Arts in Education · Beads on Books · Binding Loose Papers · Japanese Binding for the Classrom · Journals · Making Books with children · Making books with elementary students · simple book binding

Journals All Day Long

I’ve just noticed that I am more apt to blog about a project before I do it with kids when I am very nervous about how it will turn out.

I was very nervous about most of the projects that I wrote about in my last post. 

Making beautiful drawing journals in one class period is challenging. I’m relieved to say that the day of bookmaking went really well.

This post will mostly be a photo essay of making five styles of books, with kids ages 4 though 11.

Pre-K Book, Pipe Cleaner Binding
Pre-K Book, Pipe Cleaner Binding


The Pre-K kids immediately started to fill their books with drawings,and showing their creatations to each other.
Pre-K sharing

The Pre-K kids immediately started to fill their books with drawings, and lost no time showing off their creations to each other.

First Graders, book on a stick
Kindergartners, book on a stick

Kindergartners did a simple rubber-band and stick binding. They all wanted to decorate their sticks.  Most of the students tended towards making animal shapes with the bling.

First Graders, envelope book
First Graders, envelope book

The big surprise of the day, for me, was both how quickly the first graders finished their project and how amazingly beautiful they turned out. These books took them only twenty minutes to make.

First graders assembling their books
First graders assembling their books

Knowing what I know now I would slow the project down and help the kids less. I was so nervous about how this project would  go.

Assembling envelopes into pages
Assembling envelopes into pages


Finished Envelope books
Finished Envelope books

 Wallpaper-sample covers were simply glued on.  These look so good to me.

Simple sewing, lots of embellishments
Simple sewing, lots of embellishments

The modified pamphlet stitch book with pocketed covers made by 2nd & 3rd graders was the only project that I’ve done so often with students that I knew it would go well.

Second and Third graders made sewn book with beads
Second & Third graders made sewn book with beads


Ribbon Journal
Ribbon Journal

The highlight of the day, for me, was making these sewn journals with 4th & 5th graders.



The book block was made from 4 pieces of 11″ x 17″ papers folding into origami pamphlets, then sewn together side-by-side. All the holes for sewing were punched by paper punches.

Wallpaper-sample covers were attached by threading ribbons through holes in the cover and endpapers.

Ribbon Journals made by 4th and 5th graders
Ribbon Journals made by 4th and 5th graders

This project ran a bit over time. We were suppose to finish in 45 minuets, but it took 50 minutes. No one complained 🙂

Aerial view of Ribbon Books
Aerial view of Ribbon Books

These books, like most of the other books made yesterday, were constructed without glue, The only exception is the envelope books.  I didn’t exclude the use of glue intentionally, but I guess I think about glueless structures more often than not.

This was the last class of this school season. Now I can get back to some housecleaning.

I am ending this season happy!


Beads on Books · exposed sewing

Making Books with Teenagers, Post #1


It’s a real gift to be totally surprised by the results of a bookmaking workshop. I did not have a clue that I would enjoy working with teenagers as much as I enjoyed working the group that taught this past week.  They were smart, capable and enthusiastic and they have an art teacher (the teacher that invited me in) who clearly has created an environment in her art room which is both relaxed and serious. This made my job easy. I started making books with these students, and they just took off with it.

Over the course of numerous classes with the high school students several styles of books were made, including the paper-cover, beaded-pamphlet stitch, a shoelace exposed link binding, and a hard cover pamphlet binding with Ahashi bookcloth, all pictured above.

I want to mention, too, that it felt like a magical journey just to get to the school, located up in the Adirondacks. This is a photo of morning rush hour up in the Adirondacks.

On the first days of classes many of the students made paste papers, so many of the books were well decorated using these papers. I rather think that this young lady’s nail polish goes well with the book. An added bonus.

Of all the styles that I introduced to the students, what they seemed to like best was making books out of the heavy black paper that I brought with me – Epic 80lb cover. We folded a spine, and sewed right through the text block and spine, adding beads. They all used awls to punch the holes, and no one got blood on their books. Always a good sign.

I brought lots of beads. It was quite remarkable to see all the choices these students made, using colors and patterns in many different ways.  They were also pretty good at threading the needles.  One young man threaded a needle for the first time in his life during this class. He had trouble at first, then quickly became an expert at it.

I have too many photos for just one post, so I will end here, and add more later.

Beads on Books · exposed sewing · Non-adhesive Book

Handmade Book for my Teenager

Long Stitch Book by Paula Krieg

My daughter’s birthday is coming up. She mentioned that she will be needing a new sketchbook soon (“I only have two pages left and that won’t last me long.’) Since it is Still Snowing and since I am Centrally Located in the Middle of Nowhere there is no way I will get to a store by her birthday. Therefore, to hold her over, I made her a book.

