A Few Books I’ve Made

I don’t think you can really experience a book unless you can feel it. Touch it. Smell it. Hold it. Or even try your hand at making it.

I’m a novice book binder. The books I’ve made aren’t works of art. But, I am learning the basics. For example, you take many pages and sew them together to make something called a “signature.” Then, these signatures are bound together in a myriad of ways to bind the book. The pink book below is one I made in a class at the Morton Arboretum taught by an instructor who restores books at The Art Institute of Chicago.

First, we made the paper. I wouldn’t have chosen pink, but the design for this page turned out particularly well, so I decided to use it for the cover and the spine. Thick cardboard is covered in the decorative paper, and smoothed out.

The edges need special attention before they are covered with the end paper. Then, holes are punched in with a special awl, and all the signatures, spine and cover are carefully sewn together.
The blue book is an unconventional kind of book, and its style is one of my favorites. The front cover (below) is identical to the back cover; it’s simply a square of cardboard covered with decorative paper. I bought this blue and silver paper instead of making it.

The pages inside are folded in a special origami type of fold so that the book can be read one page at a time.

Or, you can unfold them for several at a time…

Or, you can slowly pull apart the whole book and see the pages unfold in a beautiful star design. This book was a Father’s Day gift, and the pages are photographs which alternate with famous quotations. The reader can begin at either end of the book, because the pages have pictures or writing on both sides.

I’d like to show you more books I’ve made with the children in my class, such as our nature book which is bound with a real stick from the woods, but they’re currently packed away for the summer in my classroom. When I unearth them in the Fall, I’ll be able to post more books that I’ve made.

It’s almost as much fun making them as reading them. Seriously.

10 thoughts on “A Few Books I’ve Made”

  1. Your last photo reminds me of a most unusual book I saw in a local calligrapher's studio a couple years ago. The cover was a dried pomegranate shell and the pages unfolded like an accordion. The story? Persephone, of course! Delightful!


  2. That's so cool! My girlfriend's mom makes books and they're incredible. She teaches classes on making them and I keep promising her that I'll make it to one…still haven't made it to one yet :/


  3. Holy smokes! How cool is that?I love the pink one – and I am not at all a pink person. It's beautiful.But the blue one? How neat. I'm with tanabata – I'm envious.cjh


  4. Oh, they're lovely! So creative! I'd love to see the ones packed away in your classroom, so I'll look for a post on them when you get back to school.


  5. Love the look of your books. Making paper is fun. We did that AGES ago. LOL! Haven't done it since.As a homeschooling project,we've made a couple of books through the years. My favorite has got to be the origami style book. I used it as a scrapbook. So I put pictures and journaled on some the pages.


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