Bespoke Bookbinding @ Maxtivity

Create a unique sketchbook or journal to take on travels or give as a gift

Using artist-grade materials and equipment, bookbinders will explore one bookbinding method in each of the 4-part series workshops, and leave with a new book each time. Learn decorative stitches, how to convert an old hardcover into a journal, how to add small touches of personality and flair to any bookbinding project, plus learn the history of bookbinding techniques.

Students will receive live instruction, printed handouts and access to video tutorials to keep practicing at home.

Series of 4 separate classes:
February 9, February 16, March 7, March 14
5:30 – 7:30 pm
$39 per class + $10-$12 materials fees
Register MAXtivity Creative Space

Stab Binding

The stab binding is an elegant and simple binding method that you can use with single sheets or signatures. This 4-hole bind is quick and binds all sheets and the covers together at the same time.

Materials – Stab binding

  • 2 sheets decorative scrapbook paper, cut to exactly the size of the pages
  • Sheets of paper for pages – can be folded into signatures or loose leaf
  • Embroidery thread
  • Beeswax (recommended)
  • Awl or push drill (example uses a 2mm push drill)
  • Tapestry needle or curved bookbinder’s needle (recommended)

Prep – Stab binding

Prep is simple for this one; cut your sheets for pages and your covers to the exact size of the closed book that you want. You can use folded signatures for pages, if desired, just make sure that when folded, the signatures are exactly the same size as the cover. A paper jig will also be helpful for punching binding holes.

Example Prep

For a Book that is 6″ tall by 5″ wide when closed:

  • 2 sheets decorative paper for covers, 6″ x 5″
    • For a double cover book: 2 sheets decorative paper, 6″ x 10″, folded in half
  • 20 – 40 sheets paper for pages, 6″ x 5″
    • To use signatures, 10 – 20 sheets paper, 6″ x 10″, folded in half, 4 sheets stacked together
    • Can use as many sheets as desired for book, books that are more than 3/4 thick tend to be more difficult to bind
  • Paper jig with binding holes punched 1″ in from the spine side, 4 holes along the height of the spine

Binding Steps

Arrange the pages and covers as you want the book to be when finished (covers with correct side out, pages within).

Align the jig along the spine side of the book and stab through all layers of covers and pages along the binding hole marks on the jig. For thicker books, it will be helpful to split the book in half and stab binding holes on each half separately. Make sure the jig is appropriately aligned on both halves and flush with the spine edge of the book.

Select, trim and wax thread for binding. For this book, bound the book twice and used 6 times the spine height for the length of thread. Thread a binding needle, leaving a short tail. Alternately, you can double the thread. Make sure your binding holes are wide enough for the thread and needle to pass through three times each hole. Widen the holes with the awl, if needed. We’ll make three stitches at each binding hole, one passing between each hole and the other next to it or the edge of the book, and one up from the binding hole around the spine.

Open the book to a middle page. Pass the needle and thread through one of the middle holes from the inside of the book to the outside front cover. Leave a tail that is long enough to tie off on (in this example, about 3 inches.

Close the book on the tail. Use a binder clip to clip all the pages and covers together on the opposite side of the spine.

Now the fun starts 🙂

Pull the thread up over the spine on the outside front of the book toward the outside back cover. Insert the needle into the same binding hole, this time from the back cover, through to the front cover. You’ll have a loop going up around the spine at this binding hole.

Pull the thread to the next binding hole, closest to the edge of the book. Pass through the hole from the front cover all the way through to the back cover. Now there is a straight line of thread from one hole to the next on the front cover.

From the back cover, bring the thread over the spine and pass the needle through the same binding hole from the front cover through to the back cover.

From the back, bring the thread around the bottom edge of the book, back into the same binding hole, from the front to the back. This will make a straight line of thread from the last binding hole to the bottom edge of the book.

At the back of the book, bring the thread to the next hole (the first binding hole we bound). Pass the needle through this whole from back to front, connecting these two binding holes on the back of the book.

Next, pass the needle through the next binding hole (this other middle hole) from front to back. From the back, bring the thread and needle over the spine back to the front.

