape. 

 It takes time to keep layering and sewing the folded signatures on one at a time, but it makes for such a neat stack.

I used tapes on the spine instead of a heavy doubled thread because I want to leave the spine exposed as a pretty design element of the journal.
Here you can see the stitches going around the tape for each new folded signature added.  You can also see the stack of linked stitches on the end holes. Each end hole stitch is attached by looping it through the stitch below it. 
I used bulldog clips to further press the whole stack
 for a few hours and tugged the tape snug .  
To hold the tapes down on the outsides of the text block I have just made, I used PVA glue to add a piece of thin linen fabric to each side.  This is actually a folded strip of handkerchief linen, because I want a neater folded edge to show near the exposed spine.
 The spine with the glued linen strips was shielded with parchment paper to keep it from sticking to everything and pressed between the boards with the bulldog clips again.

Here is the whole stitched book.  You can see how many of the pages are full size but there are heavy watercolor paper strips and all kinds of other things in there.  I hope that running into the different papers is a good challenge to inspire me to try different techniques and approaches all year.

Sometimes staring at another blank page just sends me into a creative straight-jacket!

This looks pretty inspiring to me now.
The spine is really flexible and pretty.  You can see the tapes glued down under the strips of fabric front and back.

Covers are glued to folded endpapers inside the front and back page.
The covers I have were reclaimed from another journal with really cheap, absorbent and yucky recycled paper.  Everything I did on that paper just smeared and wrinkled and made me feel helpless.  I was so glad when I realized the problem was mostly the pulpy paper!!

These covers are 10"x 7" with holes from a spiral binding.  I haven't decided yet what to do about the holes.  They could have beads stitched into them or ribbons laced through them, but that will make it hard to shelve this journal later.  I don't have to decide about the cover today.  Eventually it will be covered with a brown striped silk book cover paper I have.

You can find great instructions step by step for making bound and stitched books at T. J. Bookarts.

If you are doing the 52 Weeks of Pagan Art Journaling this year, please leave your link for me to go see it!


  1. This is awesome! I'm always inspired to make my own books but never do!

  2. Wow! That is really well done!

    This is really such a better idea than just throwing it all in a binder. It adds a nice personal touch.

  3. Seeing the process of making you journal was fascinating, thank-you for sharing it! If you know how to knit or crochet the holes in the cover would be perfect for a few rows of lace type border, then to stiffen it weave ribbon through it and make a tie to close it up when you shelve it. I would think it was be relatively flush and not make the journal stick out when shelved.


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