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How-Tuesday: The Sketchbook Project

Sep 27, 2011

by BrooklynArtLibrary handmade and vintage goods

Calling all fine artists, doodlers, and pen-wielding daydreamers! Have you heard about the Sketchbook Project? This bold undertaking encourages artists to create singular sketchbooks, which are then exhibited in locations around the world. In the words of the Sketchbook Project team, “It’s like a concert tour, but with sketchbooks.”

For this week’s How-Tuesday, the Art House Co-Op crew has compiled a round-up of their five favorite ways to embellish, reconstruct, expand, and fill the pages of a sketchbook for maximum creative exploration.

The Sketchbook Project is a traveling library of artists’ journals that is open to anyone, around the world. Participants sign up online to receive a blank sketchbook, then fill it with artwork and mail it back. The results are cataloged in the Brooklyn Art Library‘s permanent collection, displayed online in the Digital Library, and exhibited at art spaces around the world.

Anyone can be part of this, and we’d love to have more involved Etsians in the project! If you’d like to join the 2012 Sketchbook Project and receive your blank book right away, please sign up online to get started. Use the discount code: “ETSYHIGHFIVE” for $5 off the participation fee and feel free to share it with family and friends. The deadline to participate in the 2012 Sketchbook Project is October 31. We can’t wait to discover more Etsy artists in the stacks!

With more than 12,000 sketchbooks from over 100 countries and counting, we’re constantly amazed by the range of media, techniques and approaches that we encounter in the library. This year, we launched a blog series called “Tip Jar” to share some of the most inspiring processes and practices drawn from the collection. Here’s a round-up of our Top Five Tip Jars of 2011!

Five Sketchbook Tips

Sew Good: How to Rebind Any Sketchbook

This handy tutorial teaches you how to rebind any sketchbook. Add different types of paper, envelopes, maps, pockets or prints, then simply sew the cover back together. 

Sketching With Needle and Thread

Trade a pen or pencil for stitches and textiles. These amazing sketchbooks bring handicrafts into the project. 

The Incredible Expanding Sketchbook

Inspired by the Japanese technique of orihon, this Tip Jar explores the possibilities of accordion folds. Take a peek as a 5″ sketchbook unfolds into an entire apple tree.

Mirror Mirror: Image Transfer from Copy to Sketchbook

This step-by-step guide explains how to transfer any print or photocopy into the pages of your sketchbook. Experiment with size, texture and the destination medium to create compelling compositions. 

Sketch Secrets: Puzzles, Tokens, and Other Surprises

These ambitious sketchbooks use three-dimensional elements, visual riddles or hidden compartments to let unsuspecting patrons in on a little secret. 


If you try any of these projects, share a photo with us in the Etsy Labs Flickr group. And, don’t forget to check out the Sketchbook Project for all the sketchy details!

More Things to Make | Books & Zines on Etsy


  • JeJeweled

    JeJeweled said 6 years ago

    Neat idea!

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts said 6 years ago

    This is great. Thank you. I was looking for a crafting project for my daughter and her girlfriend to work on this weekend. Perfect!

  • quiensabeque

    quiensabeque said 6 years ago

    love at first sight!

  • Minervax

    Minervax said 6 years ago

    This is my second year for doing the Sketchbook Project It's a wonderful idea. The library tours parts of the US and you checkout peolpe sketchbooks to look at them.

  • artfields

    artfields said 6 years ago

    I've been thinking about joining the project since last year. I just wish that the sketchbooks could be viewed in other countries too.

  • WhisperingOak

    WhisperingOak said 6 years ago

    Love the idea of sharing through a sketchbook. I started planning my next year's line of products with the help of a sketchbook. Would love to participate

  • jackandjillwedding

    jackandjillwedding said 6 years ago

    I have an obsession with sketchbooks . I love a clean fresh sketchbook. It is almost like a fresh start for a new creative flow. I used to take print's of Vangogh's art and paste them to the covers of my sketchbooks. Love this idea.

  • chickfamilyink

    chickfamilyink said 6 years ago

    I have my sketchbook library card!

  • JulieMeyer

    JulieMeyer said 6 years ago

    I have several sketchbooks - this makes me want to dig some out or maybe make a new one!

  • WhisperingOak

    WhisperingOak said 6 years ago

    Just signed up

  • jammerjewelry

    jammerjewelry said 6 years ago

    Sounds like fun!

  • rozzie

    rozzie said 6 years ago

    Very cool! thanks for the article.

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 6 years ago


  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 6 years ago

    oooh, i want to make this for my boyfriend. he's always carrying around a little sketchbook.

  • LayOffTheBooks

    LayOffTheBooks said 6 years ago

    The map sketchbook is really neat. I like the idea of using old slides in the last sketchbook.

  • GalleryJuanaArt

    GalleryJuanaArt said 6 years ago

    I joined this for the 2011 tour and I'm working on the one for 2012 tour as well. The tour is great to see whether you have a journal or not. I have a tutorial on one the pages I did for the 2011 sketchbook on my website:

  • TheVintageApartment

    TheVintageApartment said 6 years ago

    This is all kinds of creative awesome! I've heard of the Sketchbook Project via other artists & blogs - this is a lovely post about the subject! And great links!

  • luciagphoto

    luciagphoto said 6 years ago

    love it!

  • iroirocrafts

    iroirocrafts said 6 years ago

    In art college we are encouraged to make our own sketchbooks using interesting textures and 'found' paper, so the links will be really useful. I read about this project last year and would love to take part!

