Tag: sketchbook

Bookbinding & Sketchbooks in the Art Classroom

SKETCHBOOK OVERVIEW

In twelve years teaching I have had every single class make their own sketchbook. This not only teaches them about bookbinding, but it also saves money from your budget. Sketchbooks are an incredibly valuable part of an art class from kindergarten through college. Their sketchbooks are a place to practice techniques and plan their projects to give them to confidence to start an assignment.

Each semester and year, our very first project is to make a sketchbook. The process of decorating and tailoring a sketchbook to their aesthetic gives students buy in when they start working on their sketches. It also gives me insight into their artistic ability. I allow them full access to supplies in my room when they decorate their cover. They get to pick the subject, materials, and overall look. Right off the bat, I have an idea of what materials they are comfortable with, what their artistic style is, and where potential weakness may lie.

To avoid monotany, I teach a different bookbinding technique in every class. As they move through the art courses, the binding techniques become more complex. Check out the range of styles I have taught below, as well as some tips on implementing a sketchbook in class at the end of the post.

FOLDER TO SKETCHBOOK

The quickest, cheapest, most basic sketchbook style I teach is the folder to sketchbook. I use this in my introduction to art class because the focus is less on tedious bookbinding techniques and more on decorating.

For this assignment, each student gets a manila folder, they have access to a range of materials from paint to Sharpies to magazine collage material. Students have to completely cover the Manila folder, inside and out, and pick a quote, song lyric, or similar to write on the first page.

Once their folder is decorated, a stack of white printer paper is added and stapled inside the folder.

PHOTO WINDOW SKETCHBOOK

A very simple sketchbook I recommend for photography classes is a stapled or hole punched booklet with a window cut out out to add a photograph.

For this sketchbook style I recommend using matboard for the front and back. Cut mat board down to 8”x10” pieces. Using an Xacto knife or box cutter, cut a 4”x6” or 5”x7” window from the front cover. Cut down white printer paper to fit between the pieces of mat board. Either staple the matboard and paper together using a heavy duty stapler or hole punch the stack and tie the booklet together.

For this style sketchbook I recommend keeping the design simple, especially for a photography class. Keep the mat board white or paint it black. Tape a photograph to the inside of the front cover to display through the window of the sketchbook. Students use this to add favorite pictures from the course, take notes on lighting, timing, and camera settings.

ACCORDION SKETCHBOOK

In my ceramic and sculpture classes I like to teach them the accordion sketchbook technique. Because the paper pulls out of the sketchbook like an accordion or fan, it has a more sculptural feel.

For this book, they decorate sheets of cardboard. The decide if they want their sketchbook horizontal or vertical, then fold a flap on each cover to create a spine. Once they are finished decorating the front and back cover, they overlap the flaps and glue them together using hot glue. To add paper, they fold a flap at the edge of each sheet of paper to glue it to the next sheet of paper. After they have a long line of glued paper, they fold it back and forth like an accordion. The final flap is glued into the spine. The paper sits in a stack between the front and back covers.

PERFECT BOUND SKETCHBOOK

One of my favorite styles of sketchbook is the perfect bound sketchbook. It looks like a book you can buy at a store and students are always impressed with the professional looking end product.

To create this sketchbook students are given two sheets of cut down poster board. The students decide if their sketchbook will be vertical or horizontal. Next, they fold a flap on one side of the poster board to overlap to create the spine. They then decorate the poster board inside and out.

Once their sketchbook cover is ready, they overlap the folded flaps and glue them together. Next, they line up a stack of paper, select the side that will be glued into the spine, and coat the edge with glue. Repeat this step 2-3 more times, allowing the layers of glue to dry in between. Once there is a solid layer of glue holding the paper together, a final layer of glue is added. The paper stack is placed inside the cover, with the paper pushed up to the spine. TIP: weigh down the sketchbook to ensure everything stays in place.

COPTIC SKETCHBOOK BOOKBINDING

I love teaching Coptic style sketchbook because it gives students a good understanding of bookbinding. In addition, the sketchbook lays flat when open and overall it is a sturdy book.

