Simple Round-Back Journal: Fall Class Coming Up

August 11, 2009


Above: round-back journals with inset-cover labels. The back two journals are made with Bibilo paper. The gold journal has a Claybord™ tile insert. The front green book is the size and type we'll be making in class. It has yummy text pages of Velin Arches (5-3/8 x 6-7/8 inches). Click on the image to view the enlargement.

It's not too early to plan your fall activities, especially if you're a dedicated journal keeper and want to visit the Twin Cities and learn how to bind your own journal! I've got a great one-day class on Saturday, October 10 (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

People are always writing to me and telling me they can't make multiple trips to the Twin Cities for a multi-session class, or they can't stay for a week-long workshop. Well here's your chance to learn a great binding method for making your own journals.

SpineRoundedClose7181 Left: a close-up photo of the rounded spine.

Last year, I went non-traditional, adapting the round-back spine to a structure made of non-traditional materials. (Not Your Father's Casebound Journal.) This fall I'm stepping back into the traditional fold a little bit with a full-cloth covered case—but it's still simple. We'll sew on tapes, but without a frame. In fact anyone can make this book at home without any special equipment, just a ruler, X-acto, thread, needle, bone folder, and some glue. (Oh, yeah, you need a hammer.) Isn't that really what you're after: a sturdy book structure you can make at home, and get busy sketching in?

Students will also have the option of making a recessed area on the cover to hold a label like the ones shown on the purple and green sample books. (We'll discuss the pros, cons, and tricks of doing something very 3-D, like the Claybord™ inset.)

Windowcloseup7179 Right: A close-up of the recessed label on the purple journal. Here I've reduced a journal sketch to label size. On the green journal (shown above) I made a collage of my illustrations and added type in Photoshop. Students will receive instructions before class on how to create labels so that they can bring artwork to class and create their label, or they can elect to create a label after class. (I prefer to label my journals after I have finished filling them.) The samples show the Japanese bookcloth we'll use to cover our cases (colors may vary depending on MCBA stock).

When deciding on the size and paper to use for the textblock in this class I considered using Bibilo from Hahnemühle. It's a good paper, available in large sheets. Some of my friends really like to work on it, even with mixed media. I find the paper very soft when tearing. As I tore the paper for the purple and gold samples above I said to myself I'm not going to put students through this, whether or not they are beginning. (Any skill level bookbinder is welcome in this class.) I'm experienced at tearing paper and I found it slow going and frustrating. So I reached for the Velin Arches (formerly Arches Text Wove), which tears down so crisply and easily. Yep, it made my choice very clear.

This is a great paper for people who like to write, sketch, and use mixed media. It is lovely to paint on this paper with watercolors. Because it is relatively light weight we're able to get lots of pages in a small spine width, and that means more pages to work on.

During class I'll be talking to students about other paper choices, including the Bibilo. We'll all be making a journal like the green sample, but I will explain how to design a custom journal for future projects. Everyone will leave understanding what the sturdy structure is capable of and how to bend it to his own needs.

As we work, throughout the day I'll also be providing journaling suggestions. We'll discuss how to select paper suitable for a variety of visual journaling media. And I will have examples of my own journals as well as other resource books on hand.

Where else can you have so much fun on a fall day! Isn't it time you started the great bookbinding adventure—or continued it with a structure well-suited to your visual journaling? Local or not, I hope to see you for this class.

Note: The fall schedule hasn't been posted at MCBA but if you contact them they'll be able to help you with that. I just got the class fee information today: TUITION: $110.00 ($100.00 MCBA members), plus $20 supply fee.

    • karen
    • August 11, 2009

    I feel compelled to write a testimonial…
    I took the “not your father’s…” class last year and have been using that journal since February (obviously not every day) but just goes to show that it holds up well as it travels around in my bag. The Velin Arches paper takes pencil, ink, gouache and watercolor, or any combination, really well. The construction is simple and easy to learn and do at home. Roz, you’ve got a great class here.

  1. Reply

    sounds like a wonderful class, i wish I could come along, but minnesota is a long way from new zealand for a one day workshop 😉

    • Roz
    • August 12, 2009

    Meliors, I just can’t win. People tell me they can’t travel here for a week long work shop so I do a one-day workshop…well, actually either way I think NZ is too far a trip, but I’m laughing and laughing!

  2. Reply

    I’m signed up for the class and really looking forward to it. My son and daughter in law live in Minneapolis (we live in Oklahoma) so a visit to them was planned with classes in mind. I know there is a supply fee, but do we need to bring anything (tools, supplies, etc.)?

    • Roz
    • September 22, 2009

    Cheryl, fantastic. I’ll look forward to meeting you and helping you with your book.

    You only need to bring a “label” for you book if you want to put one in at the end of class. The label can be any thin paper art, either an actual painting or a print from a color printer. Both samples above show a print made on a color printer. You’ll want this “label” art to be something in the two x three inch range. I suggest you take a piece of paper that is 6 7/8 x 5 3/8 inches and have it stand in as the front cover of your book. Then place your label art on that to see if it suits the size. You want to have 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches above and below to the edge of your cover from your label. It’s partly a construction thing, but mostly a taste thing. If your art is within the 2 x 3 inch range or slightly smaller, it should look great on the cover.

    Because we won’t know what fabric color choices we have until the day of class you might want to make two labels of different color palettes to you have some choice.

    But you can also do all the prep on the cover for the label in class and do a label when you return home, so don’t sweat it. (Except for the class samples I only put labels on after I have completed a book.)

    Just show up rested and ready to have some fun.

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