Introduction: Make Your Own Sketch Journal With Holders

When I go out to field sketch, I want my watercolor paper, pencils and ink pens, eraser, and leads all in a pack... but I also like to travel light: grab and go.  So, I came up with this little doo-hicky that is a watercolor paper sketchbook that holds all the sketch pens and pencils on the cover with a journal style closing strap.  I can easily throw it in the backpack, the jacket pocket, or the bicycle basket without worry.  You only need a notebook with heavy card stock covers, sewer's elastic, brass paper fasteners, and perhaps some super glue and duct tape.  Now... on with the show.

Step 1: Gathering the Goods

First, purchase a sketch book with the paper weight of your choice.  I have chosen 200#rough watercolor paper since I pencil and ink with plans to later watercolor wash for color.  Then lay out the tools you wish to affix to the notebook.  I have chosen three UNI-liners (can't risk my Copic Liners to the outdoors!) a .5mm mechanical pencil and a 2.0mm mechanical pencil with a box of leads (the 0.5mm pencil has its own lead holder where as the 2.0mm pencil holds only one internally), and a paper covered long white eraser. 

Step 2: Measure Twice...

Lay the tools out on the book cover as they "might" finally affix to the book.  Measure things twice and cut once!  I am going for a three strap method... I have made books with two straps but find that if they hold normal pencils, the shorter the pencil gets the less likely they are to be held well.  Though I am making this one for ink and mechanical pencils... I want it to be able to hold real pencils should I so choose, hence... going for the maximum "holdage" (is that a word?).

Step 3: Luke... It Is Your... DENSITY

Luke... I mean LOOK at how much you want to hold on the cover AND how much MAY be held there.  Use the actual tools for your determination... measure twice... and then mark for cutting.  The destiny... I mean the DENSITY of the holdage is limited to the width of the tools AND the width of the fasteners we will use later.  I have chosen a hole separation of 5/8th of an inch.

Step 4: Holy Elastic Garters, Batman!

I have drilled holes on the marks with a drill bit that is JUST the same width as the brass paper fasteners we will use to hold down the elastic straps.  The elastic ribbon was purchased in a 2 meter roll for about 25 cents at the local Five and Dime store. There are thinner and thicker kinds, but the key is making sure you get good fastening with the brass fasteners... so I find a 1.4 inch ribbon works great.

Step 5: The Mouse Runs Into the Hole...

Cut the end of the ribbon at a tapper to allow easy threading through the hole that is not as wide as the ribbon itself.  Draw it through the end hole (either end is fine) about a half inch.

Step 6: Push, Pull, Spread, Release!

Now, using Number 8 brass paper fasteners that we all used in kindergarten to make pinwheels (what? you didn't?) we are going to secure the end down.  Press the fastener through the hole, spread the legs out while pulling tightly to bring a good friction hold to the elastic ribbon. 

Step 7: Crawl, Little Inchworm...

Using the pen or pencil as a guide, loop the elastic up, take another fastener and thread the ribbon between the legs, pull the legs back together and thread it through the hole in the book, spread the legs out on the other side of the cover, pulling to bring the fastener head tight against the cover, holding the ribbon's loop in place.  Repeat until you reach the last hole.

Step 8: Finish That Puppy Up!

On the last hole of the line... thread the whole ribbon through the hole similarly to the first one. Secure your brass fastener and then, just for fun and the chance of fumes, hit the back side of the fasteners and ribbons with a few drops of my favorite aroma-therapy; Super Glue! (No kids, really... that WAS a joke... no, DO hit it with super glue, but it is NOT for sniffing)

Step 9: Oh... YAWN... the Boredom...

Apply as needed... if persists, consult a doctor.

Step 10: Strap It In!

We can make a journal style closure with the same methods as the cover's holders.  Measure uniform holes on the back cover... remember... you don't want your closure strap to run over your pencils on the front! So, measure twice.  Insert the ribbon ends as you did for the holders.  Allow for a snug fit around the book, but not a TIGHT fit.  It is surprising how little tension you need to keep the book closed.  Too tight an you may damage some pages or paintings!  Hit the ends with supper glue as before.

Step 11: Caution, the Edges of This Metal Sign Are Sharp!

Frankly, you could end the project here... but I am not Frank and I don't like loose ends... or sharp ends... or custard.  Remember, in all of life's troubles... DUCT TAPE IS YOUR FRIEND!  Using eyeball engineering, I have covered the back side of the covers with duct tape to protect the brass fasteners' legs, to protect the paper, and to just make it look all shiny!  You could consider gluing felt to the inside... or another sheet of card stock.  This step also secures the fasteners that you do not glue down.

Step 12: Ready for Trial Runs

Now the pens and pencils and baby zebras have been strapped down and the book is ready to grab and run out the door as opportunity presents.  With this particular design, I can change tools as needed.  Notice the shorter lead holder is held by two of the three in its row.  If I had gone with the two strap design of my earlier attempts, it would be held with only one strap.  This project is adaptable to your needs.  Jus take the ideas and modify them to the tools you want to carry.  Even a small pencil sharpener can be held in place, a compass, a wet bar... the cover's the limit!

