Wednesday, February 19, 2014

selecting and preparing an art journal


A selection of store bought journals from my oldest daughter’s stash.
How to Choose And Prepare An Art Journal
  1. Old books make great altered journals but select these carefully, some are quite valuable. Research a books’ value by surfing the web a bit. If you take a valuable book to a dealer for an opinion, he or she may not give you an ‘accurate’ point of view. This is because if you should decide to sell it to them, they want to get it for as little possible. This will allow them to sell it for a greater profit. I took an antique book in once to ask a dealer about it’s market value. He told me that he wouldn’t give me more than five bucks for it. So, I kept it. However, I discovered later from an English bookseller that it was worth approximately 100 pounds! It’s a good thing that I didn’t use it in an art project.
  2. Bindings on old books should have stitched signatures because these will withstand rough handling without falling out.
  3. Choose an old book that has no mold if you can help it. Mold, if not killed, will just keep on growing and growing and growing.
  4. Interesting pictures or photographs inside of an old book can either add to or detract from your own art work.
  5. Old smelly books just keep on smellin’ bad, don’t use these.
  6. If your old book has yellowed pages this means that there is a high acid content in the paper and possibly the inks as well. These pages will eventually fall apart. Even if you Gesso them or reinforce the pages with glue, eventually they will crumble into dust. A less valuable, contemporary, hard cover book with sewn pages is really a superior canvas to work with.
  7. Don’t forget to consider how you will alter the cover of the book as well. Some covers are easier to alter in particular ways than others.
  8. You may wish to simply purchase a blank journal with or without lined pages. These are very affordable and some come with covers that are quite decorative.
  9. I prefer to either start a journal without lined pages or to use a book that has specific images on it’s pages but don’t feel guilty about your preferences. Journaling is personal and every artist has their own way of interpreting the quality of a ‘blank canvas’ so to speak.
  10. You may wish to select a particular type of book for it’s original written content as well. Your journal project may in fact include the original text or the text’s meaning to lend to it an overall quality.
  11. If you select a large book and add heavy layers to the pages, the pages may tear. So if you plan to add a significant amount of ‘stuff’ to the pages, choose pages that are heavy and durable to begin with.
  12. Think about gluing some pages together for strength and also about removing some pages to make room for new content.
  13. If you intend to carve the pages of your book, use old phone books for the task. These pages are easily manipulated in paper carving.
  14. If you intend to emboss your pages, choose heavy weight pages without a glossy finish.
  15. If you intend to cut elaborate designs with an xacto knife, choose a resilient pages with a glossy finish or acid free paper pages.
  16. If you intend to fill your art journal with keepsakes or precious drawings I recommend that you purchase a blank journal with acid free pages.
  17. Pages from a book should be prepared with an acrylic sealer if you intend to paint these with oil paints!
  18. Ink can bleed into watercolors, acrylics or oil paints depending upon the chemical nature of the materials used to make the original book.
  19. Some glue does attract mice, crickets and other insects. If you must store an art journal that is valuable, store it in an airtight container/tin container that can not be gnawed through.
  20. Attach hangers securely to your altered book prior to working with it, if you intend to display the book on the wall.
  21. If you are working with wet materials on the pages, give each alteration plenty of time to dry before continuing to the next alteration. Books can and do warp when they are altered. Allow for plenty of drying time and you may be able to prevent some warping.
  22. Press dry pages by stacking heavier books on top of your altered book over night.
  23. Use spray fixative to bond pencil, chalks or pastel drawings to your art journal pages. The odor fades in time and your work will be better preserved.
  24. You can use a soft pink eraser to remove excess dirt from an old book.
  25. Leaving a book with exposed moldy pages in the bright sunshine for a day or two will kill some very common mold spores. However, you will still see the mold on the pages if you do not cover it up with something else.
  26. Using a copyrighted book for a personal art project is not illegal, nor is photographing your altered pages and posting these within the context of an article. Copyrights for books are breached when work is republished in it’s original state by someone who does not own it or when similar derivative works are published without giving appropriate notice or payment due to the original owner. Neither of these copyright laws are applicable to artworks made with actual books used as raw materials. Books of any age or publication may be used as raw material in an artwork if the book is being treated as an object of interest, not as a republished text. This is why, for example, film makers may use any books they like as objects on a set or why photographers may take pictures of books without being penalized. In both instances, those who use the books alter them far less than a typical collage artist does. I have included this information because there are many people on the internet who do not have a clear understanding of copyright law.
  27. There are also teachers who are misled about their own use of copyright from books as well. Although teachers may use information from books within the context of a classroom without fear, this does not include republishing that same information on the web. In other words, just because you are a teacher in a classroom, this doesn’t give you the right to republish somebody’s work “carte blanche” via the internet as actual text unless it is in the public domain or is used as a quote. In either case, teachers are allowed to photograph books and post these photographs inside of articles about the books or other content. Those quotes I use on this blog fall inside of what is considered to be legal use. Poetry that I give to students to include in their art journals is always in the public domain.
  28. The conservative use of one artist’s artworks within the context of a cut and paste collage is also legal if those images are cut and pasted from original product that is sold to the masses. In other words, anyone may purchase wrapping paper, cut and paste with it onto a collage without asking for permission to do so from the designer. The same almost always is true of magazines and books as well, if you are first purchasing the product in order to do so. The circumstances change, however, when you photocopy a copyrighted image that is under copyright and that has not been deliberately distributed as product in the first place. Then you must get permission to copy it and paste it from the artist. Now there are exceptions to the rule. If the image comes from a web file where the artists have given permission in advance for artistic, private use, then you are free to use the work in collage. How do I remember all of this? Well, did you pay for a product in the first place? If you did, then you can certainly dismantle it for a one-of-a-kind art journal. Just don’t misrepresent the pictures as your own actual photographs or try to profit from them as newly published product, capiche?
I selected this old fairy tale book for an altered 
quote/art journal. I like the humorous illustrations; 
I feel these will lend themselves to very silly quotes.
The edges of the book are covered with mold.
 I will need to clean this off before I begin to use it.
I have removed many of the pages to 
make room for new artistic additions.
I left the pages with funny illustrations in my book. 
I will include these within my design.
It is easy to see where I have begun to remove pages 
from each signature in an alternative art journal.
Resolve general problems with an old book before you begin to alter it by:
More Articles About Art Journaling:

1 comment:

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    Journal Selection

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