Journal making with Adele Outteridge

Last month I attended a two-day ATASDA workshop with tutor Adele Outteridge, learning how to make personal journals. I had a mix of motivations:

* to create something rather than reading about other people creating things
* to mix with real live people rather than sit at my computer
* to extend my work
* to learn techniques that could be useful in presenting my work
* to find a way to ramp up my journal usage

For the first book we used coptic stitch with multiple needles.
journal_01We started by preparing multiple sections of torn paper. I went for a wide variety of different weights and types, many of which I had prepared ahead of time in my theme of bush walks near my home and in particular wattle. I covered the board covers with some lovely imported handmade paper.

journal_02Stitching was done with pairs of needles – mine used two pairs, so four needles in total. Once you get into a rhythm (cross-over, link; cross-over, link) it’s a pleasant process. Adele had a particularly effective teaching process. She would talk about and demonstrate just one or two steps, we’d each go and repeat on our books, and we wouldn’t continue until we were all ready and she’d helped anyone with problems. Then we got the next step. It meant we fully understood each part, because we did it ourselves. There was very little confusion, no frustration, and everyone in the class was happy with their results.journal_03

Most pleasing of all to me is that my new journal is a work in progress. It’s come on walks, had bark rubbings added, flowers encased between pages, and here a “page” of gumleaves supported on open-weave hessian added to the tabs / spacers conveniently included.

journal_04The second method we learnt was stitching over tapes. This is simpler as you only use one needle in the stitching.

The starting point is the same – preparation of sections of paper, cutting and covering of front and back boards. I wanted to use this journal as an ideas book for weaving – just because I never get/make time for weaving nowadays doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it, and I want to remember potential projects when the time comes. I used alternating folios of gridded paper followed by drawing/watercolour paper.

journal_05I continued the tapes on the covers, making a woven pattern to fit with the theme of the book. Both the board covers and the tapes are more of the imported handmade paper, which has a wonderful texture to it.

journal_06Again the great thing about this book is that I am using it. As hoped, the blank page encourages me to think visually as well as verbally. The page size is just about right to catch a single idea. It also feels much more convenient to have ideas “condensed” in a single book instead of scattered through day books or in the margins of OCA course note-taking.

Very enthused, once home I got onto a supplier for waxed linen thread (http://www.maclace.com.au/) and extra information (books by Keith Smith, http://www.keithsmithbooks.com/, recommended by Adele).

journal_07On the right is my first home-made attempt. It’s a little sketchbook, with alternating sections of grey and off-white paper (foolishly I didn’t make note of the specifics of the paper when I bought it). I used the four needle coptic stitching again. I think I got quite good tension and stitch-formation on this one.

journal_08Once again the exciting thing is that having this special journal is encouraging me to use it. The watercolour on the left is based on a section of Grace Cossington Smith’s The Lacquer Room (see 24-Jul-2014). In the past I’ve deliberately used a variety of papers and media, often A3 since I felt more comfortable at that scale. This smaller scale makes it easier time-wise, and I don’t end with oddments of single sheets floating around the workroom.

journal_09My most recent creation has a link to OCA coursework.

The next (and final) project is Landscape, and in one of the exercises we are asked to visit a landscape and draw or paint it for ourselves. As it happens in a couple of weeks I’ll be travelling through Western Australia on holiday, so I decided to make a sketchbook especially for the trip.

journal_10All the materials used were already in the house, which gives a nice feeling of self-sufficiency (quite illusory really, given the thread recently arrived in the post etc). The paper on the cardboard covers was protecting the table in past painting exercises. The ribbon tie weaves through the back, and I’m hoping will add some stability and protection on the trip. The paper is alternating 160 gsm drawing paper, which holds water colour quite nicely, and brown kraft paper, for note-taking and pencil sketches.

journal_11The basic format is landscape of course, but what I’m very smug about is the central folio of each section. Instead of just being folded in half, the paper is folded so it will open up into an extra-wide landscape format. After all, I’m expecting to see some very wide country!

I love, love, love this feeling of control and ownership. I’m able to consider my particular needs and to make something that I think will work for me.

The workshop was a great couple of days. For another view and some different books, see fellow-OCA student and ATASDA member Claire’s post http://tactualtextiles.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/journal-making-workshop/. I’m looking forward to using some of the new skills to enhance presentation of my college work, although postal weight considerations will always be in play.

6 Responses to “Journal making with Adele Outteridge”


  1. 1 Jane Bodnaruk July 25, 2014 at 6:50 am

    you sound as if you achieved creative relaxation by making these books. enjoy using them (not that you need that advice!)

    • 2 fibresofbeing July 25, 2014 at 10:11 am

      Thanks Jane. It’s so nice and low-key. Some decision making, to please only yourself and not assessors. Some process work, which I find relaxing and absorbing. And pretty quickly, a result.


  1. 1 UA1-WA:P5-p2-Exercise – Visit a landscape | Fibres of Being Trackback on September 19, 2014 at 7:53 pm
  2. 2 Sketchbook – bracken | Fibres of Being Trackback on January 2, 2015 at 12:29 am
  3. 3 T1-MMT-P2-p1 Joining – a start, plus some tutor feedback | Fibres of Being Trackback on May 29, 2015 at 1:18 pm
  4. 4 T1-MMT-P2-p1-e2 Joining straight edges with a gap – post 2 | Fibres of Being Trackback on June 14, 2015 at 12:59 pm

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In Basketry NSW Transformation exhibition Sunday 2 July. More info fibresofbeing.wordpress.com

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