I typically plan for sketchbook making to take the first week of class. However, the Coptic style takes two, possibly three weeks to complete. It’s a more complicated process that involves decorating the front and back cover, folding paper together, hammering holes through each paper stack, and stitching the cover and paper sections together.

Despite the complex process, it’s worth the final result. The stitching makes a beautiful pattern and shows through the center of each paper section. I show demonstration videos, work with students one and one, and pass out how to sheets for them to reference as they work through the steps. You can check out my lesson pack with all the resources here.

SECRET BELGIAN BOOKBINDING

The secret Belgian bookbinding technique is similar to the Coptic bookbinding technique. Students decorate the front and back cover, stack and fold sections of paper, hammer holes through each paper stack, and stitch the paper and the cover together.

What I like about this technique is the addition of a decorated spine. This bookbinding technique is also a good way to build off of the Coptic bookbinding techniques because students now have to stitch through the paper and wrap the string around the spine to hold it in place.

Like the Coptic sketchbook, the Belgian technique requires much more hands on assistance with students. I have a lesson pack that includes a demo video, how to handouts, and instructions for students to follow as they create their sketchbook. Check it out here.

SKETCHBOOK BOOK JACKET

In my AP levels classes I like to give them a nice, hardback sketchbook. They have reached the highest level of the art program and they deserve a heavy duty sketchbook.

Since they aren’t making their own sketchbook, they instead decorate the sketchbook I give them. They have the option of decorating directly onto the hardback book or creating a book jacket. To make the book jacket, they take a large sheet of drawing paper and fold it around the book. Flaps are folded inside the cover to keep the cover on the sketchbook. Using scissors, students cut it to fit the sketchbook, leaving the flaps uncut.

Students can use any supply to decorate the cover or book jacket. The only requirement is they have to decorate the front, back, spine, and flap of the book jacket. If they opt for a book jacket design, I take their cover to laminate it to make it more durable.

USING SKETCHBOOKS

After teaching students bookbinding techniques it’s time to actually use their sketchbook. Although I primarily use them as a brainstorm space for projects, I also incorporate other activities, especially in beginner level courses.

For a typical project, students are researching an artist, finding inspiration images, and creating thumbnail sketches. In my intro to art or drawing/painting I courses in addition to project prep, they are also learning and practicing techniques in their sketchbooks. From color wheels, to color mixing, to shading techniques, the beginner level art students walk away with a jam packed sketchbook.

Sketchbooks are also an amazing emergency sub plan option. I have a sketchbook prompt pack that includes a variety of prompts to get students inspired to work in their books. If you are in a pinch, have students randomly select a topic from a jar or a list and have them get to work.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! I hope you found inspiration for your classroom or for your own sketchbook. Interested in other ways to engage students in your class? Check out information on visual journals here. Check out more items in my shop here.

Visual Journal Page 55: Bedtime Bear

A collage with a dog and sleeping zzzzs, made for my Kody Bear a German Shepard, Husky mix.

When I realized what visual journal page I was blogging about today I was equal parts heart warmed and melancholy. This visual journal page is for my Kody Bear who lived a long 13.5 years, but went on to puppy heaven two and a half years ago.

Kody Bear was sweet, snuggly *at his discretion,* so fluffy, a close talker, pushy, stubborn, and so very smart. His stubborn/intelligent combination caused a great deal of frustration in college. But he eventually settled into the perfect dog.

Loosing a dog as an adult was different than loosing a dog as a child. I was so close to my family dog growing up. He was my baby. But, by the time he headed up the white staircase to puppy heaven I was two years into college and didn’t see much of the end of his life. Kody Bear was different because I was there, I witnessed his last breath, which I am forever grateful for, but it was almost impossible to bare. I am endlessly thankful that he was sick for such a short period of time after living a very healthy 13.5 years before that. I am thankful I opted to drive home from the beach just in case this was it. Because it was and I was there for Nick and him.