Insert the needle into the same binding hole, from front to back, creating the loop around the spine at this binding hole.

At the back of the book, pass the needle through the next binding hole, this one closest to the edge of the book. At this last hole, at the front of the book, wrap the thread around the edge of the book.

At the back of the book, pass the needle through the same binding hole from the back to the front. The needle will come out the front of the book. From the front of the book, pull the thread up over the spine from this binding hole to the back of the book.

At the back of the book, pass the needle through the same binding hole from the back to the front, completing the loop around the spine at this hole.

At the front of the book, pass the needle through the next binding hole, completing the connection between all the binding holes on the front of the book.

Remove the binder clip, and open the book at the page where the tail of the thread is. Clip the book again to keep these pages separate.

Pass the needle into the binding hole you started with, but instead of passing the needle all the way to the front, pass it into the book where the starting tail is. Tie off the working thread with the tail thread, tightening the knot into the middle of the book.

Clip off the ends of the thread and tuck them into the binding of the book.

Done! This is the 4- hole stab bind!

Fantasy Landscape Gouache Painting @ Common Fields

Let’s make some fantasy landscape paintings in gouache at Common Fields!

This Fall, we’ll make dazzling, colorful and fantastical landscapes at Common Fields. Perfect for beginners, small groups, teens and adults, this workshop includes everything you need to start making fantasy landscapes with gouache!

Come join us on Monday, November 7, 2022 at 6:00 pm
at Common Fields in downtown Corvallis

In this 2-hour workshop, we’ll practice with gouache, a water-soluble paint, to create illustrative landscapes to inspire stories, and fantasy. References, paint, paper and equipment are all included.

No painting or drawing experience needed for this laid back art making night!

Food and bevergaes are available at the locallyowned food carts at Common Fields.

This painting workshop is open to beginners and experienced painters, teens and adults. Registration is $25 per person
All materials provided and included.

Uh-oh! This class is maxed out or has already started! Check back again for more classes from Jen Hernandez Art!

Gouache Class at OCCC Fall 2022

Create whimsical illustrations and paintings with gouache, a water-based medium that layers like acrylic and dries with a matte finish. Perfect for children’s illustrations, cards, and small paintings, this medium can bring to life all kinds of wondrous imaginings. Beginner-friendly class with live instruction on materials and techniques. Students can expect to end the class with at least 2 finished paintings. Materials list provided; materials are available from instructor (includes material fee).

Materials list provided; materials available from instructor (includes material fee)

Class Schedule:

October 20 – November 10 (4 weeks)
10:00 – 11:30 am

Registration fee: $xx
Materials fee: $25
Register at Oregon Coast Community College (coming soon)

Bespoke Bookbinding II at OCCC Fall 2022

More bookbinding for beginners! We’ll practice 4 more bookbinding techniques including binding with old book covers, star books, long stitch, and decorative spines bookbinding. No previous experience needed (no need to have taken Bespoke Bookbinding I).

Class Schedule and Registration:

October 20 – November 10
Thursdays, 1:00 – 2:30 pm

Register at Orgon Coast Community College


Special materials and equipment are required for this class (click to see materials list).

Bespoke Bookbinding at OCCC Fall 2022

Bookbinding for beginners: In this class we’ll practice 4 different bookbinding methods from around the world to create our own unique sketchbooks and journals. Each class will include step-by-step instructions for each method, and live demonstration by the instructor. Create a travel watercolor journal, a sketchbook with pockets, a personalized diary, plus gorgeous decorative binding. 

Plus, extra tips and instructions for single-page books and zines on the exclusive class website.

Special materials and equipment are required for this class.
See class info and materials sheet for supplies and links.

Class Schedule

September 22 – October 13 (4 weeks)
1:00 – 2:30 pm

Register at Oregon Coast Community College

Ink Illustrations at LBCC Fall 2022

Create illustrations for books, comics, cards and fine arts with inking techniques to express drama. Practice sketching, linework, stippling, shading and scumbling with one or more pens to create effects of depth and movement. This class is perfect for beginners who want to develop illustration skills or combine ink illustrations with other media like watercolor for journals.

