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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

The Dormouse Diaries book Finished!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about beginning an art journal spread featuring dormice. As I was working on the drawing, a phrase popped into my mind – ‘The Dormouse Diaries’ – and I thought it would make a cute actual diary. I decided to find a way to use the spread for the covers of a book without ruining the art journal. And I did!

But first, here’s the spread.

The last time I posted about it, it was a pencil drawing. I took the pencil pretty far, including a fair amount of shading and texture on both the leaves and the dormice, but more on the dormice.

Then I layered watercolor over it. As long as you don’t use a lot of pencil softer than HB, the water in the paint won’t disturb the pencil. I’m not a confident watercolorist, so my approach is to go s-l- o-w. I don’t do anything bold, but pile layer after layer until I have the depth of color I’m looking for. Here’s an image of the spread after the first layer of watercolor.

In a way, layering is helpful because as you change the color from layer to layer (and you pretty much can’t avoid that) you begin to get a nice variety of color as well as depth. Oh, and I added a faint border of a turquoise-y blue, and also used the same color for spatters.

Anyway, after I finished the watercolor and let it dry overnight, I went back and added a final layer of pencil. This time, I could – and did – get darker than an HB lead. I used 2B and a tiny bit of 3B.

Finally, to prevent the pencil from smudging and the watercolor from reacting in case any water got on the spread, I sprayed it with a coat of Krylon Workable Fixatif. I find so many uses for this product and don’t really know what I’d do without it. It's a great help with mixed media as you can use media that would normally be too reactive and that you wouldn't be able to put anything else over. But this fixatif - and it's inportant that it's workable, which means you can continue working over the top of it - solves that problem.

Now for creating the Dormouse Diaries book.

I knew I could cut the spread from my art journal and use the two pieces for the covers of a separate book. But there were two problems with that. First, I want to keep my art journals whole. For me, each spread is an artwork, but so is the book as a whole. So, once I start working the pages, I don’t want to take any out or put any in (although I don’t know how I’d add any anyway). Second, there was another spread on the back of the left side. So, removing the spread was just out of the question.

So, I used my scanner to scan the two sides of the spread from my art journal. The left half would become the back cover and the right half would be the front cover. To keep the scans true to size when they printed, I embedded them in a Word document then printed that. I used cardstock just so they’d be a little more substantial and easier to work with. I sprayed them with Krylon Workable Fixatif because the ink from my inkjet printer runs with water.

I constructed my book insides, glued the cover art to two thick pieces of cardboard (I used the cardboard at the back of a pad of art paper) cut to the right size. I used 9” x 12” drawing paper for the pages, so the covers were 6” wide and 9“ tall. I wanted ties to be able to close the book with a bow, so glued ends of the ribbons between the cover art and the cardboard.

When the covers were thoroughly dry from the glue fixing the artwork to the cardboard, I then glued the covers to the first and last pages of the book insides. The final touch was to tie a few beads to the ends of the ribbons.

Here's the journal spread open showing both covers.

And here's a closer look a the front cover,

and the back cover

and the inside. By the way, there are 78 pages, and they're Canson drawing paper - good for both writing and drawing.

By the way, you can find instructions for making a blank journal on my website, on the shop page, then click on the "shop" tab. The PDF for making a blank journal is at the bottom of the shop page. The directions are free.


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Judy Buskirk
Judy Buskirk
Dec 05, 2023

Moving through "the wall" slowly and with growing show that so well. Deep in your core there is nuclear fusion happening. You can count on it being there, even though you have to dig far down to access it. Thank you for showing your process! Judy B. Gig Harbor WA


Nov 14, 2023

You are amazing and I just love the cover. 😊❤️


Stephanie Hardy
Stephanie Hardy
Nov 14, 2023

Oh my goodness, too adorable! Love it!

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