Adventures in Bookbinding

Holy arts and crafts Batman! I’ve made a book!

Yes, Dear Reader, I have officially made my very own handbound book. And I don’t think I’ve been quite this proud with anything I’ve made before. I have spent countless hours soaking in information online about bookbinding. I have lost many work breaks to the tutorial videos on Youtube. I have been dreaming of making my own journal for quite some time. I am a book lover and a journal addict, and am strangely adventurous in my crafty endeavours. It was a combination that was bound to occur sooner or later (Haha, get it? Bound? Ahem).

Here is the not-so-final product:

I say not-so-final because I will probably add more ephemera to the cover with time.

I used a pad of spiral bound art paper I had, the sheets were 30cm x 45 cm in their original size. I folded them in half and ripped them along that edge. Then folded those half sheets in half again and ripped those apart. The quarter sheets I had were then folded in half and turned into the signatures of the book. Each signature essentially has one full sheet in it, or four quarters folded in half, giving 16 individual pages (including front and back) to work with. In total, there are 10 signatures, making a 160-page journal.

I hope the math is correct, that was never my strongest point in school… In truth, more calculation went into the above paragraph than into the planning of this book. I don’t do exact measurements because they bore me. I just make, and hope for the best (usually with my eyes closed and my fingers glued together, I’m just that type of artist, you see).

For the sewing of the signatures, I predominantly used this wonderful video series as a guide. I then decided to reinforce the cover with the actual cover of the art pad I used. I simply cut it to size and glued it in place with the help of a lot of Mod Podge. The result was a sturdier, but not very attractive, cover.

It clearly needed a better cover than this.

So that’s when I referred to this video for an interesting technique to give texture to the cover and also reinforce it even more. Once the glue dried, I added a thin layer of gesso and then painted over it all with a watercolor. The color was chosen for two reason, 1) I wanted a natural leathery look and 2) I have so much brown paint I’m just trying to use it all up so I can move on to better colors. I finished off with a layer of the glossy Mod Podge to give it some shine (the cover is darker and shinier in these photographs than in reality, it’s hard to capture it on camera unfortunately).

Anyway, I’m really pleased with the way it turned out. I’m a bit concerned about how well it will hold up to abuse since I sewed it all up with pretty cheap acrylic yarn. The pages are also a standard weight and look like they’ll tear easily if I’m not careful. The only thing that seems prepared to put up with abuse is the cover. After all those layers of papers, adhesives and paint, it feels quite strong! I have no doubt that the book will probably eventually fall apart, especially if it’s used as an art journal (oh the abuse these things take!), but I’ll have to worry about that when it comes to it.

The middle of a signature, showing the cheap yarn I used.

I enjoyed the process quite a bit and will definitely try again with a different technique. I’ve already been collecting cereal boxes and other similar cardboards to make a 100% recycled art journal shown in the second video I linked to. I’m proud of myself that I’ve been able to do all this without buying anything, all materials used were what I already had lying around the place. The best part about this journal is that it’s crooked, will probably fall apart, it is utterly imperfect and completely and totally made by me. I will make more as gifts, but this one is all mine.

The spine in all its glorious imperfections.


Much love.


2 thoughts on “Adventures in Bookbinding

  1. Super cool journal :) so glad you liked my ‘glue and pinch’ technique and hope you will make one out of cereal boxes because it’s gives you such a satisfied feeling to make something so practical and beautiful out of, effectively rubbish. Hope you are feeling better re: migraines, I’m a sufferer too & they disable me for days at a time so my thoughts go out to you x

    1. I’m so pleased you dropped by! A cereal box journal is definitely my next project once I’ve collected a few more boxes, can’t wait to see what will come of that :) Thank you for the well wishes, though it saddens me to hear of other migraine sufferers, it is still encouraging to know I’m not alone with those horrid things. I wish you all the best! And thank you again for sharing your creativity with the rest of us :)

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