Changing Out Sketchbook Signatures

This is a quick cover to hold three signatures from my travel sketchbook below and a pocket to hold collectibles from my trip in March to Australia.

I simply snip out the used signatures and then restitch them into the spine of a new cover.

Then replace them.

Now I can use this book for my next trip down under. Which by the way is now all sorted with a first stop in Hobart to be with friends a few days before coming to Melbourne to stay a day or so at my favorite hotel and then off to Grampians Textures with exciting students. One of them is taking me up to Baldessin Press for several days before I head off to Geelong area to teach before returning to Melbourne and flying home. If it goes as my travel agent has planned, I will be flying Virgin Airlines Australia. Never used them before but always up for new adventures.

Anyway, back to the sketchbook. I designed this travel box/book to hold just the right amount of paints, hand made and purchased watercolors, pencil, sharpener, eraser, brush etc. The leather cover part has a pocket attached inside to hold a small palette and is a good place to tuck things.

Here is some of the insides of the transferred signatures.

First stop and most favorite stop is Jude’s in Hobart for a cuppa.

Space between signatures.

How three hole signature is sewn….going in through center hole in signature and rigid spine, in one of the other two holes, across the center hole and out the third hole to come back in on the other side of the inside long stitch to do a square knot over that long stitch. Easy and secures it just fine.

Here is the spine.

And there was enough space left at the back of the book to glue in a sandwich bag to hold all the bits and pieces collected on that trip.

I always glue these “pockets” with the opening toward the signatures so as not to lose things but still have access.

So now to just stitch those new signatures into the old sketch portfolio and I am all ready to go.

The past few days I did get twenty sets of cards packaged up. Tonight is another small dinner party for just four of us. The shrimp pasta dish the other day was quite successful and tonight it is a new recipe for balsamic chicken over rice.

And here is the dam this morning….beautiful as they lower the level for winter. I used to take my students out here to gather pigments for making local watercolors. Pretty isn’t it?

Til later when I find something else that looks interesting.

Printmaking and Pigments


I did not like the way the first carving for the cockatoo turned out. Too much white on white.

I should have taken the time to do a drawing and then it would have been obvious. Late in the day I have little patience and should just leave the studio.

I had to carve a new block for the cockatoo and gum tree bloom. The other did not have enough contrast for the bird that is white. But since there was no more of the linoleum blocks that were the same size, I resorted to a very old EZ cut rubber sheet. It worked but the material is so crumbly I don’t think I would use it again. Anyway the three birds of the Songlines series is finished. And the best thing to do the rubbing for transferring the image to the paper is this old child’s shoe last. See that flat spot? It is perfect! And it fits into the hand just right. No wooden spoon needed and the pressure is more evenly directed.

The emu and banksia was fun to carve.

Here they are colored in.

I used more of the Songlines book pages for these as well.

Now I just have to print up sets of cards and package them all up to take to Australia.

The back of the Australia pigments map was bothering me….just plain off white paper. So now I am doing this. Only three more sections to go and it will be finished. Probably put a sealer on it because it will be handled so much.

Here is a detail.

I am only using the watercolors made from soils of Australia. It seems as though I will never use them up. The studio smells of cloves because this box of watercolors that holds eighty-four different ones was rushed into the containers and closed up too soon. So I had to open each of them, to clean off and add oil of clove. That was a few years ago and they still smell like the old dentist offices of the late sixties, early seventies.

Anyway there is just enough of this painting on the back to leave a ghost like image when you hold the map up to the light. And that seems somehow appropriate. And it certainly takes care of my horror vacui.

Next week I will start printing the photos for Lee’s book for provoking memory.

We are having company for dinner tonight and again next Tuesday. If I keep the meals simple and wine at the ready, I can do this….but no where near as often as we did before. Things change.

Til next week.

Australia Finished and a Break

I finished the Australia journal case. It ended up being a box because of how everything would fit and be protected. Here on the cover I used a watercolor I made of Tasmania’s soils turned into watercolors and my own colors from North Carolina making tracks through the land. The box is about 11″ x 8″ x 3.5″.

