How to Make a Faux Vintage Keepsake Book

Keep photos in a hardcover book embellished with decorative papers and copper mesh pockets.


Materials and Tools:

waxed paper to cover work surface
small hardcover book
craft knife
decorative papers for outside and inside of book
white glue
sponge brush
card stock in coordinating colors for pages and signatures
one plain, regular-size brown lunch bag
sheet of clear acetate
rubber stamps and ink pads
assorted paints (acrylic, fabric and interference)
copper mesh
liver of sulfur (available at art-supply stores)
old credit card
metal ruler
eyelet punch tool and eyelet setter
glue stick
photo corners
waxed bookbinder's thread
embossed wallpaper scraps
lace bits
assorted stickers and charms
assorted photos
ephemera such as cards, old letters, telegrams, sheet music and ticket stubs
duct tape


1. Carefully cut out all inside pages of a small hardcover book with a sharp craft knife. Reinforce the spine by covering both sides with duct tape.

2. Cut a piece of decorative paper at least ½-inch larger on all sides than the outside of the opened book.

3. Cut a piece of decorative paper about 1/8-inch smaller than the inside of the opened book.

4. Using a sponge brush, completely cover the outside of the book board with a thin layer of white glue. Then cover the paper with a thin layer of glue. Working quickly before the glue dries, cover the outside of the book with decorative paper. When folding the edges, miter the corners for a smooth fit. Smooth the paper and remove air bubbles with an old credit card.

5. Apply glue to the decorative inside-cover paper. Center and adhere the inside paper to the book and smooth.

6. Gently fold the book cover back and forth a few times so that the paper fits snugly against the spine. Smooth any wrinkles with the credit card. Set the book cover aside to dry.

7. To make the signatures, fold two 3-inch-wide strips of card stock about 1/8 inch shorter than the height of the book itself. For a vintage look, tear the strips rather than cut them. Decorate the strips with rubber stamps and gesso or acrylic paint lightly scraped on with the credit card. Fold in half lengthwise. Set aside.

8. To age the copper mesh for making the pockets, take the mesh outside and lightly spray it with a mixture of liver of sulfur and water. Note: Several light mistings are better than one big splat, which will turn the mesh black. Allow the mesh to dry.

9. Cut two pieces of aged mesh to make pockets. For a vintage look, eyeball the measurements, making each pocket slightly different in size. The pocket should fit inside the book but allow enough overlap so that the rough edges can be turned under and secured with eyelets. Using a metal ruler, begin at the bottom of the piece of mesh and turn it up about 1/16-inch. Carefully press the folded lip down so that it's flat. Continue around the three other sides, taking care not to cut your fingers on the rough mesh.

10. Going back around the mesh, use the metal ruler to fold over three of the four sides approximately ¼- to ½-inch (eyeball the measurements). Don't fold over the top edge of the pocket. When the two sides and the bottom are folded, smooth. On the two bottom corners, snip out excess copper mesh. Trimming will allow the edges to lie flat and enable the eyelet punch and setter to penetrate the mesh.

11. Cut two pieces of clear acetate just slightly smaller than the insides edges of the copper mesh pockets. Slip acetate under the three folded lips.

12. Using an eyelet punch and setter, secure the right side and the bottom of each pocket with three or four eyelets. Leave the left side unsecured for the moment. Set aside.

13. Using rubber stamps and gesso or paint, decorate two sheets of card stock, front and back, to use for pages. Pages can also be embellished with stickers or charms. Card stock should be about the same height as the signatures. Set aside.

14. Crumple the lunch bag and then smooth it out. Glue the end flap of the sack down. Decorate both sides with stamping. Lightly scrape on gesso for an aged look. Fold in half. Set aside.

15. Fill copper mesh pockets with photos and ephemera.

16. Adhere photos and ephemera to the card-stock pages. For a vintage look and to preserve the photos, use photo corners or eyelets to attach them. Scraps and bits of painted lace can be attached with a glue stick.

17. Adhere photos, letters and ephemera bits to the folded lunch bag, being careful not to place items in the fold.

18. To assemble the book, pick up one folded signature and place the folded lunch sack in the fold. Insert the second card-stock signature in the fold of the lunch sack. Using the eyelet punch and setter, adhere a copper mesh pocket to the first flap of the first signature. Flip the page.

19. Adhere the first cardstock page to the second cardstock flap with eyelets. Attach the second copper mesh pocket to the third signature flap with eyelets. Flip the page.

20. Using eyelets, adhere the card-stock page to the last signature flap.

21. Punch four holes, equally spaced, in the spine of the book. Set with eyelets. Insert the completed signatures. With a pencil, mark along the folded edge of the stacked signatures where the holes in the spine are. Punch four holes in the signature block to align with the four holes in the cover. Using waxed bookbinder's thread, adhere the signature block to the spine of the book. Run two pieces of thread together for strength. Tie decorative ribbons to the book spine to cover the thread.

22. Decorate the inside covers of the book with painted embossed wallpaper scraps and ephemera.

23. Decorate the cover, if desired, with a photo or charms.

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