Some very simple sketchbooks

The art shop where I work was recently sent a big stack of paper in mill packs. According to the manager of the main warehouse in Perth, the paper was not selling quickly enough and so the line has been discontinued. “Find a way to get rid of it,” we were instructed.

Always curious about paper, I opened some of the mill packs up, and was amazed to find a really beautiful text-weight paper from some mill in Japan. It has a delicate laid texture, and comes in 15 hues β€”from a dark blue-black to a pale cream colorβ€”with yellows, greens, greys, blues, reds, and tints of apricot in between. It reminded me a lot of the old Fabriano Artist Diary that used to be made in Italy by the nearly-300 year-old paper mill Fedrigoni. Those Artist Diaries used to feature 10 to 12 different colors of paper…not just the pale and muted hues of sand, fawn, and so forth, but also bright reds, greens, and a sunflower yellow that never failed to cheer me. Fabriano still makes its Artist Diaries, but the colors these days are restricted to pastels and shades of grey or brown.

I asked my boss if I could buy the paper from the business, a little bit at a time, to make some very simple, strong, rustic-looking journals with strong, unadorned calf leather covers, for use as field and travel sketchbooks. She loved the idea, and I used my lunch hour that same day to fold and cut just enough sheets of this gorgeous paper to make two books.

I figure I have enough calf nubuck from my last trip to Asia to make 20 of these A5-sized journals…and probably some smaller scraps of the same leather to make little A6 ones, too.

For as long as the leather and paper last, I’m accepting orders at my ETSY shop for these. The colors have been listed as options…you can get a book in just one color of paper, or a mix of all the hues available, as the books in the photos are. And if you want to select just two, three, or however many colors? Just arbitrarily pick the “Mixed” option, but send me a message to let me know which colors you want included. Some of the colors are in very short supply, others come in full mill packs (or two!) so it really is first in, best dressed.

For my own journal, I think I’m doing on that is just sunflower yellow and Prussian blue… ooh, yummy!

link to my ETSY Shop RIGHT HERE. Thanks!


26 thoughts on “Some very simple sketchbooks

  1. What a beautiful idea! I wish you all luck in your sales. I drooled over them on Etsy, but as I don’t draw it would be a waste to take one from someone who would both cherish and Use it! it is going on my facebook and pinterest though!


    1. Thanks, Jason! It’s a ubiquitous binding, you’ll find that many, many bookbinders make books that look very similar. πŸ™‚ Still, I like how essential it is, a distillation of ‘bookness’.


  2. Thats so beautiful, one day I will make one myself. If I could afford it I would definitely order one, but unfortunately i’m on a tight budget at the moment, however I wish you the best of look with your’e business, I can imagine you will have to hire more people to keep up with orders. It’s such a wonderful product!!!!!


    1. Thank you! They’re very simple, and there are lots of bookbinders who make the same thing. πŸ™‚ But I guess that’s what makes them ‘classics’. Cheers for the thumbs up!


  3. Reblogged this on wordsandpicturesbj and commented:
    I’m off to Dallas Texas tomorrow to participate in the best industry partnership of all time – An art gallery at an outdoor, three day music festival in Sherman (an hour-ish outside Dallas.) Check out for more info on that if you like…until then enjoy this journal, it’s amazing. I’ve been sitting on some cut papers and binding for a few months because I keep forgetting to start the stinkin’ project already! But serious, hand bound journals rock.


    1. Ah, thanks very much, it’s mystifying that such a superstar as you should be so enthusiastic about these little things I get up to. I browsed your shop a few days ago, my word you’re so prolific, and skilled, and just…WOW. your comments go right to my head… πŸ˜‰


  4. My god, to be so talented as to whip up a fabulous journal during your lunch hour. Lunch isn’t even long enough for me to get drunk. Feeling rather humbled (and sober).


    1. Eh, no, I cut the paper during my lunch hour. Sorry, I probably didn’t word that properly, everyone thinks it took me an hour to make this, it probably took closer to three after cutting, punching the leather, sewing, and so on. You think too highly of me. I must divest you of such ideas. πŸ™‚


    1. Hi, Lizzie! Thank you! My bad, I meant to say I cut the paper at work during my lunch hour. I then went home and spent another hour…maybe even two…making it up with the leather. Sorry, I didn’t mean to come across as some sort of wonder woman. πŸ˜‰ I’ll have a look at the post and see how I can word it better. Still, this limp binding (Longstitch/Linkstitch) is very quick to sew, it’s preparing the leather and paper for the sewing that takes a little more time.


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