Tutorial: Make a Sketchbook from Paper Bags

I was/am a bit intimidated by the artist sketches and sketching in a SKETCHBOOK.

I decided to make it easier to just have fun and experiment.  The result is making myself a “Bag-Book” (MISTAKE PROOF, BEGINNER FRIENDLY and CHEAP)that frees me from caring if it gets messed up or my sketches are “sketchy”.


  •   A cardboard cracker box for the COVER.  (The size of the box will determine the size of your pages. (The contents of the box will determine the size of your waist.)
  • For my drawing pages, – Paper bags.  Any paper will work but paper bags are doubly good – recycling and no cost .
  • I painted my cracker box cover but you could paste down wrapping, scrap-book paper  or if you like a kitschy look just leave the cover as is!
  • Acrylic, cheap, craft paint and old credit cards to use as “brushes”

I opened the box and

Cut all the end-flaps off, leaving one for a “cover-flap” (optional)

Folded the spine down the middle.

Squirted blobs of PAINT

I painted both inside and outside.  I’m showing the inside of the box so you can see my squirts.

I smeared the paint with my crafty credit card using the widest end to randomly move the paint around.

Squirted more paint  to cover the cardboard.  Acrylic dries fast so if I didn’t like the colors I could have let it dry and start all over.  (If you decide to paint it again, let the first coat dry otherwise the colors will all mix into a muddy-not-very-pretty brown)

Hey, Mine is looking like an expensive abstract painting!

I did speed up the drying with a hair dryer  (I took the end off that’s why it looks like a weapon)

I opened up my paper bag and did exactly the same crafty credit-card painting on the paper bag pages: Squirt, Scrape and dry

Cut the paper bag into slightly smaller sizes than the spread-out cardboard box cover.

I got 4 pieces out of my paper bag. Folded that makes 16 pages.

I folded the bag pages in 1/2 and inserted each page into each other.  (These are called “signatures” in the book making business).

Since I’m not in the bookmaking business I ran tape down the middle of EACH page –  so all pages are connected.

My last step was to insert all my taped pages into the cracker-box cover and tape them to the cover on each side.  (The inside of my cover is painted, the plain brown bag side is my pages)

Here’s my almost finished (Got to decide if I want to keep the flap) bag-book.

Had to trim the edges of my pages to fit inside my cover.

The whole thing, not including eating the crackers, only took about an hour to make.

It was easy and fun messing around with the paint.

Next, I’ll mess around with sketching without having to worry that I’ve ruined a perfectly good sketchbook.