Sunday, April 7, 2019

Winter Sketchbook Bound

My winter sketchbook is finally bound.

My sketchbook containing work from the end of November through the end of February is finally bound. I usually put color sketches on the covers, but this time I thought I’d go with two in graphite: one of Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, and the other of a snowy scene across the street. (My inkjet printer seems to give gray tones a bluish cast.)

This is probably the last day-to-day sketchbook I’m going to hand-bind for a while. Despite minor issues with paper surface sizing and other compromises, I’m committed to using at least two more volumes of Stillman & Birn Zeta as my everyday-carry sketchbook. My plan is to bind only the sketchbooks I use during major travel (more than two weeks long).

Three kinds of paper in this sketchbook: Bristol smooth, toned, watercolor
After nearly six years of making my sketchbooks, the process of which I enjoyed for the most part, I’m relieved to be using off-the-shelf sketchbooks for a while. I knew it was time to take a break from it when I found myself putting off the task of binding; it took me more than a month to get around to this one. It had become a chore rather than something I looked forward to and took pleasure in. I think when I start making a sketchbook only after I’ve traveled, the task will become special again, and I’ll enjoy it again. After all, my whole hand-binding process began as a solution to issues that arose when I was preparing for my first trip abroad as a sketcher.

Aside from the practical matter of carrying only a thin, lightweight signature of paper instead of a whole sketchbook (see more of my pros of hand-binding in this post), one benefit of binding is that I could use any paper I wanted and switch around easily. Although using more than one signature at a time made it impossible to keep my sketches in chronological sequence, I still found ways to bind the general time period into the same volume.

The few toned and Bristol pages were tipped in to get rid of the unused pages.
In this book, I had used parts of two signatures that I had made with toned paper and smooth Bristol (for use with graphite), but I didn’t want to wait until I had filled the remaining pages in each to bind them. So I cut off the unused pages and tipped in the pages I used (shown at left). It’s a practical way to get rid of unneeded bulk, and I don’t like the idea of having unused pages in the completed book. It’s another benefit of hand-binding.

Someday I might return to binding my everyday sketchbook, but for now, I’m happy with this choice. I’m still getting used to Zeta paper – it always takes a while to learn how any paper behaves with various media – but for the most part, it’s working well.

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