Urban Journaling—An Upcoming Class

December 14, 2009

Details on my March 2010 class.

Above: Samples of the long-stitch wrapped-cover, supported-spine journal we will make in this class. The actual book we will make is the sample on the far right: the square one which is about 8 inches square. Cover paper selection will vary depending on availability at the time of class, but there will be a selection. These samples show other topics of discussion: using embossed paper for a cover, collage decoration for a cover, and painting paper (the small journal in the front).

It's not too early to think of spring, March 27, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to be exact.

That's the date of my next book arts class: Urban Journaling at MCBA.

There comes a time in every book artist's life when she needs a book quickly! But it has to be elegant, sturdy, and practical—i.e., filled with luscious art paper for working on in mixed media.

In my Urban Journaling class I'm not only going to teach you how to make such a book, we are then going to go off to the Mall of America for some actual, real-life urban journaling!

We will begin our day by making a 4-signature, longstitch book with a reinforced spine and soft-wrapped cover. Text
pages will be acid-free art paper perfect for all sketching media (including watercolor and gouache). You'll learn how to tear paper and prepare your signatures.  We'll discuss paper choices for making art journals. Students will have the option of decorating their cover papers with paints and inks and we will also discuss more labor intensive decoration strategies such as collage for independent exploration outside of class. 

Next, students will learn observational and journaling techniques
through discussion, demonstration, and examples from the instructor’s
journals. I'll break down some strategies for sketching in public that will build your comfort level regardless of your sketching abilities.

After a lunch break the class will reconvene for an afternoon of sketching and journaling at the Mall of
America. People, objects, architecture, conversations, behavior—it will
all fall under our scrutiny. And we will absorb every bit of it. Students will experience sketching in
public with a group and so gain confidence for solo sketching in the future.

All artistic and bookmaking skill levels are welcome in this class. The supply fee covers everything you need to make this archival book. The fee also includes one of my preferred sketching pens so you'll have the perfect implement for your afternoon drawing adventure. If you already work in colored pencil, watercolor, or another media, feel free to bring additional supplies to the class for your afternoon work. Registered students will receive a "packing light" handout to guide their choices. I will focus on using pens, but depending on student interest will also demonstrate working with the Niji Waterbrush and watercolor.

If you have been sitting on the fence, wanting to make your own books but are afraid of glue; or if you have been eager to sketch in public but feel naked doing so; then you need to join me for this class.

The cost of this one-day class is $95 ($85 for MCBA Members) plus a $20 supply fee.

If you would like to read the class blurb go to the MCBA adult workshops page and scroll down to the March classes where you'll find Urban Journaling. You can click there to register, or call MCBA at 612-215-2520. Plan your spring book arts adventure now!

    • Carolyn
    • December 14, 2009

    This sounds wonderful! (Alas, I’m far away…) Those are handsome journals and it sounds like a rewarding workshop.

    I’m curious. How many pages are your signatures?

  1. Reply

    Wow…cool beans Roz…I’m going to talk to DH about making the trip…give me something to look forward to come spring time. Can you tell me which airport we’d fly into and a hotel near the campus…thanks, Roberta

    • Roz
    • December 14, 2009

    Carolyn, I’m sorry you’re too far away! (I’ve had people come from all over the US though.)

    My signature pages differ depending on the paper thickness and the book construction. Anywhere from 2 to 5 sheets. For this book we’ll be using 4 sheets for 16-page signatures.

    • Roz
    • December 14, 2009

    Deb plan a mini-sketchout by yourself that day so you can be with us in spirit!

    • Roz
    • December 14, 2009

    Roberta, the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport is the airport.

    I’m not sure about hotels in that area as it’s at the edge of downtown in the warehouse district and that’s being “gentrified” with new hotels that I think are a bit pricey. I had a student stay in one downtown for my last class and I’ll ask him for that name, I think it was two blocks or so away. Depending on what rental cars go for these days in Mpls. it might be better to stay a little bit out of the center and drive in. It’s pretty easy to get to on the main roads.

    Ah, but then parking is a bitch at MCBA, especially if there is something going on down town.

    Just doing a little search on Google, and knowing the location of MCBA it looks like The Depot Minneapolis, A renaissance Hotel ( 6123751700 is about 5 blocks down from MCBA (which is on Washington Ave. South, between 11 and 10th Aves.

    The Depot is a reclaimed train station that also has an ice skating rink. I fear it will be expensive.

    The Hotel Minneapolis A Double Tree hotel, is at 215 Fourth St. S 6123402000 and is a couple blocks over, but about as far down as the other hotel. So a couple more blocks to walk. The Holiday Inn Mpls Metrodome is something I just found on the map if you go the other way away from MCB, towards 35W. It’s actually less of a walk, though you are walking from the edge of the MPLS Campus to the edge of downtown, so it isn’t as “pretty” a walk, if you like skyscrapers (because you aren’t at any yet). You’re at “7 corners” which is an interesting place at the edge of campus.

    Oh, and I just found another one
    A Loft: A Vision of W Hotels—it’s only about a block away, it’s in newly built up area so it’s probably expensive???

