Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Home-made multi-purpose book

This is a book-making project for beginners who want to experience the pleasure of designing their own book, but don't feel ready for the glue, needle and thread.

A couple of years ago I found myself in need of a book that was sturdy enough to travel well, had plenty of pages but was cheap enough that I could use it for anything without feeling like I was wasting money, be it making notes, writing shopping lists, sketching, etc. All the big notebooks available around here cost from 1200 kronur (about 15 US $) upwards, and some as much as 3300 kr. (more than 40 US $), which is not just daylight robbery, but several other kinds as well.

What I did was to take a stack of about 200 sheets of A4 white acid-free printer paper which I cut it in half to make about 400 sheets of A5 paper. Then I made a simple cover from bookboard that I put Rexine corners on and covered with brown wrapping paper and glued some white paper on what was to be the inside of the covers. Then I took the stack to a print shop and had them spiral bind it, at a cost of about 600 kr. (less than 10 US $), and voilá! I had a cheap multi-purpose book that I don't hesitate to use when making shopping lists, but still has paper good enough to make drawings, sketches, and even watercolour pictures in. I am slowly beginning to decorate the brown paper cover with drawings as well.

You can use any kind of paper for this kind of project, and even mix different kinds of paper together, which is what I am planning to do for an art journal project. To cut the paper down to the size you want you can do a few sheets at a time with a rotary cutter or box cutter and a ruler on a cutting mat, or you can use a paper guillotine to do a bigger stack at once - you will find one at any print shop, some artist supply shops, paper shops and probably at copy centers as well, although they may not allow you to operate it yourself. You can even tear the paper carefully in order to get decoratively uneven edges on the pages.

As to the covers, if you don't have bookboard, you can use cardboard or posterboard or any thick paper or even plastic that will protect the inner pages. Just be careful to use something the machine that punches the holes for the spiral can handle (the first print shop I went to had old equipment that couldn't handle the bookboard, so I took my business elsewhere). I recommend paper, since it is easy to personalize with decorations, such as drawings, collage or stickers or anything you can think of.

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