September 27 – November 15, 2022 (8 weeks)

Register at Linn-Benton Community College

Already registered? Click here to access the student page (password protected)

Embroidered Pride Patches

Tutorial Video + a brief history of crafting in social justice movements and resistance to oppression.

A Tangled History of Radical Craft

Often there’s one way to define Art that most folks can agree with: visual art, movement, poetry, music, installation, experience, culinary, film… All are ways for an artist to express their own perspectives, feelings or a statement and that others can connect to or perhaps create their own understanding by experiencing. Art is the communication between humans that works on our thoughts, emotions and physical reactions to connect us through creative means.

But what about craft? Can craft express the same way as Art? What’s the difference between craft and Art to begin with?

For Pride month this year, I made an art kit for a local youth library with celebratory embroidery and cross stitch crafts. It was so fun to create patterns and make little pride patches, plus coloring stickers, which are a big thing around here! I also did some research into the history of craft, starting from the concept of “craftivism” and I quickly learned that crafting has a long woven history with political messaging, resistance, resilience and social protest.

What is craft, and how is it different from Art?

Craft and Art are two sides of an art historical debate that has waged for at least the past 150 years, and probably much longer. Both Art and craft are creative practices in special skills that may imply talent and require dedicated practice to develop. The distinction is arguable, really, and is traditionally drawn along lines of use. Works of craft are made with creativity, but with utility— how the crafted object will be used– at the primary center of the object’s function. Works of Fine Arts are made with creativity, asethetics and message as the primary focus of the work. Fine Arts are things like painting, sculpture, collage, music, dance, poetry, culinary arts and we may find ourselves or our art history professors asking us “What is the artist trying to say with this work of art?” We rarely, if ever, aks the question of intent with crafts– things like woodworking, fiber arts, architecture, and foods like baking or beer; the intent of crafted objects seems obvious: to be used or consumed.

This distinction of use-focused v. aesthetics-focus has historically implied hierarchy, generally with the Fine Arts being more prestigious and important than craft. The Fine Arts are also historically much more white male-dominated and public – meant to be SEEN and experienced by the masses, whereas crafts have been thought of as feminine and including works that don’t require as much skill and are therefore underdeveloped, as well as domestic and personal.

Decorative design by William Morris

In the late 19th Century, in response to industrialization and mechanization of production, the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States and Europe, was lead by artists such as William Morris and John Ruskin, who sought to elevate the practice of designing and creating by hand to the level of Fine Arts. Ruskin and Morris idealized careful craftsmanship and high skill in the making of commonly used objects. The Arts and Crafts movement was overall a multifaceted ideological comment and in some cases rejection of industrialization, and in others a condemnation not of the use of machines, but rather the treatment of workers in factories to mass produce objects for use and disposal. The Arts and Crafts movement produced amazing works and academic study of architecture, furniture, and decorative arts like embroidery, but ultimately failed to “elevate” craft to the level of Fine Arts. Because Arts and crafts are different  in important ways.

The British art historian Rozsika Parker writes about the shared history of embroidery and femininity in her book, The Subversive Stitch. In it, she describes works of craft as personal expressions. As crafts like fiber arts were largely handled by women starting in the Victorian era, they became expressions of women’s daily lives in that context: caring for families and domestic concerns. Women were largely excluded from political and public action and so their works were also excluded from commentary on social systems at large, unlike the male-dominated Fine Arts. And it’s because of this exclusion and distinction that craft has a valuable role in subversion and resistance of those systems. Groups like the British Suffragists and the youth counterculture of the 1960’s both used craft, particularly embroidery to make statements against the hegemonic patriarchal systems they struggled against.  “[E]mbroidery showed that the personal was the political – that personal and domestic life is as much the product of the institutions and ideologies of our society as is public life.” (Parker, 205)

Suffragist embroidered banner.

Parker’s book was published in the mid-1980’s, and she was looking back on the new Women’s Lib movement of the 1970’s, focusing specifically on the experiences of white heteronormative women. Beyond the scope of Parker’s research, crafting has been intricately woven with movements of resistance throughout history. 

