simple bookmaking

Day 25 morning post

Prompt #25

(otherwise known as the just-because prompt)

Select a few pieces that keep catching your eye. 

bonus points if you choose some things you've been mentally pairing off and on throughout the challenge but they've had no direct or even tangential relationship to the prompt of the day.

do that thing.  make THAT collage.




Day 23 - results


Today I zoomed back into the pages of my bumblebee allegory version of real life on our property.  Although this looks like a bush it's actually an Eastern Fringe Tree.   I got her for a paltry sum a few years back just past the point when she'd flowered and shed the dried blooms.  I call her Fair Lass because she's very fair indeed.  She came here in the middle of a drought so I waited for sustained rain before planting.  The following year her trunk was dead but several suckers emerged from the base.  Last year they all budded and leafed.  When I checked last weekend their buds were clearly wick despite the bitter cold.  Sometimes the prolonged cold stretch still to come claims the vigor of a few shoots. I cut them back and prune to shape the general architecture that's emerging.

This tree isn't native to our region but it's quite able to thrive in our hardiness zone.  For years I've eyed their showy many-trunked beauty in other peoples' yards or gardens. Have observed they often self-coppice as a way of adjusting their inner strength to new england's  specific cold season demands for survival.  If you follow the above link and scroll through the photos at the top of the page you'll see what the Fair Lass is likely to become.

Anything I plant takes into account what it might look like when my son's my current age, Providence willing.  It also takes into account how little interest he's shown in actively gardening throughout his life.   I want things that thrive quite well on their own and are mostly healing in the medicinal sense but I've also taken care to plant a few trees/bushes that can thrive on their own steam and also flower in show-stopping frequently sweet-scented blooms that prompt him to say "mom" out loud.  Just a few times a year should he choose to keep living here.


Although the Poplar that looks nothing like a poplar in its allegorical version and the Fair Lass are not in this close proximity they will one day be the Tree Keepers of this space I call the Evolving Sanctuary.  For today's prompt I stuck as close to the Fringe Tree's appearance last year as I could.  Wound up using very unusual paper choices but this challenge has loosened me up a lot in that way. 


In the process of rummaging for Florentine papers to fulfill yesterday's prompt I found an overlooked fragment of the frog paper I wanted to use for the magical frog pond spread above.   Four bear witness to the goat's amazing feat while the fifth basks in  holographic star-light...

(eta:  I never knew until 4 or 5 years ago that hummingbirds sometimes fly at night ...)

Day 13 - results


I could have gotten all the narrative bases covered for this spread if I'd put a fragment of Italian paper covered with various frog species in the place where I thought I put it after I cut a lot of it apart - creating individual motifs to include in Grace's special collage kit/supplies.  Alas I did not and must now locate and clip from the remainder which is "filed" within my paper stash storage shelf. And it's at the very bottom of my deceptively compact/dutifully color sorted recycled/gift/designer/self-made art papers.  Because it's an older piece from older-old days when retail sheets were significantly larger.  Thus it's under everything else including my stash of watercolor and drawing paper destined for future sketchbooks.  If I want to preserve the space-conscious system, I'll have to remove things one careful layer at a time.  In other words - not today. 

My personal self-assessment for the first third of this challenge is that I've not been stretching either myself or my pre-set Rules for this experience nearly enough. Instead I've been feeling my way into a comfortable fit with the leadership role.  And staying on top of these twice-daily/set time postings as a non-negotiable part of how I set up my days' structure and to-do lists.  THAT'S how I've stretched.  The results are all well and good (not to mention considerable) for my personal growth curve but it hasn't helped me tighten-up and deepen my collage-based skill set(s).  To that end I'm resolved to actively stretch in some measurable way for each day of the challenge's duration.  See what happens.

My biggest intentional stretch for today's prompt involved allowing myself to cover up the busy scrapbook paper. Normally (meaning with-in my non-challenge creative life) I'd cover up whatever I please but part of picking the paper was pushing myself to work around the significant challenge/obstacle it presented.  Sometime in the later afternoon yesterday I decided working with one half of the sheet's pattern was sufficient challenge and I could let myself off the hook with this half.  I 'allowed' myself to make this choice so I'd have a lot more uninterrupted (and far higher contrast) space to articulate things that are especially dear to me about this anchor-point in the property's original landscape design and its enduring execution.  Used white gesso laced with a tiny amount of beachy green craft paint and scraped a few careless wet-on-wet layers to get some texture and hints of the dark colors underneath.


