Sunday, July 24, 2022

13 Days Adrift: A Black and White Book Project

Tina Walker, columnist (and designer!) for StencilGirl Products, specializes in creative collaborations. Some of my best work over the years has been inspired by her ideas. So, when I saw a Facebook notice for her latest collaboration, naturally I wanted in!

The idea was to take a copy of an old book called 13 Days Adrift, use all or part of the pages, and create a new book. The requirements were also that it be in ONLY black and white (and shades of gray), and that we use only ONE stencil shape throughout. We could use other supplies too, like stamps and fabric and paint, and any embellishment as long as it was black and white.

Here's what we started with:

After reading the book, I decided to do two things to honor the writer and his experience: 1-keep some of the cover and pages visible, and 2-have a vaguely nautical overall theme. I had a perfect stamp by Lynne Perrella that I chose for the cover, and also a stamp of a nautical compass.

I thought the original cover was pretty cool, so I played with the image in Photoshop, and after many filters and tweaks, had a usable black and white image that I would use for my own cover. As I was working on converting the cover to black and white, I noticed that the flag on the top of the ship said FORD. I re-read the book carefully, and realized that his job involved sailing around the world and collecting the raw materials necessary for car and truck production.

For my stencil shape, I selected the sacred heart, and used Laurie Mika's designs, the ATC Mix-up Mika, and the larger scale Four Sacred Hearts. I chose the sacred heart for a couple reasons: I love the shape and design of Laurie's stencils, and also to illustrate that it took a lot of love from the universe (and the ocean) for Mr. MacLean to have survived his ordeal.

Since the inside pages were from the original 1943 book and quite aged, I used a wash of white gesso to tone them down so my project would be black and white rather than black, white, and yellow. I watered down the gesso so that the words and illustrations would be still visible, giving all the pages two coats.

Once dry, I started stamping and stenciling and painting in shades of black, white and gray, doing whatever came to mind. I worked on the project off and on for a few months. Once the pages were stamped and stenciled, I gave the pages all a coat of matte medium to strengthen them. Then, I zigzag machine stitched the pages together, and bound the book with a wide black and white gingham ribbon. 

After my book was bound, I added extra stamping, various washi tapes, and markings with black and white paint pens.

Here's all the pages:

Pages 1 and 2 are my favorites. I love the contrast between the gigantic sacred heart and the painting of a man, and especially like the way the date and place of publication show on his neck. 

Pages 3-4: The author was on a trip for his employer, Ford Motor Company, so I stamped the word "ford" on paper and included it on this page. The Chinese character means "fortunate" which he certainly was. Although lost at sea from torpedo damage to the ship during WWII, he survived and wrote the short story of his experience.

Pages 5-6

Pages 7-8: I used some woodblock stamps for the fish images, cut them out, and glued them on the page to enhance the nautical feeling. I believe these fish are actually fresh-water fish, but took a little artistic license using them here.

Pages 9-10

Pages 11-12

Back cover


  1. Gorgeous book Linda! I love the sacred hearts, your pages flow together so well, although I love the first two, it was so hard to pick any favorites (leaning towards 5-6) I agree with you on the Tina's collabs being some of my best work, they are truly inspiring and as you have shown, inspired art is Amazing! bravo

  2. Hearing your process is just fascinating. The end result is truly magnificent. I’m a major color person so the restraint of using only B&W is intriguing.

  3. I love your book! What a great take on the theme, just beautiful!

  4. Wonderful book! Pages 9-10 are missing (7-8 are repeated), but all the others are gorgeous. Beautiful work!

  5. TerryO, you made a great catch...I must have been sleeping on the job!


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