Upcycle Inspiration 2020: Pocket-Sized Sketchpad

While we were discussing the importance of doodling within lecture the past week, I realized that while I have a full-size notebook in my backpack dedicated to this course, I may want another smaller sketchpad that I can carry in my pocket for whenever inspiration strikes me. In the context of upcycling, creating pages for this notebook could be achieved with careful folding of my accumulated, weekly grocery receipts. All receipts must be blank-backed in order to function as blank pages for this sketchpad, once folded properly. I intend to fold either a piece of glossy Canon photo paper (4 X 6) or the photo paper package’s cardboard backing to serve as the front and back cover of the sketchpad. The photo paper package was included with a printer that I was gifted a few years ago. An image of the freely available materials is included below.

Figure 1. Freely available receipts and photo paper that I will upcycle into a pocket-size sketchpad.


While this project is intentionally small scale, I will spruce up the aesthetics of the sketchpad. I like the fluid, curved lines within the website tab image for this aesdes site, and wish to incorporate similar designs on the cover of the sketchpad, likely with black Sharpie or another pen that shows well on the photo paper or cardboard cover. Within lecture today I brainstormed concept designs for the sketchpad’s cover when we were instructed to doodle five thumbnail images. These designs can be seen below.


Figure 2. Brainstormed designs for an upcycled sketchpad cover.


Finally, while I anticipate the actual fabrication process for this sketchpad to be relatively straightforward, I will be constantly thinking during the next two weeks of any possible additions to make the sketchpad more sturdy and add functionality. One such addition I will definitely incorporate is a makeshift strap or clasp to hold the cover closed, as is found on a lot of leather-bound notebooks and journals. The challenge for this proposed addition will be in free material sourcing and permanently fastening the strap to the back sketchpad cover, in order to create something similar to the strap shown below.


Figure 3. Leather-bound journal with cover strap [1].


[1] “ACADEMY A6-P Leather Plain Journal with Strap and Keeper”. Arkademie.com. Accessed 27 January 2020, from https://www.arkademie.com/products/a6-academy-leather-cover-portrait-plain-journal-with-strap-and-keeper


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5 Comments. Leave new

  • […] Upcycle Inspiration 2020: Pocket-Sized Sketchpad […]

  • Jackson Hootman
    January 29, 2020 4:53 pm

    Hello Justin! I think this project greatly exemplifies the idea of upcycling. You’re taking old, useless material and transforming it into something of value. While reading through your post, an idea came to mind for decorating the cover. If you are able to design the front cover electronically, you can laser cut custom stencils for a precise, repeatable front cover design.

    • Justin Engbrecht
      February 1, 2020 10:25 pm

      Hi Jackson! Moving forward I’ll definitely consider creating a stencil for the cover design. That would be a great way to get even more value out of this project in addition to a functional pocket sketchbook. I had a hard time thinking of what to make for this project, as I felt constrained by needing fabrication materials that were immediately and freely available to me, so I’m glad to hear you think this is a good example of upcycling.

  • I really like this idea. I personally have been looking for a smaller sketch pad recently. They are really convenient. I think it is an interesting idea to use receipt paper. (Dr. Hertzberg was passing around receipt paper rolls in class by the way.) Where do you plan on sourcing the leather from? Are you looking for a specific color?

    • Justin Engbrecht
      February 1, 2020 10:34 pm

      Hi Daniel! Yeah I really want something less bulky than a standard 8.5″ x 11″ notebook to keep on me at all times. I actually wasn’t planning to use leather within the design for the binding, as I was planning to use a glossy photo paper card or the cardboard backing that came with the photo paper pack, but I may look to use a more sturdy material, especially if I’m going to be keeping it in my pocket for extended periods during the day. I did see and discuss the receipt paper that Dr. Hertzberg had, but I really wanted to see if I could accomplish this project with the receipts I had as a byproduct of my weekly errands, in an effort to stay true to the essence of an upcycling project.


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