The rather celestial paper flower was cut in half to represent the two dominant tree medicine spirits (hemlock and maple) that stand tall over the pond.  Had planned to play with visual resolution a bit by allowing the alchemical sun transparency on the adjacent page to serve as the third star.  But now that piece is simply holding space until I can get what I've decided to use instead appropriately sized, printed out and affixed.  Have added a second small holographic star reflected in the pond water.

When I had to cut my original eyeball freehand oval into a smaller shape I was left with an elongated sliver of a crescent moon.  Was born during the waxing sliver so this particular image - frequently oversized as it is here - appears in a lot of my autobiographical collage projects.  I have been to the frog pond late at night in this lunar phase.  It's a good sync for Frog medicine and other historical & mythological associations frequently ascribed to these wonderful little creatures.  Not sure how widespread this is but here on the east coast many native frog colonies are losing ground to a fungus very similar to athlete's foot.  This year our own colony was healthy but somewhat elusive.

On a later spring morning, en route to the pond, I suddenly noticed a portion of an adjacent landscaping rock move very slow-quickly.  Didn't have my distance glasses to sharpen the precise details but grew up in South Jersey.  Can thus recognize at a fair pace the unique lower rear shell of a snapping turtle.  It is always the same - even on very small/young offspring. The one at our pond was barely four inches long at that first siting.  I was initially - childhood reptile geek that I was - enchanted.  Then fearful for the frogs. 

Somewhat less pressingly but no less pragmatic was my fear T's special kitty could easily lose a paw or even part of her face.  Had no idea how fast these turtles grew.  Multiple online info sources confirmed their growth rate would be commensurate with the scope of their food supply.  At this stage of their lives these turtles are largely carnivorous. This particular turtle had chosen to live in and at the edge of a (relative to its current size HUGE) water source loaded with a few hundred pollywogs.

Eventually my concern for other creatures was eclipsed with worry for our newest reptilian neighbor.   The turtle had crested 6.5 - 7 inches (estimate) by the time it was clear the frogs hadn't been able to save more than a small percentage of their young but they'd otherwise seamlessly adopted a far more low-profile way of thriving rather than being driven-off.  In later September I noticed the turtle's upper carapace was saturated with some kind of parasite or fungus.  It wasn't going in the water anymore but simply lurking between the pond and a thriving juniper bush.  The problem with its carapace looked like the beginning of a lichen colony on a rock.  I spent a few days calling around to MA-based people who might either know something about what I was seeing or could put me in touch with somebody who did.  In those 2-3 days' time the turtle appeared to vanish.  It never re-appeared and on the second day of my noticing it gone the frogs were once again scattered all over the flat landscaping rocks that ring the pond.  As if the disturbance in their routine had never occurred.

(The little snapping turtle is remembered and wondered-about in the form of the oversized star swimming in the pool.)


Since I was in the mood to fill more space and (re)solve some additional problems I returned to the inside front cover of my booklet.  Got another vertical tree column in place.  Recognized that the only true value I saw to any of the remaining imagery from the original art paper was the wood tree a bird was turning into its home. 

Additionally I very much liked what Dee extrapolated of the chair's symbolic meaning placed there among living relatives.  Wanted to keep that potentiality active and emphasized.  So I added flowers to cover the eggs (which I originally thought could be a callout to the innumerable hens and at least 7 roosters who live at the farm across the road.  but that didn't work.).  They don't represent what grows there so much as the color signifies the number of hummingbird-friendly plants I've cultivated in an area where these beautiful Tiny Giants of the bird world now return to nest and thrive year after year.  It's also the very first 3-season fueling site in the bee-centric food highway that winds its way throughout our property.

Used rolled up washi tape to stick-down a fragment of brayer cleaning paper.  This will remind me to keep an eye peeled for similar options in the narrow but electrified green color range - to evoke a certain greenish haze that epitomizes late spring through high summer here.  It's great to feel on far greater track with my envisioned progress rate.  BUT ...


This is what my work desk looks like right now.  Sometime by the end of next weekend I hope to have everything dialed-back and cleared to the edge of the cups full of pencils, brushes, and small "other" tools I find indespensible

getting things together .5 review & assembly


Finalize your layout.  Take a picture of it, back to front and front to back.  This will be good documentation and reference when/if you decide to make additional booklets.

Hopefully you have your folios ready to go but in case you still need encouragement and examples of how to trouble shoot beyond the point covered in the last post -  Above is the cover of my assembled book.  In the end I changed the size to smaller dimensions in order to prevent floppiness.  Lost all the design elements I thought I loved too much to be free of them.  In full disclosure I stopped resisting the idea once I discovered a second identical bag.  Jim reminded me one of them was holding one of my current fave long-sleeved tees bearing the slogan seen above and below.


