The Etsy Blog

How-Tuesday: The Sketchbook Project 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 says:

    Neat idea!

    4 years ago

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts says:

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

    4 years ago

  • quiensabeque

    quiensabeque says:

    love at first sight!

    4 years ago

  • Minervax

    Minervax says:

    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.

    4 years ago

  • artfields

    artfields says:

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

    4 years ago

  • WhisperingOak

    WhisperingOak says:

    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

    4 years ago

  • jackandjillwedding

    jackandjillwedding says:

    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.

    4 years ago

  • chickfamilyink

    chickfamilyink says:

    I have my sketchbook library card!

    4 years ago

  • JulieMeyer

    JulieMeyer says:

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

    4 years ago

  • WhisperingOak

    WhisperingOak says:

    Just signed up

    4 years ago

  • jammerjewelry

    jammerjewelry says:

    Sounds like fun!

    4 years ago

  • rozzie

    rozzie says:

    Very cool! thanks for the article.

    4 years ago

  • Iammie

    Iammie says:


    4 years ago

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage says:

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

    4 years ago

  • LayOffTheBooks

    LayOffTheBooks says:

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

    4 years ago

  • GalleryJuanaArt

    GalleryJuanaArt says:

    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:

    4 years ago

  • TheVintageApartment

    TheVintageApartment says:

    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!

    4 years ago

  • luciagphoto

    luciagphoto says:

    love it!

    4 years ago

  • iroirocrafts

    iroirocrafts says:

    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!

    4 years ago

  • hereaftervintage

    hereaftervintage says:

    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!

    4 years ago

  • PaigeHeatherBoutique

    PaigeHeatherBoutique says:

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

    4 years ago

  • everythingok

    everythingok says:

    Oh, how much do I love this idea!

    4 years ago

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush says:

    Great collection, how fun!

    4 years ago

  • TinyArtbyJMullin

    TinyArtbyJMullin says:

    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!

    4 years ago

  • MSCollective

    MSCollective says:

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

    4 years ago

  • shizendesigns

    shizendesigns says:

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

    4 years ago

  • BrickWallViews

    BrickWallViews says:

    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:

    4 years ago

  • SillyHilli

    SillyHilli says:

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

    4 years ago

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree says:

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

    4 years ago

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery says:

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

    4 years ago

  • TheArtofKris

    TheArtofKris says:

    Already signed up months ago and working on it :)

    4 years ago

  • OwlHill

    OwlHill says:

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

    4 years ago

  • ddfoto

    ddfoto says:

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

    4 years ago

  • lauraprentice

    lauraprentice says:

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

    4 years ago

  • BrittneyWest

    BrittneyWest says:

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

    4 years ago

  • MzLoca

    MzLoca says:

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

    4 years ago

  • CathsKickassArt

    CathsKickassArt says:

    Really cool idea!

    4 years ago

  • EmilyCorrales

    EmilyCorrales says:

    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!

    4 years ago

  • MissHildebrandt

    MissHildebrandt says:

    MANY THANKS for the tutorial.

    4 years ago

  • prettystardesigns

    prettystardesigns says:

    fab idea!

    4 years ago

  • violintide

    violintide says:

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

    4 years ago

  • creeperjess

    creeperjess says:

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

    4 years ago

  • laKattun

    laKattun says:

    Thank you! Interesting article! Great links!

    4 years ago

  • anastasiamw

    anastasiamw says:

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

    4 years ago

  • kerriannshop

    kerriannshop says:

    Neat idea, thanks for sharing!

    4 years ago

  • PassThePretty

    PassThePretty says:

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

    4 years ago

  • stepbackink

    stepbackink says:

    Great idea.

    4 years ago

  • charcoaldesigns

    charcoaldesigns says:

    I'm very interested!

    4 years ago

  • JillianReneDecor

    JillianReneDecor says:

    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!

    4 years ago

  • ArgentTonic

    ArgentTonic says:

    Nice idea! Great work!

    4 years ago

  • DearOhDeer

    DearOhDeer says:

    Ooh I did this last year it was fun!

    4 years ago

  • ArtRecycles

    ArtRecycles says:

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

    4 years ago

  • ellolovey

    ellolovey says:

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

    4 years ago

  • yarnmoth

    yarnmoth says:

    I rebound my sketchbook!

    4 years ago

  • BrightonCrock

    BrightonCrock says:

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

    4 years ago

  • madebylaurenb

    madebylaurenb says:

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

    4 years ago

  • LuckiiArts

    LuckiiArts says:

    I just got mine- so excited!

    4 years ago

  • MumsCupboard

    MumsCupboard says:

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

    4 years ago

  • robjelinski

    robjelinski says:

    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!

    4 years ago