The Envelope Sketchbook … and my helper

As I began working on the Envelop/e series, I started making notes as ideas came to me. I’d jot a note on a scrap of paper in my studio, on a sticky note at home, or in whatever journal was handy.

It’s great to keep track of those notes, but I couldn’t find them at my studio when I wanted to start working on a new piece, or I’d run across them at odd times and think, “Oh, right! I can’t lose that” and then promptly misplace it, not to be seen for weeks again.

So about six months ago, I decided to make a sketchbook and use it for keeping notes about this series. It’s an accordion fold book, so the pages are one long strip of paper folded in a zig-zag fashion. That format allowed me to see ideas as they flowed from one to the next, without having to flip pages back and forth. Here’s the book open:

Handmade Envelope Sketchbook, open

To make the book, I cut watercolor paper into long strips, folded them, then stitched them together. Manila enveloped added pockets where I could store bits and pieces. The covers are cardstock covered in a pair of pages from a National Geographic magazine that I’d altered using Citrasolv. The closure is made from a strip of fabric and an old button.

I gathered up all those loose scraps of paper and copied the ideas into the new book, or just glued the scraps in. As the series evolved, I added more ideas and sketches.

security patterns in evelopesAbout that time, a friend (I can’t remember who) suggested that I should start paying attention to the security patterns printed inside envelopes. They’re all different! Some are the company’s logo, others are geometric patterns or crosshatching. Some are random designs, others very staid, and a few are kinda mod.

I find it fascinating that someone thinks about those patterns: it’s someone’s job to design them and route them through committees for approval. I suppose it falls under a company’s brand, but goodness, most of us never even notice them. I’ve been gluing bits of samples of different ones in this book and using them in my artwork now.

And, of course, as I was taking the photos of the book, my helper had to come supervise to be sure I was doing it right.

Exhibits:Delivering Stories” at the BOX Gallery, Akron

Here are all the pages in the book. Click on them to see larger versions.

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