Here it is opened. The map is folded and placed in a built in pocket inside the lid. The small leather covered journals line up between added walls with the small burned driftwood sticks made by Toni Rogers in Queensland.  The sienna toned papers were purchased in Australia from my favorite paper vendor at the conferences. The one that lines the box and covers the outside is a leather-feeling one that is not easy to find here in this country.

The coptic bound book of botanical impressions was made at Beautiful Silks. Each folio is stitched individually. The paper that lines the bottom of the box is an old map of Sydney….the welcoming place for people coming into the country.

Here you can see more of the city map and end walls supporting Toni’s small sticks. Everything comes out and is placed on the map.

I love the tumbled-ness of how this looks. Each piece is about taking a closer look of what was seen in the country, and what caught my attention for further documentation.

I had a chance to get away for an overnight in Asheville with friends and a terrific dinner out starting with a cucumber/basil martini, then watermelon whipped feta/strawberry salad and finally seared tuna that is so hard to get here where I live.

So this wraps up the final work I will do about Australia. It has been such a thrill to revisit the country this way. Heading back in March 2019 is anticipated with just as much enthusiasm.

Another topic later this weekend after company goes back home and we get back to the new normal.

Til then.


Working on Australia, Etc.

Australia is a beautiful country. I love how it looks from a low altitude.  The pilot who took me out there ten years ago still heads into the outback. Mike and Fay just sent me almost endless images of their recent excursion into the dry harsh land. It is inspiring to see the intrepidness of those two and their traveling companions.

Packing for precautions seems to be the most serious preparation. Towns are few and far between. Red sand must work its way into everything you put on your body or plan on eating. You have to be born with a desire to do this over and over again. When it was just Mike and I in his plane we found pubs/hotels to stay in and if I wanted to enjoy the magnificent night skies of Australia, I only had to step outside the door. They think it is better seen lying in your swag on the red, red dirt.

The reason they wanted me to have the pictures of their trip is because some of their destinations  were the same as Mike and mine. The Dig Tree still stands along the Cooper and reminds all who make their way into the area just how hard traveling across Australia can be.

I have a student in Australia who recorded her outback trek by keeping a pen on paper as they bounced over the track. She turned it into a long, long landscape book of just that line with marks of where stops were made for fuel, food and rest. It records the time, distance and difficulty of going into the outback with very few words.

I have been working on the map to go with the fourteen small bound journals and coptic stitched pigments pages.

I started with a large piece of kozo paper and a National Geographic map that a friend gave me.

After tracing around the country, I colored it in with watercolors made from the soils of Australia. Then I used a fusible bonding on the back to stiffen the paper and make it more durable.

Each state or territory was painted a different color. And when they dried lighter than in this image I wrote the name of each like they were on the original map. Then marked all the places I visited with a brown dot.


I did a bit more shading and made sure to color around the country with a blue paint so it would be obvious that Australia is an island.

Then I connected the brown dots with tiny white travel lines. I wanted to use my pigments from here in North Carolina to mark my travel lines but they were too similar to the Australia land colors.

There was not enough space to write the names of the places so I just stayed with the brown dots.

Then I waxed the entire sheet with paste wax and buffed it the following day.

Now I have the problem of how to back the map and fit it into something with the small journals and pigments pages. This piece of rusted fabric will likely be used to back the map and/or cover the satchel that holds all the pieces.

I am considering wetting this fabric and sticking it to the large glass door and slathering it with corn starch and sticking the map to it. The result might be too stiff to fold up, so maybe not. But I could sew it to the back like the one below was done. Just put right sides together, sew around three sides, pull right side out and hand stitch the last side. The map might be more flexible that way….without the added layer of paste.

What I think I would like is to fix the center back of the map on a bit of covered board and then fold the sides, top and bottom into a bundle holding the other components. I like how the fourteen small books just tumble into a pile some opened, some closed. And the pigments book looks interesting any way it falls.

I may have to think on that for a bit and for now concentrate on how to fold the map.

This week my new watercolors came and I added them to the paint box. No more watercolors for me. There is enough here to make any color I want.

I also have a whole new set of tiny brushes.

Anyway that is about enough for now. The other thing I wanted to talk about can wait til next week. Our son is coming to spend time with his dad and me and I am hoping to get away for a day and night in Asheville while he is here.

Til later.