Making books with elementary students · Non-adhesive Book · simple book binding

Immigration Journal for 5th Graders

This is the second year I have done this journal project with fifth graders in Saratoga Springs. I wrote about it last year, but in less detail than I plan to write about it today.

This workshop day was requested by the school’s reading specialist, who had done a similar project on her own with a few students.  She was impressed by the students’ reaction to their journals, and thus requested that I come for a day and make these books with the whole grade level, about 70 students.

Books standing on the windowsill

We used paper from large wallpaper sample books. These books are 17″ tall, and about 12″ wide, though the width of the pages is bound tightly with industrial size staples. I cut the papers out of the books, so the final size is 17″ x 11 1/4;, though standard 17″ x 11″ paper would work well too.  Wallpaper books are fun to use because each student’s book is visually unique.

Directions for Pocketed Book Cover by Paula Krieg

The students folded the covers according to the directions above, with one exception. Before the last step of closing the cover, I asked them to snip off the tip of the triangle, about the width of a pencil.

Master Page for Printing Journal Lines on Paper

Students then folded 5 sheets of standard sized paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, however, to give the pages an antique-like look, we used Ivory faux parchment paper, made by Southworth. The four inside pages were run through the copy machine to copy on the lines pictured above. The outside page is unlined because, well, I like the look of unlined paper when the book is first opened.

Last year, to attach the pages to the cover, we had used a lovely cord called Rattail, from a beading shop, which turned out to be too smooth and slippery: the students’ knots kept coming undone. Yarn, twine or cotton cord could be other choices. Just nothing too stiff, too thick, or too smooth. This year we used 30 inch lengths of  black and silver craft cord to attach the pages to the spine of the book cover, doing a no-needle method of sewing, illustrated in the direction sheet below.

No-needle modified pamphlet stitch
No-needle modified pamphlet stitch

This pretty much finished up the project. I like a book that feels more substantial, so, for a finishing touch, I handed each student two sheets of stiff oaktag type papers to slip into the front and back inside pockets.

Inside pocket

I recommended that the students choose for themselves whether or not they wanted to put a dab of glue on the stiff paper so that it would, or would not, permanently affixed to the pocket. Also, they made their own decision as to whether or not they wanted to add a bit of glue to the edge of the pocket, thus closing off, or not closing off, the possibility of things sliding out the foredge side of the pocket.

I had asked the school to allot 75 minutes per class to make this book. The students were positive, capable, and engaged in their work. Each class finished with 5 to 7 minutes to spare, and there was no rushing. Bsides having such fine groups of students to work with (kudos to their teachers!) another factor that streamlined this project was that students picked out their covers prior to my visit in the class. I will be visiting this school again, seeing other classes. I look forward to taking a peek into the 5th grade again, to see how the students develop these journals.

How-to · Non-adhesive Book · simple book binding

V-Pockets Book Cover

V-pockets Book Cover
Click on drawings to enlarge or print

        Last Sunday morning  I was trying out different ways of folding 11″ x 17″ paper to make a folded book cover.  When the structure that I’ve drawn out in the document above appeared in my hands I was so excited that I kept making one right after the other, and, thus began my Off To South Africa day of bookmaking.

When I wrote the post about sending off the V-Pockets books that I had made I wondered if anyone would notice and ask about the folding method. I wondered if anyone would ask how to make it, and how long it would take for that inquiry, if ever, to come.

After posting it took me three hours to get back to the computer to look over the post. Bronwyn, who is literally half the world away from me, had already noticed and asked. I was so pleased that I immediately got to work on some sketches and sent them out to her. Here’s an excerpt of her response, which might be helpful to people who work with A3 rather than 11″ x 17″:

“….those instructions – they work perfectly!! I…. got an A3 piece of paper (which is 29.7cm x 42cm) …. and cut it to 22cm x 34 cm – not the same size as yours, but the same proportional dimensions.  I’ve ended up with an 11cm square, so you probably end up with an 5 1/2 inch square.”

So, there you have it, the metric measurements! Roughly, a proportion to keep in mind is that the starting paper proportions should be 1:1.5,  so if your paper is 10 units wide, is should be about 15 units long.

Thank yous to Bronwyn and to the others who asked for instructions on this structure. I hope you enjoy making books (or folders) with these directions.

Non-adhesive Book

Blizzard Book, Post #3: Pages

Three Blizzard Books
Three Blizzard Books, with pages and covers

This is the third of my posts about the Blizzard Book, a folded paper design by Hedi Kyle.  Since I just taught a class on how to create this book I have been able to indulge my great interest in different approaches to the papers, proportions, and covers of Blizzard Books. My last post showed the Blizzard Book as a single sheet of paper that is  folded in such a way that each page becomes a pocket.  This post  features a  variation which will include adding in pages onto the spine of the book. 

Blizzard Book Spines
Blizzard Book Spines: left, in progress: right, completed

 The first step in making a Blizzard Book is to fold accordions to make the spine. In the Card Carrying Blizzard Book the spine becomes the whole book because the paper, which is 17 inches x 7 5/8 inches, is divided up into only eight accordions. To make a  Blizzard Book with pages I begin with the same size paper, 17 inches x 7 5/8 inches, but I divide this one up  into sixteen accordions. The result is a tall, thin spine that has tabs on the tops and bottoms. 

Sliding a folded page under the head and tail tabs of the Blizzard Book
I know that this might be hard to see and understand from these photos, but part of the charm of this book is that it is tricky to figure out right away.  Tabs are created, head and tail on the spine, by making V-folds on the accordions and then laying down the V-folds, thus creating a tab.  Long papers folded into an accordion can then be tucked under these tabs on the spine as pages of the book.

