Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Big Yellow Sketchbook

I am addicted to books.  My dream room (besides a large home studio), would be a huge library with comfy chairs, a fireplace, and floor to ceiling bookcases filled with my books (and a hidden bar;).  My affinity for books has created a very discerning regard towards my sketchbooks.  I have tried them all- the ring bound hard back of many sizes, the hardbound book style (still an inexpensive favorite), the Moleskins of many sizes, and many types (and now so many beautiful colors), but with all of them, the paper sucks.  You can splurge and get the watercolor paper sketchbooks, but lucky you, 15 pages!  I'd finish it in two weeks and it'd blow the budget (not to mention take up a lot of storage space I don't have- that would be about 25 a year).  Being the ingenious girl I am, I decided to bind my own.  I pretty much made up the recipe myself (with a little help from Gwen Diehn- a personal hero), and the first one I ever did was hardbound, not soft.
Now, five years and many sketchbooks later, I pretty much have it down to a science.  I used to bind some for friends every once in awhile (the ones who would appreciate what they were getting), and now at Red Bow I have some on the shelves for sale.  They aren't cheap, so I don't try to talk the unwilling buyer into one, and I believe you have to be drawn to it (not a pun!), and ready to pay the price.  A true connoisseur knows what they're getting, and that it's actually a steal.  I don't like to part with one unless I know it's going to a good home; I bind my books with love.  For myself I always bind a new size sketchbook with a new color leather- in all my years, I never seem to want to use a color twice!  It brings back memories of a certain "sketchbook" time period, and who wants to relive the past (okay, maybe sometimes), but I can never do the same color twice (don't worry, the guy pulled out the color palette of all the leathers he had, and there's hundreds, so I won't run out anytime soon). 
I like to bind mine big enough that I can get a decent sized painting on my pages, but that I can carry around somewhat viably. (this one measures 10"x10")  I show my sketchbooks no mercy.  I am not afraid of a new book- I embrace it, for it's nothing until filled.What is an unlived life?  Wasted.  No one should have such a great book and not fill it to the brim!  I have scratches on the covers, newsprint stains, water stains, you name it, and the more there is, the better it looks, because it shows my book has been places.  This yellow one has seen ferry rides, wolf packs, California missions and mountains, as well as sunny beaches and benches, Boston buildings, Rhode Island poolscapes (thanks Christine;), and many other jaunts.  Its around 90 pages of Arches text-laid paper- my sketchbook favorite, and not easy to find off the internet.
Recently I opened an Etsy shop and this is where I have the most luck selling my sketchbooks. Over Thanksgiving, the most wonderful thing happened. Lovely Nancy of SilverMagpies featured one of my sketchbooks in her Etsy treasury, and loved it so much she bought it. THAT is the highest complement in my book;)

Now that this yellow one is almost filled...I'm thinking gold. Or silver.  I want to make a splash into 2011.


painted fish studio said...

i do love them, and i love seeing what you put within.

Silver Magpies said...


I just saw this and noticed you mentioned the lovely ocean/teal/blue sketchbook I got from you.

It is filling up, slowly but surely. Now I've gotten over my fear of marring the lovely pristine pages, I've been having great fun.