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.
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.
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.
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.