Strange Journals

Ramblings on Bookbinding, Photography, Journaling and Art

Upcoming Class: The Inlaid Journal

The Inlaid Journal


I’ll be teaching the Inlaid Journal on August 10th at the Occasional Artist in Glendale, AZ. We’ll be making a 3″ X 5″ red oak book with walnut or cherry inlays, a book block sewn onto a leather spine and a brass closure. I’ll be teaching how to enhance the wood grain with Milk Paint, create the inlay, and sew the book block onto a leather spine. The kit provided by the instructor will include the wood covers, plugs for creating the inlay, the leather and the brass closure. Extra kits can be purchased from the instructor for $8.00. The class is $50.00 and  runs from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM. You can reserve a spot by calling the Occasional Artist at (623) 847-2215.

Two New Pocket Journals

Here are a couple of small pocket journal that were fabricated using the blanks I cut up a could of weeks ago.

Look Into the Eyeball: Fiddleback Maple, 200 gm Fabriano Artistico, Leather, 4-Ply Irish Linen, Ice Resin. 2 1/4″ X 3 1/4″.


The Book of Three Skulls. Walnut, Polymer Clay, 200gm Fabriano Artistico, 4 Ply Irish Linen, Brass, Milk Paint. 1 3/4″ x 2 3/4″


Book covers anyone?

This morning I fired up the table saw and took out my hostility on some bits and pieces of wood I had laying around. I trimmed them down into blanks that I’ll be using as the covers for some books. There is some Birds Eye maple, Walnut, Shedua, Purple Heart and some Mesquite which is left over from a tree that fell over in my yard a while back. That’s a quarter over there on the right side of the image so you can get an idea of how small some of these books will be.


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about altars and reliquarys so at the moment, the chances are pretty high that at least a few of these potential books will be part of a larger sculptural piece. Stay tuned to see what happens.

Spanning an Image Across the Spines

A few years ago, I made a set of 12 editions and a slipcase as a show piece. Essentially, when I was teaching a class somewhere, it would be put out it with a few other samples of my work as an example of what you could expect from my class.


Most people who see this thing really like it and periodically, I do bind editions for a variety of reasons. The covers for this set were made with a decorative paper but I was more interested in doing something with graphics. The books you see below are the same ones I’ve made for PLAY in the past but this time I used an image of Sedona, Arizona for the cover art. I wanted more than that though, I wanted the same image to span the spine so you could see the entire image across the set. I wanted these to be a piece of art on the shelf so that when they were in the slipcase in the correct order the image itself was the primary focus.


To get this effect, I used Adobe Illustrator and laid out guides so I’d know where the spine was. Then, I used transform to keep shifting the image across the cover so that each edition had the correct section of the image on the spine. This was just a proof of concept to see if I could get the alignment correct. I’m planning on making a set of twenty so the image is much larger on the shelf but I’ll need to shoot a panorama to have an image wide enough to pull it off.

Book Of Korben

I recently finished a new pocket journal inspired by the science fiction classic The Fifth Element. The journal is constructed from polymer clay, the front of the journal features a sculpture of a Mangalore and the four stones. The back of the journal features an image transfer of a Mondoshawan created with liquid polymer clay. The book block is constructed from 300 gm Fabriano Artistico bound with a coptic stitch.




Field Notes: Spring 2013

The Spring 2013 edition of Field Notes showed up in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago. This time, they chose three images typical of the “American Vista” and printed them in with what they describe as “1960s imprecision.” The images on each cover are slightly out of register and in a storage way it’s a nice change from the crisp precision of your standard laser printer.

An America the Beautiful waterside decal is included and Field Notes thoughtfully provided an installation video to make sure you get it right.

On the downside, it seems as though there is some sort of curse on my Field Notes subscription. This is my third year as a Field Notes subscriber and it seems as though each shipment alway has a kind not from the Post Office attached to it. What’s the deal Mr. Postmaster?


