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Leather and Metal Book

Jenny Howland makes a unique leather and metal book with a sponge-painted cover.

Materials and Tools:

precut book board
watercolor paper
2 pieces of watercolor paper cut for the end papers
decorative paper for the cover
PVA book glue
Dremel drill tool
waxed linen thread
large piece of leather
guillotine cutter
punch cradle
craft knife
1/8", 1-3/4" and 2" pieces of bookbinders bar stock
bookbinder's awl
bone folder
punching cradle
pearlescent watercolors
watercolor brush
4 decorative corners
2 copper metal pieces
metal stamping letters
jeweler's anvil
safety goggles


1. Mark an "F" and "B" for the front and back on the book board to keep the sides straight.

2. Measure leather to the size of the book board. Decide placement of the sewing holes to attach the covers. Trim the leather to the appropriate size for the book board.

Figure A

3. In the middle of the leather piece, using the two-inch bar stock, mark the spine area lightly with the pencil. Divide this up with the 1/8-inch bar stock to designate the signatures, marking again lightly with the pencil (figure A).

Figure B

4. Mark the holes for the signatures (figure B).

Figure C

5. Wearing safety goggles, drill these holes with the rotary tool. Drill the holes for sewing too (figure C).

Figure D

6. Using the holes in the leather as a guide, mark them on the book board, paying attention to the F and B (front and back)to keep the orientation straight. Drill corresponding holes in the book board (figure D).

Figure E

7. Paint the leather with pearlescent watercolors to provide an ethereal sheen (figure E). Allow to dry.

Figure F

8. Cover the book board with the decorative paper in traditional bookbinder style (figure F).

Figure G

9. Punch the holes though the decorative paper with a bookbinder's awl (figure G). Rub with a bone folder to remove any bubbles and smooth any creases.

Figure H

10. Sew the leather to the covered boards with waxed linen thread. Make sure the stitches are tight and hide the knots on the back side (figure H).

Figure I

11. Apply the end papers to the inside back and front covers over the stitching and rub with the bone folder to flatten (figure I).

12. Make signatures.

  • Cut the paper on a guillotine cutter and set the machine to cut 9" x 18" (ish) pieces.
  • Fold them in half and place them into signatures, five pages in each signature for a total of six signatures.
  • Line signatures up and put them back in the machine.
  • Measure precisely and give them a final trim.
  • Place each signature individually into a "punching cradle".
  • Make a jig out of a spare piece of paper show where holes for the spine will go.
  • Repeat for the remaining signatures.

Figure J

13. Sew in the signatures (figure J); using waxed linen thread, watercolor paper, and beads.

Figure K

14. Tie off at the end and add several more beads (figure K).

Figure L

15. Make a front metal design element using a copper tag and metal stamps; stamp letters onto the copper tag (figure L).

13. Glue copper corners and the front metal piece onto the front of the book to finish the journal.

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