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Making a Paper Sample Test Booklet (or a Simple Pamphlet Visual Journal)

January 6, 2012


 

Today I’m starting a new intermittent feature called “Project Friday.” It will have its own category in the category list in the left-hand column of this blog. I’m not sure yet how often I’ll do one, but I’ll post it on a Friday in the hope that you can play with the idea on the weekend.

Above is slightly longer video than I usually make—it’s 20 minutes. It covers the making of a pamphlet style booklet. If the embeded video doesn’t work please view it on YouTube here.

I used this booklet style several times last year to test new papers. In the video you’ll see a sample booklet I started using in July 2011 which contains Arches Text Laid. (Note: Readers don’t be confused. I often make books out of Arches Text Wove, now called Velin Arches, but I wanted to try the Laid paper for reasons explained in the video.)

Here are some points about Arches Text Laid to keep in mind:

• It’s a lightweight paper so opacity, if you use heavy black ink brushes, will be an issue. (I’m used to using the sister paper Arches Text Wove, so this lighter weight paper doesn’t “bother me.”). 

• For a lightweight sheet it has good sheet strength and relative opacity and it isn’t an issue for me.

• It smells fantastic when wet from your painting. (The sizing smells wonderful.)

• It takes wet media (watercolor and gouache are what I tend to use in my visual journals) with minimal buckling. (I define minimal buckling as a slight distortion of the paper which doesn’t interfere with my ability to work on the flip side [or next page] of the paper.)

• The sheet is 25 x 40 inches with the grain running with the 40 inch side. With no waste or fancy cutting or tearing this means you can get a 6.25 x 10 inch booklet with no waste. (Two 16-page signatures per sheet.)

• The laid texture is fun to work on whether you are working with pen or pencil. The texture will effect your line quality but I think it gives interesting character to work completed on it.

• Colored pencil works well on this sheet (as do other pencils including graphite and the Stabilo All) but they will take on the texture of the laid surface.

• Dip pen will work on this surface and not tug or clog with fibers.

• All my favorite pens work well on this paper—Faber-Castell Pitt Artist’s Calligraphy and Brush Pens, Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, the Staedtler Pigment Liners (even in thin sizes), and several fountain pens filled with Platinum Carbon black ink. The pens all like moving across the suface of the paper, dance with the texture of the laid surface, and don’t bleed, feather, or seep into the paper.

• All pens that I tried did bleed slightly on this paper when wet IMMEDIATELY following drawing. The bleeding was very slight and since I would typically have paint on my brush 99.9 percent of the bleeding would be hidden to most eyes, so I don’t think of this as a problem.

• If you work with Arches Text Wove know that this paper seems “softer” to me, and because of that its surface is more amenable to pencils of all types.

• Additional note after first posting—I would recommend you collate this paper to match surfaces across the page spread, just as I recommended this for the next paper. The surface difference from the front to the back of the sheet on this sheet is less noticeable to me with the media I typically use, but it will be important for pencil artists and some painters will welcome the attention to detail as well.

Also in the video you’ll see a sample booklet I made of a “nameless” watercolor paper I purchased from Daniel Smith because it was being offered on sale. They are calling it Multimedia watercolor paper. It is 185 gsm (which is about a 90 lb. weight, so a lighter weight watercolor paper). It is cold press. 

When I first came across this paper it was being sold for about $1.00 a sheet! I purchased it at $1.50 a sheet and I see that as of the writing of this post (Tuesday) it is selling for $1.99 a sheet. So if it is a sheet that you are interested in trying out I would suggest you move on it as quickly as possible.

Here are some points about the Multimedia watercolor paper from Daniel Smith to keep in mind:

• It’s a lightweight paper so opacity, if you use heavy black ink brushes, will be an issue. However, it seems less translucent to me than other 90 lb. watercolor papers. Keep in mind that with the lighter weight papers you’ll be able to get more pages in a journal and not end up with a very heavy journal to lug around. With this paper, as with the Arches Text Laid above you have to weigh what’s most important to you against the paper’s qualities. 

• For a lightweight sheet it has good sheet strength and relative opacity and it isn’t an issue for me.

• It smells OK when wet from your painting. (This means it is neutral, i.e., doesn’t stink like some disagreeable papers I’ve found in German commercially made journals and such.)

