Uncommon Handbound Books by Cindy Leaders

The Big Brother Travel Journal

Thursday, February 3, 2011

**January 2013:  I have retired this design for now, in favor of the Expandable Journal you can find here:    Expandable Travel Journal.   

I've had several requests over the last few months for a larger version of the versatile expandable travel journal. After chewing on the possibilities for a while, I've created its big brother!

At 9-1/4 x 6-7/8, this journal is sized for an epic trip or multiple smaller journeys. It has 52 pages (104 front and back) and lots of pockets and envelopes for all the little bits you collect along the way. It lies flat for easy sketching and writing, and the luscious Italian paper I used is acid free and heavy enough for art, collage and holding your precious photos.

As with the smaller version, the front cover has a window cut in it. This one is about 3-1/2 inches square. Any photo, artwork or text you affix to the first page shows through and becomes your cover design.

The accordion structure of the original journal really doesn't lend itself to a large format book. So I decided to build this journal on a concertina spine. Made from substantial 200 gsm paper, the concertina allows for room for some including by providing heavy tabs between each signature. Two of the four tabs have been left open and can be used as is or cut lengthwise or crosswise to allow for taping or gluing in postcards, itinerary and the like.

I've used the other two tabs to sew in some envelopes for more tucking away of treasures. Here two business size envelopes form four 4-3/4 x 4-1/4 pockets, perfect for ticket stubs and other small items. The reverse of the envelopes inside the fold also form a nice surface for writing or art.

The other group of envelopes starts with a 9 x 12 clasp envelope cut at the bottom and folded in half to create two 5-1/4 x 9 envelopes. Inside is stitched a 6 x 9 envelope, also cut and folded to make two pockets. I used a piece of linen tape to attach a coin envelope alongside for the smallest inclusions.

They all fold together, nestled inside the flap of the outer envelope, and fasten with a button and string closure made from circles punched from maps fused with kraft paper and tyvek to make them substantial enough for the purpose.

One last pair of pockets is made from folding and closing in an extension of one of the pages of heavy paper.

Now about that paper. I've used my favorite Velata paper in two different weights for the text block. If paper matters to you, you will find this to be really special stuff. It's produced at the Cartiera Magnani mill on the banks of the Pescia River in Italy. Among the oldest in the world, the mill dates back to the 15th Century and counts Napoleon Bonaparte and Picasso among its past customers. This subtly-textured, ivory paper is a delight for both writing and art. Out of the 52 pages, 22 are from the heavy 200 gsm paper I used for the concertina the book is built on. This paper is almost like watercolor paper and is strong enough for pretty heavy collage work. In fact, I use it with watercolors in my own art journals. It curls a bit if you really soak it down, but it dries flat, and there's never any bleed through. The remaining 30 pages are from the lightweight version of the same paper, identical in color and texture but not as thick. It is still excellent for most purposes, including all of the markers I have personally used and even watercolor and acrylics if you use a light hand. I have a number of artists who return for my books time and again just because of this paper. Of course, the pages are all ripped by hand to provide a the texture of a lovely deckled edge.