The sustainable notebooks project was a personally instigate brief with the specific aim of allowing me to practice my craft based bookbinding skills which I had not had the chance to explore since starting university in September.
As a designer, a large aspect of my practice is based around craft, hands on production and sustainability, aspects which are derived from my personal interests and ethical beliefs. The notebook project allowed me to engaged all three of these aspects, pushing my knowledge of craft and challenging my understanding of sustainable production through the attainment of appropriate materials for the notebooks. The outcome was a series of notebooks that not only showcase my ability as a craftsman, but also acknowledge my ethical believes while simultaneously creating a unique promotional piece that represents all of the above.
One of the main aims of the project was to create an artist sketchbook that was made completely from reclaimed or reused materials, completely removing the need to purchase new materials for the project, a decision that was made for environmental reasons and not monetary. To successfully achieve this I reclaimed all of the stock that is used to form the pages of the notebooks from bins and table tops located around university, a process that in total took way over a month. Continuing with the reclaimed material ethos, the grey board covers were created from a surplus of waste stock I saved from a series of misprinted business cards created earlier in the year. The string used to bind the books was the only element of the sketchbooks that was purchased, a decision that was made after a consistent source for string could not be found. To ensure the only purchased item was as environmentally friendly as possible, hemp string was purchased from a UK supplier, reduing the amount of miles the product had to travel before reaching me. Overall, because of the methods used to collect materials each individual notebook has a minimal carbon footprint and in fact helps to save energy through the reduction of materials transported and subsequently recycled.
The project was undertaken at a busy time of year, as a number of larger projects had just been started. The Coptic binding method outlined on the initial brief is time consuming and tedious, requiring a large amount of time for the production of each individual notebook. Therefore, my time management and organisational skills were put to the test, as the production of each individual notebook had to be balanced along side the other ongoing briefs. Despite the challenge, I managed to keep on top of the workload by devoting an hour and a half a night to the production of the notebooks.
As well as forming relevant promotional pieces I can give away and sell I also decided to use one of the notebooks as the sketchbook for my design publication, the concept for which is heavily based around the hand rendered exploration of collected research.
Overall, I found the project thoroughly enjoyable as for the first time in months I was able to practice my craft skills and produce a set of products that not only have relevance to my practice, but form promotional pieces I can distribute to fellow students and professionals.