But, this post isn’t just about losing Kody in the end, it was about the sweetness I witnessed those last few years. Kody was a wild pup who took a lot of discipline and training to wrangle. But, he eventually found a balance that worked for all involved parties. He loved being outside, sitting near you (but never touching), and was 100% Nick’s dog. I believed he viewed me as a bonus, but not his person.

I can’t blame Kody for that. After all, when I met Nick he and Kody were already a pair, they came as a package deal. At 19, a sophomore in college, he had inherited him from his sister. I think Nick was the only one who could handle his wild spirit. I think Kody realized he had met his match with Nick and he developed great respect and love for him as a result.

And although for 11 years of his life it was all about Nick and Kody, those last couple of years he settled into some routines with me. My favorite was every night when I would go to bed he would follow right behind. It didn’t matter who was still awake, if a party was going on, or if it was 5 pm. My bear was right behind me as we headed up the stairs together.

It’s the little things that make you realize you are bonded with someone. It’s the everyday, repetitive, tiny moments that add up to such beautiful things. The moments that Kody showed me he cared, by supporting decisions for an early bedtime or laying nearby when I was upset or simply warming myself next to the fire, I truly felt connected to him.

Today, I have another bedtime buddy named Harper. She is about 80% as fluffy, 25% of his size, and is just as wild. Despite her high energy, as soon as I hit the steps heading up to bed, she is right behind me. I like to think that she represents a piece of Kody, a piece of me, and a piece of my life right now.

Sweet dreams Kody Bear.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Mod Podge or Elmer’s glue
  • Book pages
  • Bleeding tissue paper
  • Sharpie
  • Packing tape
  • Laser printed image

VISUAL JOURNAL HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I started with a printed image of my bear snuggled up and snoozing. I had come up with the idea of having snoring zzzs floating around him as I began developing this visual journal page. It was easy to opt for a tape transfer, so you could see the layers of zs coming from Kody and spreading to the rest of the pages.

To create a packaging tape transfer you need a laster printed image, you can also use newspaper or inkjet but they aren’t as successful. Tape strips of packaging tape directly on top of the image. Flip the image over and rub the back with something hard, like scissor handles or a wood spoon. The burnishing process helps stick the ink to the packaging tape. Next, run the back of the image under water until the paper starts to raise up and peel away. Rub the paper off of the tape, leaving only the ink stuck to the tape.

The end result of a tape transfer is a semi-transparent image. Any white sections are completely see through and any dark sections are semi-transparent or fully opaque. Next, I set aside the tape transfer and started working on the background.

I first glued down strips of bleeding tissue paper I had set aside in my visual journal stash. In a previous project I had wet sheets of bleeding tissue paper to stain paper with color. I then set aside the used sheets to dry, which can result in tie dye looking tissue paper.

Next, I began writing the letter Z on pieces of ripped out book pages. I cut each one into a square then glued it down to the background. I filled the area I knew the trap transfer would be placed and slowly spread them out as it moved away from Kody. Once I was satisfied with the way the background looked, I glued the transfer of Kody on top.

Last but not least I wrote out my text on book pages, cut it out, and glued it to the right page.

Check out more visual journal pages with tape transfers here, here, here, and here.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about a loss in your life. Use a tape transfer to help illustrate it.

Interested in learning more about visual journaling or introducing them in your classroom? Get everything you need to teach or learn about visual journals, plus a ton of printable resources (including my tape transfer how to handout) here.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my post to my sweet Bear. Help me spread the word about visual journaling by sharing with others! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for updates straight to your inbox or follow me on facebook or instagram. Thanks for stopping by!

Visual Journal Page 53: Full Heart, Heartbroken

A visual journal page with a cut out and background created with Mod Podge transfers.

THE STORY

This visual journal page was created back in 2012 I was at a school I knew was a short term situation. After a single year I felt too exhausted to stick it out, but somehow I pushed through an additional two years. My 35 students per class, nonexistent art budget, low administrative support, and the requirements I had to meet outside of the classroom were becoming a daunting tower of reasons I needed to find a way out.

However, despite all the marks against my school and against my job, there was one thing that kept tugging at me to stay. My kiddos. At a school like this it’s more difficult to be recognized as an employee, but it’s easy to be recognized by those who matter most, the students.

