My love of paper is well-known to anyone who has visited this site with any regularity since I began writing in January; show me a craft knife, a gluestick and a roll of interesting papers and my heart starts to race faster than if Mr Clooney swung by announcing I was his plan for the evening. Well, maybe not quite that fast, but fast enough nonetheless…..
Where was I? Oh yes, back to far more appropriately maternal thoughts for a moment and this week’s project; a homemade scrapbook for Harry to colour in, fill out and cover randomly with photos of his choosing. Documenting his friends, passions and a carefully curated collection of his exuberant artwork, it will capture a little piece of his life at 2, and will be a great rainy day project (and we have plenty of rain right now…).
I learned the sublime art of book-making a few months ago at the hands of the serene and wonderful artist Ciara Healy. Ciara takes a zen approach to paper craft and despite spending her days upto her elbows in PVA glue manages to look effortlessly elegant and well-manicured, without attracting all the bits of discarded paper and ribbon that seem to adhere themselves to my entire body surface by the time I’m done. The scrapbook or memory book I’ve made above is deliciously simple, and can be made with two sides of a cardboard box, a few large sheets of white paper, a roll of giftwrap and very little else (though you can increase the sophistication endlessly).
The pages for this book are standard size sheets simply folded in half. You can choose any starting size – I used A3 – and decide whether to leave them blank or add text as I did by running through the printer first. I added headings to some pages ‘my favourite toys’ ‘my best friends’ etc, and left others blank. When making grown-up books for friends I love to use old maps, diagrams, and textured papers interleaved with regular paper stock to make each book more interesting and individual; you can also add vellum envelopes for the recipient to store keepsakes.
Score and cut your cardboard so that it is 1″ longer than the folded paper at both the top and bottom and 1.5″ wider in total. Choose some colourful strong gift wrap, wallpaper or even fabric for your cover (plastic coated fabric like tablecloth material works brilliantly for this), and a contrasting strip of book cloth or tape for your centre seam. Decide how deep you want your seam to be, and then measure and lay out your card so that you have a gap of 0.5″ between the two covers (1). Apply PVA glue liberally to the book cloth seam and then lay the cardboard in place, scoring down the sides for definition. Place a sheet of greaseproof paper in the middle and fold the book shut, weighting it down to dry out (this will help flatten any bumps and prevent the cardboard from curling). Once dry, it should look like this (2); overlay various decorative papers to decide which looks best, and work out which part of any pattern or design you want to show (particularly important with large prints or images). Carefully apply PVA to the back of each sheet of your paper and lay over the cover, overlapping your seam by a fraction. Trim off the corners and fold under neatly, before weighting to dry out as before, at which point it should look like this (3). By this time I had become too covered in rapidly-drying glue to take intricate photographs of each stage so have simply described them, but for the visually minded and determined, there’s an excellent online tutorial here.
Whilst your cover dries, stitch together your pages as shown here, using a strong thread that won’t snap easily, and then glue the front and back pages into your board cover, which should leave a lovely decorative border around the side whilst masking your stuck-down edges. If the thought of sewing makes you want to weep, you can staple your pages together instead, just don’t tell anyone I suggested it…
As a final touch, you can add a closure for your book; I opted to punch small holes in Harry’s book cover and sew on two contrasting buttons, then added a ribbon to the inside back cover (secured with another piece of glued cover paper), as shown below.
Harry is rightly proud of his new book and marches around clutching it possessively in the manner of a trainee Traffic Warden looking to note down infringements. I am attempting to follow closely behind and impound the gluestick before all important bits of household paperwork become irrevocably adhered to its pages. Wish me luck…