Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Handmade Journal Tutorial

I should start this post by admitting that I am a bum.
Not just any bum, either, but the sort of teacher-bum who forgets to get (or make) awards for the students who won the poetry contest SHE SPONSORED. Yeah, that kind of bum. I don't know who was more embarrassed at the awards ceremony: the three winners who had to walk down from the bleachers in front of everyone or the bum of a teacher (me) who only had a handshake to offer in appreciation of their great and magnificent poetic talents.
So, when I went to Ann Arbor this weekend to shop and catch up with my oldest best friend, I had an eye out for good awards. I dragged her through a few used bookstores, looking maybe for a beautifully bound slim book of verse. Nothing. Or, nothing that was both a) good to read and b) in my (I'll admit: low) price range.
Then JJ suggested Hollander's, and I think the heavens really did open up right over my head because I felt a direct beam of light shining on my brain and I'm pretty sure I heard an angelic chorus. Hollander's is, in all seriousness, heaven for those who love paper. It's a bookbinder's store. It's beautiful. Here's a link to the store: Hollander's.

See how lovely it is? Don't you want to go there. (If so, let me know: I'll come along) (If you drive. Me no likey driving on 94.)

Well, I could have bought some very lovely gifts there, and indeed, I did consider it. But when I'm in a crafty, creative place like this, I get these urges.

The urges to make something. To touch and fold paper. To glue it to other pieces of paper. So that's what I did. I made journals for my girls. It was a little bit tricky and I almost had to waste a piece of paper (but I salvaged it!). Also, I have a very small wound on the fleshy part of my hand and I'm still scrubbing the glue off my fingers and the counter. But other than that, it was lovely work indeed.

Here are the things you'll need to make one book:

24 sheets of paper (I bought a pad of drawing paper--9 x 12 sheets--and took it apart 'cause I wanted nice, heavy paper) (but you can use copy paper too!)

Two 1/2" strips of heavy-ish cardstock to reinforce the binding (I cut apart the backing of a crappy notebook) (Maybe a cereal box would work?)

12" x 12" piece of heavy-ish cardstock for the cover

Two 3" x 12" pieces of coordinating cardstock to cover up the edges of the cover

Two 5" x 9" (or so) pieces of another coordinating paper to finish the inside cover

Some DMC floss or heavy thread (more colorful = better)

A really beastly heavy needle. Like the kind you'd use to stab...no...just kidding

Here's how you do it:

1) Find the middle of the cover and glue the two strips of 1/2" cardboardy-stuff to it. Right on top of each other. If you're smart, you'll wait till it dries to proceed. You don't have to, but just be warned: glue is sticky. Very sticky.

2) Make a template for hole placement. I made marks 1/2" from the top and bottom, and then one right in the middle. Keep the template! You'll use it again. Oh, and mark the spot on your binding for the holes.

3) Use that beastly heavy needle to poke three holes right next to each other in the binding. That's right: three holes per measured mark (Here's why: once you make your four folio thingies--that's the little booklets of folded paper, which I'll explain in a minute--you will be sewing each one to the binding. It's going to be tight, but that's how you want your book, right?). I put something under the cover like a piece of foamy-foam or--better yet--my pincushion so I can get a nice jab going. (PS: Watch your fingers! Don't get too crazy with the stabbing)

4) Paper folding time. Fold your sheets in half (you can do 4 at a time, but not more than that; you'll lose the level of perfection I'm sure you want). Put 8 of the folded sheets together, so you'll have 3 booklets (I think they're called folios) (Not sure though. If I'm wrong, just pretend I'm right, okay?).
5) Then use your template to mark the hole placements on these and use that beastly needle to bore the holes through each folio. Take your time and make sure everything is precise.
6) Did you notice I stopped taking pictures? Yeah, sorry about that. Honestly, I'm surprised I took as many as I did.
7) Thread some of that DMC floss on your needle. You'll need three pieces, each about 18" long.
8) Line up your first folio on the spine (the cover), and attack it with the needle. Well, what I mean is, poke the needle through the spine in the middle hole, pushing it through the first folio in the middle hole too. (Make sure you hold on to the end of your thread!)
9) Then push that needle through the top hole, this time from the INSIDE of the book. You're halfway through the first folio! Woohoo!
10) Bring the needle in the bottom hole (your thread is still in the eye of the needle, of course) from the OUTSIDE of the book.
11) Last step: go back out the middle hole from the INSIDE of the book.
12) Now all you have to do is make sure you've drawn the thread NICE AND TIGHT and then tie it off (on the OUTSIDE) with a double knot.
13) Repeat this process with the second and third folio, but using the other holes you bored in the spine.
Now you're ready to finish off the bottle of wine---NO the book. The book. That's what I'm talking about.
14) Fold the edges of the book along the edge of the spine so it actually looks like it has a spine. Then, trim down to the spine along the folds. You'll have two tiny little strips of paper, one on each end of the book. It will look a lot like an antennae. Trim those puppies off, and fold the upper and lower excess of the cover down to cover the first page. This will keep those folios IN THEIR RIGHTFUL PLACE within the society of the book.
15) Line up the 3" strip of coordinating cardstock so that it is centered on the edge of the front binding. You'll want a few inches to the top and bottom and another inch overlapping the front. Apply glue to this strip with either a) reckless abandon or b) caution. I'll let you decide. Glue that sucker to the front cover and then fold the front edge in and the top and bottom edges in too.
(See? This is how the front cover will look. Those are the coordinating papers I was talking about.)
16) Finally, glue the 5" x 9" paper on the inside cover to conceal all your glue mistakes--uh, I mean--your folded papers. Try to get it nice and close to the spine. It will look like this.

Then, you can write something really cool inside. Like I did. And if you give this as a gift, make sure you sign it somewhere so everyone knows you're the artist.
So there we go! My first tutorial. Please let me know if this doesn't make sense or if you need clarification. And if you make a book of your own, send me a picture!


David said...

Gotta admit... after you called JJ old, I protested the rest of the tutorial. I did skip to the end and it looked pretty cool, though.

Carmen Palmer said...

i wish this had a "share" button. let me know if you want me to show you how to add one to all your blog posts, or just link all blog posts to facebook :)

Elizabeth said...

Simply Lovely - and I'm sorry but there's no way that a "bum-teacher" would MAKE journals for her students - silly girl! I'm much more of a bum, since I would rather pay you to make one for me than actually do it myself! Loved the tutorial - once again, nicely done. I should stop being surprised by you - you bum!

alli/hooray said...

Kir, this is amazing! They turned out great and I'm impressed with your bookbinding skills.

PS. I think the folios are called 'signatures'. I learned that from Hollander's, actually :)

Kir said...

Alli: I knew you'd know what they were called. ;)
Let's get together and make some more! Hollander's first, though.

Kir said...

Carmen: tell me what to do!

Tamera Lynn said...

Very cool tutorial, Kir! I wish I was half as crafty. I hope your kids appreciate the work that went into them.