This past Saturday Ed Hutchins presented a three-hour workshop as part of the Book Arts Summer in Salem event. Ed is the kind of book artist and teacher that I would recommend taking a workshop with no matter what it is he is teaching. So of course I signed up.

As everyone’s style of teaching is different I am pleased when I can be a student in a book arts class. Ed chose to show us how to make four different books using half sheets of regular copy paper. He offered Canson Mi-Tientes paper for the covers. The photo above, shows how Ed “set the table” for this class.

All the books that we made were sewn with a basic three-station pamphlet stitch. Even though these books look nearly identical in style, don’t be fooled by the outside covers…

We made a book with a pocket in the cover, and a book with tabbed covers, based on a Keith Smith design as well as a simple pamphlet .

Here’s the tabbed and folded cover in-progress. Ed provided a template for the tabbed cover, and even scored the fold lines to help facilitate the creation of this cover.

We also made a book with two groupings of papers sewn in onto separate folds….

…and to give the inside a raison d’etre, we added place holders for an image.

After we made each book, Ed made a point of talking about content. His message was ‘These are not to be blank books. You have lots of interesting things to say! ‘

He asked us to brainstorm on what we would put into the books. Here are some of the things that we and he came up with

  • poems
  • jokes
  • recipes
  • details of last night’s lobster dinner
  • leaf prints,
  • drawings
  • autographs
  • collage of a trip
  • a big eye
  • weather report
  • weather response
  • photos
  • family history
  • overheard conversations
  • rubber stamps
  • stamps harvested from our fan mail
  • phobias
  • what stood out about today
  • plans for tomorrow

Speaking of plans for tomorrow, my plan for tomorrow is prepare for the workshop that I will be teaching on July 30, as part of BASIS. In the next few days I will be starting to write about the structure, Hedi Kyle’s Blizzard Book, that I will be presenting. I am looking forward to having this excuse to make one variation after the other of these Blizzard Books!

pink and purple book with cool closure

The school year is just about over in this part of the world. At Indian Lake Central School the staff puts together a really cool thing for the last full week of school. They call it Heritage Week. It’s a brilliant concept: for five days the curriculum revolves around exploring different facets of the town of Indian Lake, from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Included in the week are visits to the Adirondack Museum, visits with local storytellers and songwriters, and research about historical places and people. And guess what: they need a book which they can fill with pictures and information gathered during the week! That’s where I fit in.

three hole punch and papers

My job is to help students make books which are added to at intervals during Heritage Week. I have only about 50 minutes to help each group of students make their books, start to finish. I was pleased at how this particular book, for the first, second and third graders, worked out. Each student started out by picking out two pieces of cover wieight paper. One paper was standard sized 8 1/2″ x 11″, the other was twice a big, 11” x 17″. We then used a three hole punch to put holes on the one of edge of each paper.

lining up papers and folding ends

The corners of the bigger paper were then folded to the middle (like what you do when making a paper airplane). The tip of the resulting triangle was then folded down about an inch and a half.

lining up the holes

Students applied just a bit of glue to the holed end of the smaller paper, lined up the holes of the two papers and pressed.

putting in the pipe cleaner posts

What really holds these two papers together, though, are the two pipe cleaners that are laced through the holes.

adding pages to the pipe cleaners

The pipe cleaners do double duty: they hold the cover papers together, and they act as posts to bind together loose sheets of paper. After a few sheets of paper were inserted into their books I instructed the students to just bend the pipe cleaners down without twisting them or otherwise securing them. Just lifting up the pipe cleaners is what will make it easy to add more pages as the week progresses. After  inserting the inside pages students folded  the covers around the papers.

Two books

Because it’s so close to the end of the school year, I especially wanted to introduce some whimsy. The sparkly pipe clearers were just one of the fun elements that the students used. After the books were assemble I laid out colored popscicle sticks and square sticky-backed “jewels” for cover decoration.


I thought the coolest part of this project was the closure. If you remember, back in the first step I mentioned that the students folded down the tip of the triangle at the edge of the paper. I had them snip a tiny slit at each edge of the triangle. then we slipped a rubber hair band around the fold, making sure the hair band fit into the slits.


On the cover of each book in just the right place we attached a paper fastener, thus creating an awesome closure. Hurrah!

Make an accordion and a French Fold Accordion By Paula Beardell Krieg

Last Wednesday, and each Wednesday during this month of March, I will be working on a project with third graders. This is an ambitious project that links the student’s research about various countries with lots of bookmaking. We first make a large folder with pockets, which we refer to as a suitcase, then students make small handmade books in these pockets. These small books will be filled with writing and pictures relevant to the country that each student is studying.

There are SMART Boards in each of these classrooms. This means that when I draw out the instructions for making the books the teachers can click on a “Save” button and save what I have drawn. I often try to erase the drawings before the save because I start off drawing big and end up squeezing in the last steps, which makes for a silly looking set of instructions. But erasing the steps before the students can complete them is silly too.

This past week a light went on in my head: if I draw out what I want the students to know and save it on-line then I can link the SMART Board to my image….not only that, but I can email the links of the appropriate images to teachers before I meet with them. This can facilitate easy retrieval of my tutorial pages, and it can also be stored as a reference, thereby empowering the teachers to re enforce the bookmaking techniques after my residency is over.

Oh, last week we made a simple accordion, like in the drawings above.  I then taught a couple of pop-ups to put in the valley folds. That will be what the next handout will be about.

snow in our backyard

In the meantime, the snow is showing some signs of melting here. Notice that the hand pump is emerging from the snow. We can see our picnic table now. But last week after a thaw, followed by rain, then freezing rain, I had to call and postpone working at a school because my car tires were completely frozen into a 6 inch puddle of ice.

Individualizing with Color

February 15, 2011

Making Books with First Graders

Origami Pamphlet Books, fully opened

This past week I worked with three classes of first graders. My goal was to help the students create books which honor their writing. I want the books to be good-looking, dynamic and individualized. I have three 75 minute sessions to accomplish this.

Origami Pamphlet Made by Chase, First Grade

Origami Pamphlet Book by Chase

All students begin by making an Origami Pamphlet using the same color paper. No choice there. But I am able to give them choice in the decorative details.

One of my favorite decorative techniques is to ask the students to create designs with geometric shapes. Just the mention of color rivets students’ attention. I try to find a place to lay out their color choices attractively. I’ve figured out that making colors available to students in a carte blanche kind of way results in designs that descend into chaos. Now I am more orderly in the distribution of color. Perhaps I am delusional, but I try to convey the concept that there are advantages in practicing restraint.

For decorative accents, students choose four colors from my palette of Brite cover weight papers . These strips of paper are 5 inches x 1.25  inches (if I were in metric-land I would cut these stips to be 3cm x 12cm). Then everyone cuts SQUARES ONLY. They do this by creating an “L” with the strips, then cutting on the line that defines where the strips overlap.

Books by First graders

Students can use their squares as squares, turn them to become diamonds, cut them in half to create triangles, or cut them into lines. I do not allow them to explore any other options. This makes me feel mean, but I explain to these budding artists they can try out all sorts of decorative options on all their works for the rest of their lives, but, for right now I want them to do it my way so that they will learn a new technique. I promise them that although they are all getting the same instructions, that their books will each have their own look.

 Book page by First Grader

They work a bit on each page, then go back and add more after each page has been treated.

We use glue sticks to adhere the shapes to the paper. I bring in the 1.41oz (40g) size of UHU Glue sticks. Then I threaten students that the shapes will fall off the page unless they apply enough glue and pressure to the papers.

The result: Same But Different.

There are other decorative technques that the students use. But that’s another post.
To be continued.

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