Since I’ve been sketching more the last few years, it sometimes seems like I’m always searching for the next sketchbook to buy. I’ve been a huge fan of the different sizes of the Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbooks, but I thought it could be fun to make some sketchbooks of my own.
When I started looking for some bookbinding tutorials, I came across Sea Lemon’s videos on YouTube, and specifically her simple saddle stitch bookbinding tutorial. That definitely seemed like something I could pull off. Plus, it didn’t seem like the supplies for those kinds of books would set me back too much.
I visited the local Dick Blick store and picked up a few supplies, like a few sheets of thick posterboard in various colors (for book covers) and a big roll of cheap-ish drawing paper for around $30. The paper wasn’t all that I needed, though. All that was left were a few more essential tools (like a awl, a bone folder, and some thread), and I could make my own sketchbooks with relative ease.
The first couple haven’t been the best quality, and they certainly don’t have perfectly square corners, but they work well enough to sketch in. You can see in the image above I’ve finished one, and the larger, square one is almost completely full as well.
Once my current handmade sketchbooks are full, my next goal will be to take an old and cheap hardcover book, rip out the innards, and fill it with my own sketching/painting paper. Sea Lemon has a video on case binding, which looks to be exactly what I want to do. First, though, I need to fill up the ones I’ve already made.
All in all, I was surprised how easy it was to make a basic sketchbook that I could start filling with my own sketches and paintings. I’ve already made a half a dozen sketchbooks, and I still have plenty of paper and supplies for another twenty, all for the cost of a couple of professional sketchbooks.
A few more resources: