In Christmas of 2009 I was given the second greatest gift I have ever received, a hand bound leather sketchbook with Italian handmade paper. I had seen this book, and others like it at one of the booths in the Union Square Christmas Shops. Every year I would go to the shops and look through these sketchbooks and say to myself that one day I would be able to afford one just like it. These beautiful books sold at about $150, or more, each. That's a pretty penny to pay for a sketchbook, especially for some one in their early twenties earning a low income in NYC. My wish was granted and to my surprise this book was put in my hands that Christmas. I was of course elated, and at the same time scared to even make a scratch on any of the pages. Fast forward to October 2012 I finally began using this book in one of my trips. Since then it's become my watercolor travel journal.
In the last three years I have been looking for a new supplier of this type of book; unfortunately the people who used to sell it at the yearly Union Square Christmas Shops stopped showing up. I have found many leather bound books and suppliers but the difficulty is finding the right kind of paper that would be suitable for pencil or watercolor. Most books are made with thin paper, or Japanese rice paper which is good for writing but not for my purposes. At some point last year I decided to make my own leather bound books. I came across cream Arches Cover paper, which is cold pressed and it's very similar to watercolor paper. I bough a stack from the left over stock of Pearl Paint when they closed in April of 2014. I was able to get enough paper for two large sketchbooks.
After putting together the stories I began searching for leather supply, but buying leather in NYC is too expensive, and I did not want to buy leather online because I wanted to look and feel it before making my choice. For over a year my sketchbook paper sat on my desk, waiting for the leather. To my surprise, the fabric store around the corner from my apartment, in Queens, sold leather. I found a piece large enough to cover both books at an amazing price. It was time to go to work.
Last week I was able to stitch this book together and I am very proud with the final product. Two nights ago I finished the second book, which did not come out as nice as the first one, but this is all part of learning. I have lots of paper that can be turned into books, I don't think I will be buying more sketchbooks any time soon.
Thank you to Jarod, my partner in crime, for always supporting my art endeavors and for the beautiful gift six years ago. As to the first greatest gift I have ever received you ask? For my 19th birthday my parents bought me a wood easel, the same one I still use and after sixteen years it remains a solid and faithful comrade.
"Anything under the sun is beautiful if you have the vision-it is the seeing of the thing that makes it so."
- Charles W. Hawthorne -
"One of the functions of art is to remind us of common humanity. The artist, like the priest, can sometimes remind us that we are bound by an obligation to one another stronger and more lasting than the bonds of politics or economics."
- John Manchip White, Diego Velazquez: Painter and Courtier -
"To defend an artist as original says little about his work except that it is in some way different from what preceded it. As such, originality itself is rarely a strong defense, for it is born more of admiration for audacity and perseverance than necessarily of understanding." - James H. Rubin, Manet's Silence and the Poetics of Bouquets -