One of the cool things about planning out a trip to Paris so far in advance is that I have plenty of time to start playing with my sketchbook NOW rather than just before time to go. The image above shows my layout plans for my new sketchbook cover with the finished item at the top right.
I knew early on that I would be making a sketchbook to take to Paris as I wanted to play around with a variety of page configurations and I LOVE square format sketchbooks. I also wanted control over my paper choice. Using Moulin du Roy 140 lb. CP paper, I have already torn down four signatures of four pages each. The pages all have different folds and some of are different size though the overall size of the sketchbook pages is 5.75 x 5.5 inches. The cover is 6.25 x 6 inches...not quite square, but close enough!
The reason I make the sketchbook cover SEPARATE from the signatures is because I can easily take the pages or signatures in and out of the book. If I don't want to carry the entire sketchbook, I can remove a section. If—heaven forbid—I were to lose my sketchbook, there's a good chance I would not lose everything.
Once my pages are complete (after I return from Paris), it may be that I didn't use all the pages/signatures I expected to. I can use these books in a different sketchbook. I have the option of binding the completed signatures into a more permanent cover (which is my plan) or I can continue to use the sketchbook cover you see in the images.
I used this system way back in 2014 on my trip to Acadia National Park and it worked tremendously well. You can see the leather cover I made for that trip here and read about it as well.
Leather vs. Material
When I started to plan out my journal cover, I was going to use leather and even made a leather cover. However, there are some advantages of using material over leather:
- Pockets - It's pretty easy to sew a pocket onto a piece of material. Leather is a bit more challenging. The pocket allows me to carry a few pieces of ephemera, tracing paper, etc. and it's an excellent place to tuck items away until I can add glue them to the page. I only added one, but it would be fairly simple to add one to the front of the cover if you so chose.
- Pen Loop - You can buy a clip that has a pen loop to use with a leather cover, but they're metal and they add weight to the sketchbook. With the fabric, I incorporated a piece of elastic into the seam. The weight is negligible and it is more secure.
- Speaking of Weight - Leather weighs substantially more than material and if I'm going to lug this sketchbook all over Paris along with my other art supplies and a cell phone and umbrella and so on, I want to stay as light as I possible can. By saving an ounce or two here and another over there, I'm saving my neck and shoulders a lot of stress and strain.
How Did I Do It?
If you have basic sewing skills and a sewing machine, it's not hard to create a cover to your specifications. I read a lot of posts and watched a lot of videos on how to make a DIY fauxdori sketchbook cover, DIY Traveler's Notebook, and other combinations. There are a host of posts out there. Some of them do not require sewing.
Because I wanted a bit more structure to my sketchbook cover, I combined two ideas to make mine. You can see them here and here. I wanted a spine, but I wanted the soft flexibility of the DIY Traveler's Notebook cover.
The size, the number of signatures and so on are completely customizable so you can create a sketchbook that is uniquely your!
Are YOU Coming To Paris?!
Would you like to?! You know you want to! I am so looking forward to going to Paris. It's been a pleasure to start working on this project already. My sense of anticipation has already started to build as I learn and read and sketch. By the time I return home, I hope to have a sketchbook worthy of my experiences while I'm in the City of Light. I would LOVE to help you create a sketchbook that captures your love or travel and art into a sketchbook you'll cherish for years.
A small group of artists will be joining me and we'll be exploring Paris off the beaten path as well as some of the iconic sites. I will be providing spontaneous demos each day based on where we are and what we see. I will also be available to guide you and answer questions as you capture your memories and create a sketchbook like no other! I hope you'll come and join the fun! Come and check out all the details here and here.