derwent sketchbook


My favorite sketchbook ever! ;) #nofilter #portugal #usk #urbansketchers #urbansketch #derwent #blackjournal

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Right out of the bargain bin

Last time I went to get some cured animal skin from the leather monger, I found a delightful piece of wrinkly, charcoal coloured hide in the scraps bin. The animal it was from was questionable but it was cheap, soft and thin.

This is the book guts I started with. Simple enough stuff. 110gsm Derwent sketchbook paper. Headbands sewn on but nothing fancy, really.

I cut some more template card to size and stuck it on the covers. Huh, from here it looks like the cardboard is that chipboard flooring that is in newer buildings. Hurr, I am a Giant!

This is what the overlays for the covers looked like. My workspace gets increasingly messy as each project progresses.

It didn’t matter that the overlays didn’t quite match up with the covers because…

I wanted to cut out a step 4mm around the edges. I know that I have trouble cutting things out perfectly and sticking them down in just the right spot so I (pun intended) cut corners this time.

And this is how I did the spine! First a hollow went on, then two dozen layers of Ikea Easel paper (probably 2 dozen layers. I didn’t count. Lots of layers. The only gauge I used was “is this as thick as the covers yet?”). On top of that I put on a final layer of template card to stiffen everything up.

I left it overnight to dry and set hard before trimming it to length.

Also, My workspace is a TERRIBLE mess! Who else works in such messy conditions?

Glued on some false cords. I would have liked to have done something special here but meh. This was enough.

Then it was finally time to break out the bargain bin leather! I even went to the effort of cutting it to size! How is that for motivated work?!

Okay, so it was suggested to me that I should moisten the leather before I used it. I was… not convinced that this was a good idea but took it on faith that I was being given good advice. 

Being unsure of how exactly to moisten this leather, I picked up a spray bottle and got the partner to take a photo of my trepidation and uncertainty.

Glad I took the advice. Thanks Gatz.

This is how I hold the book to work the leather into the area behind the spine. Works well enough.

After all the leather was glued on, I trimmed the leather on the inside covers ready for the end pages. Actually does anyone have any tips on how to pare REALLY soft leather? I have tried and tried so many times that I have stopped trying. The leather just doesn’t cut well, it just moulds itself to my blade and gets pushed along. My blade is also by no means dull.


I’m really happy about how this book turned out. I would have liked to have tried my hand at marbling some paper for the end pages, but I just haven’t had the time. I was amazed at how easily the leather moulded itself to the covers. I barely had to push it into the creases and didn’t have to put it in the press at all.

I think I would like to try making a book with a backed spine once I build a laying press. Just rounding the backs of the book guts seems okay so far but I would like to build up some more skills. 

Anyway, thanks for reading. I appreciate the interest and support.