Friday, October 7, 2016

Pamphlet Stitch for a Sketchbook

A while ago I shared a photo on facebook of the sketchbook that I made for my daughter. She completely filled it with paintings! I thought I'd make her another one with better paper and using one of  her own paintings for the cover. A couple people were interested in how to make one themselves, so here's a little how-to post. 

This type of simple book sewing is called a pamphlet stitch. It has a paper cover not hard boards. You don't need many tools and it's fun and rewarding to make even for someone that's never sewn a book.

Some supplies to gather: linen thread (or embroidery floss), an X-acto knife, a ruler, a large needle, a pin tool (or  you can use a needle but it's harder) a bone folder (or something hard to help fold the paper like a scissors handle) scissors, pencil, a cutting mat or piece of paperboard to cut on, a stack of paper (4-8 sheets), and a cover paper which is a little sturdier.

Cut the paper and cover to the same size. First it's best to find the grain of the paper. Pick a sheet up and fold it gently over itself in a u shape. Feel how resistant it is. Then fold it in the other direction. Whichever way it folds easiest is how you will want to fold the book pages. If you fold against the grain the paper may crack a bit and not fold nicely. I actually did this on purpose for my cover because I didn't have a big enough painting to fold it with the grain. It the close-ups you can see a little cracking along the spine of my cover.

When you have everything cut to the same size, line them all up neatly and fold them over all at once. Don't fold each sheet individually or they won't stack together. Your interior pages will stick out but don't worry about that, just try to line the cover edge up the best you can. Use a bone folder or something else to help crease the fold more sharply.

With your cutting mat or paperboard under the book, line your ruler up with the edge of the cover. Press down hard and use the X-acto to trim away the extra paper sticking out of the book.

Next, take a scrap of paper exactly the height of your book and fold it in half lengthwise. Use your ruler to mark the middle and a spot about 3/4" away from each end. If your book is taller, you can add two other marks centered between those. The book in these photos has 5 holes. The other orange book has 3 holes.

Line your paper scrap up inside the book and use your pin tool or maybe a needle (and pliers?) to poke the holes. Always make a hole from inside the book to outside. Try and have the pin tool come out right on the fold of the spine. The best way to do this is line your book up exactly on the edge of the table with the spine closest to your torso. When you poke the hole, angle the pin down a bit. It will come out of the book pointing at an angle toward the floor, but it's ok because the edge of the book is lined up with the table and you won't gouge the table.

In this photo my pin tool is sticking out of the fold. Do this for every hole you marked. Then cut a piece of thread or embroidery floss three times the length of your book.

Here is the sewing pattern for 3 holes or 5 holes. You always start inside the book. Start with your needle and thread inside at the center hole and feed it through to the outside. Make a figure-eight pattern with your needle and thread through the holes. 

Keep the thread snug but don't pull it too tight, you can tear the paper. Leave a 3 inch tail of thread inside the book at your starting hole.

When you come to the next hole but it already has a thread coming out of it, just go into the hole by carefully trying to guide the needle alongside the existing thread without going through the fibers.

When you've gone through all of the holes and arrived back at the center it's time to tie a knot. First guide your needle under the thread above the center hole. This will keep your knot centered in the book.  

Tie a square knot and trim the thread leaving about 1/4 inch tails.

Now my daughter has a brand new painting book! This is a great way to make a small soft-cover sketchbook for kids or adults. And I've even guided a class of 6-10 year olds in sewing their own books. The pages were already cut, folded and had holes punched, but each child was able to do the sewing themselves.

If you are making one of these books and have a problem, comment below and I'll try to help. If you've never made a book, you might want to make a test one out of materials that aren't too precious first. And you are now on the road to the addictive world of bookbinding!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Porcupine and Armadillo's Schedule

These two friends have quite the busy schedule!

 On sunny Sundays Porcupine and Armadillo sit in the shade and sip sarsaparilla.

 Every Monday of the month, Porcupine and Armadillo make marmalade and marshmallow muffins.  

 At two o’clock each Tuesday, Porcupine and Armadillo tidy their tiny trailer. 

 On warm Wednesdays, Porcupine and Armadillo whistle while wandering through the willows. 

 Every Third Thursday at 3:00, Porcupine and Armadillo meet for tea under the tulip tree. 

 On the first Friday of February, Porcupine and Armadillo dance the foxtrot with friends. 

Every second Saturday Porcupine and Armadillo watch the sunset from Snapdragon Summit.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

RMC SCBWI Conference

Last weekend was the regional conference for the Rocky Mountain Chapter SCBWI in Denver. I had a great time! It's wonderful to see friends that I mostly spend time with online. This year was our chapter's 40th anniversary, so we were very happy to have the SCBWI founders Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser there to speak and help celebrate the anniversary.

For the portfolio display, I had postcards printed by Moo with an image on each side.

And my portfolio was printed by Blurb. It turned out nicely!

There were great speeches and breakout sessions, but other than seeing and spending time with my good friends, my favorite part of the conference was Judy Schachner and her gorgeous character bibles!

For every picture book she creates, Judy makes a book full of collage, sketches, painting, thoughts, and bits of story. This helps her get to know the characters and storyline. The one she brought was for a new story about Sarah Bella. It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen!! In the pictures above she is showing some spreads to my friend Dow Phumiruk at the Illustrator's Intensive.