Above the unbound folios are displayed in order as they'll look when bound.  Before I changed the book's dimensions, I changed my mind about which paste paper I wanted to include.  This is a bit matchy-matchy for my tastes but that will be easy to correct (or learn to appreciate as 'new growth' on my part) along the collage-patched way of things.  I made the shift because I had a LOT of ideas of ways I'd like to draw on the spine/ley line I saw on the other paper.  Didn't want to wait until my next opportunity to hit a color copier before getting the book assembled and so I made the swap-out.  Once I did I immediately decided to revert to my original idea of having part of a shopping bag serve as back drop for a treasure map.  Since then I've clarified that I intend to use the space to do a funky interpretation of the wild gardens I've planted to benefit the neighboring farm's bee hives as well as wild bees/hummingbirds/other nectar seeking insects.  Think that's something that must have been percolating when I chose the sheet of bee related collage elements I'd been hoarding as something I'd challenge myself to use up in it's entirety.


The patch from the swapped-out paste paper appears on both sides.  The original bag paper was thin to nothingness just there and I decided I wanted something that will give me a visual guide for where I want to put the map's scale and orientation markers. There are many grey portions of the bag which I've patched over with yellow cut-outs from other parts of the bag.  Sometimes I made an effort to create flowing lines from patch to patch and others not so much.  I used Yes paste for the strengthening and flexibility properties and also because it's got a patented 'curl proof' property that's really helpful for smoothly joining two heavier papers of similar weight.  It's equally helpful to fuse a thinner paper bag to a thicker paper as I did with the cover.

note:  For inner page work and thin-to-thin fusion I strongly prefer glue sticks.


This layout shows the page order from the centerfold to the back cover (which is blank on the inside).

Note the way I strengthened the cover's seam by adding a strip of a contrasting paper.  I chose it because the sheet literally fell on my foot.  It fit my emergent color palette, and I then realized J. got it for me during a fabulous birthday tour of all our old haunts in Boston last summer.  That's what I wanted and all I wanted -  102 degree temps be damned - we were going and so we went.  Our very last activity was a visit to the Dick Blick store in Central Square in Cambridge.  Walked by the solid wall of decorative paper drawers with an averted gaze but J. was right behind me raven-heckling "oh come on!  It's you're birthday - don't worry about details just get what you want!"

I selected three or four papers and it's a very happy memory so I was glad this book wound up covered in evidence of my life partner's Way of partnering.  Not quite sure exactly how to tie that in with the bee map and whatever's between now and then but the book's page layout does suggest also doing some kind of surreal rendition of my literal landscape and the farm where the hive bees originate.  Maybe I'll represent more wild places on the blank inside cover.   Firstpageblg

Once I'd cut into the cactus birthday paper I decided to use it as a unifying patch/work agent throughout the booklet.


Its placement here made me think of expanding the scope of the treasure map from what I kinda-sorta sense happening in the centerfold.  I envisioned ways the cactus paper could be re-imagined as the wild windrow at the back of our field.  The other side hmmmm.  two or three ideas are so formless I can't really say.  I can say it's been really fun beginning to outline no-pressure yet engrossing prompts to help everyone participating feel like they're accomplishing something that's personally meaningful.  There's me and three other people actively committed in the online commentary sense.  I'm aware of some maybe/gonna try folks from the walking around world and a few who send regular emails but otherwise do things very quietly and privately.  Maybe 11 all told.   I think this is good for a sense of disembodied community even if we aren't all connected.  It's more ... collage-worthy somehow.

preparing your pages for pamphlet stitching.

use a ruler to make sure all your pages have the same height.

Fold each sheet of paper in half.

Double check your pages' width this time.  If anything is extending beyond your front cover and that's not the look you're going for, trim it back to size.

Mark each sheet right inside of the fold: 

1/2 inch from top and bottom

At the half-point of the length between the top and bottom marks

make all the holes with a needle, stiletto, awl etc.

Nest the folios together and hold the fold towards the light. 

Make sure all the holes are aligned. 

Correct if necessary. 

don't worry unduly about any corrections

for a book this size that's bound with this particular stitch a couple of extra holes aren't likely to matter at a construction level.  You can also compensate by binding just a little more loosely to avoid pulled-tight abrasion points between threaded and empty holes.


