Here is the process I went through as I played with art supplies.
I pawed through my scraps, looked at the clump of cloth from my last official book project, then used heavy gel medium to affix a piece of muslin to the front of an old piece of text weight painted paper. This isn't the normal way I make book cloth, but I wanted to see if it would work (I say yes for painterly effect but not for precise or traditional work). I smoothed it out as best I could. It did wrinkle a bit, but when it dried I gave it a good talking to with a bone folder. Because I didn't really want the printing to show, I painted over the cloth with watercolor ground, a lovely buff color from Daniel Smith, Inc., and scribbled in it with a skewer as well.
The watercolor ground is very cool (I've mentioned it before here and here): I could now draw and paint on the cloth as if it were nice paper. I began with Inktense pencils. They are like regular watercolor pencils, except that when they dry they are supposed to be permanent, like the acrylic inks I like. While I wasn't all that happy with the lettering I did, I used a Niji water brush to move the color around, let the cover dry, then drew over the wash with a uni-ball gel pen.
How I ended up using a traditional binding, I do not know. It is a basic casebound book with a hard flat spine, but I realized the spine needed to be the depth of the book block plus two board thicknesses, which I had neglected to add.
The first and last signatures each employ a small piece of book cloth, glued in face up, like little wings (the technical term is "hinges," I believe) that wrap a little around those first and last signatures before sewing and are then adhered to the case as well. This binding, with the pieces of book cloth hinges, is also referred to as Bradel binding. A very fine tutorial for a single signature is here. This is a very sturdy structure. In this photo, you can see the blue book cloth hinge in the inner spine. The endpapers are glued on top.
Here, you can see how the blue hinges wrap around the first and last signatures
and are sewn in with them.
It was hard to wait for it to dry, since making a new journal was not my goal, but drawing was. When I finally got to draw, I used a 4B pencil, which felt lovely on the textured Arches Cover (cream), and Caran d'Ache Supracolor watercolor pencils and the water brush again. My first page was based on an image from the newspaper, but altered a bit…
This may prove a better creative arts challenge for me than the last one, which, I'm sorry to say, ended after a week. I've only ever successfully filled one book (crossed-structure binding, 2009), inspired by paintings by David Johnson (He illustrates "Produce Picks" for the Bay Area News Group and collaborates on an annual Farmer's Market Calendar, as well as doing lovely work of his own. Plus, he is really nice). Perhaps, for me, it takes a desire to learn or attempt to master something to keep going.
We'll be traveling soon, so I think I'll take this new challenge and this new journal along.