I had student who were incredibly difficult. Those relationships wore on me as much as the other ticks against the job. But, the students I connected with went deeper than any student relationships I have made at my current job. These students needed me. They needed my insight, outlook, experience, art tips, and life tips. They came from a variety of backgrounds from low income to upper class, two parent to no parent homes. I had to balance a huge range of needs, it was challenging, but it fulfilled me.

My current job comes with a big pile of plush. I have a well padded art budget, small class sizes, administrative support, and very well behaved students. But I am not needed here. I could walk out of my classroom at any moment and these kids would have ten other teachers more capable and caring than me to take my place. When I walked out of my last job my students didn’t have that. They were left with teachers in the same situation as me: worn out, worn down. Or they were left with teachers only working for their paycheck, unable to be fired despite poor job performance, watching the clock until retirement. I was heartbroken because I felt like I was failing them.

Leaving that school meant I left a huge unknown. I didn’t know who would take my place, I didn’t know if they would have support. I felt like I was abandoning them, letting them down. I felt so much guilt that I couldn’t fess up to my job change until the last days of school, and I only informed those who I felt closest to.

I snuck out of that job with my tail between my legs, but the sense of relief I felt driving off campus the final day is indescribable. For the first time in three years I had hope, aspirations, and excitement for what would came at the end of summer.

a visual journal page made with collage and mod podge transfers.

“It breaks my heart to walk away… but I can’t wait to see what my future holds.”

This visual journal page was created in my last days at my first job. It was my way to process my emotions, to face the fact that yes I was sad and that was okay but I was also thrilled for what was next, which was also okay.

I have been at my current school, my second job in the adult world, for going on eight years. This job comes with its own set of challenges. I am tapped on the shoulder to take on tasks often, I wear ten different hats other than teacher on any given day, I have very high expectations from my students, parents, peers, and administration. I have never worked harder in my life in the last eight years. But the huge different is how I feel at the end of every day. I do not go home exhausted. I do not go home morally torn apart, emotionally worn down. I wake up every morning ready to go to work and start my day. I don’t dread Mondays, the end of breaks. I look forward to the start of every school year.

Moral of the story is that we have to show up for our students. I wish I was able to show up every day for my kiddos at my last job, but the job didn’t allow me to. Although I am far down the totem pole if you stack up the faculty at my current school, I am a better teacher to my students because I am taking care of me. You have to take care of you.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Mod Podge
  • Printed images
  • Paint brush
  • Book pages
  • Thin Sharpie

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I primarily used printed images. I wanted the yin/yang of my emotions at the time to be the focus of the page. I looked online and found a range of skies, from dark to light, and printed them out. I also knew I wanted a silhouette representation of me on both sides of the story, preparing to leave and my new beginning. After finding these and printing them out, I began laying out the spread.

I ripped the printed sky into strips and positioned them on the page. After cutting out the silhouettes I played around with placement, but felt like the spread was lacking a focal point. After some brainstorming I decided to include a heart to add a pop of color, focal point, and provide another visual for the way I was feeling.

After finding a heart image and printing it I created a Mod Podge transfer on a separate sheet of paper that I had collaged ripped up book pages on. Mod Podge transfers create a semi-transparent image and they are much more interesting to look at if they have something behind in the image.

MOD PODGE TRANSFER HOW TO

  1. Paint a coat of Mod Podge onto your image and let it dry.
  2. Paint another coat of Mod Podge on your image and let it dry.
  3. Paint a third coat of Mod Podge on your image and while it’s wet place it face down onto the surface you are transferring it to.
  4. Let it dry.
  5. Once the Mod Podge is try, wet the back of the paper. Once the water soaks in, carefully rub the paper until it starts peeling off.
  6. Continue to rub the paper off until you can clearly see the image you transferred.
  7. Let the image dry and check to see if you need to re-wet and rub off paper in any other areas.
  8. REMINDER: You are creating a mirror image, any area with text will show up in reverse. To avoid that flip the image before you print.

