I’ve tried using concertina/accordion-fold sketchbooks in the past, but found them very awkward to use when out and about. They’re usually spineless (like this Seawhite version and my homemade one below) with no hinge between the covers, so you can’t use a double page when standing up, or without a table to rest on. The fun of concertinas is in doing wide, panoramic, overlapping and continuous sketches across several pages, so this lack of support is a problem, especially when urban sketching…
I tried adding a taped hinge to the two covers (how the Moleskine ones are constructed), but this only worked when sketching in the concertina one way; one side of the paper still didn’t get the support of both covers.
So… here’s a solution; a triple-cover double-hinged concertina sketchbook.
All the fun of using both sides of a full length strip of concertina folded paper, but with the ease of handling and stability of a conventional binding. You just need paper, glue, card, wide tape and a little time. Let me know how you get on, and any improvements or suggestions. At the very least it’s easier than my last ‘how to’…
Here it is after a three day walk along the Mendips, both sides of the paper concertina full of sketches (note how the covers are flipped in the photos).
And here’s the concertina held open with a clip, creating a wide and stable base for sketching that doesn’t strain the hand.
1 – First buy the biggest possible sheet of your favourite sketching paper. For this book I used a sheet of Arches 90lb/200gsm HP, ‘Full Imperial’ 56x76cm. Decide how big you want the book; I went for 6 inches square. It’s small enough for a jacket pocket, and making it square means you can use it vertically or horizontally . Then cut the sheet into strips (I got three out of one sheet, with a thinner strip to spare) and use PVA to glue the strips together, placing the glued joints under weights to dry without buckling.
2 – Once the joints have dried, fold the long strip into the concertina, carefully aligning the sides to make a neat square folded stack.
3 – Cut three squares of reasonably thick cardboard, a fraction larger than the paper concertina.
4 – Join the card covers together using broad tape. It doesn’t have to be the best book-tape, so I used this cheaper version instead (Viktoria suggests duct tape). Press the tape down firmly around the edges of the covers to get a strong and flexible binding.
5 – Glue the end panel of the strip onto the centre cover, and weigh with a large book of your choice, keeping the rest of the concertina folded away from the glued section to avoid paper buckling.
6 – Finally you can glue in some end-papers to make the book lovelier; I’ve used some old maps. Keep the covers open and under heavy weights while drying to stop the cardboard from warping and the sketching paper buckling due to the damp glue.
It is done… Now go out and produce lovely long sketches that drift into each other. They’re especially good for journeys.
‘Here’s one I made earlier’ in detail, showing how the double spine allows the concertina to be used both ways. You fold whichever cover is ‘spare’ behind the book.
(Now, if someone could show me how to post a full length concertina sketch on this blog I’d be very grateful!)