Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Creating an Art Research Journal from a Paper Bag

How to Make Books: Fold, Cut & Stitch Your Way to a One-of-a-Kind Book
by Esther K. Smith

Making an Art Research Journal is a great way to document process and record ideas. I like incorporating Art Research Journals into my artist residencies because the students are generally collaborating on an art project that they won't be taking home. With a journal, at least they have something they can take home as a reminder of the project and process, but also something to share with their family and friends. In addition, an Art Research Journal can also be an assessment tool for teachers to see that the students are understanding the process, feel involved and are having their voices heard, and for sticking a grade on something, if necessary.

This particular style of book is great because it starts out as a paper bag, which I have a seemingly endless supply of as they pile up each time I forget the reusable bag at the market! First, the bag has to be cut open (or carefully torn open) and then trimmed a bit to take off the rough edges and even everything up to be a rectangle. Then, following the illustration below...
Illustrated step by step to build a mini book out of a paper bag.
 A) Fold the bag "Hot Dog" style and unfold.
B) Fold "Hamburger" style and unfold.
C) Fold the open ends back to the spine, and then unfold.
D) Cut on the middle "Hot Dog" fold line from the folded side of the paper bag, but only cut halfway. Then, there's a tricky bit of folding and the book is ready to go!

I generally use a glue stick and glue the insides together so the book stays together without unfolding. The inside is the outside of the bag (with the print on it).

Sample paper bag books

An Art Research Journal is also a great tool for artists to use! The book above shows the samples that I've been working on with a new product and technique. A peek inside:

Finding the perfect firing schedule and experimenting with lettering.

Examining shrinkage of powder wafers on a tack fire
and different firing schedules.

Writing my observations next to each set of samples
helps me to remember and explain what I did. Then, if I
want to reproduce my results, it's easy!
There are a bunch of other book suggestions in How to Make Books: Fold, Cut & Stitch Your Way to a One-of-a-Kind Book. This one seemed to be the easiest for the materials I had on hand and the size is really nice for glueing separate samples in and building a journal scrap book style.

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