An Alphabet Sketchbook!

The Travelling Bookbinder Alphabet Sketchbook

There’s something truly satisfying about a sequence you know off by heart. Welcome to a restful diversion from present worry – An Alphabet Sketchbook.

Do you fear a blank page? Is there a voice in your head (as in mine) shouting ‘I can’t draw!’ The trouble with declaring that you’re not creative is that it shuts down the possibility of exploring artistic pursuits which are brilliantly, satisfyingly foolproof. So here’s a project to overturn that belief.

Yes, it’s as simple as that, you know the letters of the alphabet and you know which order they come in. All you need is paper (maybe one of those delicious unsullied new notebooks you’ve been saving for just the right occasion,) and something to make marks with. That’s it.

You will need:

  • 26 pieces of paper, thick enough to take ink or 26 pages in a sketchbook. (Or make your own using instructions for the Multi-Section Binding in Bound
  • Mark making tool eg. dip pen, stick, pencil, paint brush
  • Ink/watercolour
  • Water pot (for diluting colour, if desired
  • Pebbles to keep page flat whilst drying. Optional
The Travelling Bookbinder Alphabet Sketchbook

Start with ‘a’. All you need to decide is whether to choose upper or lowercase letters… Try joining all the letters together, and maybe even overlapping them with the line above, for a more abstract result. I’ve used pebbles from the beach to hold the page flat as the ink dries.

The Travelling Bookbinder Alphabet Sketchbook

My mark-making instrument of choice is a pen-shaped bit of driftwood, dipped in a jar of watered-down ink. So basic, so satisfying.

The Travelling Bookbinder Alphabet Sketchbook

Sometimes I added some watercolour paint, and used the other side of the open page for abstract inky brush marks.

The Travelling Bookbinder Alphabet Sketchbook

Do you remember handwriting practice at school? All those neat lines, over and over might have been tedious then, but maybe now they’ll induce a feeling of meditative calm.

The Travelling Bookbinder Alphabet Sketchbook

If you’re using ink, experiment with letting the pen run dry, or frequent dipping for super-saturated letters.

The Travelling Bookbinder Alphabet Sketchbook

In these lines of ‘t’s, all the cross bars are joined together, prioritising pattern over any attempt at legibility.

The Travelling Bookbinder Alphabet Sketchbook

One of the (many) joys of an inky wet page full of letters, is needing to just let it dry. Put the kettle on, open your current read and enjoy the wait.

Here’s a quick stop motion animation, showing my alphabet sketchbook in reverse! This project, for me, began many months ago – it has been immensely enjoyable to do a few pages at a time.

Take as long as you want, a letter a day, a week or a month.

And then begin again with a different colour ink, or style of letter.

Please share your Alphabet Sketchbooks by tagging @paperhazell on Instagram or Paperlove on Facebook – thank you!

In the BookLove online course, we create an alphabet sampler, including the binding, for further experiments in typography….

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