The Real Scrap Book

Every journaler needs a good scrap book. No, not a scrapbook–the kind you fill with machine-punched out die-cuts and purchased pressed flowers and ribbon. I mean a scrap book–the kind of book you need to practice things in. The kind you can mess up and not worry.

Having recently bought another book on hand-lettering and wanting to practice, I wanted to make a book out of paper I didn’t mind messing up–a book that will show use, and maybe progress.

Rough paper and cover make a good practice book, a real scrap book.

I found some paper at a garage sale. It looked like old paper bags, or soft, thin cardboard. There was something appealing to the surface–both hard and velvety. I moved it twice, so it has aged gracefully. (Leave room for significant pause.) The other day I received a package and instead of packing knurdles, there was corrugated cardboard. Now I had the cover and the pages.

Even holes are best made with a dremel tool. Saves your wrists, too. Hammers can be hard work.

The pages were all loose, but that’s no reason to hesitate. I tapped the pages into place, ran glue up along the long side and let it dry. Then I punched five holes¬† through the whole stack using my trusty Dremel tool.

I bound it using the traditional Japanese stab-binding method, about half an inch from the edge of the paper. For binding thread, I used a rough packing twine. Some stab-binding tutorials cut the cover, to make turning the pages easier. That wasn’t necessary here.

A real scrap book for praciticing hand lettering. It's ready for mistakes and do-overs.

Now I have a real scrapbook that I can practice hand lettering in. It won’t bother me if my flourishes aren’t fine and even; it won’t annoy me if my letters are a bit lumpier than I’d like. It’s all practice. It’s all creative work.

Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach who will learn hand-lettering if she has to fill many scrap books. But she still remembers the calligraphy teacher who told her, “It’s too late. You are too old to learn calligraphy. You don’t have enough life left to practice.” That was 10 years ago.