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What is a gluebook?
In short, a gluebook is whatever you want it to be. Helpful, eh? ;) Generally the term refers to a series of collages that is built up over time (normally on a regular, ongoing basis) and typically involves modern ephemera. Gluebooks are often of mixed media and difficult to generalize because each artist's style is different, but they almost always involve some kind of gluing, hence the name.

What's it for?
A gluebook is for loosening up, for bypassing your inner critic and building a quick body of work without stress, for expressing raw emotion without having to explain or justify it, for "gesture drawing" without drawing. A gluebook can be used as a "practice run" for future projects (such as altered book pages) or as a kind of "sketchbook" (with or without sketching) to just play with shapes, forms, colors. It can be used as an art journal (with or without art or journaling). You can draw into it, write, paint or cut up the pages. What emerges from a gluebook as you play is sometimes enigmatic and sometimes revealing. There are no rules to a gluebook except the ones you establish for your own.

What kind of "glue" is used?
Your adhesive can be gluestick, white glue, acrylic medium, masking tape, duct tape, brads, staples, paper clips...whatever you feel like using that succeeds in adhering your items together in the way that you want them adhered.

What kind of "book" is it?
The substrate for your gluebook can be a notebook, looseleaf papers to bind later, a sketchbook, a lined journal or composition book. It can have blank pages or text-filled pages. It can be ringbound, stitched, spiralbound, stapled or handbound, hardback or paperback etc. It can even be made of playing cards, flash cards, index cards or greeting cards. Whatever works for you is going to be the right choice.

What kind of time goes into a gluebook?
The gluebook ideal is to spend very little time at all. Perhaps 15-20 minutes for a page. Can't work that fast? Take an hour then, or two, as you like. There are no rules, so you can spend all day building your gluebook page if you want. The faster you work, the less likely you are to fuss with planning, agonizing over details, worrying about some fiction of "perfection." If there is too much focus on the fussing, agonizing and "perfection" ideas, the benefits of a gluebook are greatly lessened. A gluebook is about effortlessly playing, not about seriously toiling.

How often is it done?
For myself, I glue daily, setting aside that time each day just for gluing. You might glue every day, or every-other day, or once a week or perhaps pick two weekends a month just to glue. It's your book, your activity, your choice.

What gets glued?
Typical gluebook materials derive from ordinary ephemera, either vintage or modern. Magazines, newspapers, cheap books and junk mail are just a few sources from which this ephemera can be gleaned. Generally, any material that can be glued down is a potential source of gluebook fodder, so just reach for whatever you have nearby.

What kind of "art" goes into a gluebook?
Any kind at all, even none at all. Some page might be very elaborately arranged while another has a single snippet of text. Neither complexity nor clarity are required. Maybe one day all you feel like doing is splotching down a streak of yellow paint, overlaying it with a strip of masking tape and adding a snip of found text. If it's satisfying for you in that moment at that point of time, then the page is successfully completed.

The best part of gluebooking is that absence of pressure — doesn't matter if you make something really cool on your page or really bland. It doesn't matter if it seems like "art" or not. What matters is putting the page together. Gluebooking on a regular basis keeps your creative juices flowing, even during those periods you "don't have time" to be creative. Surprise yourself!

What other kinds of media go into a gluebook?
Huh? More than one art medium? In a GLUEbook?? Absolutely YES! Don't get hung up on the "glue" portion of the term. I've noticed that many people erroneously get the idea that a gluebook must involve only glue. Of course using "only glue" is fine if that's what you want for your book, but it's mistaken to think that's the "correct" or "only" way. Gluebooks delight in mixed media. Break out your watercolors and inks and marker pens and crayons and whatever else you enjoy working with. Write, stamp, paint as you feel moved.
Something will probably be glued; that's the whole basis of a gluebook's definition. Beyond that, anything goes!
by niceandblue October 20, 2007
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