Strange Journals

Ramblings on Bookbinding, Photography, Journaling and Art

Three of Three

I’ve been traveling for my Clark Kent job so I hadn’t had time to complete the third in a series of three books I had been working on until today. I used wood to create the covers for the first two in this series but on this one, I chose polymer clay simply because cutting up tiny pieces of wood on a table saw presents some safety issues. The coverall size of this book is small, it’s 1 1/2″ X 2″. Not too much too say about it you can just look at the photos, the front has a contrasting stripe of black polymer clay and the back has some copper studs.




Two of Three

I wrapped up the second book in the series of three I’m working on late last night. The covers for this book came from a board that I uncovered while tidying up. I remember buying this board, a piece of Fiddleback Maple because it had some spalling along the edge and I wanted to work it into the design. While the wood looked beautiful on it’s own, I wanted just a touch of contrast so I did some inlay using a scrap of Bloodwood with the same technique I used on the small Walnut Journal.

Pretty much a lazy choice on my part but hey, the tools were already out. To get everything where it needed to be, the back cover ended up just short of the length it needed to be and I was just going to live with it but I realized I had enough left on the Bloodwood scrap so I edge-glued it onto the back cover, trimmed it up and brought it up to the right length. It’s difficult to see in the photo, but you look closely you can just make it out along the bottom of the back cover, it’s only about 1/4″ wide. This book is 8 1/2″ X 5 1/2″ – enjoy.




Coming Soon, Three New Books…

This year the 4th of July fell on on Wednesday which as you might imagine left an awkward space in the middle of the week. Binding some books seemed like a good way to fill the space so I grabbed a package of Fabriano Artistico and began tearing it down. Beyond the mid-week lull, the other factor driving me was that my small Mesquite Journal only had two pages left in it. It’s a small journal, about 4 3/4″ X 3″ and I made it from the branch of a mesquite tree that a storm took down. Over the time I’ve been working in this journal I’ve really gotten to like the size so I wanted another one the same size. Here’s a shot of the Mesquite Journal i you haven’t seen it.


5 1/2″ X 8 1/2″ is also a favorite size so after a few quick calculations six sheets yielded enough for three books. One 5 1/2″ X 8 1/2″, one 4 3/4″ X 3″ and a micro-book 1 1/2″ X 2 7/8″. The first book out of the three completed was the one I intend to replace the Mesquite one with. The covers are walnut burl. Like the mesquite journal, I inlaid the cover with a contrasting wood, in this case fiddleback maple. Here it is.




More to come.

Review: Fabriano EcoQua Notepad

I must have had my head down because I completely missed this one. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know that I almost exclusively use Fabriano Paper in my hand bound journals. While I use the journals I make, there are still plenty of Moleskines, Rhodia notepads and Quattro pads around the house and it seems like they multiply like rabbits. A couple of days ago while I was browsing through a Utrecht store I discovered the Fabriano EcoQua.

The Fabiano EcoQua comes in a variety colors which include Lemon, Lime, Raspberry, Wine, Black, Blue, Stone, and Orange. A variety of sizes and binding styles are available also and i snagged the A5 size which is around 8 1/4″ X 5 3/4″. The paper inside is dot ruled with light grey dots and the pad is bound along the side with a glued binding. The front cover is a heavy textured card stock and the back cover is lightweight cardboard.

Here’s the front cover, you can see the texture and may be able to make out the Fabriano embossed into the cover.

Fabriano EcoQua Back

Here’s a shot of the back cover. Not much there except for the details about the pad itself.


Here’s a photo of the binding. It’s fairly typical for a pad and is glued padding compound which is a fexible PVA adhesive. Like any other pad, you can easily pull off sheets of paper.

The pad is made from smooth 85gm paper. Side by side with a Rhodia, I’d say the the paper in the EcoQua is almost, but not quite as smooth and it doesn’t seem as opaque as the Rhodia paper either. The paper is off white and I want to say it leans toward a cool grey but that may just be the dot rule tilting my perception. The paper does take ink incredible well. I tested the pad with a Lamy Safari pen with a fine point and Pilot’s Iroshizuku Yama-Budo ink. It’s a great red-purple color and while it is a wet writing ink, the EcoQua took it without any problem. There was no feathering to speak of and it seem to dry fairly quickly. You can see a sample in the image below.

Fabriano EcoQua Interior

Here’s a little better detail of the ghost.

I still had some questions about the opacity of the paper so on the second sheet of the pad I jotted down some text with a Lamy Safari pen with an extra fine nib and Noodler’s Black ink. If you look closely you may be able to see the text on the second page ghosting through just about half-way down the page. Not a show stopper, but something to be aware of if ghosting is something that really bothers you.

If you’re environmentally conscious, Fabriano’s got that covered. The pad is made in Italy in an environmental responsible way that is certified by the FSC. The paper is chlorine and acid free and is recyclable.

Overall, I really like these pads and I’ve already gone back and purchased a couple more to strategically locate throughout the house and office. Since I focused on the A5 adhesive bound pad in this review, I really didn’t enumerate all the options that are available so here’s a video about the product that I found on YouTube that will give you a better idea of the other options.