• It takes wet media (watercolor and gouache are what I tend to use in my visual journals) with minimal buckling. (I define minimial buckling as a slight distortion of the paper which doesn’t interfere with my ability to work on the flip side [or next page] of the paper.) The paper does contort itself into somewhat stiff curves and doesn’t relax like the previous paper, but again, this doesn’t keep me from working on the next page.

• There seems to be a difference between both sides of the paper so that I recommend you tear and collate to match surfaces across facing pages. 

• The sheet is 22 x 30 inches with the grain running with the 30 inch side. This makes it no better or worse for bookbinding than other standard watercolor sheets. I find this limiting. I don’t like 5 x 7 inch books. That means a square book and wastage. At this low cost per sheet however wastage isn’t as painful.

• The cold press texture is not excessive. People who like to write with pen will find it easy to do so on this paper. The texture will effect your line quality but I think it gives interesting character to work completed on it.

• I did not test colored pencil or pencil on this sheet. The paper seemed “harder” than I like for pencil work so I wasn’t interested. 

• Dip pen was not a problem on this sheet, but it also wasn’t that fun.

• All my favorite pens work well on this paper—Faber-Castell Pitt Artist’s Calligraphy and Brush Pens, Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, the Staedtler Pigment Liners (even in thin sizes), and several fountain pens filled with Platinum Carbon black ink. The pens all like moving across the suface of the paper, dance with the texture of the laid surface, and don’t bleed, feather, or seep into the paper.

• The Staedtler Pigment Liner and the Faber-Castell pens worked the best on this paper. The Faber-Castell Pitt Artist’s Calligraphy pen was quite fun to work with on the paper as it had a little bit of drag that felt comfortable and substantial as I moved the pen—and there was a fun little noise as I worked that I quite enjoyed because of the texture of the paper. I was able to wash with my watercolors immediately upon completing a sketch with the F-C Pitt Artist’s Calligraphy pen.

• The Pentel Pocket Brush Pen ink floated for a long time on the sizing of this paper so that if you tried to add washes immediately (which is what I do) the ink would bleed heavily into the wash. This is a deal breaker. (I don’t mind a little bleeding, but as you can see on the video flip through there is a stroke through a drawing of a man and the ink melts everywhere if you go in right after sketching to paint.) I can use this paper exclusively as a pen only paper but it will have to remain below the $2.00 per sheet price to be competitive with other sheets I currently use for pen only. (Even after 40 minutes there were still areas of heavy ink coverage that I could dislodge.)

• As a watercolor paper I found that it had good workability. It lifted easily on washes that were still moist and even dry washes. It also would take scrubbing without pilling. I was able to achieve some interesting wash gradation on this paper, so it’s fun to play with. If I worked in pencil and watercolor I might use this as an inexpensive journaling choice, but the fact that it doesn’t like my favorite pen is a problem for me.

• There were some odd flaws in the paper which would be problematic if you were using the full sheet and they fell into the middle of a perfect graduated wash. For bookbinding I find this type of occasional flaw acceptable.

• Washes on this surface seem to have a tendency to be a bit streaky. The brush drags more than on more expensive sheets I’ve used. Since I work on many non-watercolor sheets which are not sized for watercolor I’m used to this behavior, but a watercolorist might long for his favorite paper.

In the video you will see me make a sample book out of a sheet of Rives BFK (the paper to “test” as text paper in the sample book) and a scrap of watercolor paper I’ve previously painted with acrylic paints. I’ll talk about grain direction and punching holes, and measuring your cover, and then demonstrate the 5-hole pamphlet stitch.

I made the video demo while reaching around the tripod so it was an interesting experience for me and not one I recommend. But the little 5 x 7 inch or so booklet that I ended up with is a lovely little tester book. If you have not used Rives BFK and are wondering what it would be like to work on it please enter the drawing for the booklet by sending in a comment, as simple as saying, “Please put me in the drawing.”

Note: The drawing entries have been closed (Friday at 7:30 p.m Central time). A name has been drawn: Sheryl won and the booklet will be going off to her via the mail. Please use the comments section for questions relating to the papers listed above or the video instructions. Thanks for writing in.

I encourage you to watch the video if you have never made a book because there are a bunch of little tips that will come in helpful later in your life. And if you want a way to make a tester booklet or make small portable journals to take everywhere with you be sure to give this book structure a try.  