    If you do come and stay at any of these hotels you should check out what is showing at the Guthrie Theatre because you will be a block or a few (depending on which hotel) from it and can walk over there too.

    Mill City Mueseum is also right in that tight few blocks.

    Anyway, hope that helps Roberta. If not in March, I hope you can get here some other time. Minneapolis is a wonderful place!

  2. Reply

    Thanks Roz…this is a great start and DH and I would definetly take in some of the sights if we can come. Since it’s my big “5 0” next year I’m milking it for all it’s worth with DH…lol Once we get through this move the end of Jan, I’ll be in a better place for making definte plans. Thanks so much, and I’ll definetly keep you posted. Fondly, Roberta

  3. Reply

    Hey Roz…me again:} Just checked out the hotel links and the prices are great…the Loft looks really cool and the room rates start out at $89.00/king bed standard room w’free internet…for DH…lol The Holiday Inn is always nice and we have club points there so we might have free flights/rooms…so it’s looking good. Have a great day, Roberta

    • Roz
    • December 15, 2009

    Roberta, thanks for letting me know what the Loft is charging for rooms. I couldn’t find a way to get their rates without plugging in dates. I find that irritating. I’m sure I just missed something. That seems very reasonable for being right down town!

    I’ll hope to see you sometime in the future if not in 2010, you have a great 50th birthday!

    • MC Hyland
    • December 15, 2009

    Roz and Roberta-

    I know there’s a discount for the Aloft hotel for people connected with the Open Book building (where the Minnesota Center for Book Arts is based). I just called and left a message to find out the specifics, and I’ll post them once I know!


  4. Reply

    This sounds like such a fun class, and I so wish I could take it Roz, but it looks like we’re going to be traveling then (to Tennessee, not to Minnesota). Hopefully I can join you in summer or fall.

    • Roz
    • December 16, 2009

    MC, COOL, thanks for finding this out!!!

    • Roz
    • December 16, 2009

    Cheryl, since you had already made a long stitch book for Glen I wasn’t anticipating you’d be here for this, but I hope to see you again in the future if it works out in your plans. Have a fantastic time in Tennessee. I have only seen small portions of this state, in great haste. I know there is a lot of beauty in the state. Make a book for both you and Glen before you leave for Tennessee!

  5. Reply

    Yes it’s true I’ve already made a longstitch book, but I used deerskin and not bookboards. Plus the sketching and journaling at Mall of America sounds like a lot of fun. As well as somewhat intimidating for me, which is one reason I would have liked to be there. We have friends in Tennessee that we go see every year – and we go at this time because it’s spring turkey season. And we’re hoping that when we get back, we’ll be heading to Colorado to pick up our puppy.

  6. Reply


    Are you ever considering an online class? I think there would be plenty of people interested…I myself included. I would LOVE to come and see you though…My hubby and I are coming to the Minn area next June..I would love to come and sketch with you while he is in seminars.

    Thank you for your great keeps me inspired!

    Crivitz, WI

    • Roz
    • December 17, 2009

    Well, Cheryl the summer class is a soft covered book—no bookboards. It’s quick and virtually no glue. So you need to schedule a trip for my journal practice class in which I teach a sewn on the spine hard cover book! That’s a multisession class so you’ll just have to come and live up here near your son! (I think I remember it’s a son you have up here.)

    I hope Glen has good luck with the Turkey hunt! They are wily birds. I have had several encounters with them when tracking with the girls and it’s always fun.

    Can’t wait to hear about the puppy!!!

    • Roz
    • December 17, 2009

    Nancy, periodically I think about online classes and then I just have to go lie down for a bit. My problem I think is that I would be on-line with the students 24/7. Also I think a good it of what I teach is better learned in person. But if I can work my head around it something might happen.

    I’m glad you enjoy the blog.

    You should plan your trip in June to coincide with the Collective’s meeting: 3rd Monday, whatever that is, don’t have a calendar in front of me. No topic for that meeting yet, but we are pushing this week to do more sketching so that’s probably a good bet.

    And one weekend day in the spring and summer, to be decided yet (I’m waiting to hear back from the person whose gathering location info) the Collective is going to have a sketch out and INVADE a town. If you’re here then you must join us!

  7. Reply

    I hear you Roz about the on-line classes…I do love them…but I also love the “tactile”…hands-on part of being in the class where the instructor can show me how it’s done right when I’m working on the project. Also I’m in front of my pc enough without doing all classes there as well. And it’s great to meet your instructors and connect with them personally, face to face in lieu of the internet as well. I’m so looking forward to seeing a part of the country I haven’t seen yet as well…and those thoughts are getting me through this darn move…right now I’m in a hotel resting after unloading all my craft stuff from a 14 ft. U-Haul into our new storage facility…cause I have SO MUCH stuff and there is no room in the new, smaller house. Don’t worry it’s climate controlled, so my stuff is safe:} Have a great weekend everyone…I’m off to soak for a while! Fondly, Roberta

    • MC Hyland
    • December 18, 2009

    Hi all!

