If you've been reading along so far for the 2013 celebration of IFJM you'll know that I used the Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook for my fake journal this year.
The pages really were too thin for simply drawing on them in ink—all the inks I used seeped through on my test pages more than I would have hoped. But I was already in love with the size of the journal and the dot pattern grid on the pages (which oddly you can rarely see now that the book is filled).
Immediately my mind started working on ways to use this book despite of the paper's limitations for mixed media. By now you've also read how this mind churning happened at the exact time I went to visit a friend who was recovering from surgery and watching Gelli Plate Printing videos on the internet. I realized that I could do a combination of techniques to the pages that would make them more resilient to abuse by the mixed media.
Left: The completed book on April 18, 2013. It no longer really closes, in fact typically the cover just flops open. Two days after finishing this book I made the decision to purchase an archival newspaper storage box for this book and store it in a half open position. It's the only thing I could think of that wouldn't put continued pressure on the already stressed spine. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
I began to print monoprints with the Gelli Plate—sometimes on paper I could collage into the journal and other times printing directly onto the page. I did two evenings of printing. The above photo was taken between those two evenings when I had started to stick the papers from the first evening into the journal. I was working with PVA so that water from later painting sessions wouldn't cause the collaged material to buckle up away from the page. Because I was working on several page spreads at a time, and as I worked into April some pages started to have gouache paintings on them, I couldn't weight the collaged material while it dried so that it would dry flatter. (The trapped moisture would have reactivated the gouache paint before the glue had dried and made for interesting pages.) Because the pages weren't under weights when they were drying, and the paper is lightweight, there is a wonderful buckling to every page. The layers of collaged papers are not only buckled across the page but create a stiffness to most pages that makes it a tactile joy to turn these pages. I think you'll see that when I get the video flip through posted.
Left: Detail of the book closed with the book's elastic band positioned around the book. This is the only time I've put the elastic band in this position. The band stretches too much to be useful with this bulk and the front cover is pulled into a curve because of the bulk of the pages. But this image shows how the fore edge of the book is deformed as the thickness of the collaged items keeps the spine from closing properly and pushes the pages out past the cover's edge.
I started working on backgrounds and collage materials on the 18th of March for two reasons. I had a feeling I wasn't going to have the amount of time I had hoped for each day (and in fact that did turn out to be the case) but more importantly my character was someone who was constantly working ahead in her journals and so while she would be finishing up a volume she would be working simultaneously ahead in preparing backgrounds in a new journal.
Left: Detail of the spine now that the book is filled to over flowing. You can see that the ends of the signatures (where paper is folded and sewn together as groups) is now no longer flat against the spine board like it was when I started. Instead it is now convex, creating a circle that is curved outward, pushing the signatures outward. Hence the way the pages jut out at the fore edge. (In my real journals I tend to do only a little collage and I pre-cut out pages, leaving tabs to hold space at the spine. That creates space for the collage materials I do add. Since in this book I wasn't cutting out pages and each page sometimes had 3 layers of collage material there was no way the spine was not going to severely deform. For a description of how and why I cut pages out of my journals you can read "Journaling Superstitions #5: You Can't Cut Pages Out of Your Journal." (About half way through that post I explain my process.) Click on the image to view an enlargement.
If I had waited to work in this journal until April 1 she would not have been in her work flow mode.
When a character speaks so strongly to you, tells you to work on backgrounds for pages she intends to use weeks from now, and insists that you use paper that is unsuitable for mixed media, you simply must listen to the character.
So I printed and collaged and tried to listen to the character as she spoke to me in little bits and pieces during the day. I had hoped to have a "leisurely" month in April where I could take multiple photos of each stage and let you see the gradual growing of the book. But everything happened very quickly—which I learned is what this character likes. You can see some of what happened from photos like the ones in today's post.
I'll have more to write about the interior of this journal and the process. I would like to say this about the Leuchtturm 1917 notebook I used for this year's fake journal—it held up to a phenomenal amount of abuse. Most books would have disintegrated in "pre-production" before April 1, when character started actually journaling in the book.
Despite the abuse all the pages of this journal are intact and holding firm. No stitches have torn out (this is a sewn book or I wouldn't have tried this approach). The cover of the book long ago lost any remembrance of its hinge space yet even with repeated opening and closing the cover material (which is one of those synthetic coverings that's not paper, leather, or fabric) held up and continues to do so. There is virtually no wear on the cover—except for some acrylic ink that I splashed on it from time to time when I was printing in the book.
I didn't weigh the book when it was new and empty. By now it must weigh 4 or 5 times as much. It is unpleasant to hold it is so heavy.
I loved working in this book, and if all you do is take notes and you test this paper and love it for that and the pens you use then I have to say you couldn't find a better, more user friendly, and attractive notebook.
And if you want to get all wild and crazy with it and go extremely wild with mixed media—well it's going to hang in there with you.
My character isn't concerned with such niceties. I on the other hand am very, very grateful. And I find myself passing the book as it sits half open on the drawing board, awaiting the arrival of its archival box, and I can't help but page through the encrusted pages and savour the fun of working in this book all over again.