Saturday, December 27, 2014

Make your journal

I am going to assume that you are as poor as I am, and there's very little inspiration that is NOT associated with product marketing, or inspired by product marketing... I don't think I have seen a video where they make a nice art journal page without using the pricey stuffs. And I'm assuming you have very little if even that ;-)

So, you won't have money to buy these fancy notebooks and sketchbooks.

You could try taking an old book and gessoing the pages and use that as your art journal. One can get old books pretty cheap, depending on what book it is. Old dictionaries and lexicons they practically throw at you, and lexicons are usually quite big, and the modern ones (from 80's and on) have quite thick, coated pages and sewn binding, so it's easy to remove a couple of pages from each... er... what are they called... those bundles that are sewn together... signature?

You can also start small, and bind your own journal, and this is what I am going to do this year.
I am going to use free newspapers, which here in Sweden means the free advertisement papers that are printed on newspaper. They are totally free, they have home delivery, and these papers are as big as it gets. (Here in Sweden they have noticed that people prefer reading smaller papers, so I haven't seen a full sized newspaper for ages.)
I am going to use the "one page wonder" binding.

You are going to need a sheet of newspaper, as big as you can get and glue or "mod podge" or wallpaper paste.

This is a recipe for "homemade mod podge", which is equal amounts of "clag paste" and "white glue", and a little water.

"Clag paste" is wallpaper paste. You make it by cooking 1 part ordinary white wheat flour (all purpose, what ever it's called) and 2 parts of water. Let it bubble some 5-10 minutes and let it cool. That is a pretty good "glue" for decoupage and papier mache etc.

This mix will warp the paper, so you need to let your work dry under weight sandwiched between even layers of something to lead the moisture away. You can use newspapers or kitchen towels, but place a sheet of wax paper between the glued surface and newspapers, to stop the newspapers from smudging your work, and the glued surface from adhering to the newspapers. You need to have a kitchen towel or newspapers UNDER the pile, because wax paper will effectively prevent the glue from drying :-D And that's not purposeful.
You can also dig up your work from the pile every couple of hours to air, and change the newspapers/kitchen towels.

So, how to do this.
1) take a sheet of newspaper. As big a sheet you can get. The bigger the sheet, the bigger the book.
Fold it in half, the short edges to each other. Push down properly. Open the fold, and fold the edges to this midline. On this layer, all the folds should be to the same direction. (so... if you make a tube of it by putting the short ends together, it should look like a square from one end of the tube.)
Then open it up, and fold in half, the long edges to each other. This time you want an accordion folding, so you fold both sides in half again, the long edge to the middle.  (Looks like M or W looking from the short end of the "pile")
I know, I'm not very good at explaining...
What is important here is that you make precise, sharp folds, so that after you have cut it, the pages sort of fold themselves into right position.

 Fold lines

2) Then you cut up the newspaper. You should end up with a long sliver of paper, so you have to be careful not to cut up the lines to the end!

Cut lines - looks like M

You will cut the short folds over three folds - two from one direction, one from the opposite direction.
To get the book of this big M, you start folding it by the fold lines.

3) I don't know if this is any clear, but the blue lines are "valleys" and the green "mountains". If you folded the newspaper as I adviced, you won't need to turn the folds, but it's just... folding the book together.
4) Then you need to glue the pages together.

Here's a very nice explanation. You can jump over the exact measurements and all that. Of course, being exact gives a "better" result, but I kind of like the haphazardous nature of just folding and cutting. I think it's more "bohemian" ;-) Artistic, unique, individual. You, of course, do as you find best.

You will end up with a little booklet of newspaper, with 16 pages - or 8 openings, how ever you want to count.

When the booklet has dried, you want to gesso the pages. Gesso isn't expensive and you can buy it online, so you have access to it where ever you live. So, I would ignore the "make your own" tutorials, and just buy a bucket of the stuff. You will use it. A lot.

The purpose with gessoing the pages is to create a good ground for your future work with the book. Newspaper is VERY short fiber paper, which means it's soft and wears and tears and you will get problems if you don't prime the pages.
But - it's cheap - free, in fact - and all you need to make it is things like scissors, glue and gesso.

Now comes the problem - will you wait for your pages to dry, or will you buy a cheap hair dryer and dry the pages?


1) I really recommend that you invest in an art journal or watercolor sketch book, because this newspaper journal will have a life of its own. Now, I'm OK with that, but you might not - the paper will react to moisture by buckling and curling and rippling, even after it's been gessoed, and the seam in the middle where the pages are glued together, is weak and rips very easily if it gets moist... which it will.
You could also do your pages on separate pieces of paper that you glue to the newspaper journal, but you need to fold the paper in the middle, if it's as big as an opening of the journal, BEFORE YOU PAINT IT. Otherwise this folding might destroy your work.
2) I really recommend that you invest in a hairdryer, because it's a blessing to have the pages dry as you sit there, and have a bit more control of the drying process, and not need to wait for the pages to dry... You could also work on several pages at the same time. When one needs to dry, you move on to the next one.

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