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 I’ll take you one step further and how you how to make a slightly more complex book. Instead of using one signature, we’re going to up the ante and make a book using 4 signatures with 5 folios each. Of course, you’re always welcome to modify the instructions and come up with more or less signatures or folios. This week’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.

I’m going to be honest with you, the book we’re going to make comes straight from another book called The Decorative Journal, by Gwen Diehn. However, I’ve rewritten and interpretated Diehn’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. It’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 doesn’t scare people with obscure sewing diagrams and gluing instructions.

Bookbinding 101: Your First Book

Last week I gave you a fast and dirty introduction to binding your own books. This week I'm going to show you just how easy making and sewing your own book can be. The easiest book to make is a one signature book, as seen in the first image. Today, I'm going to show you how to fold the folios, make a single signature, awl punch the paper and then sew your book with a bookbinding needle and waxed thread. While I am giving instructions to create a digest (5.5" by 4.25") sized book, you are welcome to cut your paper to make your book any size you want. I've cut paper and made single signature books to add into my Hipster using this method.

Bookbinding 101, A Quick Introduction

I love bound books with their pretty covers and blank or lined sheets. The market is flooded with a wide assortment of books that come in all sizes, shapes and bindings. For each personality that’s out there in the world writing their thoughts down on paper, there is a perfect blank book to match their style and mood. However, purchasing journals from a store is not only addicting, but can get expensive. That is why I’m going to spend the next few articles here on D*I*Y Planner to introduce you to the art of bookbinding and making your own perfect journals. This week I plan on starting off simple by giving you an quick and dirty overview of the world of bookbinding. Next week, I’ll show you just how easy it is to make your own book in a few simple minutes. And finally, two weeks from now, I’ll take you through a more complex and stunning example of the art.

"That's so stupid! I wish I had thought of it!"

Human Powered HelicopterBack in another life (not so long ago), I was a "Solutions Architect". Now, that's a fancy way of saying problem solver. Most of my clients were, in fact, quite sane, thoughtful and careful, but occasionally they... well... they weren't. Then it went like this:

  1. The clients would come up with an idea, often hare-brained or completely insane, which they were convinced would make tonnes of money, or led to superhuman efficiency, or totally revolutionise how everybody on Earth did something.
  2. I'd be called in to hear to the idea, on the precept that I could tell them how it could be done (well, in theory).
  3. While listening, I often realised that there was very little chance of pulling it off. (And of course, by association, my reputation as an advisor would be jeopardised.)
  4. However, somewhere deep down in the bizarre or ill-researched or badly-timed idea, there was often a seed. I soon learned that my success would depend heavily upon my ability to cultivate that....

Seeing this happen again and again, I soon came up with a brainstorming technique that was based on taking the worst ideas. Oddly enough, it was one of the most effective techniques I've ever facilitated.

Round-Robin Brainstorming

Brainstorming SessionInnowen is on the road today, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to contribute a little tip I've found invaluable in group brainstorming sessions. It was borne out of how I often generate ideas for stories and businesses: on index cards. This practise goes all the way back to high school for me, after reading an article in a writing magazine about generating and re-arranging plot points. A few years ago, I got to thinking of a way to use this within groups.

The method is quite simple and --thankfully-- should be easy for participants to grasp.

The Perfect Collage Gift, DIY Planner Style

Collage Final Storyboard Sheet‘Tis the season to start thinking about the “holidaze hoopla” and gift giving. I’ve started listing all the people to buy gifts for. And like every year, I try and get all the shopping in early, which has become very easy thanks to This year, however, a few people on my list will not be getting some gift card or item sent to them from their wish list. Instead, they will get custom pieces of collage art, using some pictures, colorful paper and random embellishments found and purchased at the local art supply store. Just a few simple art items along with Doug’s Storyboard and Product forms have helped me plan and design the layout of the finished product. Putting together a fun and unique collage layout is easy and makes the perfect Christmas present for any friend or relative.

You’ll need to print out copies of the D*I*Y Planner Hipster PDA Edition 3.0 Product Idea Template and then pages 9 and 17 from the classic-sized Creativity pack. I recommend that you print out one set of the three templates for each project. That way you don’t accidently mix ideas that may not go together. You can cut them out and remove any excess paper, as I have done in the images or you can keep them all the same size. As you can see from the pictures, I opted to take my paper cutter and trim the forms. Mixing a Classic and Hipster sized forms may seem odd, but you’ll be using the small project sized form that fits in your wallet or back pocket when you go to purchase your collage materials.

Planning for "Found Art" Objects

Here in the Pacific Northwest, the remaining stragglers of colorful red, gold, and brown leaves are finally falling from the long branches of the tress from where they once hung onto. And yet, instead of rushing outside to collect the last remaining bits of color that provide contrast to a world filled with grey skies and green grounds, I sit inside my house, frantically finishing the opening words to my NaNoWriMo novel. If I had thought about it, I’d have spent my last remaining days before November outside, collecting leaves and other found objects to use in my collages and art projects. Alas, it’s now too wet and I am bound to my chair to write and write and write until I complete my novel. I wanted to give you all a creative way to collect your own found ephemera (simply defined as objects that we collect that we can use to remake into something else) and store it in homemade planner envelopes so that it can be used in your artistic endeavors later on when the weather gets too bad for playing outside.

Making Every Second Count

My Day Sheets
I spent a good chunk of my days, during my dayjob, dreaming of all the things I would do if I got the chance to stay at home for an unlimited amount of time. I prayed for that day when I could bid the daily grind goodbye and start hitting all the household projects, books and spiritual practices I neglected due to insane work hours, long commutes and stress. I vowed to get in shape, write more and become more artistic. And after spending 5 long years at a job that made me feel depleted at a company I liked, I finally got my chance last month. I quit.

And now, I have all the time in the world to focus on those vows and projects. Except, I find myself waffling on all those things I dreamt of filling my days with. Instead I find all these other little things to do. I did great on that first Monday I did not have to wake up at 5 a.m. and commute into work. I got the laundry in order, exercised, organized some items in my Studio and read half of a new book. It’s just somewhere between the second day and now where I lost motivation. For example, instead of reading books, I spend time online chatting to friends and family. Instead of writing my D*I*Y Planner articles earlier and stockpiling them up over time so I can have Doug read over them, I find ways to wait until the day before they are due. I feel overwhelmed and not sure how I got here. What happened to my carefully thought out new life? Where’d all my new projects go?

A Recipe of Colors

Dark PumpkinPainting is an art form I haven’t mastered yet. Thanks to having some time free to explore my more artistic endeavors, I’ve decided to dabble in watercolors. Watercolor crayons, that is. One of the things that have always intrigued me about painting and painters is how they blend and mix primary colors with one another to make all those other colors. I’ve always wondered how painters mix their colors to get the precise colors that dazzle their paintings. Therefore, it's time for an experiment.

I whipped out my planner and pulled out a few blank index cards. Need something to paint on, now don’t I? I prefer grid-ruled index cards to make "straight" lines but any old card will do. Next, I grabbed my watercolor crayons and a paintbrush. I was going to learn how to be a mastah color mixer. Now, what to color? In honor of October and all things Halloween, I decide a nice pumpkin orange will do nicely.