Above is a Japanese screw-punch.  If you ever decide to make your own sketchbooks with heavier weight paper - and/or you have any sort of hand pain or weakness that makes a lot of twisting and grinding of your knuckle joints very unhappy and painful - you may want to invest.  Don't choose by the price.  You want an authentic item and there are a lot of counterfeits on the market.  I used this treasured tool in order to complete my booklet on a day when the mostly kinda-sorta successfully denied arthritis in my right index finger was not to be trifled with.


load your needle with thread that's two times the length of your booklet's spine PLUS  5 inches


Bring your needle to the center hole of your booklet's outside cover.  Slide the needle and thread through all the folios.  As you near the end of your thread catch it with a loose finger. Hold it firm while you tape it securely in place, off to one side of the spine, until the full bookmaking stitch has been completed.  Leave a three and a half inch tail.  This will give you enough thread for knotting the stitch into place.

note: it may take a couple tries before you successfully keep everything securely loaded on the thread.  Be patient with yourself and the process.  Once it's loaded bring the needle and thread  along the inside cover fold to the bottom hole of the book.

Thread your needle through that hole with a moderately loose tension

Bring the needle and thread along the outside spine of the book with a slow and steady movement as you pull the thread to create a firmer stitch.  

note:  avoid pulling too firmly into place before you've threaded the top hole and pulled to the desired tightness at that specific structural station.  Finesse the tension as necessary with even distribution between the 3 holes.

Position the needle and thread so there's a knot tying thread on each side of the long binding stitch.

Complete your booklet's binding stitch with a surgeon's knot. 

note:  The link above features a very clear visual and written description of making a surgeon's knot.  Ignore the beading chatter at the end (unless of course that's of interest to you) and just focus on the knot making instruction.


pro tip:  I leave the tails as-is and tucked around the long binding stitch.  Since I use waxed linen thread they generally stay put.  Once I'm done working into the pages I'll either clip them shorter or place a tiny bit of glue on the wrapped threads to seal them into position because I like this look very much as a finishing statement.

Et cetera

Don't be concerned if you don't yet have an idea of what you want to express.  In the next couple of weeks I'll be sharing different examples of gluebooks I've made that are only very loosely themed and one that has no theme whatsoever other than making my eyes happy and keeping my mind pleasantly entertained.  Every time I post I'll try to remember to add a few questions-of-inquiry that may help you get a clear sense of your expressive intentions.


Am re-posting the image from yesterday in order to review a few things that may help you personalize and tweak what you've gathered so far.  The 11 x 15 enamel butcher's tray in the rear is my official "kit case" for this project.  Everything that's out on display fits in the tray which in turn fits neatly on top of the large wooden thread box at the back of my sewing table.  

clockwise down from the tray - baggies containing the cut-apart bee collage sheet and the 'loose handful' of personal ephemera quadrant of my four fold recipe strategy.  Part of a bouquet wrapper from flowers J. brought home.  Included spontaneously when I'd really only planned to set it aside in my stash because the design speaks to the time of year and how we're experiencing it here as well as serving as a more personal autobiographical layer of meaning.

In the center are three items that insisted I cut them out and keep them with this project's stash. I reluctantly set them aside with everything else because I just didn't see it in relation to what I'd gathered.  But then in the literal light of a new day I saw the scrapbook paper I'd thought was backed in forest green was actually a dark turquoisey-teal.  That paved the way for the cactus paper and then, with these three pulled clippings, just the level of clash that makes me happiest.  You can't see the show-stopping lotus-printed art paper cut off by the insistent magazine cut-outs but, believe me, it's there.  A copy of my grandmother's favorite bird book in the last years of her life. I found it online very cheap so got a copy to replace hers and one to cut apart.  A sheet of very weathered paper I stenciled with spray inks.  These little test sprays happen to feature my two favorite stencils.  The purple mono-print look on the left is an actual seed head.   The one on the right is a repetitive design pattern I generally cut into pieces. The pattern's single unit is for me representational of a magic seed.


Above is my loose handful of personal ephemera unfurled.  Since I didn't feel like going downstairs into the house and rooting through pockets and drawers and bags I simply went to my work desk and loose-skimmed scraps at the margin of the desk's cutting mat Clear Space.  There was a lot of pretty chaos happening there.  So far I have a clear idea for both the Venus - to rise from our Gaia breast fire pit and the printer's glitch strip of a winter photo I took used as the background for the treasure map's scale bar.  We'll see how closely I follow that plan as time moves forward.

pro tip:  If particular pieces you've collected speak very strongly to you - even if they don't speak to you of their specific purpose -  put them aside for use as potential visual anchoring points in your own booklet's narrative.

getting things together .3 selecting papers


This post is intended to help you gather and select paper for your booklet making endeavor.  It's the first of two (or maybe even three) parts comprising a detailed walk-through of my own process  assembling a special booklet for this challenge.   Bear in mind that I've made a point to include the evolution and refinement of my initial choices.  This is to help you feel most comfortable and confident within your own process once this project hits that magic point of taking on a life of its own. 

note:  The challenge itself will begin on January 2nd, 2020.  The terms for participation are easy to understand and follow:  Commit to collaging for 5 to 10 minutes every day for 30 days.  Not in order to speed walk through the 'obligation' effectively but because this little increment of time is so possible. Chances are fairly good there will be a couple days when working on a collage becomes your day's main available time's centerpiece.  On other days you may be long-exhausted yet still have the wherewithal to stick a couple of pieces of paper together for five minutes. And then quite possibly be rejuvenated and into it enough to move deeper into the process for another utterly possible increment of time and then quite possibly go to sleep with an inner (and maybe even an outer) smile.

