I've been looking for the perfect book to take on a trip to Europe. Of course I want paper that will let me use ink, watercolour, gouache, and take collage. I don’t want heavy covers, too many pages, spiral binding or too big. I want it be functional AND gorgeous.
Not finding exactly what I wanted, I decided to make some myself by 're-purposing' old books.
I collected books of suitable condition, size and subject including a 1969 French language Guide France, a 1947 edition of Perfume from Provence by Lady Fortescue which has illustrations by E.H. Sheppard (of Winnie the Pooh fame) and As for Italy because I liked the title and it’s size. I also want a book to experiment in before I go, so I’m using my strangest find The Function of Voluntary Muscles which I chose because of the illustrations showing how to move your arms and legs!
To transform them I started by cutting the book block from the cover with a craft knife, then separating the signatures buy cutting the threads between them and picking away the old glue and cloth. (A signature is a folded book section.) The final act of destruction was to separate the pages.
I cut slots in the back cover and attached a Moleskine-like elastic closer.
New pages were cut from both Arches and Waterford hot and cold press watercolour papers and Stonehenge paper and combined with some original pages to form the 5 signatures. For Guide France I cut the endpapers from an old atlas.
I re-used the original hole positions and sewed the signatures together with linen thread, forming the new book block, lastly gluing the endpapers on. To make the spine strong I painted its edge with glue, added a strip of muslin cloth, and left it to press under a weight. I then glued the new book block back into the original cover by the endpapers, pressing it for a couple of days while the glue dried and hardened. Finally I added a velum pocket inside the back cover.
All ready for my trip and a bit of practice before I go!
**For more images and annotated images - see my flickr site**
(Having Blogger trouble and can't get them on here!@#%*)
This post and the others like it have been so popular that I now sell my books in my Etsy shop. I search out interesting titles, covers and illustrated books if possible and they make really quirky journals and sketchbooks. If you want to see what I mean check out my Flickr set. If you want to see what I did in my travel journals on Flickr here is Paris, Provence, and Italy.
11 Nov 2008