My art work

My new, handmade sketchbook, and some other sketchbooks too.

I love books. I love their smell, their promise of adventure into a new world, and how they feel, weighted in my hand. I especially love notebooks and especially, especially sketchbooks. They have thick white pages that beg to be marked.

I am currently sketching in a Strathmore Art Journal, 400 series. It has 48 pages of watercolour paper. I love holding it. I love the sound of the pens across its paper. It takes watercolour washes well, as it should. I am still coming to terms with the rectangular format. It makes me plan my pages. Otherwise they end up looking a little higgledy piggledy, and I don’t like that. And it fits nicely into my bag.

An earlier sketchbook was one of those visual art diaries. It travelled overseas with me. I doodled in it, practised Celtic braids and Art Nouveau patterns in it, stuck wrapping paper in it and doodled from there and recorded small events while we travelled in Alice the Caravan. Higgledy piggledy was fine and encouraged. But the paper was only cartridge, and went funny when I tried to use watercolour on it. I loved the freedom of that sketchbook. Somehow my current one, the Strathmore, doesn’t allow doodling.

For much of last year I worked in a Hand.Book (That’s the brand name.) I really enjoyed its square format. If I wanted to I could divide each page up further and do little drawings. Only occasionally did I work across both pages. It has heavier paper that took watercolour so well but ordinary pencil smudged easily. That was okay, as it made me use pen. Pen doesn’t allow rubbing out, so I had to be sure of the lines I put down. It developed my confidence in my hand/eye co-ordination.

I decided that this sketchbook needed a fancy cover, so I glued on a piece of freeform knitting a crocheting I had lying around. I also included a handkerchief ~ clean, of course! ~ that had a special meaning for me.

So that’s where I have been and where I am. I have other sketchbooks that I use in other ways, and I will tell you about them some other time. My next sketchbook will be different.

I have been quite envious of sketchers like Roz Stendhal who speak about making their own sketchbooks and journals. One of my Pinterest boards is a collection of bookbinding ideas and sites. Making my own sketchbook was up there on my list of projects. Then I had this brain wave. I could make a sketchbook using papers of drawings and paintings I had rejected  ~ and there were quite a few of them! The backs of them were usable, and the painting might only have been a little mushroom or a colour swatch. I was so carried away that I was up at 2 o’clock the other morning punching holes in the paper! This is the result ~ and I have plenty more paper to make more, maybe bigger ones!

Front cover of my first handmade sketchbook  (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)
Front cover of my first handmade sketchbook
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)

I like the idea of some pages already having something on them. I can sketch and doodle around them or even over them without having to fret about stuffing up a precious new page of “good” paper.

It didn’t take much ~ odds and ends of paper and a few sheets of new paper from a sketch book, thread that I have miles of, a thick sewing needle and the needle from the sewing machine. This was sharp enough to pierce the paper to make the original holes.

Now the fun begins in using it. I have a plan for its first outing. Wait and see.

18 replies on “My new, handmade sketchbook, and some other sketchbooks too.”

Go and make some! I was surprised at how easy it was, and glad I could be an inspiration. 🙂 Your kids might like them too. Lots if info on the internet, of course! but will post a blog with the link to the video I followed. I would like to venture into more complicated bindings, and I know the info will be there.

Liked by 1 person

I’m a bookaholic too. I also like Strathmore 400 but I must say I never thought about the covers and bought a soft-cover and am sorry about that. My favorite sketchbooks for doodling sketches is the Aquabee Super Deluxe but I don’t know if you can get it there. It comes in a 9×9 format which I love.


I really enjoyed the square format of the Hand.made book. I struggle at times with this rectangular Strathmore. I haven’t come across the Aquabee brand, but with the internet most things are possible to source.
Do you use a fountain pen? I love using the Lamy, but get frustrated with the ink moving with water. I want to be able to use the pen and watercolour washes. Do you have any thoughts?


Oh my goodness, Anne, you take my breath away. What an inspiring journal of sketches, painting, travel reflections, and an amazing representation of your talents.

I fell in love with your teapot study. I’ve always loved teapots. Any chance of making those up into some art cards?

Liked by 1 person

It is wonderful to have a creative outlet. I feel so lucky that I have found something that I enjoy doing, and that it helps me capture my everyday life. Also it is one of the reasons I love to read blogs, to find out about the creative passions of other bloggers.


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