Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Frieda Oxenham: StencilGirl Products & The Sketchbook Project

I have been participating in the Sketchbook Project for quite some years now and shared my sketchbook as a project here on StencilGirl Talk last year. So I thought I would do it again this year. If you want to take part in this fun project you can find all the information here: There is an option to digitize your sketchbook (at an extra cost).

You can also go and borrow sketchbooks from the Brooklyn Art Library in New York (should you be lucky enough to live nearby) and the sketchbooks go on tour too. You can see my past sketchbooks by searching for them by my name.

I choose to use one of the set themes this year which was: Texture.
Here is my tutorial for my Touch to Texture sketchbook:

1.      Undo the staples from your sketchbook and take out the pages (8 in total). Using a brayer and a selection of paints (I used the Impasto ones by Art Alchemy) roll out colour over the pages. You only have to paint one side of each paper.

2.      Using an 8 x 10 Gelli plate and Crazy Quilts Bold & Beautiful, Crazy Quilts Calm and Frenzy, and Crazy Quilts Crosses and Rounds add pattern to the pages in a contrasting color using the same paints as in step 1.
In the process use copy and deli paper to clean off your Gelli plate when changing colour and keep these pages for later use.

3.      Repeat step 2 but using only black and white paint and a different one of the 3 stencils than you used for step 2 on each page.
Again clean the plate with the copy and deli papers from step 2.
4.      Layer each page with a non-woven, adhesive on one side, interfacing. The glue works by heat so layer the page, the interfacing on top of the back of the page and a piece of baking parchment on top of that. Iron on top of the parchment with a fairly warm but not too hot iron (remember paint doesn’t like such heat). Your interfacing should adhere to the back of your page just enough to start work stitching the pages. I used a collection of embroidery floss and perle cottons, with a sharp embroidery needle, to embellish the patterns. Only a straight stitch is used (I did smuggle in some French knots but you don’t have to!) To start and finish your thread use masking tape on the back of the interfacing. The interfacing will stop your page from tearing.

5.      When all the pages are stitched layer them up in pairs and stitch them together with the wrong sides facing each other on your sewing machine (you can also do this step by hand if you like). I used a red thread both on top and in the bobbin. You will end up with 4 double sided pages.  Decide in what order you want to use them in your sketchbook and reinforce the fold line with a bone folder or by pressing hard with your finger.

6.      Select one of the copy papers you made in step 3A for your cover. I adhered it with double sided tape and made sure not to cover up the barcode (which is used for the Sketchbook Project admin). If you are using your own sketchbook you can simply cover the entire cover with your paper.  Stitch some of the pattern (without interfacing this time, the cover is thick enough already) and add the title. I used a Dymo writer for this. Reinforce the fold with binding tape (black and white circles in my case).
7.      Do the same for the inside cover with another one of your pages from step 3A, and double sided tape. Then stitch around the perimeter of the cover with your sewing machine as in step 5. Also add some zigzag stitching along the sides of the binding tape.

8.      Take a piece of scrap paper the same height as your sketchbook, fold it in half, and make a hole 1” from both the top and the bottom of the strip. Also make a hole at the half way point. Use this to make holes in all your pages as well as the cover.
9.      Using a 3 time as long as the height of your sketchbook piece of perle or floss cotton (I used red) and a sharp needle go through the center hole from the inside of your center page, through all the pages and out through the cover, go up to the top hole and back inside through the cover and all the pages, go back out through the bottom hole likewise and then back inside through the center hole. Make sure the ends of your thread are on opposite sides of the long line of thread and your pages are tightly bound together. Then knot off your threads securely.

And voila, your sketchbook is done! Enjoy looking at it before sending it off to the Brooklyn Art Library. I freely admit that I find this stage of the process a bit of a wrench but it’s great to know my sketchbooks are in such a great place.

(C) Frieda Oxenham 2017. To see more of Frieda's work, please visit her BLOG.


  1. Frieda, I am so honored that you selected my stencil to be used for the Sketchbook Project book. I have been to that library several times in their old location, and I look forward to going through your sketchbook at Brooklyn Art Library in their new location. You did a FABULOUS job with that stencil and I love that you combine stenciling and embroidery in one book! Thank you so much Frieda for sharing your process!

    1. Thank you very much, Andrew. Really appreciate you dropping by to comment. Sadly The Sketchbook Project was moving just during the week I was in New York last year as I would have loved to go and see all the sketchbooks, but maybe I will be back one day.

  2. I love Andrew's stencil, too, and your book turned out fabulous!


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