Bookbinding Tutorial

My daughter complained to me one night about not having an unused sketchbook. We are a family of many used up sketchbooks, so I wondered if it might be time to look into some bookbinding techniques and make our own. Truth be told, I’ve always been enamored with the thought of bookbinding, but never made space in my life to try it, until now.

It was one of those moments of thinking that making one would be less effort than dragging children across the city to the art store to buy one. Of course, it’s not really less effort, but it’s certainly satisfying.

This is the tutorial I settled on, by James Darrow:
 http://jamesdarrow.deviantart.com/art/Bookbinding-Tutorial-292237490
Be sure to read all the way through, including the comments section (for other hints and tips).

I took a few photos of my my experience with his process.  Most of the supplies I already had, but I had to pick up spray glue and pressboard (which I found a scrap of at a hardware store for $2.25). Alternatively, you can use dense cardboard (like matte board, etc) if you don’t have power tools and would rather use an x-acto knife to cut. For fabric, if you don’t have scraps, consider upcycling some old clothes.

I chose to start out with inexpensive printer paper, in groups of four. Of course, I will be doing this again with art papers suitable for watercolour and ink washes, which is super for urban sketching. Printer paper works just fine for dry media like pencil and pen.

I used embroidery floss (split in half – 3 strands).

Once the paper was glued together, I added the ribbon. I added the canvas, but made a mistake gluing it to both sides. In fact, at this point, it should only be glued on the spine.

So I gently pulled the canvas away from the sides. 

When gluing the end papers on (I used scrapbooking paper), I found it easier to 1. spray the entire back of the page (make sure you’ve already folded the center crease). 2. fold it in half and lay it down on the bound (printer) paper first, matching up the folded ends ….

then, open the end paper and fix it to the board, keeping the spine pulled up.
And then it’s just BEAUTIFUL.

My daughter chose the green one.

Annnd, my first sketch in my new book. 
Give it a try!  Feel free to ask questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you out.
Find some supplies suggestions for this project below.

View blog post for supplies

More about Julie Prescesky

Julie spends much of her time paying attention to what's happening around her. At Design Inkarnation, she's head designer, illustrator, writer and creative problem solver.

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