If you're interested in the challenge but not interested in making a booklet that's perfectly okay.  A future post about working together will focus on alternative ways you might enjoy showing up for yourself at our disembodied collage table. 

[The important thing is that you allow yourself to participate if something inside of you really wants to do it.  There's absolutely no reason to make a booklet unless that's something you want to do and/or feel eager to try.]


gather five papers you love

[This will give you 16 pages in the book plus the inner and outer covers front and back.  If you're drawn to include more try not to go higher than 6 or 7.  For the purpose of this project don't predetermine that you'll want to be in charge of filling all the extra pages UNLESS you already know you love to collage.

Where To Begin ??!?

Play to your most trusted sensory perceptions.  For most people in this context that will revolve around what looks and feels good to them. As an example, I always seem to begin most organically and comfortably when I start by pulling something I particularly love touching.  In this case that's the grey and quin gold shopping bag all the way to the right in the image above. 

For tool-types:  just right of the paper in question is a paper trimmer.  Totally unnecessary for our working together endeavors.  But if you have a lot of paper and the booklet thing takes hold in your soul it could be a wise and joy inducing investment.  Especially if you graduate from creating single folio books to multi-signature volumes.  And let's face it.  Especially if you can score a significant discount coupon from one of the big box craft places.  That's how and when I got mine. 

Once I was holding the paper bag to look at it more closely I decided it was going to be the booklet's centerfold.  Of course there were some reflexive inner murmurings about not rushing into anything but my creative muse was certain I could make a fun quirky treasure map with some drawing pencil line work as well as collage elements.  From there I chose a different (much thinner) paper bag with the same level of certainty that it was destined to be the book's cover. 

[Initially I thought I'd strengthen the much thinner bag paper with two coats of clear gesso on either side, having done something similar quite successfully.   But then I realized I wanted to mount the thin paper on a more substantive backing so the booklet's cover would be heavy enough to provide protection for everything inside in a more stabilized book-like way.]

I selected the yellow and orange paste paper because I assumed I was going for an all-hot color palette.  Once it was in place I realized the whole design was going to be a lot more interesting for me to work with if I brought in some clashing color swerves.  And also the reliable smoothness and stability of cardstock.  So I turned to my assortment of scrapbook papers and first chose the paper second to the left.  Looked for a super brief time to select a second compatibly clashing option.  Didn't realize until I was editing the pics that I'd chosen something from not only the same company but also the same product collection line.

pro tip:  If you have scrapbook paper on hand and elect to use it make sure you consider the reverse side as part of your auditioning process.  Of course you're going to cover a lot of it up but you want this book to look like you most want it to look before you begin the challenge.   Give yourself that level of quiet inner joy before the organic challenge process changes how everything looks - and thus what it means to you once you're actively creating within it.


isolate the elements of each folio that are most pleasing to you

While immersed in your active building process it's really helpful to take a step back in the visual sense.  I began thinking of 'my papers' as 'a book I'm making' by placing my selected elements in direct comparison with neutral/white paper.  When you do this remind yourself:  this is the order the pages will turn in my book.  This word-based cue helps your thinking brain move into a closer relationship with your creative flow aspects.  Once you've found a page sequence that excites and inspires you, it's time to determine the size of your booklet.

In this step-out I focused on two different pieces of paper to guide my decision:  The yellow/orange paste paper - because it was the 'shortest' paper I had - and the eat sleep read bag - because it contained a number of design elements that pleased me too much to embrace any other size option.

This instinctual approach proved to be a decently reliable guidance system that in part highlighted the importance of giving myself time with the project rather than focusing on ultra efficient time-hacking execution and then on to the next Thing.  This is especially valuable, as a process, for those of us who have spent a significant amount of time sitting on our stashes in servitude to Someday of whatever kind.   I respond really strongly to that scenario being ingrained for many people because for quite a long while it was my own consciously perpetuated inner narrative.  I wouldn't even allow myself to think about paper for a couple of decades due to my fabric collection, love of stitching and feeling that ought to be 'enough'.  Whatever that means in this sort of creative sparking context.