I then printed a second heart image, in reverse, to create two sides of the heart. After finishing a Mod Podge transfer of the second heart I glued them to either side of a book page still attached to the binding of my book. I then cut the heart out, added pieces of book pages to create a space to write words, and wrote the words on top.

I loved the look of the Mod Podge transfer of the heart, so I decided to create Mod Podge transfers of the entire background. Once I finished with each strip of sky, I glued it down. I then added a ripped out encyclopedia page to the center of each page in my visual journal and layered another strip of sky on top.

Last but not least I added the silhouettes to each page.

CHALLENGE

Cut a shape out of a page still attached to your book binding to add an extra element to your visual journal spread. Try focusing on a moment when you felt pulled in different directions.

Interested in learning more about visual journaling or introducing them in your classroom? Get everything you need to teach or learn about visual journals, plus a ton of printable resources (including my magazine fade and tape transfer handouts) here.

Want to see more examples of using Mod Podge transfers in visual journals? Check some out here, here, and here.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and visual journal page! Help me spread the word about what I do by sharing this post on your social media outlet of choice! Thanks for stopping by!

Visual Journal Page 41: Already on Edge

I was already on edge.

I had woken up early, showered, carefully selected my most professional outfit. I was driving on 285 en route to an interview.

It wasn’t just any interview. It was an interview at a well regarded private school that happened to be across the street from where my husband worked, we could carpool. I would have an actual budget to teach art. I would have small class sizes. I would work in a building dedicated to the fine arts. I could move on from my current job where I felt worn out, unappreciated, overworked, and like I was only a warm body available to proctor standardized test after standardized test.

A lot was weighing on this moment. I had to crush it. I couldn’t stay in my current job another year. Something needed to change.

All of these thoughts circled my head when suddenly taillights flashed ahead; the sound of crunching, and squealing tires followed. I glanced quickly to my right and miraculously in that split second the lane was open, I jumped over just in time. I had just missed being another car in a string of crushed metal.

A few seconds earlier or later and I could’ve been stuck on 285 while my interviewees awaited my arrival. I felt a wave of relief followed by the anxiety of almost being in an accident.

I was already on edge.

By the time I reached my interview my nerves had calmed, I had collected my thoughts, I was ready. I walked onto the school’s campus and was overwhelmed by how beautiful it was. I sat through five different interviews, and while intimidating, they were all so welcoming and nice. It felt like a place I could belong.

Seven years later that 285 corridor has become my commute. Hopefully I will continue to avoid accidents on my way to my beautiful campus and cushy private school job.

Supplies:

  • Visual journal,
  • Rubber cement or Mod Podge
  • Scissors
  • Watercolor
  • White paper
  • Book pages
  • Thin sharpie

How To:

To create this visual journal page I wanted to recreate the scene of the accident. As I drove past and glanced to my left I saw at least three cars had rear ended each other, but quite a few were stopped. I decided to stick with that number, after all odds are more pleasing in art.

I sketched out the crunched up cars on a separate sheet of paper and filled them in with watercolor. While the watercolor was still wet I blew it where the cars made contact to create a splatter effect. Once the first layer of watercolor dried, I add more detail and some shadows and highlights. I cut it out once it was dry.

Next, I cut out triangle shapes from two different colors of book pages. I wanted to create a graphic, loud symbol that would somewhat blend into the background. I glued the smaller triangles on top of the a larger triangles, then carefully placed them in the book. Once I was satisfied with their placement, emphasizing the cars hitting each other, I glued them down.

The watercolor cars were added next, then a few more book page triangles to the bottom. Last but not least I added the text using a thin sharpie.

Challenge:

Create a visual journal page about a stressful moment in your life. Incorporate cut up book pages somewhere in your image.

Check out more of my visual journal pages here. Interested in teaching visual journals? Check out my TPT lesson here.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about visual journals with others. Thanks for stopping by.

Visual Journal Page 40: A Part of Me

A visual journal page about using a hot glue gun so much it became an extension of myself.

