Use Your Journal! No.1

Day 94/365

As you may have noticed from my previous post, I’m on a bit of a hand-lettering and calligraphy kick these days.  I’m also enjoying the idea of a few posts that promote journalling, sketching and using journals in general.  When I first had this idea I immediately pulled my quotes journal from the bookshelf, and decided to share a few of my favourite pages. photo 1 I will admit that this is a big step for me, I don’t usually share the contents of my journals and sketchbooks.  But these are just quick, pretty little notes that I jotted down in less than 10 minutes.  And that’s the idea, you can do it too! photo 4 You can find quotes all over the place: online, via a ‘quotes’ app (there are many!), at the library, etc.  Sometimes the best are snippets of conversations overheard in passing, or by looking at groupings of book titles on shelves to see if they form a sentence.  It’s also fun to pick up a book and open it to a random page and see what you get, like a box of chocolates!  (Well, maybe not quite like chocolates, but you get the idea)  photo 2 Fun pens and markers are also a welcome addition.  A bit of colour or shading can give your page just the right tone.
photo 3

If you want to try this yourself here are a couple of tips:

-Choose a quote that isn’t too long, make sure it fits on the page and that there’s room for a border to be drawn around it.

-Make sure to jot down the author of the quote so you can give credit and search for more inspiring words by that person.

-You can put a ground of colour down first with markers (as in the last photo above), and then write your quote on top.

-Feel free to use a simple, minimalist border or to get more creative and swirly.  Really whatever you feel like is what goes!

-Don’t try to make it too perfect, this is meant to be a quick exercise that is fun and enjoyable!

Do you have any other tips for quick quote-taking?  Have fun!



Day 93/365Untitled-4

It’s a book smorgasbord!  A smorgasbook, if you will!

Take a look some of the lovely handbound books that have found new homes over the last few months.  Maybe one of them is now yours?  I’d love to hear your favourite journalling topics and techniques!


Day 90/365


Today has been all about dusting off my old calligraphy stuff.  It’s old in age, but new again to me!  I’m starting pretty much from scratch, with some great titles from the library to inspire and guide me.  I will admit that I actually dusted this stuff off during my OOAK prep as a way to find peace and calm amidst the chaos and stress.  But it was short-lived and pretty much just the act of putting paper to pen.  Now I’m focusing on my skills and the creative possibilities of hand lettering.

I’m hoping to use this as a springboard to more posts about growing skills to use your journals and sketchbooks.  So, follow along and learn with me, I promise it’ll be fun!

Even More Projects!!

Day 41/365

photo 2-5

Today I’m posting about a project I’m pretty proud of: books that are case bound using bookcloth I made!  This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now, especially with all the fabric choices out there.

I decided to stick to solid colours, with linen and linen-like fabrics, I love the texture and richness of the colours.  photo-10

I finished these journals with sewn-in ribbon bookmarks, and corners to protect against wear.  I focused on two styles: a landscape journal filled only with 140 lb watercolour paper (I want one!!) and a portrait-oriented daily journal with a lovely large page surface to capture the day’s thoughts.

Since they are a limited edition binding (only 10 of each style) they are only available at the One of a Kind Show from November 27 – December 7, 2014.  If you want one, come find me at booth D49 in the Rising Stars section!

The Travelling Artist

Day 27/365

DSC_0454In the spirit of talking about some of my favourite projects, I couldn’t resist a post about these watercolour travel journals.  Originally in two colours, only the pink is left.  This book was designed to be a tough and rugged workhorse of a journal.  I wanted to create a beautiful yet functional sketchbook to take along while travelling or hiking.  I put in a pen holder on the spine and a braided linen tie-around closure.  It’s sturdy and solid, and beautiful all at the same time.
DSC_0418The hot pink paper is handmade (not by me) with a lovely scattered seedpod-like pattern on the front, and solid, bright, hot pink on the back.  I’ve had many discussions with papermakers about how this technique was achieved; maybe the hot pink paper was pulp painted, with rice as a resist?  Maybe it was a lamination of sheet forming?  I don’t know the answer, but it’s fantastic either way.


The second journal uses hand-decorated paper that I picked up a long time ago. I wish I could remember the artists name, I’d love to get more!  It is a textured wallpaper, that has been painted and distressed and then flecks of gold applied.  It has the effect of a dark, starry night.



I draw a lot of inspiration from colour, real time and in photos.  This post is dedicated to a small slice of my life where colour was my everything.  It couldn’t be helped, I was surrounded by it.  I’m talking about my time overseas, in Italy.


