Saturday, September 15, 2018

Painted Pentagram Sketchbook

I recently visited a local craft store and found some nice 8x10 (ish) sketchbooks with cloth covered boards. They were surprisingly cheap, so I grabbed a couple for a future project. I have stacks and stacks of sketchbooks sitting around waiting to be made into custom books, but, I liked the cloth covers on these ones and, again, they were really cheap.

So, the other day, I was working at the store (my clerk was out for medical reasons), and I got bored. In my boredom, I had an idea for a quick paint job that I thought would look really nice on those new sketchbooks. This is essentially the same paint job that I have done on my kraft paper covered journals in the past, with a few minor differences.

I started by cutting out a paper stencil of the pentagram. I have a huge stack of pentagrams that I photo copied about fifteen years ago, and I have been pulling from that pile ever since. I cut it out with an x-acto knife and used mounting spray (a weak spray adhesive) on one side to fix it to the sketchbook cover. I originally intended to center it, but the stencil was a little too big for the cover, and as I was laying it out, I kind of liked how it looked off-center like this. The stencil wrapped around the spine, so I made sure to stick it down into the french groove with the bone folder.

The second step was to use a sea sponge and dab the cover randomly with dark red acrylic paint. To do this, I opened the covers so that I could paint the front and back at the same time. I let the pages dangle straight down, and used two large cardboard boxes to support the covers. This worked, but it made it difficult to get any paint into the french groove, so on future ones, I just left the book closed and did the front and back covers separately.

Next, I repeated the painting process with a brighter shade of red acrylic paint. I made sure to leave plenty of area where the dark red and even the black of the original cover, showed through.

The fourth step was to remove the paper stencil, revealing the black book cloth beneath. This was more difficult than I had thought it would be. Not that the spray glue grabbed too hard, but the paint soaked the edges of the paper stencil, and so the stencil tore at the edges, leaving behind a very visible white deckled edge along much of the pentagram's border. This I had to carefully scrape with a hobby knife to try to get the remnants of the stencil off, without damaging the paint or the book cover.

I managed to get the paper off, but there were several places that my scraping was very visible. It detracted significantly from the overall appearance of the book. I decided to try to mask the damaged areas with another layer of paint. I used a stiff bristled brush to dab on some copper acrylic paint over the most visible trouble areas. Then I used the sea sponge again with the copper paint to blend in those dab marks and hide them. I used the copper paint very sparingly. I did not want to obscure the pentagram design.

I could have just used the sea sponge with the copper paint, but there was a chance that the problem areas I was trying to hide would fall in a "dead spot" on the sponge and I would have to make several passes over the area with the sponge to get the coverage I needed. This would have made the copper too heavy handed. Using the paint brush first ensured that the worst spots were covered by the copper paint, and then the sponge would hide the deliberateness of those repaired spots. Not only did the copper highlights cover the trouble areas, it really brought the design to life. Now, I can't imaging the book without it.

The last step was to spray the entire cover with a spray sealer. It only took about an hour to paint this book, and I am very pleased with the way it turned out. It has been several years since I have made a modified journal like this. I think I need to get back to it.

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