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22 March 2012

Handmade watercolour sketchbook

I have been reading and admiring a lot of handmade sketchbooks that people have been making. This is something I have wanted to try for a long time but felt too intimidated to do. And I was worried it would end up being "too precious" and I would not use it, making it a waste of time and paper.

One of my recent goals has been to work on my watercolours. But I am often reluctant to just do a watercolour sketch, or if I do it is in my normal sketchbook and the watercolours just don't work properly. I had a look on YouTube at several videos that were recommended to me. There is just so much information there, so many different ways of bookbinding. After another couple of weeks procrastination I finally decided to follow Roz's pamphlet style, as shown here. I liked the simplicity of it and that it only took one sheet of paper, which was all I had at the time.

Here are my results. I used an old "painting" experiment as the cover and a sheet of Arches 200 gsm watercolour paper for the signature. Final size is 20 x 15.5 cm. It only took around an hour max to make, including folding and tearing the sheet and sewing together. No time at all.

I have been using my new little sketchbook. I am enjoying using my sketchbook. I do not feel the need to do a finished painting as I always felt compelled with a stretched sheet. And it is proper watercolour paper so I am getting proper practice.

Here are a couple of my watercolour sketches so far. They aren't perfect, but at least I am painting and having a go. Hopefully they will improve the more I do.

I would highly recommend having a go at bookbinding and making your own sketchbook. There is such a great sense of achievement and pride knowing "I made it" and it feels good too. I plan on making a larger hard cover one at a later date.


  1. Great little watercolor sketches Jaquip. I'm too lazy to make my own books, I just buy the
    Strathmore wire bound watercolor sketchbooks.

  2. Thanks David. My general purpose sketchbooks are wire bound. It was fun and simple to make this design. Looking at all the YouTube videos was a bit intimidating at first with all the bits and pieces and sewing but this one was very basic. You should have a look. After being used to hard cover wire bound sketchbooks it actually feels really nice to hold a soft cover stitched sketchbook. Though I haven't tried a full page spread yet :)

  3. I'm too lazy to make my own books too, although I've recently thought about making an accordion type for quick sketching trips, just to lighten my sketching load. I like your cover.

  4. Those accordion ones look very nifty. I hope you give it a go, I'd like to see it.