Sorry I couldn’t tape the tearing paper tutorial first, but I didn’t have any paper left after the binding “binge” of December to tear down. That video will come soon, after I dig myself out of the preparations for the January 16 MCBA Visual Journal Collective Portrait Party (don’t miss it; see details on the MCBA Visual Journal Collective Page in the Pages column at the left).

    • Louise
    • January 6, 2012
    Reply

    Roz, Thank you for the instructional video and all the info. I will enjoy watching it later when I have more time to take in everything. I did buy some supplies to have on hand, so today’s project Friday might give me that needed nudge to try this.

    While we are on the subject of paper, I ran across this site last night while a friend was discussing the south’s ongoing relationship with the kudzu vine! Scroll down the page for a section of live links about making paper from familiar plants.

    http://www.artfarm.com/kudzupaper.html

    Although the subject of making paper is not the focus of your blog post today, I wanted to find a place to send you this info about these unusual papers and the artists who make them.

    • Diane
    • January 6, 2012
    Reply

    Please enter me for the drawing. Your video looks like an painless way to begin making my own sketchbooks.

  1. Reply

    Hi Roz, love the new idea and I am off to watch the videos, but please enter me for the drawing.

    • Louise
    • January 6, 2012
    Reply

    I’m not sure if my previous comment qualifies, so please enter me in the drawing! Thanks!

    • betty wilkins
    • January 6, 2012
    Reply

    Please enter me in the drawing . . . I have been curious about this paper for a while!

    Thanks!

    bettyfromtexas@gmail.com

  2. Reply

    Roz, many thanks for a wonderful video! Please do put me in the drawing. I’ve been wanting to try Rives BFK for a long time!

    Jamie

    • Sheryl C
    • January 6, 2012
    Reply

    I have not tried the Rives BFK and I would like to, so count me in! I like your Friday project vid idea a lot – looking forward to them.

    • Mia
    • January 6, 2012
    Reply

    Thank you for the video! I’ve started to look for paper to make my own books and pamphlet books are a great way to test new paper and keep a record of them. (A body never knows when its mind changes its opinion about a paper, after all.) Please enter me for the drawing too, I would love to try Rives BFK.

  3. Reply

    Louise, thanks for the link on the unusual paper which I will check out (the link). In general I’m not really hopeful when people use unusual fibers for papers, e.g. I’ve yet to find a hemp or bamboo paper that I like. But if working artists and not corporations getting on the “green” bandwagon are making the paper then they will want a paper they can work on so I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

  4. Reply

    Mia, you have the right open attitude about paper. Sometimes a second meeting with a paper, or the use of a new tool, or even a new batch of the paper, will give us a different experience. I will often return to papers I’ve dismissed years ago and test them again because my process has changed. For instance I used to focus on papers that were great for colored pencil but I rarely use them in my journals now (and not for the past 10 years) so those papers are less interesting to me.

    So things can change and that’s why I always encourage people to test papers!

    • Dana
    • January 6, 2012
    Reply

    Thanks for the video Roz. I love the idea of “Project Friday” and it would be great to try this paper so count me in please. I’m already thinking about my journal for IFJM.

    • BJ
    • January 6, 2012
    Reply

    Hm . . . I thought I had posted earlier but it is not showing up so trying again. I would like to be in the drawing and THANKS so much for the cool video. I am going to try one of the these books for sure. I like the Aquarius II for the cover idea, I have several sheets of that and you are right, it is tuff and never buckles!

    • BJ
    • January 6, 2012
    Reply

    I was wondering. . . what do the letter/numbers on the cover stand for? Like the R11.

  5. Reply

    Please enter me for the drawing. I’d love to try some different paper. 🙂

    • Barbara Lemme
    • January 6, 2012
    Reply

    I’d like to be in the drawing. I watch all your videos and read your blog daily. Thank you so much.

    • edie
    • January 6, 2012
    Reply

    I learn so much from you! Please enter me in the drawing and I can see the finished product in my inky little hands!

    edie

  6. Reply

    BJ, the letter/number combo on the covers was a volume number designation.