    Here’s the update on the discounted rate at Aloft hotel:

    If the hotel is less than 85% booked, they offer people connected with the Open Book building (home to MCBA, Milkweed Editions, and the Loft Literary Center) a discounted rate of $109 a night (plus tax). If you’re interested, send me an email:, and I’ll send you the details.

    • Roz
    • December 18, 2009

    Roberta, so glad that your storage space is climate controlled. I moved my acrylics upstairs from the warm basement to a converted and heated porch and then didn’t think anything about it when the heating broke out there—until I went to use my acrylics which had been through several freeze thaw cycles! My own stupid mistake. An expensive one. (I don’t use acrylics a lot so out of sight out of mind.)

    Have a successful move Roberta!

    • Roz
    • December 18, 2009

    Thanks MC for find out about this deal!

  8. Reply

    Roz, I realize this is long over but can I ask you what paper you used in these books?

    Also if they don’t have hard covers aren’t they hard to sketch on location in?

    I would love to take a class like this. Do you ever visit Upstate NY?

  9. Reply

    Sandra, Boy this is a long time ago, so many classes ago, I had to put my memory to the test. For this class we used Stonehenge—cream, one of the original colors of Stonehenge which I typically don’t find a problem with folding with the grain i.e., it doesn’t crack with the grain like the newer colors do, specifically Kraft and the icy blue.

    You can use any of your favorite bookbinding papers for these books. I’ve used all my favorites (use the search engine on the blog to find my posts about papers for visual journaling because I have a two-part post on it).

    Stonehenge is a nice choice because you can do mixed media and wet media on it and that opens up possibilities for the students to use whatever media they are invested in using.

    It’s also an economically priced paper that means you can make a lot of books for a low cost, something people are always concerned with.

    The cover paper, as always happens with the soft-covered books I teach, is now discontinued. You have to find a paper that folds both with and against the grain well. So everytime I teach one of these classes with a cover like this I’m over at Wet Paint’s paper desk looking at all the possibles. The cover paper tends to be the most expensive paper in this structure as we need a large sheet, and the ability to not crack in either direction when folded often means a handmade sheet. There are some interesting papers coming out of India which often fit the bill, or Japan, but you have to find something not too floppy as well. And something that will resist wear on the corners. Of course after finding the perfect paper the next time I teach the class that paper is no longer available.

    As for difficulty sketching with soft covers—well it’s not the same as sketching in a hardcovered book, but these books, which have reinforced covers aren’t simply floppy, so there is no difficulty there.

    I would take a book like this on a week-long trip or shorter, anything longer than that you’re going to have a lot of wear on the cover, so in that sense they are less durable and useful than hardcover books. But then I like to have a bit of patina and wear on my soft cover books.

    I find this type of book is great for a weekend away, a trip to a zoo or art gallery for a full day of sketching and idea generation, and a great book for “research” projects if you want all your notes in one book.

    Going on a cross Europe trip with one of these would not be recommended, unless you really didn’t care about cover wear. But sketching on site with them, no problem.

    I taught another soft-cover journal class this year (don’t recall the name of it) and one of the students went crazy after the class and made about 12 of the journals for herself and used one at the Minnesota State Fair—which can be pretty rough sketching conditions. And she had no problem with that or any of them.

    Some people just really like the form and the shape and how it feels in their hands. And other folks just don’t like hardcovered books so these are ideal—espec. because there is no glue drying time as there is with a hardcovered book.

    Oh, these are also great structures for artist books.

    As to travel to Upstate NY I don’t know anyone up that that would host such an event, but if you know of an organization that would be interested have them contact me.

  10. Reply

    Sandra, it bothered me that I couldn’t recall the name of this year’s class so I looked it up

    And it proves my point. The Tyvek we were going to use for the covers was discontinued and none of the existing ones (the company sent me samples) suits my technique. We had a roll of the stuff at MCBA but it got sold by mistake, so we had to notify all the students and use alternate papers.

    EEEK. if it weren’t so fun to make these books I’d stop teaching these classes because the supply acquisition is brutal.

  11. Reply

    Roz, you need to do a good video bookarts class. Please. And maybe the karma of answering a request from me will get your M. Graham blue gouache to b e instantly made too. (Okay, mayb ekarma doesn’t quite work that way but I would love to see a video (and am willing to pay for one) that shows you making a great journal.

  12. Reply

    Kate, I’ve been trying to find time in life to do a few bookarts videos since 2010. It hasn’t happened, but I do have classes I’m working on for 2015. Most will be painting and journaling classes that I think will have a broad appeal and if they go then I’ll do the more specialized stuff. So we’ll see. Teaching bookbinding online is something that doesn’t appeal to me as I like interacting with the students as they learn, but if the painting stuff goes well I’ll probably convince myself more and more. Check the Classes category now and then in 2015 to see what’s happening. Thanks for asking, though I’m under no illusions that such classes will get my blue gouache from M. Graham and Now that Wet Paint has been carrying Schimincke again for several years I’m not feeling the lack at all.

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