On My Workdesk . . .

Note: Thanks for the 76 percent of readers who would read a newsletter. Another 11 percent said “It depends if I like it.”  So, it looks like I’ll be starting a newsletter soon. Stay tuned–I have to create a space to sign up and get the first copy together. Thanks for voting!  Congratulations Barbara I –you are the winner of Marney’s book!

*   *   *

While I’m working on the Commonplace Journal, ideas began to bubble to the surface of my brain. Many of the pieces I work on are now looseleaf pages. Why?

Looseleaf pages

  • let you create more than one page at a time
  •  allow you to work on different stages at the same time
  • let you to turn the page in different directions while you are working.
  • give you more freedom in color choices–you don’t have to worry about pages that back up to each other and don’t coordinate
  • Don’t have a gutter or a wire  coil to work against
  • Let you separate private from public pages (important if you teach)
  • Encourage sorting through your work in ways that a book doesn’t
  • carry a smaller package of looseleaf pages to work on instead of a bulky book

The very idea of “book” is a closed object. We think of a row of spines, books closed in.

bookrowNow suppose you store your looseleaf pages in such a way as to invite opening, sorting, reading them, even cutting them up to recycle them into new pages. Now that’s a real art journal.

In the Inner Hero book (coming out in January), I have several suggestions on how to carry looseleaf pages. But the one I remember best from Middle- and High-School is the three-ring binder. It’s practical, it is meant to be opened. It lies flat (it really is lie in this case and not lay).

Binder1The big binder shape is a little awkward, but that’s where I started. I used a recycled binder, a naked one with no creepy plastic. Note that the outside edges are offset. That’s fine. When it’s full of paper, that will disappear.

Binder2Using, gaffer’s tape, I covered the space around the ring mechanism and the place where the Japanese Washi paper meets the book-tape edge on the outside. (You’ll see it in the next photo).  Gaffer’s tape is a woven cloth tape, very similar (but less expensive) than book-binder’s tape. I mitered the corners and glued the washi paper down.

Binder3Although this Japanese paper looks delicate, it can take a lot of abuse. It’s dense and tough. I glued it with PVA book glue, being careful not to stretch it, so it wouldn’t warp the cover. You can see the black gaffer’s tape that protects the join of the paper to the red cloth cover on the spine.

Binder4Using map pieces and the index for the atlas of maps, I created a collage for the inside covers. You can see the effect of taped edges on the left compared to un-taped on the right. I taped both sides to make the book look neat.

The first thing that went in was the 27- page quote collection I printed off yesterday. Then some other inspiration pages. For now, this is going to be the reference journal.

Coming up next: Smaller three-ring binder journals, about 7 inches x 10 inches. No, they won’t fit in my bag, but they don’t need to. I now carry looseleaf pages in my Monsoon Paper carrying case. (below)

papercaseI’ll be teaching Monsoon Papers and the carrying case on Saturday, July 13, at Arizona Art Supply in Phoenix. Save the date, details will be on my website soon.

How do you feel about using a binder to hold journal pages?

-Quinn McDonald is prepping four classes, one online and three in-person.






20 thoughts on “On My Workdesk . . .

  1. Loose pages are the way to go . . . I was making myself finish a journal and then decided I’d just tear them out and work on them loose.

    Four other reasons for loose pages are there is no bleeding around the edges, there’s not the same compunction to work both sides of the page (ever wanted to frame something or give a page away, that has a reverse side you don’t want to lose?), it can be the perfect size for the piece of art rather than the other way around; and you can switch paper if you change from acrylic to water colour.

    I just love my early mornng read Quinn . . . I am raising my coffee to you!

    • Oh, yes, the giving away part (or using it for a card) is one I had forgotten–and a really good one. And I feel compelled to work both sides–for no good reason whatsoever. And then there is the gutter that I feel compelled to manage elegantly and frequently can’t. . . oh, and changing papers! true, also, as I do a lot of collage as well. Excellent reasons!

  2. I like this idea and will give it some thought. I am so scattered with my art journal ideas I have several art journals on the go right now and would like to put everything together in one book and still be able to take things out and reorganize them. I started using a scrapbook album but that is cumbersome and not that easy to put things in and take them out and organize them. Thanks for the idea.

  3. I do most of my art journaling on loose leaf pages, which I then hold together with loose rings. I’ve recovered old 3 ring binders for recipe books, using ‘kitchen-y’ patterns. I like your idea for your binder covers, I’ going to give it a try with an old binder (I cut off the vinyl and reassemble it). That will be easier than making a slipcase, and I can still be creative with the covers. Thanks for another great idea.

    And yes, I would read your newsletter.

    • I made a slipcase, but lacking good sewing skills it looked. . . amateurish. Not that that is bad, but it wasn’t satisfying. So I am thrilled with the idea of using chipboard and ring assemblies. I find it amazingly useful to be able to sort pages in different ways.

  4. I work in both loose pages and in journal books. I do prefer the loose pages for the same reasons you list. I like your idea of using a 3-ring binder to keep the pages in until you find your use for them. I always loved my 3-ring binders when I was in school (many eons ago). They were so useful to keep things organized and neat and tidy. I need some of that these days. 🙂

  5. I love that you are okay using a three ring binder and don’t feel that you have to create your book from the foundation. Although you have done that as well with the monsoon papers. Three ring binders are a favorite item of mine. I use those clear insert pages to make my own sturdy cook book of recipes. it’s no piece of art but it’s functional and all my family recipes are in there. I can put recipes from magazines and newspapers into it easily and while I’m cooking the recipes stay clean. I have to say though, some of my handwritten recipes handed down to me by my grandmother and mother are my favorites as they are splashed with ingredients or spilled coffee or pickled beet juice. I can even remember some of those accidents! Happy memories there.

    • Cookbooks are very special, and while I’m sure the digital version is practical, I’m with you. I’ve always liked three-ring binders, and now that I have found a source for the mechanism that screws into chipboard, I can make my own! I feel no more remorse that I purchase the mechanism and chipboard than I do buying a spiral journal. And for the same reason, I don’t mind putting holes in my pages. They’d be bound or punches with holes for the spiral anyway.

  6. I realized when I read “The very idea of ‘book’…” that somewhere along the way the default association I have has become “a fairly long digital document”. Huh.

      • Hi Quinn, i have just found this email and am wondering if I never replied to it and what I missed out on. I placed a comment on a blog and accidently arrived on the older comments wher I found the reply from you. Just curious.

        • This is the blog comment page to an older blog that I no longer contribute to. My email remains the same, but my email is not answered through blog comments. I have a new blog page, connected to my site quinncreative.com Join us there if you’d like!

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s