First toroidal book panel – done!

Today was a harder day in my finish-unfinished-stuff adventure – I tackled the first blank panel in a toroidal book created during a workshop with Ken Leslie at the 2014 Paper and Book Intensive.

Here’s what it looked like before I started working on it:

Handmade toroidal book by Elissa Campbell

What was the issue? Well, I had to draw. And I can’t draw. Or to be more generous, I can draw, but not well. For this reason, I tend to go abstract.

And that’s what I did while working on the panel in my toroidal book. The concept of this particular book was that this is who/how I am today. We were instructed to do artwork each day on one of the page spreads. I never worked on two of the panels because I ran out of time on those days.

I used only the media that I had with me when I went to PBI. One of my options was my fantabulous set of 126 Caran d’Ache Classic Neocolor II Water-Soluble Pastels. I bought it for myself on a whim when I was having a really crappy day. I LOVE THEM.

126 set Caran d'Ache Classic Neocolor II Water-Soluble Pastels

126 set Caran d'Ache Classic Neocolor II Water-Soluble Pastels


I started by looking back at my notes for the specific dates I was at PBI. On those two blank panel days, I was in a workshop with Bonnie StahleckerAn Artist’s Approach to Emboss­ing Leather for Books. I found this quote in my notes:

May all your tools be sharp.

It made me think of the experience of sharp tools and in a nutshell, that usually means that at some point I’m going to cut myself.

So I got bloody with my artwork (gross!). I was disappointed because my watercolor crayons didn’t have a red that was sufficiently bloody – the reds all come out pastel-y.

I drew a bunch of arrows in red and silver. I then took a wet paintbrush and loosely painted water over the red arrows so the color would bleed (yeah, I’m pretty literal). I then dipped the red watercolor crayon directly in the water and made little dots all over the panel.

Toroidal book panel

At this point, I wasn’t sure what to do next, so I waited for the panel to dry.

When I came back to the piece, I got the urge to draw white circles all over the arrows. So I did it. A white watercolor crayon dipped in water did the trick.

Toroidal book panel

It was interesting that I still had the urge to use circular imagery in this book. I seem to have entered the mindset I was in during PBI (check out and day 3 and day 4) – it’s cool that I could get back to that place.

Now my book looks like this:

Handmade toroidal book by Elissa Campbell

Just one more panel to go!

6 Responses to “First toroidal book panel – done!”

By Lmvhudso - 23 February 2016 Reply

You may believe you can’t draw well but you have a very sure sense of composition. I love how this book is going and your approach is inspirational for me. Thank you!

By Elissa - 25 February 2016 Reply

Thanks for your kind words!

I get all squidgy when it comes to drawing – my confidence level is pretty low.


By Karen Krieger - 24 February 2016 Reply

I love how this is coming out — so wonderful! Looking forward to seeing the finished piece.

By Elissa - 25 February 2016 Reply

Karen –

Thanks! I’m feeling good now that I can see the finish line with this book.


By Penne - 25 February 2016 Reply

Elissa, so enjoy hearing your thought process for the panel and looking forward to the last one! Even on my phone screen, it looks great.

By Elissa - 25 February 2016 Reply

Penne –

You are such a peanut. 🙂 I’m looking forward to completing the next panel!


So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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