Book of the Tasty Peas

I was searching for a texture plate the other day and while I was rifling around in one of the drawers that I keep molds in, I stumbled across one of those silicone ice molds. Someone gave it to me at a birthday party as a gift, I think was the sentiment was something like “Ha! you’re getting older now, here’s a mold to make ice dentures”. I threw it in a pile with all the other silly cliche presents and apparently it got tossed in with all the other molds.

I pulled the mold out of the drawer and decided to make something out of it. I molded up a few sets of heath using some Pearl Premo and Super Sculpey. They sat around uncured for a few days while I though about exactly what to make out of them and for some reason, what emerged was The Book of Tasty Peas.

Here’s a shot of the from cover.


A Few More Hearts

Someone wrote me after my posting a few days ago and comment that my hearts weren’t in very Valentiney colors. Fine. Here you go.


Long and Skinny

It will be time to put the holiday decorations soon and I don’t want to kill myself climbing over a ton of junk while I do it so I thought tidying up the garage might be a good idea. I found a piece of red oak about 3″ X 24″ while I was cleaning up, seemed like a good excuse to bind a new book. The book show below is approximately 3″ X 10″ and contains 8 signatures of 200gm Fabriano Artistico. The wood was finished with several coats of milk paint in different colors and then distressed using a sander. The signatures are sewn to the leather spine with 4-ply Irish Linen using a long stitch. As I was getting ready to bind it all up, I thought it was a little blah so I added a band of polymer clay faces across the front cover. Here are the photos…

Long and Skinny: Front
Long and Skinny: Back

What Happens to Scrap Clay?

If you’ve read this blog, you know I work in a variety of mediums; wood, metal, paper and polymer clay to name a few. Recently, I’ve been fooling around with the Mokume-gane technique again. It’s a great technique and you can achieve amazing results with it but one area in which it falls short, at least for me is in creating large flat sheets like book covers. At any rate, I was tinkering with it when a friend stopped by to drop off some holiday cookies and I had the block and some shavings out on my work surface. If you haven’t tried this before, basically you layer up a block of different colors, deform the layers to provide interesting patterns and then shave thin slices off the surface of the block. This particular friend is a little OCD and is particularly fond of orderly stacks of things and when they saw the thin shavings I’d taken off the block and other partial blocks of clay scattered around asked, “what happens to all the scraps?”


Most people who work with polymer clay have scrap bins and every bit eventually gets used. Sometimes similar colors just get mixed together for a project or it may all just get mixed into some muddy grey or brown chunk of clay that ends up as a base or unseen part of a project. This time, I just decided to use the scraps on the spot and see if I could preserve the variance in the colors I had used in the mokume-gane block. I think an email from one of the big box craft stores triggered this; frankly I didn’t read the thing but I swear it had something about Valentine’s Day in the subject. A few minutes later, I had shaped the scraps into a pile of hearts. In the photo below, you can see a few of them, the three on the left are raw clay and the three on the right are already baked. The only difference you may notice is that the colors are a little deeper in the ones that have been baked.


Once baked, I wet sanded then starting at 400 grit and ending at 1200 grit. Your average craft store or Home Depot type sandpaper isn’t meant to be used for wet sanding so pay a visit to your local auto paint store, they’ll have the stuff in stock ranging from 400 grit to 2000 grit. Once the wet sanding was complete, I took the outside to my buffing wheel and buffed them out to a high gloss. Here are a couple of shots of the finished ones. I should probably mention at this point that Sculpey may not work for this; you can do the mokume-gane technique using Sculpey, but it won’t buff to a high glass like Premo or Fimo will.



I’m pretty happy with the way the colors play together and the big surprise was they way the plain old Super Sculpey worked out. That’s pretty much it. The only thing left to do is drill into the top of each heart and add a sterling eye pin so it can be strung as a necklace or earring. Cheers.

I’m Teaching at Art & Soul Portland 2015


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