River Rock Book
Peggy Johnston constructs a river rock book from balsa wood.
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Materials and Tools:
1" x 2" x 3-1/2" balsa wood blocks
Japanese marbled paper
PVA or other tacky white glue
thin copper wire
1/4" square dowel
copper acrylic paint
small turquoise bead
acrylic paints that match the marbled paper
strap material (no-tear envelope material)
thin silver wire
short piece of 1/8" ribbon
strip of paper for the accordion
tools – pencil or pen, ruler, scissors
medium-grit sand paper
paper templates for stone shape and book insert
drill with 1/16 inch bit
1. Cut two pieces of 2" x 3" x 1" balsa wood with the grain following the length of the piece using a handsaw.
2. Stack the two pieces and adhere them together with double-sided tape. Place the tape about 1/4 inch in from all edges.
3. In pencil, freehand draw a rough outline of the shape the stone that will be on top of the wood block or follow a paper template. Be sure that the spine has a flat section for the hinge.
4. Cut and carve the block roughly to shape with a saw and box knife.
5. Sand the block to the final river rock shape.
6. Cut the two pieces apart by inserting a dull butter knife between the two pieces of wood where they're taped together. Remove the tape.
7. Mark the hollow that will hold the pages, with a pencil using a paper template. Use little brads at the corners of the hollow, then press the other half of the wood block rock shape over them to mark the location of the hollow on that piece.
8. Cut along the outline of the hollow with a knife to a depth of about 1/8 inch.
9. Remove the wood in the area of the hollow with a small chisel. Repeat the hollowing process for the other wood piece.
10. Cut a piece of marbled Japanese paper roughly 2 inches larger than the stone on all sides with scissors. Apply glue to the wrong side of the paper.
11. Mold the paper over the balsa wood stone half, stretching and cutting it as needed. Burnish out any wrinkles with a bone folder. Cut slits in the paper to allow it to smoothly fold around to the inside covering the hollowed out area. Let dry. Repeat with the other half of the balsa wood stone half.
12. Apply a coat of acrylic gloss medium and let it dry.
13. To make the hinge, stain a piece of non-tearing envelope material with acrylic paints to match or blend with the marbled paper on the cover. The hinge should be long enough to mostly cover both hollows and extend to the outside edge of the spine of the rock. It should be slightly less than the height of the hollow. Fold the hinge in half crosswise. Glue it to the halves of the rock, working it up against the spine side of the hollow.
14. To make the closure, twist 5 inches of thin copper wire around a skewer to form a loop. Make a pilot hole with an awl from the outside of the rock to inside the hollow. Trim and then bend the untwisted ends at right angles against the base of the hollow.
15. Make another pilot hole diagonally from inside the hollow out the bottom edge of the rock. Use fishing line or thin wire to pull the knotted cord through the hole from the hollow to the outside. The knot will be in the hollow.
16. Carve one end of a 1/4-inch square dowel into a pin that will fit the wire loop.
17. Drill a 1/16-inch hole for the cord. Cut the pin off the dowel. Lightly sand it, and then paint with copper acrylic paint. When dry, add a bead to the end using a small brad to hold it in position.
18. Thread the cord through the drilled hole and adjust the length of the cord so the pin will match up with the loop. Tie a knot on each side of the pin. Trim off any extra cord and fray out the end.
19. Cut papers for the pages the height of the hollow by the width of the hollow times 16. Fold it into a 16-panel accordion.
20. Make a pair of holes 1/4 inch apart in the center of each valley fold (there are eight valleys).
21. Cut eight 10-inch pieces of silver wire. Make a small stitch in each valley with a piece of the wire. Tie a knot, holding the paper in place with weights and curl the ends of the wire with the edge of a bone folder.
22. Cut a 6-inch piece of 1/8-inch ribbon. Thread the ribbon through the back side of the wire stitches, gathering the accordion into a stack.
23. Glue one end of the ribbon strap into one hollow, making sure that the accordion is going to fit. If needed, trim the bottom edge of the accordion. Glue the end panel of the accordion over the ribbon in the hollow of the river rock book.
24. Open the river rock book and check the length of the ribbon. Trim off the excess, and then glue the ribbon and the other end panel into the other hollow. Peggy Johnston of Des Moines, Iowa, is a book enthusiast in the truest sense of the word. For her, the joy comes not only in reading books, but also in actually making books. It is a complete experience in which she uses everything from physics and language, to sculpting and painting to create her "containers for thoughts."
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