I also thought a lot of my paper-based ideas, inclinations and submerged dreams were silly.  I thought the fact that for years I would squirrel away this or that of a paper/ephemera nature for some time in the future I couldn't visualize at all  - a day when I'd wake up and somehow on that specific day it would not be silly anymore- was in and of itself the height of silliness on my part.  But it's sort of what happened of its own volition, silly or not.  I woke up one day and thought:  I deserve to have fun with this stuff.  And that quickly morphed into:  I loved doing this as a kid.  Why did I ever let anyone else or myself shame me into staying away from it?


Above is my favorite element of the paste paper's design.  It reminds me of a spinal column and I'm inspired to think of using that association as a collage prompt of some kind. But in order to actively incorporate the spine as a design element (rather than having it be the folio's literal backbone known only to me were I to fold it the efficient way - exactly in the middle of the paper's length) I'd need to patch-collage additional paper that was then attached to the paste paper to create a cobbled-together folio of sufficient length.  OH.  I let that sink in, considered the step-out value this unplanned development contained and then turned my attention to the second paper I'd selected as a size determination guide.

CoveradjustedI've loved this bag ever since J. brought me a small writing journal and a careful selection of postcards from a place he visited while driving through GA.   I decided which block of words I wanted for the front cover then cut along the opposite side of the bag and its base to commence marking and cutting the folio.   But first I determined exactly what portions of the bag I wanted to retain as design elements of the front cover. 

Definitely wanted the Indie bound logo and a bit of brown kraft to border the red block of words.  Was also moved to include the strip of fused craft paper that breaks up the red block right before its edge. 


above:  Double checking my ideal cover design against the height of my shortest paper. 

Getting this far is likely to yield a strong sense of accomplishment and increased awareness/ returning sense of your capacity to hold and execute an inner vision: 

You're making a booklet for yourself and this is how you're putting it together.

Your relationship to both my ideas and your own gathered supplies/creative verve is no longer something you're willing to consider.  It's become something you're tangibly doing.  I've given you a look at my own evolving process so that you can activate a process of your own with the sense it will be okay to try and learn and trust and figure out successful ways to cover/work around whatever mistakes you make along the way.  Remember to follow through on any please-listen-to-me sense of creative desire or need.  In life's larger arena that kind of mandate is often called selfish or even out of bounds but once ensconced at your work station you are not just entitled to call all the shots - you HAVE to do it.  And then execute (a/k/a the grunt-work part of creative manifestation).

If I've built this post properly you may have stopped reading more than once or even twice in order to sift through whatever you may have pulled on instinct once these posts began and your interest was sparked.  In any case I'm going to close out this post with some additional suggestions and advice.

In the context of this post the only actions you're responsible for taking are: selection of five different papers for the cover and pages - and - determination of your booklet's closed dimensions.  This in turn will give you the dimensions you'll need to cut for five separate folios.

IF you're fortunate enough to have chosen papers with designs that easily lend themselves to cutting trouble-not folios feel free to take yourself that far.   Save any and all scraps created by your cutting ventures for use as collage elements throughout the journal.  This will help create a sense of cohesion page to page, at a blink-sustained visual level.

IF you have five papers chosen and ready to cut but something about one or more of the papers isn't casting an inner glow.  And/or if you catch yourself thinking things like:  don't overthink. there's nothing wrong with it.   Or  I don't know why I don't like this but I don't. I just don't like it.  Don't cut the papers yet.  Maybe something in the next post I make on this subject will send everything that was wrong into a free fall of possibility that takes what you're ultimately planning a whole lot closer to where you'd like to be in your mind's eye of Making This Work. 

IF you have five papers you love enough to commit to them but they aren't all matching the dimensions for your cover.  And using that specific design/dimension is as solid for you as each of the other mis-matched papers.  This is where I am.  Somehow.  I thought I had the whole book-building quadrant well sorted at an eyeball level - until I stopped ignoring my not-liking what happened to the cover design elements I loved best if I kept the dimensions tighter and more in-line with what I'd pre-determined as "best" for a demonstration booklet's finished size.

Once that was clear to me I pushed through to problem solving just enough to see that it could be solved and probably quite enjoyably.  Definitely in a way that may prove useful for whatever you've got cooking by the time I post with the final results of my trouble-shoots.  At this point I know what to do mechanically so that I can do what needs doing plus photograph the steps and coherently write it up as time allows.  Which in turn will give you the blueprint for collating and successfully translating whatever process of actualizing this endeavor has evolved for you independently.   Once you have all five folios fully prepared and aligned you'll join them together with a super simple pamphlet stitch.

