I promise this will be the last post on book binding ….. for a while.

An ordinary Composition Book

After drawing on the last page of my store-bought, coptic-bound, lined, travel log journal I felt desperate.  There was something about drawing and painting on the lined paper during road trips that I like.  Unlike the blank paper I have of all sizes, stashed everywhere throughout the house, I don’t have any lined paper that is large enough to make a sketchbook journal with the lines going in a horizontal direction.  My solution?  Cut apart one of the many yet-to-be-used composition books on my shelf and re-bind it.

Stage one and two

After cutting the book apart, I re-organized it into signatures.

Useful information

The inside of the front and back covers is filled with “useful information”.  I like having such information at my fingertips.

Rebound Composition Book

Finished Composition Book.

Another view

Now I’m ready for my next road trip.  I leave on Friday to head to a haunted hotel in Lexington, Kentucky.

My latest coptic-bound watercolor sketchbook is made from recycled watercolor paintings and the cover from an old, Hammond’s Reference Atlas of the World.

Recycled Watercolor Paintings and Cover of Atlas

Some of the paintings were from the collection of unfinished paintings I rescued from Betty’s studio.

One of Betty’s unfinished landscape paintings


This is the first time I added endpapers to one of my coptic sketchbooks.

Finished Watercolor Sketchbook

This is the largest book I have made.  It measures 9.25″ x 12.5″ x 1.75″.  There are nine signatures.  Each signature is made of three folded sheets of watercolor paper for a total of fifty-nine pages.  I used three sets of coptic binding stitches rather than the two sets I use for the smaller sketchbooks.

My next step is to create my own marbleized papers for the covers!  Stay tuned ….

The day was spent folding, tearing, gluing, drilling and stitching.  At the end of the day I had five, new, beautiful sketchbooks made from bfk Rives printmaking paper.  I love the look of the binding.

Coptic Bound Sketchbooks

Thanks to Liz Mitchell’s bookbinding workshop I now create my own sketchbooks, any size, any thickness and made from any paper I want.  The BFK Rives is, right now, my favorite to work on using ink and watercolor.  I can paint on both sides without bleed through.

Handmade Sketchbooks for ink and watercolor

It’s definitely worth it to get the thicker book board.  The thinner book board warps too easily and doesn’t protect the book as well.  The feature I like the most about the coptic bound books is that they open  completely flat, making it easy to work across the spine for a double page spread.

Sketchbooks made from BFK Rives paper

Thanks, Liz!

I rarely watch television ….. except during the Olympics.

Coptic Bound Watercolor Sketchbooks

I’ve been accumulating my bookbinding projects knowing that I would be a couch potato, watching the athletes’ amazing performances.  These are the results of hanging out on the couch on Sunday night til midnight.  I love watching the Olympics, both summer and winter.  Such an inspiration to “never give up” and to push a bit further until I am out of my comfort zone.

The cover of the largest sketchbook is hand-dyed paper.  The other covers are wrapping paper.  The papers are glued over chipboard.  I used either waxes bookbinding thread or dental floss.

Holding a weekly meeting with myself appears to be working to achieve both short term and longer term goals.

A gift from Dine

I usually feel as if I’m treading water until I look at my list and see items crossed off on a daily basis. Learning Coptic Bookbinding was on my list for several years.  Last week, after making my first book, I showed it to to my dear friend Dina Buist.  This morning she gave me this incredible sketchbook made from watercolor paper and coptic bound with a leather, tie cover.  It had been a gift to her, but she thought I would put it to better use.  Dina is a remarkable photographer.

Watercolor paper pages with leather, tie cover

The sketchbook measures 13″ x 12.25″ closed and 24.5″ x 12.25″ open.  The paper feels to be heavier than 140 lb but lighter than 300 lb.  I’ll try it out tonight.  I’m still too excited to settle down and focus.

After many years of wanting to learn how to bind multiple signatures of watercolor paper, I now can make my own, coptic bound sketchbooks!

Coptic Binding of an eight signature sketchbook

The sky is the limit!  I am beyond ecstatic!

My first handmade sketchbook

I know I committed to completing the sixty six incomplete sketchbooks on my shelf.  I have completed over half of them.  Now that I can make my own, mixing hot press, cold press, rough, bristol board, and scraps of whatever, I don’t know if I will be able to resist striking out into new territory.  I am excited beyond belief.  For at least eight years I have wanted to learn coptic book binding in order to make my own sketchbooks.  Today that became a reality.  Thank you Liz Mitchell and the Printmaking Center of New Jersey for a wonderful workshop.