The long-awaited how-to!

So as I’ve mentioned the last few posts I created these beautiful Monastery-binding sketchbooks for some of my lovely friends as holiday gifts, and because it’s such an easy and sweet craft I wanted to share it with all of you.

First things first: Materials Needed

*important side note: Some of the materials listed above are kind of optional. Some of the items are expensive–the specialty paper, PVA glue, Mulberry paper and Waxed linen thread. Those items can be substituted for less expensive items. For instance I used 100% recycled Strathmore sketchbook paper–still good quality paper but not nearly as expensive as cotton Zerkel paper (which is technically what you’re supposed to use).

There are some things that you should really invest in though, like the PVA glue, linen tape, a bone fold and good paper. If you want the journal to be archival–which means last for a long time–then you’ll want to invest in good paper and the glue (PVA glue is not made out of animal by-products so it remains more flexible, which is necessary for the spine of any book, and is more archival than regular “animal” glues–HOWEVER, not all PVA glues are archival so make sure you check before you purchase it).

Additionally you’ll want to invest in good archival writing utensils to maintain the longevity of said notebook. My favourite archival pens are Sakura Pigma Micron Pens with a 05–0.33mm line width–tip. These are kind of spendy but beautiful writing tools. Of course, any archival product you buy will be properly labeled on said product, so if you’re worried about acid, just check the packaging.

If you’re on a really tight budget but still want to make these journals you can use these items instead:

  • recycled paper (i.e. newspaper, computer paper, lined notebook paper, etc.)
  • cotton tape (in place of linen tape)
  • floss or thick cotton thread run over a block of wax
  • a sticky note or regular paper (in place of Mulberry paper)
  • heavy paper–like pastel paper, or butcher paper
  • something sharp–you can even use a pencil/ball-point pen point–in place of an awl

Next: Important vocabulary

  • bone fold: rigid flat piece of bone or plastic used to create crisp and precise folds and tears

  • gutter: the centerfold of your folios
  • signatures: a collection of folios–in this case 4 folios or 8 ‘pages’

Let’s get started!

Measure the length and width of your paper. (I used 9″x 12″ paper and got 2 folios out of each sheet–using a total of 6 full sheets of 9″ x 12″ paper. My pages measured out to be 4.5″x 5.75″)

If you’re using a large sheet of cotton/watercolour paper–which typically measure out to 22″x 30″–then your measurements will be different.

Tear and fold the sheet(s) of paper to yield 3 signatures–each signature should have 4 folios.

Stack all the signatures together and measure the thickness of the spine. Add 2 inches.

Cut your linen tape.

Using your craft paper, make a template to the exact size and fold of one folio–this will be your scrap folio to mark measurements and holes.

Mark on your template 0.5 inches from the top of your folio, and mark 1 inch from the bottom. Divide the space between those measurements into three equal sections. This is where the linen tape will be. Place the linen tape on top of the marks, and create marks on either side of the linen tape.

Place your template within the gutter of one signature. Using your awl, punch the holes as marked on your template, making sure that the top and bottom measurements correspond to your paper–the first punch should be 0.5 inches from the top of your signature, the last should be 1 inch from the bottom.

After you’ve come to the end of your first signature, place the next on top and sew in the same fashion as before.

When you come to the end of the second signature tie the thread with the tail of the first signature.

Place the third signature on top and begin sewing again. At the end of the row, link with the previous signature by passing the needle down from the last hole to the link between the first and second signatures.

Tie a knot.

Burnishing in this instance means rubbing your bone fold, ruler or spoon along the spine and edges to make nice, smooth edges around your text block.

Whew that was long! Now you’re all monks… or at least you can pretend so when you tell people that you make your own booklets using monastery bookbinding techniques.

If you have questions please use the comment area to ask them; I promise I’ll respond! If you have a difficult time reading the text on the images–thanks Preview!–click on them.

(All the images are mine so please be kind)

Oh… and P.S. happy new year :]



2 thoughts on “kind.of.sketchy.

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