I used to be a painter, colour was one of the most important parts of that process for me. Now that I’m a bookbinder I find different ways of using colour: fancy paper, reclaimed materials, cover adornments, etc.  And when I use my own journals: pens.  Oh how I love a good spectrum of pens.  I have multiple sets of rainbow-hued markers, ballpoint pens, prismacolour, copic, sharpies, staedtler fineliners.  It’s like Christmas every time I use them, so I use them a lot!  (When I had a day job, I was the person who took one of every colour of highlighter and pen from the supply room in an attempt to brighten up an otherwise dreary cubicle).  These photos are kind of like my pen sets; inspirational, bright, they put a smile on my face and make my colour-loving self sing.


I don’t remember where all these photos were taken, I think some in Venice and some in Tuscany.  You can tell by the colour palettes of the buildings.  How amazing is that?  To know where you are by the colours of the walls lining the streets.  I do remember that green shutters were the common denominator no matter where I went.


The richness of these last two places in Florence are so intense.  A different feel from the top two bright and sunny Venice towns.  The monochromatic-like palette is a lovely collection of ochre, amber, oranges and browns.


Have you ever thought about the colours you use when journalling?  Sometimes I like to put a background wash of a light/pale colour (using the broad-tipped, sheer marker sets) on the page before writing with a matching colour on top (with a fineliner, of course).  And yes, I enjoy using more than one kind of pen/marker in a single journal entry, you should try it!  I’d love to hear about it if you do.  What are your favourite colours to journal with?

A Book of Plenty

Day 10/365


No, this isn’t really all of my journals.  It’s just the most organized-looking photo of some of my favourites and currently in-use journals.  What I want to talk about today are some of the uses of my journals, maybe they’ll inspire you too!

Some of these are books that I’ve handbound, and others are books I’ve collected over the years, from other hand binders.  There are several from Italy (Florence, Venice and Rome), and many from other binders here in Toronto and across Canada.  I feel I should come clean and admit that I don’t use all of them.  A few are in the queue to replace books with only a few blank pages

While I have journals for: ideas, to-do lists, sketches, favourite quotes, dreams, ramblings and other categorized observations, I usually have one daily journal.  This is the one that goes everywhere with me, fits in my purse, is rugged and tough yet beautiful enough that I sometimes use it as ‘advertising my craft’ when out on the town.  It’s also the test-run of my new indigo journals and is pictured above.

It’s pretty liberating to have this book as a catch-all for everything, no stress about perfect penmanship, clean sketches or having the best ideas.  I use it for everything: to-do lists, measurements of projects, contact information, ideas, sketches.  It’s a lovely snippet of this time in my life.  Looking back on my other, older, daily books, it’s interesting to see what my focus was at the time, what my inpirations and dreams were all about.

If you have a book that you really love and want to use but just aren’t sure, this is where I suggest to start; a book of plenty.  I’d love to hear how it goes!

Plein Air

Day 7/365

I am a bookbinder, I hand bind blank books.

I also use books; as journals, sketchbooks, idea books, for to do lists, for a bucket list . . you get the idea – I use a lot of books.  But this is my world, it’s what surrounds me and it’s my everyday.  Many times I’ve heard people say that they never use their journals and wish this wasn’t so.  The books I make are meant to be used and well-loved; write in them, sketch in them, spill tea on them and yes, even rip out the pages if you really want to!  It’s your journal!!

But before I get totally carried away with my artsy-fartsy book arts ideas, I’m going to back up to the beginning, to the start of a creative journey.  I’ve decided to write a few posts about actually using the journals I make and how to get started.DSC_0100

So, today’s tip is: plein air.  Yup, that’s it: plein air.  It roughly translates to: ‘in the open air’, from the 19th century style of painting outdoors and one of the main components to French Impressionism.  I also think of plein air as having a strong sense of open air, or open space.

In the context of this post and sketching or journalling, I think of it as starting with a clean slate, in a space that is open.  For me, that might mean actually going outside, to the local park to sketch, going on a hike, or to a corner coffee shop to people watch and do a bit of writing.  I think it comes down to the idea of clearing my mind and letting inspiration come from the moment, my surroundings.  I find that physically removing myself from my studio/office and all the ‘to dos’ gives my creativity breathing room.  I realize that this isn’t always possible; clearing off a desk or table top can have the same effect!  Give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes!

I’ll be posting more ideas for using Sprouts Press handbound books as the weeks go on, stay tuned!

ps. The photo above is from an amazing cottage trip near Algonquin Park in Ontario.  This is not my local park (I wish!), but I spent a lot of time on that bench sketching.  When I cannot get out to sketch or journal, I go on memories like this one.