Two Sketchbooks For The Price Of One

Since I’ve been in a ‘cheap sketchbook’ rut lately, I thought it only fitting if I were to let it run its course and describe another approach I’ve taken, for when being able to stuff the book in one’s pocket isn’t important.

Sometimes I want to do larger quick-sketches are possible in a 3 x 5 “scribbler.”  I could do them in one of my Stillman & Birn books but my quick-sketches are REALLY quick-sketches and typically they’re not very good, so I want REALLY cheap paper upon which to do them.  Also, as I’m not doing watercolor I don’t need the paper quality of Stillman & Birn.

You can buy inexpensive 5×8 and 6×9 sketchbooks that have 60lb paper and are fine for such things.  I’ve used Strathmore’s “Sketch” books for this purpose.  They’ve got paper covers and cost $6-7 here.  They’re fine.  They work.  Lots of people use them.  Canson has equivalent offerings.

But one day, while I was padding around the art store touching everything,  I saw 8.5 x 11, spiral-bound, hardcover sketchbooks (60lb paper) on sale for $8.

This is Fabriano's version of an 8.5x11 sketchbook.  I paid $9.99CDN for it.  Sometimes they're on sale.

This is Fabriano’s version of an 8.5×11 sketchbook. I paid $9.99CDN for it. Sometimes they’re on sale.

And I wondered.  I wondered enough to buy one.  I wondered enough to take it home and go into my dungeon, err, workshop.  I even wondered if I was nuts for doing it but a few seconds later I’d run that sketchbook through my bandsaw, creating two 5.5 x 9 sketchbooks.

If you don't own a bandsaw, I bet you know someone who does.

If you don’t own a bandsaw, I bet you know someone who does.

Cutting them does leave bare cardboard edges on one side of each book but that’s easily fixed with a fat Sharpie marker.  When bought on sale these cost me $4 each and provide 160 sheets of sketching fun.

One caveat about the cutting.  You can cut right through the spiral binding and it will generally work (depends on saw and blade I suppose but even my wood blades worked fine).  The potential exists, though, that the spiral will get bent at the point of the cut.  It’s really easy, though, to use some wire nippers to cut the spiral in the middle, removing a small section of it before cutting the book.  Otherwise, this is one of those no-brainer thingies that one can do to produce nice quick-sketchbooks in a more typical size than the ones I’ve been talking about recently.  Here’s some lines I made in such a book while watching Paul Heaston’s class on Craftsy.

2015-01-22hatching1

Yvan and I use these all the time when we go to music recitals or quick-sketch in places where we’re carrying our art bags and don’t have to worry about being inconspicuous as we sketch.  Give it a try.

7 Responses to “Two Sketchbooks For The Price Of One”

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  1. Jane says:

    Great tip! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Tina says:

    Believe it or not, somewhere on the Internet a while back, I saw some photos of sketchbooks that had been cut in half this way. I thought it was very resourceful then, and I still think it now! In fact, I feel pretty darn uncreative that back when I purchased sketchbooks, I assumed they had to be used in the format that they came in!

    • I’m not surprised that you would find the idea elsewhere. I’ve been more surprised that I rarely see it discussed, which is why I decided to do the post. I first did it to get a sketchbook (actually two of them) filled with tan paper, about a year ago. It worked so well that when I needed something cheap to scribble people I did it again with white paper. The one in the blog post is the third set I’ve made. It lets me keep my Stillman & Birn sketchbooks for ‘serious’ sketches – the ones I post on the internet 🙂

  3. Kate B says:

    Yes. Great idea! Just wish I had my dad’s bandsaw!

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  1. […] During this event I also did some sketches in the sketchbook I created by cutting a larger, cheap sketchbook in half. […]