The Blizzard Books in the photo above have the same size spine. What makes them different is the size of the width of the paper used for the accordion pages that fit into the spine.

Using standard size paper to make mimic accordion pages
Since I really like using standard size copy paper whenever possible,  I do a book base fold with  8 1/2′ x 11″ paper  to mimic the qualities of the accordion (photo above).
And some of the spines of my Blizzard Books start with a standard 8 1/2 x 11″ copy paper, too,  which I then cut down to 8 1/2″ x 7 5/8″. When I use this proportion, I make only eight accordion sections to begin with. This size spine creates tabs which work perfectly with folded 8 1/2″ x 11″ papers when I fold them like a book base. The extra bonus fun thing about using these standard sized papers is that I can use standard size envelopes, A4s, for the covers of the Blizzard Book, as shown in the photo above.
It’s also worthwhile working out how to make covers which echo the inside folds of the Blizzard Book.  But, when teaching a three-hour class, the envelope-covers work out just fine. 
Now, I realize that I have just put out  lots of details, that might seem like  mumbo-jumbo. During my class last Saturday at North Main Gallery I was  nearly apologetic to the participants about all the precise folding and math talk that learning this structure requires.  Even though these folks assured me that, although it was challenging, they appreciated being able to learn how to make this book. I am feeling uncomfortable here, now, writing a post that might be hard to follow.  I’ve been encouraged, however, to feel that it’s worth the effort.
Blizzard Book with Pink Covers

After all, it is such a beauty of a book.

Non-adhesive Book

Blizzard Books, Post #2: Card Carrier

Card Carrying Blizzard Books

I am dedicating a few posts to showing and writing about the Blizzard Book, a book design developed by Hedi Kyle. This structure changes dramatically depending on many factors, including the proportions of the paper used. Because of its challenging nature, I can wrap my mind around just a few attributes of this structure at a time. Multiple posts seem appropriate.

The Blizzard Book, in its simplest form, is made out of one piece of paper which is folded in such a way that, from the spine side, it looks like it’s a multiple signature book.

The inside is a series of pages, each of which have a pocket. Nothing but the folds holds this book together. There’s no glue, no sewing and certainly no staples. The book in the above photo is rather small, just over 3 1/2″ tall. Susan Share, who introduced me to this structure, at one time carried one of these books around with her in her bag. She used it as a business card holder since the standard size business card slides easily into the pockets of the pages. What Susan did not show me was the exact measurements of the paper that created this book. It took me an inordinate amount of time to figure out which size paper to use.

Finally, I realized how to figure these things out, so here it is: the paper to make the Card Carrying Blizzard Book is 17 inches x 7.75 inches. If anyone in A4 land wants to make a card carrying Blizzard Book, send me the measurements (in cm) of your standard business cards, and I will let you know what size paper to start with.

Perhaps the next question should be ‘ what kind of paper should be used?’ Even though the book in the photo above is a handmade paper, something like a mulberry paper, and even though it has some of the qualities of a perfect paper for the Blizzard Book, I have to say that handmade papers are not my favorite for this structure. I prefer papers that create really crisp folds. Handmade papers are often so beautiful that it’s worth struggling with them to create BBooks, but learn the structure on a different paper.

When searching for papers to make Blizzard Books I look for a paper that is medium weight, about 81# text, and strong, which means that it is made from long fibers and doesn’t readily tear. When I first started making this structure Elephant Hide Paper seemed to be the best choice. Tragically, Elephant Hide Paper is no longer being made, so I have scramble to find a suitable choice. The crisply folded paper in the photo above is called Stardreams. In The Penland Book of Handmade Books Hedi lists Tyvek and Drawing Vellum as other paper choices. The best advice I can offer is to recommend that you try out different papers to see what you like and what works.

Now here are three important things I try to keep in mind when making these books. The first is that I really really need to use a bone folder to make really crisp folds; the second is to fold absolutely as precisely as humanly possible; the third, which I fail at regularly, is to keep my mind on what I am doing, and don’t be distracted by the forms that the paper takes on as it is in process of becoming a book. One of the top reasons I like this structure so much is that at ever single stage of its creation the shapes that the  paper takes on are all so visually satisfying. The photo above shows the different looks that the paper takes during the folding process. I leave way too many books unfinished because I am so intrigued the looks along the way.

One of the things that is good to know about Blizzard Books is that when they are first made they do not like to stay closed. At every opportunity that will just fly open. Even though this renegade characteristic seems to just disappear within a few months of existing in the civilized world living on a book shelf with other books, I find myself impatient, and seek closures. Oh sure, I can just wrap a rubber band around the book and be done with it, but that just doesn’t work for me. I have spent lots of time on figuring out good closures for these books. The rub is that different proportions of books seem to demand different solutions. But I have to say that I have enjoyed figuring out appropriate paper folds that help keep these enthusiastic books under wraps.

This variation of the Blizzard Book (one sheet of paper, no added pages) will be how I plan to begin the class that I am teaching this Saturday, July 30,. at Ruth Sauer’s North Main Gallery in Salem,  NY as part of Book Arts Summer In Salem.

Next post will be about the  Blizzard Book variation that includes adding in separate pages.

Addendum, November 12, 2018

Just wrote a post and made  video to show how to figure out the size paper you will need for any size blizzard book you’d like to make. Here’s the video

Addendum, November 13, 2018

here’s a video that shows how to make a blizzard book