Hand-Sewn Handmade Journal
Project by Rachel Fontenot from New Orleans, La.
Rachel is a painter who expanded her artistic skills to include book-binding. She’ll show us the fruits of her labor with a hand-sewn journal.
Materials and Tools:
2 pieces book board
decorative cover paper
2 sheets rice paper
1-1/2" wide self-adhesive linen hinging tape
1. Cut a scrap piece of cardboard to make an 8-1/2" x 11" template for the book. Cut two 8-1/2" x 10-1/2" pieces of book board. Then cut a 1-inch strip off of each 10-1/2-inch side in order to end with four pieces of book board: two 8-1/2" x 9-1/2" and two 8-1/2" x 1" pieces. Note: You make this cut in order to accommodate the spine and hinge for both the front and back covers. Set these aside for now.
2. From the decorative cover paper that you’ve chosen for the outside covers, cut two pieces 1-1/2 inch longer than the book size (8-1/2" x 11" plus 1-1/2 inch on each side yields a 10" x 12-1/2" piece). Set these aside for now. Using the inside cover end-page paper that you’ve chosen, cut two pieces 1/4 inch shorter than the book size (8-1/4" x 10-3/4"). Set these aside for now.
3. Cut two sheets of rice paper 1 inch longer than the book size (9-1/2" x 12"). Lay one sheet of rice paper on your workspace and lay the cardboard template on top. Center the template on the rice paper and trace the 8-1/2" x 11" template outline onto the rice paper. Repeat for the second piece of rice paper.
4. Run your bone folder along all of the edges of the book board front and back covers in order to smooth all of the cut edges. You will be smoothing eight sides on each of the four pieces of book board.
5. Brush glue onto one side of one of the 8-1/2" x 9-1/2" book board covers, starting from the center of the board and working your way to the edges. Place the glue side down onto one sheet of rice paper, positioning the book board flush with the right-hand side of the traced outline on the rice paper. Flip over to smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles that may occur.
6. Brush glue onto one side of one of the 8-1/2" x 1" book board spine pieces. Place the glue side down onto one sheet of rice paper, positioning the book board flush with the left-hand side of the traced outline on the rice paper. This should leave a 1/2-inch gap between the board cover and spine, creating a hinge for the book. Flip over and smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles that may occur.
7. Place a dab of glue on the outside four corners of the book board and fold the rice paper corners down towards the center on top of the book board. Brush glue onto the remaining edges of the rice paper and fold in on top of the book board.
8. Lay one piece of decorative cover paper face down. Take the rice paper covered book board and brush glue onto the rice paper side (only on the larger section, not on the 1-inch spine strip yet). Place the glued side down and centered onto the backside of the decorative cover paper. Flip over and smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles that may occur.
9. While the cover is still in the face-up position, pull the loose piece of decorative paper back, exposing the hinge and spine. Brush glue onto the hinge and spine and smooth the decorative paper down.
10. Flip the cover over and place a dab of glue on the outside four corners of the book board and fold the decorative paper corners down towards the center on top of the book board. Brush glue onto the remaining edges of the decorative paper and fold in on top of the book board.
11. Cut an 8-inch piece of 1-1/2-inch-wide self-adhesive linen hinging tape and press down over the hinge area on the inside of the book cover.
12. Place one of the inside end pages on top of a larger piece of scrap paper. Brush glue onto one side of the inside end pages, starting from the center of the paper and working your way to the edges. Glue this down to the inside of the book cover, centering as best as you can. Smooth out.
13. Wrap the completed cover in wax paper and place into your book press. Repeat above steps to complete the second cover. Let both covers sit in the book press overnight.
14. Take both dried completed book covers and place 50 to 60 sheets of 8-1/2 x 11" copy paper between the two covers. Make sure everything is aligned, and clamp the book together using spring clamps on three sides, excluding the spine.
15. Mark spots on the front cover spine for 11 holes to be drilled. Measure 1/2 inch in from the head (top) of the spine and measure 1/2 inch in from the tail (bottom) of the spine for the two outermost holes. The remaining nine holes in between are 3/4 inch apart. Drill the holes with a 1/8-inch drill bit.
16. Measure nine lengths of ribbon where one length equals the spine length. So you will need a 76-1/2 inch (nine times 8-1/2 inches) piece of ribbon for this particular book.
17. Thread the ribbon through a tapestry needle. Starting at the head (top) hole, thread the ribbon through the first hole, leaving approximately one length of ribbon remaining out of the top. Sew down the spine to the tail, back up to the head, and tie off.
18. You will have two lengths of ribbon remaining for decorative purposes. You can also tie on other ribbon pieces if desired. Thread decorative beads onto the ribbon tails to complete the book.