In the United States, handwork crafts and specifically fiber arts is particularly entangled with slavery, as often enslaved people were highly valued if they had skills in fiber arts, passed down through generations spanning back to communities in Africa. Story quilts with geometrical patterns originated with enslaved people, preserving cultural memory and legacy. White slave owners appropriated quilting practices, which became symbols of white southern domesticity.

Coded quilt made by Sharon Tindall

Despite this, quilting was used as a tool of resistance against the oppression of slavery to mark safe houses on the Underground railroad, offering beacons of freedom to enslaved people. Ruth Terry, in a 2019 article on Medium, connects research in neuroscience that suggests needlework supports mental health resiliency in coping with trauma, and that enslaved women who would knit and sew together may have experienced these benefits in the midst of generations of slavery and abuse.

A photo of the incredible Sojourner Truth shows her sitting serenely with her knitting laying across her hands, a symbol of skill, patience and calculated precision, the same which she used to defy the atrocious history of slavery in the United States and liberate enslaved people.

Quilting continued its legacy of memory and preservation in the face of certain annihilation into the late 20th century.

In 1987, gay rights activist Cleve Jones created the first panel of the AIDS Memorial quilt in memory of his friend, Marvin Feldman and in response to the devastating AIDS epidemic that had reached its height in the mid-1980’s. The quilt had been conceived as a way to remember the names of the lost, and public response was overwhelming as people throughout the US sent panels to the San Francisco workshop and donors supplied sewing equipment to construct the quilt. The quilt was first displayed in 1988, and has since grown with continued contributions. In 2019, the quilt weighed 54 tons with nearly 50,000 panels, each memorializing a beloved that had been affected by AIDS. 

In 2003, while a sociology student at Goldsmiths College in London, Betsy Greer created the term “Craftivist” as she wondered how she could help others with her knitting and fiber arts work.

It was just about connecting the dots that were already there, really, as I had studied conceptual art while doing my undergraduate degree in the late ‘90s and knew that what we make can tackle different issues. When I started knitting, I started looking at the ways in which I could help others with it, which at that time, meant making items and donating them to charities – something my grandmother had done for years, as she made hats for new infants at the local hospital she volunteered for. In that way, what we make has the chance to create changes in the fabric of our world, whether it’s knitting a tiny baby hat or doing something on a larger scale.

— Betsy Greer

In 2018, Greer curated an exhibit at the MODA in Atlanta, collecting works by artists and crafters on issues of social and political inequalities. 

These objects show how deeply the makers care about the various issues, by the time spent and ideas shared. It is my hope that, shown together, the works help people talk about difficult issues that the show may evoke or get people thinking about how they can express their feelings with what they can make with their hands.

— Betsy Greer, describing Making Change at MODA

The Yarn Mission, a community knitting collective, formed in 2014 following the murder of Mike Brown and the protest response in Ferguson, Missouri. The collective is focused on community organizing and providing safe spaces for Black protesters to be together, and support each other, all centered on shared knitting practices.

Knitting kept hands busy, calmed spirits, and created a positive point of connection between complete strangers brought together by the protests. Eventually, Ferguson protestors and residents became like family, working together to keep streets clean, get to cars safely, and ensure everyone had necessities like toilet paper.

–Taylor Payne, qtd in Ruth Terry’s article on Medium

This is so far only the beginnings of the research I’ve collected on crafting as expression and resistance. There’s so much more I want to share and write about, and I’ll continue crafting this post with more resources on craft as expression and craftivism in the following weeks throughout Pride month!


Colored Pencils Blending Techniques

This is a quick overview of blending techniques with colored pencils that I use in my colored pencils classes (and in my own artwork). These simple techniques can be used to create the basis of realistic and expressive artwork in colored pencils.

Blending Techniques

I use three different techniques for blending colored pencils to achieve blends of colors as well as desired textures.


Colored pencils can be blended by layering different colors on top of each other. For the most control and smoothest blend, start with light pressure, holding the pencil at the far end, and coloring with the side of the pigment rod (rather than the tip).

Add layers of pigment directly on top of previous layers, alternating between colors to achieve the desired saturation of color without burnishing the tooth of the paper (flattening the paper, which will make adding further layers of color or details more difficult).