This book is made by doing a Long Stitch Binding. This is a sewing pattern that I learned last weekend in NYC from Susan Mills, who teaches bookbinding, one book at a time.  I had met Susan just recently, and was intrigued by her Full Tilt Single Session Bookbinding Classes which teaches one book structure in three hours.

Longstitch Bound Book

This is the book I made in Susan Mills class. My goal was to be a good student and make a good, simple model book. Susan talked about decorative options, which I filed away in my head,. I admire the simplicity and elegance of this binding, but, even more, I appreciate how the spine seems to just beg for beads and decorative touches.
Long Stitch Book, Decorative Spine, by Paula Beardell Krieg

I used a silver rattail 2mm cord, added beads with beading cord, and wrapped the cord with some colorful string. It’s about 7 1/2 inches square. I plan on giving this to my daughter tomorrow. I do not hold out much hope that she will like it. After all this is a handmade book that her mom made and she is a teenager. But it will do (I hope) until I can get to AC Moore to buy her a proper sketch book. In a week or two I will possibly sneak in her room and rescue this book from the floor (under her bed?) before it disappears entirely.

Beads on Books · exposed sewing · Non-adhesive Book · simple book binding

Basic Beading on a Book’s Back

I like coming up with ways of using beads in bookmaking, As a teaching tool, it’s one of those carrots that I can offer students when they are faced with the drudgery of folding many pages perfectly: when the folding is done, their reward is to come pick out their beads. Even if they get to choose, say, only three beads each, it’s still enough to motivate the students to stay on task.

(By the way, there are much simpler ways than I am showing here of using beads on books, Some  less ambitious beading could be done using yarn with pony beads with a modified pamphlet stitch or on the string part of a necklace book, but that’s not what I want to write about tonight.)

These five books are bound with a simple pamphlet stitch. The sewing is done with three holes (stations) going through the spine, one near the top (head), one in the middle and the last one near the bottom (tail). The sewing begins inside the book at the middle station. When the needle emerges from the middle it’s time to add the right amount of beads to fill up the length of thread that takes to get to the top hole. Go through the top hole with the needle and thread then, now on the inside of the book, bring the needle and thread down to the bottom station, go through to the outside of the book, add more beads, go back into the middle of the book, and tie off.

This one is made with heavy paper covers. When working with paper covers, I like to double the paper so that the covers feel twice as substantial.

Here’s the inside of the same book, with the covers doubled up. There are eight folded pieces of paper in this book.

To created the double line of beads I did the pamphlet stitch twice. The first time I reemerge into the middle station I made sure to pass the needle and thread over the long middle stitch before starting the second pamphlet stitch.

A book showing Rowan Rainwalker's beading using a Chain Stitch on the book spine

Now this is the stitch that is bit trickier. It’s an interesting beading pattern done on the chain stitch that Keith Smith describes in his book 1,2,&3 Section Sewings, on page 220. Keith Smith describes the sewing without using beads. It’s done by first making two sewing stations about 1/8″ apart near the head of the spine, then making sewing stations about a half-inch apart the rest of the way down the spine. The sewing begins on the inside of the book, going out the first station, then into the second station, then making a knot with the end of the thread . Next, bring the needle and thread out through the third station, bring the needle and thread up to the first stitch  on the spine, pass the needle and thread under the this first stitch (on the outside of the book) so that the thread is caught by the stitch, then push the needle and thread back into the third station. The spine now has its first chain. Continue in this matter until there are chains all the way down the spine, then tie off at the last station.

The first five spines here are all chain stitches (the second five are all pamphlet stitches). The third, fourth and fifth books from the left are done by adding putting the needle and thread through a bead both when it first comes out of a sewing station, and then again just before it goes back into the same sewing station.

The sewing pattern on the first two books in the photo above are still exactly the chain stitch. The difference, the reason that there is that alternating look to the beads is that one bead goes on when the thread emerges from the sewing station, and then a second bead going on just before the needle and thread re-enter the same sewing station. My young friend Rowan figured out this pattern one day when I gave him a book to sew. He wanted to use a bead that was too small to be entered through twice, so, rather than using a different bead, he worked out that he could just use two beads per chain, one in the coming and one in the going. I am wild about this variation!

The beads that I use on these books all come from the Dollar Store.  The colorful beads are wooden, and the white ones are plastic. I like using these inexpensive beads because they feel whimsical, and also because I feel reasonably sure that no one will be tempted to take apart the book just to scavenge the beads. For thread, I generally use a two- or four-ply waxed linen thread, but any strong thread or string will work as long as it fits through your needle and your beads.