I’ve spent the last week making these watercolor sketchbooks filled with 48 pages of Canson 140lb/300g watercolor paper and…best of all…LASER ENGRAVED COVERS! They are perfect to take on a trip or use as a daily art journal because they are compact, the binding allows them to lie flat for easy painting and sketching, they close with an elastic (perfect if your paper is dry but still damp) and the thick paper takes all different types of media well.
I first made these little art sketchbooks in 2014 as a way to use up a pad of paper I had kicking around, one of them had honeybees on the cover and one of them had poppies on the cover. Little did I know they would become some kind of Pinterest phenomenon because I had people visiting the listing for years after it sold out, and occasionally sending me messages asking if I could re-make them. The time was never right, and the printing process I used to create the covers was really fussy and tricky and easy to mess up.
Well, fast forward to this year when our long-awaited Glowforge laser cutter arrived! Now we’re in business! I knew right away I could use the laser to engrave the designs onto bookboard and so after a few weeks of playing with settings I had a beautiful result:
Lasers are essentially super concentrated beams of light and the laser cutter uses ones so powerful that they can burn and things (unlike the one you use to play with your cat). Sort of like using a magnifying glass to burn holes in leaves using sunlight. The great thing is, instead of having to sit still for hours to burn and cut this cardboard by hand with a magnifying glass, I have this robot machine to do it for me! Wow! it really is the future!
My mom says my grandpa used to work on lasers in the military back in the post-WWII period and he would have been extremely excited about the laser cutter. I’m glad we can appease his spirit in this ancestral home with burnt offerings of cardboard, wood, and in the future perhaps leather, wool and acrylic!
(Interested in buying a Glowforge? Use this referral link and we can both get $100 off – I’ll get a coupon for their supply store and you’ll get a $100 Glowforge discount)
After burning the covers I use compressed air to blast off the soot and wipe them down a bit with denatured alcohol on a rag so you won’t get soot on your hands from the edges – although if you hold them up to your nose they still smell a bit like a campfire.
I hand-tore the inner pages for a beautiful deckled look and sewed them into the books using coptic stitch, an ancient Egyptian technique from around 200AD that allows the book to lie flat when it’s opened. Artists out there will be thrilled to read that I also matched the page faces! That means in any spread you’ll have either 2 fronts or 2 backs of watercolor paper, so you can continue your picture across both pages without the texture of the paper changing the look of your piece.
You can check if I have any of these available in my online shop here: Handmade Watercolor Sketchbooks
They make a great gift for an Artist or traveler!
Thank you for looking! These may still be available in my online shop here: Handmade Watercolor Sketchbooks
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If you are curious about bookbinding, I recommend this post: 5 Great How-to Books on Bookbinding
and this page: Where to buy Bookbinding Supplies Online (also includes links to the how-to books!)