Burnishing is an option for blending. This method creates heat, melting the medium (oil or wax) and allowing the pigment to mix on the paper. It also flattens the tooth of the paper to create a smooth surface.

A colorless blender is one tool for burnishing. This is a pencil with a rod of medium (wax in my example) and no pigment. Use it to layer over colored pencil, or use the tip to blend small areas.

A paper tortillon can also be used to burnish colored pencil for blending. Make sure your tortillon does not have any other pigment on it from previous use to prevent smearing and mudding color.

Blending with Solvent

Using a solvent to blend colored pencils may be preferable to burnishing if you want to add further layers of color and details ontop of a blended layer. An important thing to remember with using a solvent is to have enough pigment on the paper before applying solvent — if there isn’t enough pigment, the solvent will soak into the paper and create a grease spot.

Solvent is typically odorless mineral spirits, the same that would be used with oil painting. This is a flammable material and should be used and stored with care.

To blend with solvent, layer colored pencil on paper. Layer with more than one color if desired. Use a small paint brush to dip into the solvent, and a towel or tissue to blot the brush and remove any excess (less is better, more can be added, but too much will make grease spots!). Brush gently over the colored pencil you wish to blend.

Allow blended areas with solvent to dry completely before continuing to color or draw over them. The solvent can soften the paper and make it easy to tear, or get onto your colored pencil and make it muddy or soft. I allow my solvent blended areas to dry for 30 – 60 minutes before continuing to work on them. When the area is dry, you can add more color in layers or in details.

Those are the basics for blending colored pencils! From here, we can create so many cool, colorful images, with details and different blends of color! In the next few posts, I’ll focus on techniques for lighting, shading, texture and shaping.

Color Pencils & Tools Overview

For my colored pencils classes and my own work, I like to use a combination of wax- and oil-based pencils, plus some handy tools I always have nearby. Here’s an overview of a basic collection of colored pencils and tool.

Types of colored pencils

Colored pencils are pigments suspended in a medium, pressed into a rod and encased in wood (usually). There’s a lot of variation in types of medium, and form (color sticks, for instance are basically colored pencils!).

Wax-based pencils like Prismacolor are usually less expensive while still offering high-quality pigments. Their soft core means smooth texture which can easily blend through layering. Their tips are also easier to break, meaning these can be used up rather quickly.

One thing to note about wax pencils, when layering color, a waxy “bloom” can appear on work, creating a large shiny area.

Faber-Castell colored pencils are pigments encased in an oil & wax medium. Their pigment rods are harder than wax-only pencils, keeping their sharp tips longer and offering the ability to layer colors well without having to add too much pigment.

These pencils tend to be more expensive, but last longer with good care. These work very well with the solvent blending method.

Papers & Equipment

Paper is a matter of personal preference. I’ll typically use my beloved cheap watercolor paper in colored pencils classes, and for illustration studies. I like this kind of paper because it offers a sturdy surface and tooth that can grip the pigment in colored pencils really well, and also hold up to burnishing and solvent blending methods. I also typically like to use colored pencils with watercolor in mixed media pieces, for which this paper is ideal

I also typically use a lot of carbon transfer paper to layout designs I’ll use in my colored pencils illustrations. In classes, I don’t focus on drawing very much, and so this is a handy shortcut for getting designs onto your preferred paper and ready to color without first having to sketch or draw. I do also use carbon transfer paper in my own finished work, which allows me to sketch an illustration or deisgn on a separate sheet of paper that I can erase and make changes to, and then to transfer the illustration to a sheet of paper for the final work.

Tools-wise, I’ll most commonly use (in the image, left to right): a horse hair drafting brush to brush away pigment dust, low-tack washi tape, paper tortillions for burnishing, odorless mineral spirits for solvent blending, kneaded eraser, x-acto knife, embossing tool, paint brushes (for solvent), drafting pencil. I also value a high quality pencil sharpener – one that can anchor to the table or otherwise create stability is preferred. I use a Derwent pencil sharpener.

That’s the super quick overview of a colored pencils tools set up that I use. In the next post, we’ll get into blending techniques.