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A seed of Mischief … a handmade sketchbook

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Yesterday I said to Chloe that I wanted to get a new sketchbook to take with me to visit Nick and Joyce Bantock this weekend.

I told C that it has to be a Goldilocks sketchbook…you know…not too hot, not too cold, just right. But I couldn’t find anything Goldilockish enough. Mole sketchbooks are beautiful, but common. Other sketch books had bad covers, or too thick paper, or not smooth enough paper…basically either too hot or too cold and not just right.

Now it’s no secret that I have a huge crush on Nick and Joyce and admire their work, and, as I was running thru Nick’s books in my mind, I had a thought, “Wait a minute, what do you bring when visiting the Artful Dodger, the Trickster, when walking into the Forgetting Room?”

A handmade sketchbook. 😀

Anyway, how hard can it be?

So, in the art store, I bought a couple 5.5″ x 8″ black cover essential sketchbooks, (which just happen to have lovely smooth Goldilocks paper), and at Booklovers, my favourite used book store, I found the perfect Goldilocks old book.

I took the black covers off the essential sketchbooks and started taking the pages out of the old book.

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I separated the two sketchbooks into six bundles of 8-10 pages. (Apparently the bundles are called signatures! Now you’re in the know…lol)

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At first I thought I would keep two or three original pages at the beginning and end of the book, you know, to pay homage to the book and author, but the subject was so tragic, that soon all the pages, except for the endpapers came out.

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Then I used a makeshift bookbinding stitch and heavy cotton thread to bind the six bundles signatures together.

At this point I looked for a way to attach the paper back inside the covers. The only advice I found included using an awl to pierce the spine and sewing the paper back in. That was a nonstarter with me. I really didn’t fancy piercing that beautiful spine, so I decided to just glue it in. Now the advice was to use a bookbinding glue…which I don’t have…so I improvised with a cement type of glue. I also included a length of black ribbon as a book marker.

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Anyway, what’s the worst thing that can happen? The paper will start to come out and I’ll go and invest in a good bookbinding glue…lol.

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Then I clipped my book together, stood it on its spine and weighted it down with some iron weights, and left it on my silversmithing bench in the garage overnight.

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This morning I ran to the garage to see how it worked. Oh my gosh! IT WORKED!!! 😀

Look at the spine of my beautiful new sketchbook. Isn’t the title just perfect?

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Look at the beautiful pages inside.

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The stitched together bundles signatures seems to be holding firm inside the covers.

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But I still wanted to pay homage to the original book, so I composed myself a little love letter from the old pages.

This was a bit harder to do that I thought because the book is about a tragic heroine, the French Revolution, guillotines, death, hopelessness, but after searching thru almost all of the 200+ pages, I got somewhere.

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So here we go.

From the inside cover:

“What kind of nonsense is this?
“Oh, it’s a long story.”

Seed of Mischief
the book
painted by
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“So I made an original Lovely! book
with paper a dream and love
“It has occurred to me that it would be a good thing
“That doesn’t do any harm,”
“I have a good eye for beauty, art a gift

So Why not? Why wouldn’t it work?
Why didn’t I think of that earlier?”

“I know.” “I don’t think so either,”

“Is there anything else to it.

“Take my word for it, Creation is the jewel of living

“Because you have the bravest eyes
“good child, good child,”
“How about you?
Come on, I’ll write it for you.”

How does that sound to you?
“Now let me read it,”

what is living about?”

“Perhaps I can find that out. Do you want me to try?”

Now the story I heard is on the pages of the book.”

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Comments: 14

  • Rosemarie

    May 14, 2015


    Your creativity never ends.

  • May 14, 2015

    Veronica, I like, like, like this creation! 🙂

  • May 14, 2015

    crikeys, i happen to be making sketcbooks at the mo’, from vintage book covers. same idea, thousands of miles apart. i like that! ps – pvc glue will do too, e.g. when you bind the papers together separately. bookbinder’s might be the perfect stuck but i’ve had wonderful results with pvc glue.

    and i smile at your intention to add a few phrases. not easy, he, putting back together sense from cut up lines. i am into that as well on a different project, and you cannot believe how relieved i am to discover it ain’t so easy after all, i thought i was going a bit mad.

    great, great stuff, veronica! n?

  • May 14, 2015

    Amazing and gorgeous!

  • daryledelstein

    May 15, 2015

    brava! another brilliant idea seem to fruition!

  • May 15, 2015

    What fun!

  • May 15, 2015

    well isn’t this just wonderful!!

  • May 15, 2015

    Love this idea! Must try it, thank you V. Mxx

  • Joyce Bantock

    May 18, 2015

    What?? So cool and I didn’t get to see it! Great to see you though Veronica.

  • June 4, 2015

    oh my goodness….what a truly unique and beautiful sketchbook.

  • Karen Falk

    March 22, 2016

    Hi Veronica…I’m a friend of Carla’s and was following your work on Instagram for the Opus Daily Practice. The other day Carla was over and I showed her this old book from the late 1800s I had picked up at our local Alley Library, and Carla mentioned the project you have done with using words/phrases from books to create poetry. I love it, and am going to do exactly that with this book. Such a clever idea. I think it could be fun to do this in some form of collage. We’ll see. In any case, thanks for the inspiration!.

  • June 17, 2016

    Found my way to your blog through your comment on Funky Junk Interiors. You are so creative…and such a gifted painter. I love your birds and this sketchbook is just wonderful too. Can’t wait until I have time to see what else you’re up to.

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