    You can read how I index my journals on this page
    http://typepad.rozwoundup.com/roz_wound_up/indexing-my-journals.html

    R11 means that it is volume R of 2011 and S11 means that it is volume S of the same year. (I went to volume U this year; my in-studio and my regular journal were both finished after these two little volumes.)

    Typically I won’t include a sample test booklet in my journal stream but the one sample stretched from July through December and had a couple pages left in it during the last days of December, and the S volume test was really completed in only a couple pages so there were blanks, and I was running through my regular journal and my in-studio journal and was going to run out of pages before the end of the year so I started regular journaling in both of these books and as I finished one I labeled it as I would for a regular journal.

    It wouldn’t have been a “great problem” to me if I had had to start my new journal before the new year, but I was so close (only a couple days) and I had this unused paper in these booklets, so it seemed a happy resolution.

    Since these are pamphlet books they have no spine to label, so I labeled the covers. And I used stencils and white stamp ink because I had those things out for another project.

    I deliberately didn’t discuss any of this in the video because as you can see that would have added another 10 minutes!

    Hope that clears that up for you, thanks for asking.

  7. Reply

    Thanks for posting the great video. I’m looking forward to more in the future. Would also love the Rives sample book to try out with pen and watercolor. Thanks!

    • Katie McD
    • January 6, 2012
    Reply

    Loved the video and hope you plan to make more. I think I will try and make one (or a few) myself as I often like to work in more than one journal at a time. Thanks for the chance to win 🙂
    ktmcd@yahoo.com

  8. Reply

    Katie, I’m glad you’re going to try to make some. Something else you can do if you have enough “flap” is you can stick down the edge at the tail of the book and cut the flap at a little bit of an angle so it is narrower at the head of the book, but not so that your cut goes all the way to the fore edge fold, and then you have a pocket! That’s useful in a journal.

    And having a little journal in every room is a great help to life!
    Thanks for feedback on the video.

    • Carole
    • January 6, 2012
    Reply

    Yes please, though it may be more than 50 comments by now.

    • Zoe
    • January 6, 2012
    Reply

    You are a terrific, patient teacher, Roz. I like the way you clearly talked &/or walked through the process of stitching.

    • Miriam
    • January 6, 2012
    Reply

    A video from Roz! What a treat!!!! 🙂 I also buy my waxed linen thread from Royalwood. They have a great selection of threads! Thanks Roz!

  9. Reply

    Thank you for taking the time to make the video and provide such comprehensive information. Even I can do this! Can’t wait to try it!

  10. Reply

    Carol, I’m glad you found it helpful and that you are going to give it a try. You’ll pick up things from working with a simple structure like this which will be valuable to you in the other books you eventually make!

  11. Reply

    Miriam I’m glad that you know of Royalwood and also find them a good supplier. I love being able to get the 12 cord threads for my baskets from them. I haven’t needed any of those for some time so I hope that they still carry the thicker cords! But 4-cord is fine for this purpose and is available in lots of other places now too.

  12. Reply

    Thanks Zoe, I’d be more patient if I didn’t have to reach around the tripod while doing an action and trying to speak and film at the same time. The pauses are me trying not to swear!!! GRRRRR.

    • ambal
    • January 13, 2012
    Reply

    Roz, Thanks for this helpful video. I have tried making cased in books because I like having stiff covers. But, somehow, my signatures don’t seem to fit tightly into the case. I was using 140lb. WC paper so maybe it was too stiff, but am willing to try the Strathmore Aquarius and Arches Text. Anyway, have you done a video on the casing in technique? I tried searching and came up empty so any direction on posting date would be appreciated. If not, would you please consider doing a video on that because I’m sure it would be as useful and well-received as this one! Thanks again for your clear explanations. I really enjoy using my hand-made journals as workbooks to practice drawing and painting.

  13. Reply

    ambal, I use 140 lb. watercolor paper regularly in my casebound books. Perhaps you need to make your signatures thinner for the way you sew and work? I typically do no more than a 16 page signature which is 4 pieces of folded paper, but depending on how you sew you might need to do only 2 for an 8 page sig.

    No videos on more elaborate structures. My method is something I developed and still only share with in-person students. It’s also more complicated than I want to do with videos right now as it requires a lot of specialty camera work that I don’t have the additional help with. And I would like to publish a book first before such videos. So all that will be in the future sometime.

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