And then we got to make mixed media illustrations ourselves- Dow and I are working furiously in the photo above. Our art was based to this funny prompt that Judy brought:

"Jane AkiKahaleauki herself was sitting in the shade of a tree, sharing a Pepsi with a month-old wild goat called Hoku. "I give him soda and ice cream, but he doesn't like beer," she observed. "I want to teach him to talk."

Here's how mine turned out!

This was everyone in the workshop. The pieces we made were all so different! Thank you so much for the awesome inspiration, Judy!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Counting Serpent

Things are changing quickly around my house! My daughter just started preschool, started drawing people with recognizable features and bodies, AND is counting to 20 all by herself only sometimes skipping fifteen. :) How timely that I just finished The Counting Serpent! It's a companion to go with The Alphabet Dragon. They are about how hard and scary it can be learning letters, numbers, reading, and math but how wonderful it is once you learn how it all works. Reading and numbers can become your good friends taking you on new adventures.

Below are the two linoleum blocks together, the bottom one has been printed and is stained with ink and the top one hasn't been printed yet in the photo.

I'm scrambling to get ready for the Rocky Mountain Chapter SCBWI Conference coming up soon in Denver. I've ordered a portfolio book and postcards. I can't wait to see them! I'll share a photo of them when they arrive!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Porcupine & Armadillo Revisions

I love Porcupine and Armadillo but they sure have been through a lot of visual revisions. This is the current final style above. :)

I had fun doing the lettering and I'm trying to decide if it's too distracting. Any opinions?
Here are some earlier versions below:

Dancing on the pink wood floor before they decided to move outside and dance in the snow.

I usually work at our small dining table and my daughter often does her own artwork next to me.

Here is an early incarnation of the friends as a linocut. It looked a little stiff and heavy, that's why I switched to the looser approach with pen, paint, and stamps.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My Art Soundtrack

What a Wonderful World performed by Louis Armstrong
Written by George Davis Weiss, George Douglas, and Bob Thiele

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They're really saying I love you.

I hear babies cry, and I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world. 
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.

In a recent episode of the Creative Pep Talk about Finding Your Unique Artistic Voice, Andy J Miller mentioned briefly that you can make a music soundtrack that sounds like what your art looks like. I tried it for fun and realized it's actually tricky to do! It was easy to make a soundtrack of my favorite music, or inspiring music to listen to while making art, but it's harder to pinpoint what my art would sound like if you could hear it instead of just seeing it. What a Wonderful World seemed to fit just right. Below are bits of other songs that made the short list for my art soundtrack. Try it for your own artwork and let me know what's on your list!

All I Want Is You by Barry Louis Polisar from the movie Juno

If I was a flower growing wild and free
All I'd want is to be your sweet honey bee.
And If I was a tree growing tall and green
All I'd want is you to shade me and be my leaves.

Blackbird by the Beatles

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

written by guitarist Warren Haynes with vocals by Gregg Allman

When you can't find the light,
That got you through the cloudy days,
When the stars ain't shinin' bright,
You feel like you've lost you're way,
When those candle lights of home,
Burn so very far away,
Well you got to let your soul shine,
Just like my daddy used to say.

He used to say soulshine,
It's better than sunshine,
It's better than moonshine,
Damn sure better than rain. 
Hey now people don't mind,
We all get this way sometime,
Got to let your soul shine, shine till the break of day.

You are My Sunshine

You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine
You make me happy 
When skies are gray.
You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Twinkle twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high, 
like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are!

The Rainbow Connection performed by Kermit (Jim Henson)
written by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side
Rainbows are visions
But only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide

So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see
Some day we'll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me

Who said that every wish
Would be heard or answered 
When wished on a morning star
Somebody thought of that 
And someone believed it
And look what it's done so far

What's so amazing 
That keeps us stargazing
And what do we think we might see
Someday we'll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Evolution of a Dragon

This super neat dragon lives in my town and comes out for parades and other fun community gatherings. He even breathes fire! My daughter, Tessa has always been a little afraid of him, but on this evening he was parked and not breathing fire, so she was willing to approach him.

The photos I took of her with the dragon really were fairytale-like. Not long after their meeting I did this painting in my sketchbook.

After that when I was trying to think of something for our RMC SCBWI image contest, I knew I wanted to work on the dragon and Tessa again.

I had SCBWI on my mind so I wanted the image to emphasize books or reading. Tessa is learning her letters right now and because of that I'm realizing how overwhelming it can be trying to learn 26 letters! And how they all sound! And words that start with those letters! And some of them look a lot alike! And there are UPPER CASE AND LOWER CASE LETTERS! 

But my daughter loves books, and she's learning lots of letters and general ideas about how reading works just from casual conversation while reading. I know she's going to love reading because she loves books so much. This thinking made me realize how learning letters and numbers and reading can be scary just like a dragon. But once you learn how it works and cozy up and make friends with letters, they can be your best friends and even be a little magical, just like an Alphabet Dragon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ReTree 2016

This spring I got to design the art for the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council's ReTree t-shirts and poster. I just saw the t-shirts today and they turned out great!

Last fall, my husband, daughter and I participated in the ReTree 2015 and we planted baby trees along the Yampa River. We had a great time! A photo of Tessa and I even wound up on this request for sponsors.

When I realized they were looking for art for the shirts this year I volunteered. Now we are signed up for the next tree planting that will happen in October.

The YVSC also wanted to try some posters this year. I took the same linocut and printed it in white on a black piece of paper and painted it. I'll share the finished poster when I see it!

Happy tree planting!