  • hereaftervintage

    hereaftervintage said 6 years ago

    This is my second year participating in the Sketchbook Project. It's such a treat to work on throughout the year - and then send it off into the wild wild world for all to see. Sign up!

  • PaigeHeatherBoutique

    PaigeHeatherBoutique said 6 years ago

    What a great idea! I've never heard of this before, but I will definitely be taking part this year ;)

  • everythingok

    everythingok said 6 years ago

    Oh, how much do I love this idea!

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 6 years ago

    Great collection, how fun!

  • TinyArtbyJMullin

    TinyArtbyJMullin said 6 years ago

    I'm in! I finally have the time to really delve into my art. This seems like a great way to get me going. Woo-hoo!

  • MSCollective

    MSCollective said 6 years ago

    This is such a fun and interesting idea! I'm definitely going to check out more about it.

  • shizendesigns

    shizendesigns said 6 years ago

    How cool! I always carry a tiny sketch book in my bag.

  • BrickWallViews

    BrickWallViews said 6 years ago

    These sketch books remind me of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's special library collection. I visited the Joan Flasch artists' book collection when I was in library school. This is a link to the website:

  • SillyHilli

    SillyHilli said 6 years ago

    I LOVE the Sketchbook Project, after you participate once you can't stop signing up! Huge fan of all these tips btw!

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree said 6 years ago

    Sketch books are amazing and will be keepers. Very special books! Love the pictures in your article! Thanks for sharing.

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    Sounds interesting, I stopped keeping a sketchbook a long time ago this makes me think perhaps I should try to pick it up again!

  • TheArtofKris

    TheArtofKris said 6 years ago

    Already signed up months ago and working on it :)

  • OwlHill

    OwlHill said 6 years ago

    So excited to be participating in the Sketchbook Project this year!

  • ddfoto

    ddfoto said 6 years ago

    What a great idea! Will have to check it out!

  • lauraprentice

    lauraprentice said 6 years ago

    I love the sketchbook project! Here is one of the sketchbooks I created:

  • BrittneyWest

    BrittneyWest said 6 years ago

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing! "Let the beauty of what you love be what you do."--Rumi

  • MzLoca

    MzLoca said 6 years ago

    I've been thinking of participate in the SBP, time to just Do It! Thanks for the ideas and etsy discount!

  • CathsKickassArt

    CathsKickassArt said 6 years ago

    Really cool idea!

  • EmilyCorrales

    EmilyCorrales said 6 years ago

    Wow! You did a great work, I would like to tell you that you can add your Etsy coupon to . This will increase your sale chance up to 40%. Let me know if you have any question or suggestion!

  • MissHildebrandt

    MissHildebrandt said 6 years ago

    MANY THANKS for the tutorial.

  • prettystardesigns

    prettystardesigns said 6 years ago

    fab idea!

  • violintide

    violintide said 6 years ago

    I've always wanted to participate in the Sketchbook Project. Sketchbooks are my lifeblood!

  • creeperjess

    creeperjess said 6 years ago

    Signed up last week and have been eagerly checking the mail every day since!

  • laKattun

    laKattun said 6 years ago

    Thank you! Interesting article! Great links!

  • anastasiamw

    anastasiamw said 6 years ago

    Great article! I've signed up to participate in the Sketchbook Project. I'm so excited! Sounds like so much fun!

  • kerriannshop

    kerriannshop said 6 years ago

    Neat idea, thanks for sharing!

  • PassThePretty

    PassThePretty said 6 years ago

    This is such a fantastic and creative idea to get people connected!

  • stepbackink

    stepbackink said 6 years ago

    Great idea.

  • charcoaldesigns

    charcoaldesigns said 6 years ago

    I'm very interested!

  • JillianReneDecor

    JillianReneDecor said 6 years ago

    Awesome, awesome, awesome post! The sketchbook project is so fascinating - and sketching everyday is such a great way to store all of your random, brilliant, beautiful thoughts! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • ArgentTonic

    ArgentTonic said 6 years ago

    Nice idea! Great work!

  • DearOhDeer

    DearOhDeer said 6 years ago

    Ooh I did this last year it was fun!

  • ArtRecycles

    ArtRecycles said 6 years ago

    So excited about this and just signed on! Thanks for introducing it to me.

  • ellolovey

    ellolovey said 6 years ago

    This is my first year to do it! I need to get to work on it! Such a brilliant idea I must say!

  • yarnmoth

    yarnmoth said 6 years ago

    I rebound my sketchbook!

  • BrightonCrock

    BrightonCrock said 6 years ago

    This is a great idea. I've seen those expanding books before. Beautiful.

  • madebylaurenb

    madebylaurenb said 6 years ago

    I just signed up, I can't wait to get my sketchbook!!

  • LuckiiArts

    LuckiiArts said 6 years ago

    I just got mine- so excited!

  • MumsCupboard

    MumsCupboard said 6 years ago

    I'm a first timer. I received my BLANK sketchbook today!! And am very excited (and a little overwhelmed) about participating.

  • robjelinski

    robjelinski said 6 years ago

    This post is awesome! The Art-House Co-op, the company who created the Sketchbook Project is also really awesome!!! I've met both of the founders, a bunch of the staff and have been a part of the community since last year and I don't have one bad thing to say. A must join for every forward thinking creative on a budget!

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