And… The Teacher Is Still Sending Notes Home About Me

It started innocently enough. A few weeks ago while running through the weekly list of spelling words with my son I doodled a cockroach in the margins of the page. A week later it was a picture of a dinosaur and after that my son expected a drawing. A few weeks later, I got home late and didn’t have a change to draw anything so the spelling list went back to school with nothing but list of words.

The next day, I got a note from the teacher explaining that she couldn’t accept my son’s homework because the drawing was missing and that made it incomplete. I had to break out the watercolors and whip something up so he’d get credit for his assignment. And just when I thought he days of the teacher sending notes home about me was over…


The Last PLAY

I’ve been remiss in posting over the last few months. I’ve been working on another project which has been burning up a lot of time but now that I’ve wrapped that up, I think I can get back on track.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the last PLAY Retreat. Teesha and Tracy Moore have decided to terminate their large art retreats for a variety of reasons and its been a tough haul knowing that I probably won’t make it back to Fort Worden anytime soon. This time, I took just about nothing with me except for a handful of fine-line pens and a book of Peerless Watercolors. The retreat had no specific focus this year like it has in the past, just forty artists working away.

One of the things we did do was some light painting that everyone seemed to enjoy. Tracy used his Lomos while I went digital. here are a couple of the nicer shots I got from the light painting sessions.

Here’s Teesha Moore with wings of light.


And here is Dawn DeVries Sokol, author of 1,000 Artist Journal Pages: Personal Pages and Inspirations and other books on art journaling.


While I brought very little in the way of art materials I did bring a couple of lights in addition to my camera, and offered to do portraits for anyone who wanted them. One of the people who took my up on the offer was Lisa Cheney-Jorgensen. While most people we’re interested in something a little more traditional, Lisa had a special request — she wanted a pose she had seen in a dream so she could make it part of here dream journal. Here’s the shot.


A couple of hours after I gave a print of this image to Lisa, it was already in her journal. I’ll miss PLAY.

JournalFest – Day 2

Today’s class was Carla Sonheim’s Blobs & Sidewalk Cracks. If you don’t know Carls, she’s an amazing artist who paints wonderful animals that are vibrant, full of life and have awesome character. Carla “finds” her animals in peeling paint, blobs of oil on the ground, cracks in the sidewalk and in random marks. She loosened us up by starting with some contour drawings and once we were thinking in terms of the line, we went outside and wandered around with some paper looking for cracks and blobs.

We drew out what we found on the paper and then went back to the classroom to flesh them out into pen drawings of animals. I ended up with a seal. Next, Carla gave us some cards that she had painted blobs on and our task was to turn those into creatures as well. The best part of the class came after lunch when she demonstrated how she creates her depth of color through layering her watercolors. We then tried her techniques ourselves and created our own colored blobs to work on, I ended up with some Cookie Monster looking thing, a mutant hedgehog and a green shark.

The night wrapped up with the vendor event, Carla Sonheim, Dan Essig, Traci Bunkers and others were selling their art and other wares. I managed to get downtown before the even and headed to one of my Port Townsend favorites the Hanazono Asian Noodle House. I had a wonderful bowl of Udon but there was strangeness at the noodle house. Toes were everywhere — apparently these creepy toes were the halloween decorations, it was just weird.

JournalFest Day 1

When I decided to come to JournalFest I decided I would take some classes that pulled me out of my comfort zone. I have certain beliefs about books and journaling and one of the things I don’t like are sculptural books that have no utility. I want my books to be used and to accumulate the patina of use. With that in mind, I took Dan Essig’s class on making a mica book.

I’ve admired Dan’s work for sometime and I though his instruction was thoughtful and well planned. He provided us with a materials kit that allowed us to experiment with a variety of techniques such a trapping, inlay, sewing and staining. Over the course of the day, he demonstrated each technique and then we stepped through it with the materials in the kit. BY the end of the day, we had produced a seven page book that was made entirely out of mica and bound with a two needle coptic stitch.

I actually like what came out of the class and I’ll amend this post in a couple of days when I have a change to take some photographs. While I don’t know if I’ll produce another mica book, Dan provided a lot of information about mica and its properties and I can definitely see incorporating it into my wood and polymer books.

We closed out the day with a fire at the beach and journaling in the Beach Shelter, a small structure down by the waterfront. There were hot dogs and marshmallows and pens were flying.


More Trades

As I was looking at the calendar today, I suddenly realized the JournalFest backs right up against Halloween. While I’ve made a few things to trade already, I decided to make a few more cahiers to celebrate Halloween. Since JournalFest takes place in the Pacific Northwest, the logical choice seen to be Ravens & Skulls.


Emergency Journaling Kits Are Complete

I’ve been working on wrapping up my trades so I can pack them up and ship them to Port Townsend. Today, I completed all of the Emergency Journaling Kits. I made 20 of these to give away so I’m afraid I’m going to have to be a little selective about who gets them. Here’s a shot of them as they’re about to get packed up.


A couple of people have asked what’s inside so here’s a detail shot of the contents. Each kit contains 10 sheets of Fabriano Artistico, a 0.3 Micron pen, a micropalette with Daniel Smith watercolors and a small paintbrush for the watercolors.


I’m Teaching at Art Unraveled 2014!


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