Bookbinding 102: An Intermediate Book
Last week I gave you instructions to creating your first book using little more than paper, an awl and some thread or ribbon. This week Iâ€™ll take you one step further and how you how to make a slightly more complex book. Instead of using one signature, weâ€™re going to up the ante and make a book using 4 signatures with 5 folios each. Of course, youâ€™re always welcome to modify the instructions and come up with more or less signatures or folios. This weekâ€™s book is going to be a lot smaller than the digest sized book but still usable for jotting down thoughts or sketching your life.
Iâ€™m going to be honest with you, the book weâ€™re going to make comes straight from another book called The Decorative Journal, by Gwen Diehn. However, Iâ€™ve rewritten and interpretated Diehnâ€™s instructions to make them easier and more web-friendly to understand and follow. The Decorative Journal is a great book to add to your collection because it combines the love of bookbinding and journalling with practical knowledge and examples. This book has lots of bookmaking projects as well as different types of journalling activities that will keep you writing and expressing yourself throughout the next year. Itâ€™s a great source book just for inspiration alone. And quite frankly, the intermediate journal we're making from this book is one of the better hands-on "102" bookbinding samples I have seen that doesnâ€™t scare people with obscure sewing diagrams and gluing instructions.
As with last week, before we begin youâ€™ll need the following items from your local art store:
- 10 sheets of regular white office paper (this article uses 8.5 x 11 but you can make your book with any size sheets you want)
- 2 sheets of heavy card stock 12 x12 paper, to be used for a cover
- A bookbinding needle
- A bookbinding awl (I use a heavy duty paper awl)
- Wax thread or book binding thread (or ribbons, etc.)
- PVA Glue
- Brush to apply glue
Making the Signatures
- Grab a sheet of office paper and fold it in half width-wise.
- Rip or cut this pice of paper along the fold.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 until all 10 pieces of paper are trimmed.
- Fold each half of the 20 sheets to make 20 folios. (you will have quartered the paper at this point.)
- Make 4 signatures by putting 5 folios together, inside one another. (If you need a refresher, refer to last weekâ€™s article on making a single signature.)
- Stack up the 4 signatures together so they look like an unstitched book. Set these aside for now.
Making the Cover
Okay, hereâ€™s the funky bit. This cover for the book is constructed from a long strip of paper. And since I was not able to find nicely cut long strips of heavy cover stock at my local art or paper store, weâ€™re going to make our own. The following image is from The Decorated Journal and it shows you what your strip of cover should look like.
Got it? Now grab those signatures from the above signature assembly directions and follow these steps:
- Take the 4 signatures and loosely hold them perpendicular to the heavy card stock. Mark the end of where they line up with a pencil.
- Measure out two lengths and a quarter inch more after this spine piece and then draw another line separating them. This will be a double up on your cover. Now measure the spine width once more and then cut the card stock at that last line.
- Duplicate the last step so you have two identical looking pieces.
- Take some PVA glue and then glue the two sheets together at one of the spine strips. Gluing at the spine also helps strengthen it and make the spine a bit easier to fold when you make the cover. If your glue leeks out over the edges, that's okay...just take your finger and wipe off the excess glue. Thankfully PVA glue dries clear so most will not display on the final book.
- Fold the creases into the spine. Use your bone folder (or a ruler) to make sure the folds are tight. The following image shows you how the fold should move inward and not outward.
Remember to wash the brush after youâ€™ve finished gluing your book! PVA glue is very sticky and if you do not wash your brush right away, it will â€œfuseâ€ the bristles together and you will have to get another brush to apply glue for your next project. I just wash my glue brush under running water until it runs clear.
Binding the Signatures into the Cover
- Grab the first signature and rest it up next to the right edge of the spine of your cover.
- Punch 3 holes in the signature and the cover, starting from the center, inside the signature (just like we did last week, remember?)
- Take the needle and thread and push it through the center of the hole on the outside of the bookâ€™s cover.
- Pull the needle and string through the hole into the center of the signature, leaving a few inches behind. This becomes what you will knot the string with to make your book.
- Put the needle into the left outer hole and pull the thread tight.
- Now pass the needle and thread through the opposite outer hole on the outside of the cover.
- Put the needle through the center hole one more time and remove the needle. Thatâ€™s it, you are all done sewing.
- Pull both strings tight to help keep the signature and cover close and tight to one another.
- Now tie a knot (I usually make 2 or 3 knots together for security) where the two strings meet. Depending on how long you want the excess thread to be, you may need a pair of scissors to trim it down.
- Grab another signature and place it to the immediate left of the signature you just sewed to the cover.
- Repeat steps 2-9 and then keep adding and sewing in signatures until you have sewed all four into the book. Donâ€™t worry if your signatures do not align 100% perfectly the first time around. If you practice making this book over and over, youâ€™ll get better as to where you place your holes and your signatures.
Now if youâ€™ve been able to follow along with each step, you have not only made a sturdy journal, but youâ€™ve created a more intermediate form of bookbinding. Congratulations and give yourself a pat on the back! Step back and admire your work because binding books isnâ€™t always easy to do from written instructions. You may notice that your book may not close all the way (or at all) so if this concerns you, you may want to lay it down flat and put something heavy (an encyclopedia or other heavy reference book may do) on top of it for awhile to get all the pages to fold shut. Or you can place it on a bookshelf that already has a lot of books pressing up against one another. In a day or two your book should become flat in no time! Again, if youâ€™d like ways to add personality to this project, hereâ€™s some ideas to do just that along with some reminders from last weekâ€™s tips:
- Use different colored paper inside your book. Mix up the variety. Add some thick homemade papers in with some vellum and maybe a sheet of black paper or two.
- Try folding envelope signatures into your books so that you can keep memorabilia or ephemera.
- Print out a sheet of paper with a â€œtitleâ€ for you book and then glue it onto the cover of it.
- College an assortment of pictures or scraps of colored paper to your book.
- Create a clasp to keep your book closed by sewing a large button to the cover and then twisting a piece of ribbon around the book to keep it closed (or to hold a pen or pencil).
If youâ€™ve enjoyed reading and following along with making these two different books, next week's final article in this series touches on where you can find more complex and more difficult bookbinding techniques (involving lots of glue and the aforementioned book board). I'll even try and give you some websites to go to for resources or classes on where you can get personal one on one instructions. Iâ€™ll introduce a few more tips and tricks on how to combine your books into your planners and maybe even give some make-over tips on transforming that one journal with the all-too-cute-cover-to-even-use thatâ€™s been sitting around your house for years into a personal and stylish book youâ€™d be happy to carry with you. In any case, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this series of articles as much as I had fun finding projects for you to make.
|The Decorated Page: Journals, Scrapbooks & Albums Made Simply Beautiful|
author: Gwen Diehn
|The Decorated Journal: Creating Beautifully Expressive Journal Pages|
author: Gwen Diehn