Before I start with the tutorial I just wanted to mention that I worked on this spread at the beginning of June. A time when in Scotland the lockdown was still almost completely intact. We were to stay at home, not go further than approx. 5 miles from home when exercising, not make unnecessary journeys and not visit other households indoors and stay 2 meters away from everyone not in our own household at all times. It was a bleak time already but became even darker with the tragic death and the resulting events surrounding George Floyds’ death. At first I wanted to abandon the spread which was made to illustrate the next lines in Ben Okri’s poem that read: “We can join that growing fight to stop our world being plunged into night”. But then I read and re-read them until I realized that in fact they contained a message of hope, of realizing that however dark times become there are things we can do in however small a way to make a difference. So I continued putting all the elements that were already made by this time, together. In the booklet I put words that give hope to me personally and I hope also to other people. It is also important that I mention here that Ben Okri himself is a Nigerian poet and novelist who is considered to be one of the foremost African authors. He has written both poetry and fiction and his work has received many rewards. I personally love his The Magic of the Lamp short story book, with beautifully written, thought provoking text and also stunning illustrations by Rosemary Clunie.
Here are the steps I took to make this spread. The pages I worked on came from the ArtbyMarlene large art journal, which is ring-bound and makes it easy to work on each page individually.
1. Find a small notebook. Mine was a free gift enclosed in the Flow magazine (Dutch version). It measures 4 x 6” and has 8 sheets. There are many such notebooks available. If you work on smaller pages adjust the size of your notebook accordingly. Gently remove the staples and gesso both sides of each sheet apart from the back of one of them which will be glued to the cover in due course. Set the cover itself aside for the moment.
2. Put color on both sides of the pages (apart from the ungessoed side of one of them) using acrylic paints (I used a selection of Pebeo pearlescent ones) with brushes, brayers and your fingers if you like.
3. Drip a selection of acrylic inks on the pages after spraying them with water first. Let it drip down from page to page.
4. Going back to the paints you used in step 2, and using Seth Apter's ATC Mixup Apter #2 add marks to the pages using a cosmetic wedge.
5. Using the medium the October 2019 StencilClub stencils and titanium white paint add more marks by stenciling with a cosmetic wedge. Also add some more texture with a rubber stamp and a permanent black ink pad. I used a crackle one.
6. Then add the focus images to all the pages (apart from the side you left blank) by using the following stencils and a black permanent marker. Do this by outlining the lines of the stencils and then filling in either the lines or outside the lines, thus creating mirror images. I used the following stencils: the medium stencil from the February 2020 StencilClub, the medium stencil of the June StencilClub set, stencil Marrakesh Medina Wall and Mandals #1. Put the images both centered on the pages or add part images to the edges of the pages.
7. Take two large facing pages out of the ArtbyMarlene large art journal and give each a layer of black gesso. Do the same for the outside of the cover of the small notebook. Glue the sheet with one blank side to the inside of the cover.
8. Using stencil Barb Wire and Inka Gold in Silver together with a palette knife and stencil on the barbed wire to the left hand page.
9. Refold the remaining 7 sheets of the notebook using a bone folder and do the same to the cover. Make a decision of the order you want your pages to be in, and once you’re happy with the result make a template of about one inch wide and the height of your notebook. Make a hole about ¾” from the top, ¾” from the bottom and one in the center. Use this to make holes in all the pages and the cover and then using a simple pamphlet stitch sew the notebook together. Use a strong black thread, leave a good tail of thread, go into the center from the outside, up to the top hole and out again, down to the bottom hole and in and finally go out through the center hole and knot the resulting threads together on the outside. If in doubt there is a wealth of videos on YouTube explaining this process.
10. Using a small cardboard circle paint it with the acrylic colors used in step 2 and glue it onto the cover. Also glue on the word HOPE and outline both in white.
11. Glue on words and quotation on each spread in your little notebook.
12. Glue the right hand side cover to the right black page from the art journal. I used double side tape for this purpose. Thick gel medium would also work but is messier. You can know open the booklet attached to the black right hand side page and look through the content.
13. Stamp on the words of the quotation by Ben Okri, using a variety of different alphabets and vintage paper. Tear out the words and glue them on as shown in the final picture and outline the edges with a black Stabilo All pencil.
© Frieda Oxenham 2020. To see more of Frieda's work, please visit her BLOG.