Saturday, October 26, 2013

Third Sketchbook Bound; More Paper Comments

My third handbound sketchbook (Coptic binding).
As I mentioned last week, I only needed a few more sketches to fill a sixth signature, enough for another sketchbook. Using my streamlined process, my third handbound sketchbook came together relatively quickly. The final Coptic stitching would have been done a little sooner if I hadn’t noticed an error that I had been making consistently all along. I’m not going back to fix the first two sketchbooks since the error hardly shows (and I’m not one of those people who points out an error as soon as I show you something I’ve made, so you’ll never find out where it is!), but once I realized the step I’d been missing, I wanted to undo and restitch the couple of signatures I’d already done. Now I finally know how to do Coptic stitch correctly! It should be a breeze next time.

Since I’m on the subject of handbound sketchbooks, it’s a good time to talk about paper. I’m almost finished with the last of the four signatures I had stitched up with a variety of papers so that I could compare them more easily. As I had tentatively concluded a few weeks ago, they all perform well with wet washes, and they all serve me well in the ways I like to work (if I used more aggressive techniques like scrubbing, my story might be different).

But I definitely prefer the texture of the Canson XL, which is the smoothest of the three I’ve been testing, because it doesn’t catch my fountain pen nib. This experience has made me a little braver about trying hot-press papers, which I’ve always heard are more difficult for novice watercolor painters to use because they are less forgiving, and paint is harder to control. Frankly, I don’t think cold-press papers are very forgiving, either, so maybe it won’t matter. In any case, I picked up the smallest size single sheet I could find of pricey Arches 140-pound hot press and stitched it up into a signature. That paper is much harder to fold than any of the other papers I’ve made into signatures, so I’m not sure it’s a good solution for handbinding. But I’m giving it a whirl. Stay tuned.


  1. I love the way the book looks with your sketches in the front and back. People have told me that Arches is difficult to use for sketchbooks because it is so hard to fold. I've only done Japanese stab binding and it doesn't seem to matter for that. Good luck with the new signature.

  2. Just saw a photo of you from Barcelona on Mark Taro Holmes' blog. You looked so into your sketch!


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