Handmade paper journal with felt hardcover

I can spend hours in the studio making paper without remembering to take a small water break, but luckily, I like to post photos of my process on my Instagram stories to show my followers what happens beyond my curated profile. Then I thought I could write this blog to share my process in detail.

The Purpose

I wanted to create a handmade journal with handmade paper that I would actually use; it's so easy to be afraid of "ruining" the raw, fragile surface of handmade papers. In my sketchbooks, I like to create "backgrounds" by simply making random marks or crumpling or cutting the paper. This is because staring at a clean white page can be daunting, and it doesn't inspire me beyond my imagination. Existing marks on a paper might make me look at my work in a new light, or it might scream at me to play with that rip and incorporate it somehow in my work. It just makes my journal look more diverse than drawings and paintings that look similar.

The Pulp

I chose linen pulp, using flax half stuff, because I've worked with various types of cotton rag papers since they're the most common in watercolour painting. I also appreciated linen's fine quality and flatness on its thin sheets.

 Set up for draining pulp from the Hollander beater

Set up for draining pulp from the Hollander beater

The Colour

I love spending time by lakes and in the aquarium. I am fascinated with the various textures and shapes that the same body of water suggests throughout different hours of the day, and I love imagining its hidden complex landscapes and lifestyles deep below. I like to work with the colour blue in my projects in an attempt to unravel my own complex imagination and landscapes in my mind. Exploring the colour blue makes me feel connected to the water, as if I am participating with it to amuse myself.

 Preparing my vat: linen pulp, yarn of varied shades of blue, and water

Preparing my vat: linen pulp, yarn of varied shades of blue, and water

The Papers

I pulled the papers using a 8.5x11" deckle so that I could fold it in half to bind them in a journal because my most comfortable journal size is around 7x8". I had issues pulling paper off the couching sheets but I wasn't too worried about that because I prefer a journal that is already imperfect so that I'm not too afraid to "ruin" it when I make art on it later. On the paper on the third row, third from the left, I rubbed off the pulp in some areas before pulling it to create the holes. In the future, I will focus on manipulating the paper during the papermaking process because it was a challenge to cut the paper using my Cricut machine when it was dry. Plus, the paper looks more raw and authentic when it's done during the pulling process.

 Some of the paper pulled from the vat pictured above, laying on brown paper on a rack to dry. I like to use the brown paper to avoid getting stains from dried ink on the rack. This is just one of the many ways to protect my work from damage in a shared studio.

Some of the paper pulled from the vat pictured above, laying on brown paper on a rack to dry. I like to use the brown paper to avoid getting stains from dried ink on the rack. This is just one of the many ways to protect my work from damage in a shared studio.

The Cover

I used an embellisher with five needles to dry-felt the front cover. I broke apart the fibres of synthetic crystal organza, cheesecloth, and silk-rayon velvet by felting over it multiple times. I tried to create lines using yarn and and with the direction of pre-felted ropes. Finally, I left parts of the two overlapping ropes unfelted to create a sort of sensorial experience for the user...which will be me. I like looking at busy paintings with lots of things going on, so I tried to fill this cover with various lines and texture so that it can inspire me by touch and sight. I used a blue fleece with cotton lining as the base.

front journal cover felted.jpg
front journal cover felted zoomed out.jpg

The Binding

I created four signaturues of 3 papers each ("signature" is a term used to describe a group of papers folded together) and binded using the saddle stitch. It was scary to see the gaps between signature when I flipped through the journal, but I found gluing the spine using super helped tighten the book together and closed the gaps when tiny bits of glue spilled in (a "super" is a piece of loosely wovel, starched cotton that is glued to the spine to strengthen a book). I used Lineco's Natural pH Adhesive glue, but an acid-free, multi-purpose white glue liquid or stick can work too.

journal photo top view.jpg
inside journal.jpg