Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Moleskine Reloaded

by Jo Reimer

Years ago I started carrying a small Moleskine Sketchbook in my handbag and used it to capture thoughts and sketches. At only 3.5" x 5.5" it fits just right in my handbag or jacket pocket. I like the sturdy cover, the built-in pocket inside the back cover and the little strap that marks my place or keeps my book closed. Now that I have a collection started I don't want to carry any other sketchbook.

But there's a problem.

The paper in the Moleskine Sketchbook is a creamy yellow and resists my watercolor paint. I put up with it through the first 3 books but then I ran across a tutorial by Martha, author of the blog, Trumpetvine Travels, called Moleskine Reloaded ...or, How to Rebind a Moleskine Notebook: Make a Custom DIY Sketchbook.

My problem was solved.

For the first one, my Israel Sketchbook, I gutted a full-priced sketchbook and reloaded it with papers of my choosing. I loved the new paper but it made an expensive sketchbook.

Then I got smart.

I found out-dated Moleskine Pocket Diarys online for one-fourth the price and ordered half a dozen so that when I gut the book I feel no guilt at messing up a perfectly good book.

The first step is to cut the book block out of it's cover. The first picture shows a pristine Pocket Diary and another one with the book block removed from its cover.

I use 2 sheets of Fabriano or Arches 90# watercolor paper and tear down the pages as Martha directs.
The papers are folded in half and one slipped into another to form a signature and holes are punched in the spine for the sewing.

Next comes the sewing of the 13 signatures using waxed linen thread.

Lastly I glued the front page to the inside front cover and the back page to the back cover, and let the glue dry.  My new sketchbook is ready to use. It looks just like the original but nicer around the edges. Instead of cutting the paper with machine to produce straight outer edges I tore my paper with my bone folder so that all the edges are deckled. I love the texture and it's so much more interesting.

I reserve the book block from the diary and keep it on my desk to use for notes, lists, reminders, ideas. The print is very faint and doesn't interfere with pen and ink. I've recycled all the bits and pieces of paper that once littered my desk.

When figure out how to make a video with my new Panasonic Lumix I'll show you my latest completed sketchbook.


  1. This looks like a lot of work to make a sketch book but you have want you want. Very clever.

    1. yes, it is a lot of work, but worth it to me. If I went through these quickly I might re-think it but each book lasts awhile and I do enjoy the process of binding. I can do the sewing in front of the TV in the evening, and tearing down the pages takes less than an hour. The more I do the faster I get.

  2. What a great idea!!! I don't like working in them myself because of the cream paper-same w/some of the sketch pads. I love color on white. What is it about 'books' !!!? I just love them!


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