Note:  if seeing the linked diagram above leaves you torn between forging ahead come what may due to general interest level OR waiting it out a few days to see what I'll post next - split the difference and create some other type of pamphlet stitch booklet.  Maybe from no-frills folios cut from a section of the brown paper bag you've collected (see below).  This booklet could become a sort of preview guide/record of tests you made prior to applying ideas directly to the "real"/"good" booklet without being sure of the result. 

  If you have mis-matched paper sizes, don't thrive on self-guided troubleshooting or simply don't have enough time/focus to devote to that level of caper -  just set the separate elements aside.  Wait for my next post because maybe some of my solutions will work for you.  For now simply locate a heavier (grocery store weight) paper bag, cut it open, and find a way to flatten it for a few days under evenly distributed weight  - particularly along any crease lines - in the middle and longest ends.

The point: You're leaving the bag alone within whatever weighted system you can rig so that the greatest amount of the paper is an even surface for you to use as a substrate for collage-building 'replacement' folios, or sections of folios, using the paper bag as a patch-able substrate, etc. 

Obviously if you have other sturdy but relatively thin paper you'd prefer to use, jump in with both feet.  Cut pieces that are two inches larger than your finished collage patches need to be so you have plenty of wiggle room.  If you sew think of this as leaving an overly generous seam allowance 'just in case'.Additionalpulls


Let's close out with a follow-through on my suggestion that you pull at least 15-20% of your project materials from a portion of the paper-based things you save for some undetermined purpose In The Future.  Stuff you hoard, in other words, even if you don't have a collage fodder stash to speak of. I also impulsively challenged myself to make satisfying use out of UNsatisfying very-first-tries level of gelli print plate pulls I made around this time last year.  I'd used gorgeous printer's bond and nice quality paint so I kept them for Someday In CollageLand.

The murky blue and turquoise print jars at first sight.  It's included because the flip side of one of the scrap book papers is a deep forest green.  Concluded that to make that work I'd have to start pulling papers that would help me introduce that color throughout the individual collages.  So I'm committing to using all of that paper and however much of the yellow and brown print makes sense.    I'll use all of the bee-oriented collage sheet, at least two/three of the four transparencies and at least two of the gold foil starbursts.  Am open to using them all in both cases.  The last three items represent a group of ephemera I tenaciously hang on to rather than 'risk' using any of it frivolously.  Ditto the early aughts artist paper featuring a chair made from branches that continue to grow.  Have sat on that one - being determined not to 'waste' it - for so long I stopped questioning the squirrel cage aspects of my thought process until earlier today.

Ask questions and share your own sharpening focus-of-commitment in comments or email.


getting things together .2 lo-fi/level-up


Yesterday's snowy second act was the perfect backdrop for a cozily productive morning in the studio.  Above are thirteen little glue-books-to-be.*  The largest is 5.5 inches square.  Most are considerably smaller.  The picture also features a long-arm stapler which you in no way need to get yourself going.  It's there, honestly, to corral the most unruly of the books prior to flattening.

I've built this post in hopes of encouraging you to commit to creating some kind of booklet over the next few weeks.  Just one.  Just for you.  The fact that many more are pictured above (and they're not for me) relates to my realization in the middle of making them that I could concurrently shoot the same space and supplies with this post in mind:

a guide for gathering lo-fi very basic book making supplies as well as a level-up supplementary guide for those who have time, money and/or supplies on hand that can be re-purposed in intuitive and unconventional ways

 [the booklets above and down yonder are made from light greige office supply store cardstock.  It's perfectly smooth and that's ideal for paper-on-paper collage.  My next post in this series will talk more about choosing paper substrates for your booklet.]


super low-fi bookmaking supplies:   

This grouping presumes your interest in making a small simple book by hand is new and you'll be starting from the ground in terms of supplies.  To get started  You really only NEED a pencil, a straight-edge (preferably 12") ruler and a small 'craft grade' stiletto.  To collage as well as make booklets you also need a pair of sharp dedicated for-paper-only scissors.  But to create a basic and suitably sturdy gluebook all you need is a straight edge and the nerve to tear your paper flat and smoothly against it.  Please note my scissors aren't included in this image because their price-point puts them in the level-up group.

also not pictured:   binding thread.   If you sew and have twisted cord/embroidery floss/buttonhole weight thread use that.  If you've got beading supplies use a mid-weight filament.  DON'T use fishing line unless it's very thin or you have the ability/tools to crimp it in place with a metal clamp.

note:  in a pinch you can use a double-strand of dental floss.   Especially if you aren't sure you'll want to make this type of book more than once.

say you're reading along feeling like you could really do this project even though you'll have to to purchase binding thread first.  Go with buttonhole weight sewing thread or a mid-weight beading filament rather than trying to select from items you'll find by searching on 'bookbinding supplies'.  The threads on offer in that category will be much too thick for our needs.   You'll want to use something thin yet strong that's also resilient enough to pass repeatedly through any paper you've selected for inclusion in your booklet.  The thread must also be sufficiently durable to withstand multiple collage sessions without abrading.


