DIY digression: bookmaking

One of the purposes of this blog is to sort through and prioritize intriguing notions and sources.  I have an ongoing fascination with investigating how things work.  (Hint:  that’s a useful lens through which to analyze my art.  It tends to be more about figuring out than advocating.)

This blog is one approach to that, but I’m also dedicated to cloudless methods.  I’ve posted about using books as raw material for art or art that directly addresses language and books, but it’s time for the art of bookmaking.

Why make your own?

Making your own books lets you have it without a lot of futile shopping.  I work in an art store, and thoroughly empathize with needing something that simply doesn’t exist (despite a plethora of options).

Coptic binding intrigues me because it lies flat when open and doesn’t involve glue for the binding itself.   I have made a set of signatures, and will combine them with coptic binding at a later date.  Thus I avoid lugging around a huge sketchbook while eventually getting everything tidily squared away.

sketchbook overlay

You can even mix types of paper. Tracing paper is an interesting addition.

Customizing your sketchbook or journal

Sticking your name and some contact info on the inside front cover is standard.  There are many other options.  You could try out such hacks as using stickers on your cover to highlight important information.  If you’re outdoorsy, maybe you should coat the cover with wax to minimize wear and tear.  (Besides, we all know I love working with wax.)

There’s always the writing implement question.  I favor pencils lately because I enjoy the line weight variation, lack of bleeding, cheapness, and secondary use as a hair fastener.  The only real downside is possibility that it will smudge into illegibility.  (Who is going to bother applying fixatif to every page of their sketchbook?)  That leaves ink.  Fountain pens can be tempting, but for left-handed people like me I strongly recommend against fountain pens.  (If you’re a right-handed person who doesn’t mind high-maintenance items that tend to be expensive to replace…go for it.  I’ll just stick with my own balance of cost and ink flow, thanks.  Or pencils.)

But isn’t it a narcissistic waste of time?

A history major once explained to me that personal journals are sometimes invaluable to research as independent attestation.  That is just one reason not to let self-consciousness prevent you from recording items of “mere personal significance.”  If you’re really squeamish, you could hide it in a puzzle book or lock it up.

commonplace book

I intermittently maintain a quote book.  Apparently other people refer to it as a commonplace book, and have a lot to say about its use in collating research.

They can be beautiful in their own right.  There are a few things I liked but couldn’t find instructions for.  They include fore-edge painting and dos-a-dos binding.

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