Comments

author
shyanna05 made it!(author)2014-01-20

I make handmade journals, and I think this would be an awesome addition to some of my journals/sketch books! Great idea, and I love all of the personality you put into this instructable!

author
bigfeves made it!(author)2013-07-23

I dig it! However, if anyone doesn't feel up to the DIY; i make and sell these sketchbook and journal pen holders.

http://www.caffeineinspiration.com/

https://www.etsy.com/shop/caffeineinspiration

author
kessval made it!(author)2013-06-01

I've been looking for a pencil case/sketchbook combo project to do with my middle/high school art students at the beginning of the year. They always seem to lose their sketching pencils! This is perfect and cool enough looking for the guys, especially. I may have to add some type of cover over the pencils to keep them from sliding out, but overall, I love it! Excellent idea and thanks so much for sharing!

author
thehaggard made it!(author)2013-06-01

Thank you! I hope it works for your class.

author
thehaggard made it!(author)2012-10-17

Thanks everyone! Now that I am finished with my graduate work, I shall be making new projects.

author
diydept made it!(author)2012-10-16

Excellent job, take my hat off

author
pixelgecko made it!(author)2011-03-29

it is now a word! :) fabulous idea here...i'm definitely going to do this!

author
chrizw123 made it!(author)2010-11-01

this is a great idea. Perfect for me :)

author
JustforArt731 made it!(author)2010-09-13

Way more creative than what i've done. I've bought a plastic bag and glued it into the behind of my sketchbook and then fill with whatever i want. But i glued it in the inside behind. It was useful.

author
fcnet2007 made it!(author)2010-08-24

Nice

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SwimmingRox made it!(author)2010-08-16

That's so cool! You could try spray painting the brads for some more color too!

author
chandra.nalaani made it!(author)2010-08-15

Well done.

author
SiderAnne made it!(author)2010-07-27

I like it! I usually use the spiral to hold my pen or pencil, but they usually can't fit both together. I'd even be tempted to alter the elastics to be able to hold a simple watercolor set and a paint brush.

author
thehaggard made it!(author)2010-07-27

Indeed, it can. I have put water brushes and watercolor sticks in those pencil holders on occasion as well. The sky's the limit... what ever you want to hold on the cover, just adjust the size of the elastic bands accordingly.

author
RVogel made it!(author)2010-07-26

Love it. I've been trying to think of a way to hold my pens/pencils to a sketchbook and this is an excellent way to do that. I'll be doing this soon. Thanks!

author
thehaggard made it!(author)2010-07-26

Glad to be of assistance! Thanks.

author
CementTruck made it!(author)2010-07-26

IN AWE! I've been looking for something like this, but removable (as someone already commented). GREAT IDEA! and Thank you.

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thehaggard made it!(author)2010-07-26

Thanks! Have fun.

author
l8nite made it!(author)2010-07-25

Thats a GREAT idea ! I keep a sketch book in each vehicle and an old eyeglass holder full of pen-pencils-erasers, etc, this idea has real potential.

author
thehaggard made it!(author)2010-07-25

OH! Good idea... one for each vehicle. I have more than one but didn't think about distributing them to the various ways I get around. Thanks!

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lukeyj15 made it!(author)2010-07-25

I like the stuff about luke in there

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thehaggard made it!(author)2010-07-25

Never too proud to show my geek credentials. :)

author
jsgraham made it!(author)2010-07-25

Nice. However, one thing that I would change. Do away with the brads. As you mentioned, you run the rusk of cutting yourself. And IMHO, a bit bulky. Here's how: You will use probably twice the amount of elastic. Into the first hole, thread the elastic to the half way point. then figure eight the elastic through the holes, leaving an appropriate loop for your writing tool. Once you reach the end, tie it off with a simple square knot, and use the same lamination technique to protect the back. You're probably not going to save any money by doing it this way, but it's less bulk.

author
thehaggard made it!(author)2010-07-25

Great idea... but I like the look of the brads... kind of steam punk. I don't see that much bulk added. Certainly not weight. But your idea reduces the metal for sure... and perhaps allows for tools to be closer together. Thanks!

author
BIO+Wolf made it!(author)2010-07-23

I like the design, better than having the sketchbook in the pencil case (I use a palm size sketchbook that fits perfectly in my pencil case). Though, I prefer a detachable version because I go though a bunch in a few months XD

author
thehaggard made it!(author)2010-07-24

You could always do this project on a piece of cardboard... then clamp it to which ever sketchbook you are using at the time.

author
vinacarv made it!(author)2010-07-23

That's really nice and, in the end, good looking. I'm doing it!

author
thehaggard made it!(author)2010-07-24

Thanks... and good luck to you!

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kcls made it!(author)2010-07-23

Nice, I like it!

author
thehaggard made it!(author)2010-07-23

Thanks!

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