Art Lessons

Here is where you can go to “check out” new art lesson ideas to see if any of them strike your fancy. Eventually readers and members of The Artful Life will be able to post lesson ideas of your own. So Stay tuned!

What could be nicer than to simply search through a listing of successful art lesson plans in order to find what you might like to try next in your art classes or in your artful life?

Carrie's met color requirements in symbols of favorite things

Have you ever wanted to learn the art of bookbinding?

Using typing paper, needle and thread, some cardboard and fabric scraps and rubber cement, bind blank books as journals, sketchbooks or photo albums. Obviously a fancier paper can be used to add quality to the background pages. To begin organize your materials. Following are the step by step instructions. When I taught art while I went over the class requirements, art class syllabus, and rules, the students were quietly working on binding their first books for personal use.

Creating A Personal Journal

  • Learn the craft and history of bookbinding.
  • Gain the experience of designing and making a tape bound book for personal use.
  • Use in combination as a journal, diary, sketchbook, photo album, or scrapbook.
  • Use this journal to reflect your personal expressions, favorite things and other memorabilia.

Tools and Materials:

8 1/2″X14″ Paper; 20-25 sheets per student, Elmer’s Glue, (diluted), ruler, pencils, scissors, brushes(Black bristle), needle and thread, cover material-(fabric, paper, )12″X18″, twill tape: 12″per student, wax paper(optional to work on top of), rubber cement, Class craft brown paper strips 1/2″ X 8 1/2″muslin: 4″X 8″ per student, 7 1/2″X9″Cardboard Covers (2 per student); Cardboard Strips1/2″X 8 1/2″

Bookbinding Supplies


1. Fold each sheet of paper in half and get a firm crease. Arrange the folded sheets in sections(or signatures) by inserting four to eight together depending on the thickness of the paper. Stack the signatures together and mark the edges every 1″where they will be sewn together.

2. Poke a hole with a needle through all the pages in each signature on each pencil mark. Thread a needle and sew the pages of each signature together by going in and out the holes. Leave extra thread on each end. Sew signatures separately. Stack signatures so that they match. Join the signatures together by tying the ends together.

3. Insert a 4″ piece of twill tape under each group of threads. Hold the spine of the book upright and coat with rubber cement. Apply generously so the glue seeps down slightly to bind the signatures together.

4. A piece of binder’s super is cut an inch shorter than the spine of the book , and wide enough to protect 2 inches on each side (4″X 8″). Suitable substitutes for super are cambric, unbleached muslin, cinnoline, buckram, or tarlatan.

5. The super is glued on the spine and rubbed well; then the tapes are glued down. Then trim the first and last page to the width of the super-about 2″.

6. A piece of brown paper the lenghth and the width of the spine is glued on over the super and rubbed well.

7. Two covers are cut out of heavy cardboard. Two layers may be glued together for greater strength, the size should be 1/2″longer in both length and width than the pages. (7 1/2″ X 9″) The covers are glued onto the hinges that the super forms, and the book is pressed under something heavy.

8. The book is now ready for the decorative cover made of cloth, paper, or leather. A project to design a cover may be done at this time. Some possibilities include: printmaking, stenciling, tie-dye, painting, stitchery, and batik. Whatever material is used, it must be measured so when wrapped around the book it will protect at least 3/4″ on the top, bottom, and sides.

9. The back of the book is glued to the material, and the 1/2″X 9″strip of cardboard is glued to the material right next to the book. Don’t glue this piece to the spine, just to the material. The edges are folded in and glued to the cardboard, and the cornered are mitered.

10. Finally, the end papers are glued in. The paper is folded like one of the pages and glued to the inside of the front of the book, and to the inside edge of the first page. The same procedure is repeated on the inside of the back. Plain paper may be used, but other alternatives are colored paper, marbelized paper, or gift wrap. ( See Creative Cover design assignments on following pages)

11. The finished book is weighted down or put into a press to dry, with wax paper put inside each cover to prevent glue from penetrating the pages.


  • Make your own paper
  • Bind your own way with paper covers, buttons and string to close, bookmarks built in, paper bag pages, sandwich pages between leather decorated with collage, beads, etc.

Motivation/ Resource:

  • Bookbinding for Beginners, F. Bean ,
  • Bookbinding for Beginners, J.Corderoy,
  • Bookbinding; its Background and Technique, E.Diehl ,
  • Creative Bookbinding, P. Johnson
  • Crafts Design, Mosely, Johnson,and Koenig

Cover Design Objectives:

Complete an original cover design for your journal. Select from the following materials: cloth, paper, or leather.

Select from the processes of: stitchery, printmaking, stenciling ,tie-dye, batik, painting or markers on paper or muslin to complete your own personal book.

Time Line: 10 hours

Tools and Materials: listed in each option:


Connected Color Line Design (shown above)

Color Line Design Covers

Innovative Color Line Designs

1. Take a 12″ X 18″ piece of white paper, dividing it into eight equal sections. Fill each section with original line designs using a variation of lines(straight, curved, diagonal, ziz-zag, etc,.)shapes, and colors.

2. Consider the importance of consistency, repetition, and balance. Establish a system of repeated lines and colors-(blue, green, violet, blue, green, violet or thick, thin, thick, thin) Rhythm in art is similar to the beat in music like my Bohemian heritage in a polka where you hear the “Oom-pah-pah” in that music.

3. Include section of designs with just warm colors.

4. Include section of designs with just cool colors.

5. Incorporate section of designs with warm and cool colors.

6. Your name or initials must be seen on the front cover.

7. All design in sections must connect from square to square.

Typographic Design Covers:

1. Create a design using assorted typeface in an arrangement with your name, address and phone number.

2. Consider the effective use of the positive and negative shapes.

3. Maintain a high quality of design with clean edges, contrast , balance, etc.,

4. Back cover will be the reversal of the front design.

5. A color study of the same will be the front book plate. An enlarged detail of the front bookplate would be used in the back.

Name & Number Covers

Typographic Design Covers

Shadowed Self-Portrait Covers:

1. Draw a high contrast-posterized self portrait under a spotlight.

2. Transfer this to white muslin using a soft pencil or charcoal.

3. Wax the whites and dye. Iron out the wax.

4. Enhance with embroidery stitches.

5. Back the design with fabric and stuff with batting for trapunto look.

Model under Spotlight

Batik Posterized Self Cover


  • Experiment with your materials for the covers: canvas can be used, burlap can be used for stitchery, felt can be used for applique, as well as other fabrics. Limitations occur according to the storage or availability of supplies.
  • Students are encouraged to invent a new possibility for the cover of their journal. Quilting or applique could be used to create fabric slipcovers. Contents should follow suit as well in the arena of imaginative endeavors.

    Batik Cover Designs

    Visit the PHOTO Albums of the FACEBOOK FAN PAGE: The Art Life for more ideas on Visual Journals and Covers.

  • For even more ideas visit artists from my list of Artful blogs to see some really beautiful art work done by practing artists who share their work daily on their blogs.

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