Full of romance and good intention, I turned to my husband last month and described my plans for celebrating our milestone tenth wedding anniversary this summer.
‘That’s great’ he said. ’Except it’ll actually be nine years’.
I was never good on detail. High on enthusiasm; rather loose on the specifics.
But still, for this Valentine’s day I have a plan; a book that maps the eight-and-half-years of our marriage through the adventures we’ve had and the places we’ve been together. When we married I promised that we would continue to explore the world; that whatever tide of real life and responsibilites consumed us, we’d keep on moving and travelling and experiencing new things. And for the most part, we have.
This magical website lets you type in any place in the world and then translates it into a beautiful watercolour map that you can download and use; I found our favourite and most memorable places, printed them onto watercolour paper and bound them together in a book. Each page comes without clues (he prides himself on his geographical knowledge; this is a challenge he will seize..), but on the back are notes and memories and photos from each trip. I started with the Isle of Capri..
It was the first place we went to together, staying out of season in November in the Capri Palace hotel, enjoying late autumn sunshine and then sitting wrapped in blankets in the village square at night, drinking wine with the locals. It was, in a sense, where we began.
Then later Cape Town, where we honeymooned; a more identifiable harbour for this seasoned cartographer to spot…
There are twelve maps in total in the book, ending with Sydney, our latest great adventure;
And here’s how I made it…
- Two sheets of greyboard or other strong cardboard
- Decorative paper for the covers and inside leaves of the book
- A length of ribbon or bookbinding fabric to make your spine and cover the edges of the boards, binding them together
- Your printed sheets; I used 300gsm paper to look like actual watercolour paintings
- Linen-backed paper tape to attach the pages
- I added a love letter to the inside leaf of the book, and a large button to the front to hold the book together
The detailed instructions are below if you want to give this a go; it took me two evenings, three cups of tea and two glasses of wine. Also a deep paper cut on my index finger. It was worth it.
But if you do nothing else, have a play at making beautiful maps online (your home town! Your next holiday destination! Anywhere….)
Have a wonderful week.
Making the book, step by step;
- Mix a cup of white glue and water, using 1 part glue to two parts water.
- Cut your decorative paper so that it is 1 inch greater in size all round than your greyboard. These are the margins that you’ll fold over the board.
- Paste the paper thoroughly on the reverse side, and lay each board carefully in place; fold over the edges of the paper so that they are glued in place, and then place a sheet of parchment/baking paper over the top before weighting down the covered cardboard to dry (use heavy books for this). The parchment paper will stop the cardboard from sticking to the books as it dries. Don’t skip this step; without weighting, the glue will curl the cardboard and you’ll end up with bowed covers. This is a good time for the first cup of tea / glass of wine.
- Once your boards are throughly dry, lay them alongside each other, ‘good’ side up, so that they are like the open covers of a book. Leaving a space of 1 inch between them; glue a 2 inch-wide length of fabric or ribbon so that it adheres to each board and binds them together. Turn the book cover over, and paste another sheet of decorative paper to the inside, hiding the pasted edges of the covers (see my picture 2 in the montage above, where one side is decorated and one side still bare and uncovered).
- Whilst this is drying, print out your pages and order them carefully, practising flipping through them to make sure you have them facing the right way (it’s surprisingly easy to get them back to front).
- Using strips of linen tape, stick the pages together. This tape is helpfully marked down the centre with stitching so that you can get your seams absolutely straight.
- Then – and you’re almost done now – use strong decorative tape to tape your bound pages into the book covers. I used navy-blue constellation patterned tape which contrasted nicely with the sea colours of the paper (see pic above).
- Finally, just to show off, use a punch or bradawl to make two tiny holes in the cover and stitch a button in place (don’t even think of trying to force a needle through the greyboard without pre-made holes; it will end in disaster and stab wounds…). Inside the back cover, glue or thread a length of ribbon that you can wind around the button to hold the covers closed.
- Congratulate yourself on navigating my impenetrable instructions, and present the finished book to your lover, emphasising just how much effort has gone into it.
- Be showered with adoration as a result.