art journal tutorial

I haven’t shared a tutorial in a while so I thought I would share the class I taught at WNYBAC recently.

You might remember a while back that I took a workshop on gelatin printing, and how much I enjoyed it. Well because of that new love I ended up with a LOT of printed papers, and so of course I created a binding for them. I had also had rattling around in my brain for a while an idea to create a binding where the cover was primed canvas – so you could paint or decorate it to personalize it. So I took both elements and threw them together using a long stitch, into what I am calling an “art” journal, pre-primed for creativity!


Want to make one – here’s what you will need:

  • 48 sheets of paper, 6×9 inches, (grained short)
  • A piece of pre-primed canvas 6.25 x 16 inches
  • awl, needle, thread
  • gelatin plate, speedball ink, brayer
  • this guide for punching your holes


  1. Begin by using the gelatin plate to print both sides of all of your paper – we printed multiple layers on both sides at the workshop. You can also print your canvas cover of you like! If you have never done any gelatin printing you can find all kinds of tutorials online – but fair warning – its addictive!! Leave all those papers to dry – we took a lunch break – they dry pretty quickly
  2. Next prepare your signatures. I like to randomly mix and match my papers. Fold them in half so they are 6×4.5 inches, and nest four sheets together to make each set of signatures.
  3. Use the guide to punch 6 holes in each of the sets of pages
  4. Measure 4.5″ in from the front edge of your canvas cover, fold to create the front cover.
  5. Lay the guide next to this fold to punch the holes in the spine of the book, fold the cover again, next to the guide to form the back spine/cover.
  6. Thread a needle with an arm’s length of thread, in the workshop we used crochet cotton. You can wax the thread with some beeswax if you like.
  7. Begin the sewing, go into the first sewing station in one set of pages from the outside to the inside, leave a small tail to tie a knot later in the binding, at this point only sew the pages NOT the cover IMG_20170503_185920034
  8. Next sew from the inside out through the second station/hole in the pages and out through the first row of holes on the spine IMG_20170503_185941981
  9. Then sew back into the third station/hole through the spine of the cover and the pages, so now you have a long stitch on the outside of the book IMG_20170503_190010825
  10. Sew along the spine in this way until you get to the final station, this time sew only through the pages – NOT out through the spine,  IMG_20170503_190026441and pick up your next signature. Laying it on top of the signature you have been sewing, sew into the second signature through the same sewing station IMG_20170503_190052704
  11. Sew back down the next sewing station, out through the pages and the cover through the same row of sewing holes you used for the first sewing IMG_20170503_190113302
  12. sew down the spine again, attaching the second signature using the first row of holes until the last sewing hole on this signature, again, only sew through the pages NOT out through the spine. Tie a knot using the tail of the thread and then pick up the third signature, sewing into the signature from the outside as before (see step 10). Then sew out through the second sewing station in the next row of holes and sew down the spine as before, this time sew through the final hole out to the spineIMG_20170503_190243656
  13. Sew down from the last sewing station in the second row of holes and down to the last hole in the first row of sewing stations IMG_20170503_190312719
  14. On the inside of the spine, do not sew into the signatures – but sew between the first and second signatures IMG_20170503_190330830_HDR
  15. Sew over the thread that connects the first and second signatures and back out through the same hole IMG_20170503_190350970
  16. Then sew back up to the second row of stitches – giving you a pair of anchor stitches on the outside of the spine, sew into the book, and pick up the next set of signaturesIMG_20170503_190404519_HDR
  17. Sew this signature all the way down the spine as with the previous two signatures, at the end repeat this same procedure, giving you a pair of anchor stitches at each end
  18. On the inside pick up the next signature, and sew down the spine as before anchoring this signature to the third row of holes IMG_20170503_190603576
  19. Sew to the last station, sewing out through the spine, and then take the thread down behind those two anchor stitches, making a chain or link stitch IMG_20170503_190624068
  20. Go back down the same hole and pick up the next signature, sewing it into the same row (3rd) of holes on the spine IMG_20170503_190715483
  21. Repeat the chain/link stitch at the other end of the book, and then pick up your next signature on the inside, moving up to the 4th row of holes in the spine IMG_20170503_190733979
  22. Continue in this way until all your signatures are sewn into the book and then tie off your thread on the inside of the book IMG_20170503_190944518_HDR
  23. When you have completed the sewing all that remains is to make the closure for the pen. To do this wrap the cover around the book and measure out how long it needs to be.
  24. Divide the width of the book into 5, and then cut out every other piece like this IMG_20170422_150455965
  25. turn the two attached pieces under to form loops attached to the flap which wraps around the book, the take one of the discarded pieces and sew it to the front cover between these two loops, and slide a pen/pencil to hold the book closed IMG_20170424_094239674
  26. Done! Enjoy your new journal!!


2 thoughts on “art journal tutorial

  1. This was a great workshop. The gelli printing was a lot of fun and the method we used will allow us to write on the pages. I love the way the canvas cover is made and the stitching went well with Deb’s instruction.. I finished up my tablet closure at home.

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