Drawing on Scraps of Paper

March 13, 2023
Brush pen and watercolor and color pencil sketch of a red onion in the pantry. I stood up holding the scrap as I worked, not bothering to turn on the pantry light, so the kitchen light made some interesting cool temperature choices very easy. The rest of the text below the scrap is how I spent my day and other personal note stuff.

I love to draw on scraps of paper. 

As a bookbinder I have a ton of paper scraps leftover after any binding session. There are trimmings of course, but typically because of the way I want my handbound books sized, I fold and tear away bits from the main paper sheets before I start making the final page folds. This means I end up with a lot of 5 x 7 inch (or a little smaller or larger) scraps.

Of course any scrap that’s landscape shaped I pass along to a landscape painter friend. Everything else hangs out in the flat file. I pull some out when I need them.

Before packing up the flat file for relocation I pulled out a bunch of scraps to use during the transition. I never dreamed the transition would take this long. But I’m not even close to running out of scraps. Today’s piece is one of those scraps.

Of course when I finish drawing on a scrap I tend to put them in my journal like on this day.

The idea of the journal as scrapbook might horrify some folks, but I love combining bits to document my days.

It reminds me of my college days when I used to subscribe to the “Village Voice.”

I would read bits of the paper to my roommate as she sat on the top bunk.

We would laugh about my cynicism and how I was going to turn “that” into a murder mystery.

When the reading session was over I’d have a desktop of scraps I would tape into my journal. I’d stay up late making all sorts of notes in the margins. When I finally slipped quietly into the lower bunk, visions of mayhem dancing in my brain, I felt quite productive. (Mark Twain kept a scrapbook—even held a patent on a gummed page assemblage!)

I found those swollen journals in the downsizing (and saved them of course). They are so bloated their spines broke from stillness on a shelf. The tape has yellowed and in most cases lost its adhesive qualities. You open the book at the peril of the internal organization. But I chanced a few—my roommate has died, it’s a good way to remember the bright days of possibility.

So I keep putting scraps in my journals, because they matter to me.

Let your journal be something that lives and works for you.

    • Sharon+Nolfi
    • March 14, 2023

    It’s great how journals/scrapbooks contain so much more than than the actual items on the pages. Your Village Voice clippings are openings into all the memories of your college-age self, your roommate, and even thoughts you had during that time. Sometimes journals contain truths long forgotten. For many years, I would occasionally wonder if I should have married my college boyfriend, who desperately wanted to marry me. Recently, I was sorting some college memorabilia and came upon a diary I kept during that time. There, in my own handwriting, was the stark answer to my wondering about the boyfriend. I had written that he was pompous, controlling, needy, and even physically abusive. No wonder I ended that relationship!

    1. Reply

      I haven’t had as dramatic an eye-opening as you mention Sharon (and I’m glad your present self back then made that decision), but I have been surprised sometimes in looking back into the journals that some things weren’t exactly as I remembered them. Usually it has been more the discovery of nuances about a situation that I might have forgotten. Mostly I see how much I’ve changed.

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