Thursday, October 28, 2010

How to re-bind your moleskine without re-binding your moleskine!

I have been happily filling the pages of my moleskine sketchbook sent to me by the The Art House Co-op after I registered for The Sketchbook Project 2011 in August of this year (see here for details).  
Earlier this month on twitter Art House Co-op asked participants to pass on any documentation of how the moleskines have been altered or re-bound.  Here then are my materials and step by step instructions on how I have altered my moleskine.  
My box of tricks for negotiating the thinness of the pages contained between the kraft card covers includes:

Coloured pencils, a mixture of Rexel Cumberland Derwent Artists and Schwan Stabilo  Softcolor.  
This is my main way of adding colour as it is a dry application and won't therefore wrinkle the paper.

Paint brushes, varnish brush, white acrylic paint and Matte Varnish.

Rub-down transfers
I am using a lot of these due to my take on the theme I chose, 'Nighttime Stories'.  I want the sketchbook to have the feel of a children's book.  If the amount of text for a particular page is too long to transfer then I will print it out on some collage paper and incorporate it into the sketch.  The advantage of both methods is that the text does not show through on the next page.

A few scrap booking supplies.  I'm not a  scrapbooker, but I love some of the products.   Pictured here; luggage tag stickers by K & Company, paper pads by Basic Grey, stencil by Paperpizazz.  Fiber pens by Staedtler (0.3 & 0.5), Papermate and Zig.

Old catalogues and Surf Europe magazines for collage papers.

If I end up with a page where I know the media I want to use is going to bleed through then I 'prime' the pages in the following way (alternatively, if I've just finished a page on the moleskine paper and the next page is marked by the previous image showing through then I clad it over in the same following way) :

Step one: I chose and old paperback book that was on its way to recycling.  In my opinion - the older the better.  This one has a lovely yellow hue that intensifies towards the edges of each page.

Step one: rescue and reuse and old paperback

Step two: 'Prime' the page with a thin layer of white acrylic to knock back the text a little.  

Step two: apply acrylic paint straight from the tube

I don't go right up to the edges and generally keep the brush strokes fairly free.  I like the final finish to be a bit patchy and haphazard.

Step three: Apply double sided sticky tape to the back of the primed page.  I try to get the tape as close to the edge of the page as possible so there are no flapping edges.  As Art House add more dates to the Sketchbook tour I'm always thinking about how I can make my sketchbook as durable as possible.

Step three: apply double sided sticky tape

I continue round all four sides.

Step four: When I started sticking these pages in I continued the primed paper right into the spine.  This began to create too much thickness in the spine. Now I space the pages a little way from the centre.

Step four: stick pages into the moleskine

Step 5:  A double spread ready for almost anything you would care to throw at a sketchbook!

Step 5: Your double page spread is ready for anything!

Once I've finished a sketch or a piece of text I will often use a bit of the matte varnish painted on over the rub-down transfers and any graphite just to seal and protect the art / graphic work.  Hopefully this will help the pages last the tour and beyond!

Top tip: use matte varnish to protect any fragile / smudgable work

You can sign up for The Sketchbook Project 2011 here but you will have to hurry, the last day to register is 31st October 2010.


  1. This is fantastic! I'm still in the beginning stages of my project, so I'm really happy I found this now. Very cool.

  2. Lydia, you are most welcome, hope it helps and good luck with your sketchbook.

  3. This was VERY helpful information! Thanks so much!

    Janey ~ Austin, TX

  4. Dear Janey - you are most welcome, I'm glad it was helpful

  5. Thanks so much! This is really helpful. I like to draw with sharpies and have been stressing over how to work in my moleskin with them. I usually use an actual moleskin sketchbook, but the sketchbook project books have painfully thin paper. I feel inspired again!

  6. Mocha Tribe - that is great news! Happy sketching.

  7. Yay!!! I have been avoiding actually starting in mine, because I was worried about how thin the pages were... I had heard someone else mention the double sided tape but was wondering how well it would hold. Since this is the second time I have heard it I am just going to go with it!! Thanks!

  8. Liza..double sided tape is the way forward!

  9. This is very awesome! Your explanations and photos are inspiring! I actually posted "Rebinding My Moleskine" because I love to bind sketchbooks - but I will definitely try out your technique - even if it's just in the pages of my own sketchbooks!! Thanks so much for sharing your work!!

  10. I've never done bookbinding Joanielp but I'd love to try it next time round. I'd probably do it with a whole load of different kinds of paper - could be interesting. Thank you for the feedback - I'm really glad people have found this so helpful.

  11. Great post!It's looking wonderful,very creative approach,& I love the idea of recreating the nostalgia of old children's books...Fantastic!!

  12. Thank you Angelusnoir! As the sketchbook unfolds I've come to the conclusion that it is almost a children's book for adults! Just because we are big doesn't mean we don't like stories with pictures.

  13. Thanks for your tips
    I just received my sketch book. My daughter Sarah told me about it and signed me up.
    I still find it a challenge but decided from the start that I was going to use it as a kind of a diary about a project I am working on at this moment.

  14. Harrie...just get the first page done and then you will be away!! Starting is always the hardest part. Sometimes I just do a few collages to get me going - it fills up the first few pages without having to put pen to paper. See post that I did when I started my new workbench sketchbook. I hope you enjoy the Art House Co-op project.

  15. ....more please...... great tips. Especially the double sided sticky tape idea. I have a good collection of old life drawings begging for re use....i think i am on my way...thanks so much!

    My topic is mystery maps, and the more I progress the idea on paper, and in my head....the more it is heading off all over the place, and becomimg more of a mystery to me. I love how somebody elses concept and theme, and a deadline, and the potential to have your creative life exhibited in the far side of the world - is completely liberating and inspiring... for me at least!!

  16. Andrea - glad it was helpful. I do a little post on a Sunday with a sketchbook update each week if you interested in seeing how the project unfolds. My theme is 'nighttime stories' and, like you, the sketchbook is evolving and taking directions I hadn't in mind when I started. It is a great project and has really made me think. It has also been great to have this running alongside my day to day creative work.


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