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.