When it comes to making your own handmade books and journals, do you find yourself in a “bind” when it comes to putting them together? Whether you enjoy making your own art books to sketch or paint in, or journals to write in or give as gifts, you should know that there are several creative methods you can use to bind them together to make them truly unique.
Sketchbooks need to open easily and lie flat if necessary–so less binding is actually more when it comes down to it. The best way to bind your own sketchbook is to just do a simple corner binding. You can do this by stacking your sketchbook paper neatly and then punching a hole in the top left-hand corner with a hole-puncher. Using cardboard for the front and back cover, line up the pieces of cardboard with your sketching paper and punch holes in those as well. Thread a metal ring through the holes and you’re finished! Metal rings can be purchased at your local craft store–you can also use an old key chain ring if you have one lying around. For a sturdier bind, place two holes in the paper and covers at the top of the paper. This way you can flip the paper over to access a new sheet. This makes the sketchbook user-friendly for both left-handed and right-handed artists.
To make your own watercolor journal, you must first decide what size you want it to be. You will need watercolor paper for the pages, and each sheet will be folded in half. If you would like to have large pages, you will need an even larger size of paper to start with. You can use just about anything for the cover, but I would suggest a piece of leather for this project.
To bind your watercolor journal, neatly stack the number of sheets of paper you want for your book. Remember the number of pages will double in the finished journal as the sheets will be folded. Once the sheets of paper are stacked, carefully fold them in half. You can do a few at a time, or the whole stack at once depending on the thickness. To give the journal a “tattered” look, start with large sheets of watercolor paper and gently tear them to get the individual sheets for folding. The torn edges have a nice effect on the finished project. Once you’ve folded the paper, open the stack back up exposing the new crease you’ve made.
Use a sharp tool to make 2 holes in the crease of the paper. Make sure the holes are equally spaced from each other and the edges of the paper- the farther apart they are, the stronger your bind will be. Take one of the sheets of paper as a guide, and lay it on the wrong side of the piece of leather you have chosen for the cover. The leather should be slightly larger than your paper. Using a pencil, make marks where the holes will go on the leather. Using either a drive punch or a rotary punch, make the holes in the leather.
If you would like to decorate your leather cover, now would be the time to do so. If you want to imprint images on the leather, for example, it’s much easier to do so before you’ve bound it to the paper. Lining up your paper on the sheet of leather, thread a thin leather cord through the first hole and then through the second. You can use ribbon or twine instead of the leather cord, if preferred. The ends of the cord should be on the outside of your cover. Fold the paper and leather again along that crease, and securely tie the ends of the cord on the outside of your journal. The cord will be tied along the “spine” of your journal.
Kids’ Binding Project
Kids love to make their own handmade books! Any type of paper can be used for this project- construction paper, sketching paper, finger-paint paper, and more. Have your child make a stack of the paper they want to use. Mixing and matching is perfectly acceptable! Once the paper is neatly stacked, assist your child in making a series of holes with a hole-punch up and down the side of the paper- about 1″ from the edge of the stack. The holes should be equally spaced, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart from each other.
If your child would like a cover for his or her book, 2 pieces of cardstock or cardboard will work nicely. Make matching holes along the edges of the front and back covers by using your punched paper as a guide. Place one cover on top of the stack of paper and one on the bottom. To bind the paper together, have your child choose a few colored pipe-cleaners and tightly secure the ends to each other by twisting them together. This will form one long pipe-cleaner.
Guide your child in threading the pipe-cleaner through the holes in the stack in a coil (the pipe-cleaner should spiral through the stack). Once threaded, secure the ends of the pipe cleaner with twists or even with a large bead and a dab of craft glue. Kids will enjoy making their own books for themselves or to give as gifts–grandparents will love them!
Binding your own handmade books and journals can actually be a very fun and easy process. It’s inexpensive to do it yourself, and the possibilities are truly endless. Be creative…you can use lots of different materials to come up with some funky, one-of-a-kind bindings.
Copyright 2011, Christian-Parent.com. This article may not be reprinted.