While in college I began creating large scale paintings of women in fancy dresses. I would paint the figures and background in oil paint, then construct intricate dresses out of fabric. I would often take these very high class, traditional looking ladies and place them into an unpredictable scene. A glass might be smashed, someone may have fallen down the stairs, chaos was ensuing. Not a typical scene for a lady.

While on this “clash of two worlds” journey I was struck with inspiration to create a dress completely out of beer bottle caps. Something about the juxtaposition of a traditional woman in a dress made entirely out of beer caps, not very lady like, was very appealing to me. I enlisted help from friends, family, and friend who worked at a bar to start collecting bottle caps and the project was underway.

It tok a few years of planning here and there before I finally took the plunge to put it all together. I had recently reached out to a local restaurant, Carroll Street Cafe, to inquire about displaying my work at their establishment. When I was added to their monthly rotation this became my motivation to finish the monstrous work of art.

It felt like every hour I wasn’t at work I was at home hot gluing bottle caps to fabric. My hands started to ache and clench after bending and cutting cap after cap after cap. My glue gun in one hand, pliers in the other, I felt like a machine. For a time it felt like the glue gun became an extension of myself.

A mixed media work of art constructed from oil paint, encaustic, fabric, mat board, and beer bottle caps.

I was very happy with the end result and the piece was well received at my mini art opening. It felt good to take on such a large project and see it through to the end. For years she lived in our back bedroom, stored away until I could find her forever home. When push came to shove, with Cooper on the way and a need to clear out the room, I practically gave her away to a couple who lived in my area.

Although I hated to see her go, and not earn the amount of time I put into back, I am glad she is on display, not stuck in a back room.

You can read about this piece in a post I wrote shortly after making it here. You can also check out more from my ladies in dresses series here. Although I have moved on from this focus, I still incorporate so much collage, layering, and mixed media in my artwork. My focus is now on encaustic, I have plans to post about my massive encaustic carving undertaking in the near future.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement, Elmer’s glue, or similar
  • White paper
  • Watercolor
  • Sharpie
  • Pastels
  • Charcoal
  • Spray fixative

HOW TO

When planning this visual journal page I wanted to emphasize the repetition and the overwhelming feeling I had somewhere in the middle of this big undertaking. I decided to create abstract looking bottle cap shapes to layer in the background. I started by painting loose color circles in the main colors I used in the dress: blue, green, black, and yellow. Once they dried I outlined them in sharpie and added a wiggly line around the outer edge to reference the look of a bottle cap.

After the bottle caps were complete, I cut them out and glued them down using rubber cement. Next, I started on the hot glue gun hand. I had a rough image in my head of how I wanted this to look. I sketched out an arm and hand, then started working the glue gun shape into the fingers. I used pastel to fill the color of the arm and the hot glue gun, then blended them together. Once this was cut out I glued it on top of the background.

After layering all my pieces together I decided the overall image was just too bright and colorful. It looked silly, as opposed to exhausted, overwhelmed, and in joint pain. I decided to darken the entire image by coloring over the background with charcoal, then smearing it, thinning it out in areas, and rubbing it over the hot glue gun hand. I added charcoal details back into the hot glue gun to sharpen it back up after smearing it.

Once I was satisfied with the overall feel of the page I began planning out the placement of the text. I ended up erasing a line out of the charcoal to create a spot where text would show up. I then added the text with sharpie. The final step was spraying the page with fixative to prevent it from smearing.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about a challenging time in your life. Incorporate charcoal somewhere in the image.

Interested in more visual journal stories, tips, and how tos? Check out my visual journal blog page here and my visual journal bundle on TPT here. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help spread the word and get involved with visual journaling by following, sharing, and commenting!

My first girl in dress painting, the dress looks a bit like a mattress. Made in 2007.

My first girl in dress painting, the dress looks a bit like a mattress. Made in 2007.

Mixed media painting created in 2008.

Created in 2008.

Created in 2010. This was the start of my transition into encaustic. The birch trees were layered with encaustic, carved, dripped, and painting into. 

Created in 2010. This was the start of my transition into encaustic. The birch trees were layered with encaustic, carved, dripped, and painting into.