As a general rule I like to use an HB pencil for marking the folio cutting lines.  It can get smudgy but sometimes I like that as part of the booklet's vibe (also see the dustless eraser in the level-up section) Choose your favorite sort of pencil to fill this crucial role.

You might also really appreciate the inclusion of two colored pencils; one well-visible on dark paper and another for lighter options

a 6 inch dual-measurement ruler

NOTE:  You may wind up considering a longer metal cork-backed ruler like the one pictured to be a necessity.  Especially if you get partway through this project, don't already have one, and find yourself wishing you did have something slip-proof and super durable because you can already tell simple bookmaking is a thing you're going to be exploring in more depth.  I advise working with a 12 inch because that's the most versatile size to store and use as well as the most widely available option

A small craft-grade stiletto that's sold in a protective storage case probably belongs in a hybrid category such as luxurious necessity.  I think you'll be really glad to have one unless you have on hand needles that are both thin enough to prevent holes much bigger than the thread that has to pass through the paper AND sharp enough to pierce nearly every type of paper you're likely to use in this kind of project.   That said people make do with all kinds of things quite happily.  For example I thoroughly enjoyed using an old fashioned poultry lacing skewer for years.  I simply employed the sharp tip to make the initial puncture then passed a waxed tapestry needle back and forth through the hole a few times.  Got the stiletto at a local scrapbook store when I at last grew tired of the overly large holes the tapestry needle created.  Immediately wished I'd gotten one much much sooner.


level-up supplies that can be incredibly useful:

 butterfly binder clips.   You want a pair of each size you find useful.   For getting into collage and making simple books I'd recommend picking up both small and medium size if you can. 

 bone folder.  I know.  Successfully folding pieces of paper in half is hardly rocket science.  But getting a uniformly crisp edged fold that allows all your folios to successfully nest inside each other is trickier than it seems at a purely logical level. 

You might want a proper (size small) bookmaking awl if you feel you're destined to create some simple books from thick handmade paper, pre-collaged papers, fabric and so forth.  If you get one have a cork right on hand when you un-package the awl.  Plunge the sharp tip firmly into the cork and sequester the pairing when not in use especially if you live with pets children or overly curious adults who don't always leave the things they've examined in the same way you left them.

I find a dustless eraser indispensable.   For bookmaking specifically they're great because the polymer residue collects itself in a bundle.  You can pick it up easily in a flash - whisking all the graphite it contains far from smudge range.

2 and/or 4 ply waxed linen beading cord in a few colors you love.  Because you will use them. Quite happily and inventively.  Trust.

Scissors that are coated to resist sticky residue and dulled edges. Oftentimes these lightweight Super Shears also boast an ability to cut fabric and paper with equal precision time after time.  Got mine during a two-for-one $8 special promotion three or four years ago so I figure they're $11 or $12 a pop by now.  Love these babies quite a bit.  I keep one pair with my house-based creative supplies and the other here in the studio.  Haven't been remotely precious in the way I treat them, especially the pair pictured above, but as you can see it's as immaculate as if I'd just unpacked it.

*and now.  as to the ultimate purpose of those 13 booklets:  they are going to Grace's place in order to support her in Old Nana guise.  All these little books.  At least a couple-few for Grace herself perhaps but mostly for Old Nana to have on hand - taking up barely any room at all but oh the possibilities.  Even beyond her hope to have this maybe as a thing made special with her 6 year old granddaughter.   Just any grouping of her people sitting around.  very gentle forms of togetherness.  Or needing  such togetherness.  Old Nana produces the books.   And not only them. 

She also has on hand the paper stash.  Lordy Lou - the stash.  Getting it into the kind of shape where it meets my specs for being sufficiently Varied & Mixed and also honors the space constraints I promised Grace - beyond the fact that the ways in which it wasn't completely as streamlined and literal and honoring as I'd envisioned solely because I suddenly realized I was putting together this Old Nana support kit in addition to fulfilling the original offer and its more specific intent.   The proverbial tale within a tale.  Seeds sprouting other entirely different and new seeds of their own.

please leave questions in comments or email if you prefer.  the next time I post about this project It will be a step-out look at constructing a customized single signature gluebook bound with the pamphlet stitch.  The step-out photos will be interspersed with a specific gluebook from my past.  The extra images will help maximize the potential to spark idea for what you might do to personalize the things you like the best about what I did.