Archive for August, 2015

Once upon a time I made all my own sketchbooks.  I’d use the same vintage covers for the book while it was in use, and when the book was full I’d rebind it with permanent, prettier, covers.  You can take a peek back into the mists of time here.  Then I decided to downsize my sketchbook to make it easier to carry around, so I switched to Moleskine pocket sized sketchbooks.  My first was one of their regular sketchbooks with cartridge paper pages that didn’t take watercolour, I filled that with drawings done in ballpoint pen and then tried their watercolour notebook.  The paper was great, but I struggled with the format: Moleskine watercolour notebooks are landscape instead of portrait when they open, and it makes the book difficult to hold/balance when you’re not sat at a table.  I persevered, because of the convenient size, and bought a second one that I started in March 2014.

I’ve only just finished it.  I came to hate drawing in it as it was just so damn uncomfortable.  I’m hugely relieved that it’s finally full, and so we come to my next sketchbook.


Years ago I stumbled across Trumpetvine Travels, and that website inspired me to take up sketching.  The artist (who I believe is called Martha McEvoy) makes her own sketchbooks by adapting Moleskine ones.  Click here to read her tutorial on how to do this.

I’m normally quite lazy at following tutorials as I tend to adapt them to whatever I happen to have to hand.  However, as I’d had such a dreadful time with my last choice of sketchbook I thought I would stick with the recommended materials.  I ordered some Fabriano Artistico paper, found a Moleskine daily planner on eBay (from 2015, so much cheaper than a new one), and set to work…








…it went really well!  The finished book does feel lovely, the cover makes me smile, it’s going to be nice and durable (which is a strong feature of Moleskine books), and the paper is perfect.  Here’s a breakdown of cost:

  • Old Moleskine planner – picked up for £7.80 (£3.95 + £3.85 postage)
  • Fabriano Artistico 90lb hot press – £7.20 (approximately 90 per sheet, I bought 16 sheets in total)

So that’s a total cost of £15 for one sketchbook, excluding the time taken to make it (call it an hour).  Which seems pretty pricey given that you can get a Moleskine watercolour notebook for £7-£10 depending on where you shop.  However, and this is important, a Moleskine watercolour book contains 30 pages, and my rebound planner version contains 60.  So the rebound version really is more economical as you get double the pages.  I’m going to order some more 2015 planners so I can save money on combined postage, which will make my next few sketchbooks even cheaper to produce.

Many thanks to Trumpetvine Travels for the excellent tutorial, and for being an inspiration to me for all these years.

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I haven’t done much in the way of drawing for a while, just the odd bit here and there.  I seem finally to have got my sketch groove back on, which is a lovely feeling.

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This was an interesting find as I stumbled across it over a period of months, and the first couple of portraits I found were on their own and had no explanation next to them.  I eventually stumbled across the main blurb just a week before the end of the exhibition.  I didn’t manage to see them all, but you can find more information at Kit Oates.

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The first batch (which were actually the last ones I found) were on the side of Gloucester House, Carlton Vale (NW6).

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Prior to that I had also seen one on the side of South Kilburn Studios (Canterbury Road, NW6).

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Finally we have the first two I spotted on Craik Court (Neville Close, NW6).

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Great shutter art on this law firm.  Masefield House, Stafford Road, NW6.

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The only thing I’ve drawn this week has been a card welcoming a friend’s new baby.


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Lovely mural on the side of Charlton House, Albany Road, Brentford (TW8).  Spotted by @mmattface while he was there for the Brentford-v-Stoke City game at the end of July.

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I was given a lovely commission recently: to cover a stamp album in stamps.  The original album was pretty standard fare.

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I started by covering it with some good quality brown parcel paper as I needed a background on which to work.

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I then added a strip of airmail style washi tape to the spine.

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After that it was a case of adding stamps.  Which is easier than it sounds, it actually took a very long time to choose the stamps as I kept having to reevaluate after every row to make sure I didn’t have too many of any given colour or style in close quarters.

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I love the finished book, it’s so colourful (although I would love to know why Royal Mail don’t seem to have ever done yellow stamps!), and I think the strip of washi tape breaks up the design nicely.

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Still working on something with my pen and paints…


…and today I started knitting little hats again for The Big Knit…


…but I’m still finding time to relax too.


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I really do need to be less tardy with my blogging.  A couple of months ago I decided to gocco print another batch of minion cahiers… and they’ve been available in my Etsy shop for over a month, I just hadn’t got round to telling you all about them!

In the past I’ve used Moleskine cahiers, but they’re quite expensive and I wanted to be able to offer these to my customers at a better price so I had a look around and eventually found some similar cahiers at Hema.  Aesthetically they look very similar, although the Hema books contain more pages than the Moleskine ones and lack the pocket on the inside of the back cover.

As it turns out those extra pages were my undoing.  Why?  Because they didn’t allow the notebook to sit completely flat in the gocco printer.  I messed up quite a few books before working out that I would have to block out the text portion of my original design and just use the minion image, because the text just wasn’t printing clearly.  A little disappointing, although in a way it just goes to reinforce the fact that most things I make are one of a kind, or from a small batch.

The books are available here.





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