March is craft month at Bookmans and what better way to close out the month and celebrate crafts than to make your own books! Bookbinding is one of the longest running forms of human craft making, dating as far back as the 5th century with many cultures developing their own methods of binding pages together into a single tome. Modern bookbinding as a craft is much more accessible today and easier to learn than most people realize. There are a slew of tutorials online to learn basic skills and many retailers that sell the materials you need to bind your own books. Have you ever dreamed of having the perfect writing journal? Maybe you want a pocket watercolor journal? Why not make your own from scratch?!
When it comes to bookbinding, there are so many methods and materials, that at first glance the process can seem overwhelming. There are so many possibilities of what you can make, where do you even start? Fortunately, there are bookbinding kits available from many online retailers that have everything you need to get started.
Cleverhands on Etsy sells a French link stitch bookbinding kit for $20-$30 (depending on the size of book you want to make) that includes all the basic materials you need to make your own journal, including a bone folder, PVA bookbinding glue, an awl, waxed linen thread, book board, book cloth, end papers, and writing papers. Hollander’s, a bookbinding specialty shop, offers everything you need to make just about any kind of book you wish and has flat back and round back bookbinding kits for $55-$65. The best part of starting with a kit is that once you finish your first journal you can use all the left over equipment to make other books.
Bookbinding is also a very forgiving craft if you don’t have access to the perfect materials. In the absence of PVA glue, you can easily substitute Elmer’s white glue (it’s pretty much the same thing). If you don’t have proper book boards you can use chip board that you can find from any craft shop. No book press? Just use a bunch of heavy books piled on top of one another!
There are dozens of different methods of binding books, some easier than others. For beginners I would suggest the French link stitch to create a lovely journal with an open spine so that you can see the stitching. The instructions that come with the Cleverhands bookbinding kit can teach you the basics, or you can use this tutorial: Exposed Tape Binding. If you want a more traditional flat back, like the average hardback you would see at a bookstore, try using Hollander’s bookbinding kit or this tutorial: Flat Back Bookbinding. For a leather bound journal, try this tutorial: Long Stitch Leather Bookbinding.
Once you have learned the basics and have gathered a collection of materials and tools, you’ll find yourself making journals out of anything you can find, even recycled materials! Try making a collage cover out of magazine or comic book pages, or use mixed media to give your covers some texture and depth. As for the pages, you can use everything from ordinary copy paper to handmade watercolor paper. Pretty much anything you can write on can be turned into a book. Art supply shops like Jerry’s Artarama carry an array of handmade and decorative papers that you can use for journal covers and pages, and you can scour antique shops for fun embellishements.
What are you waiting for? Stop buying journal after journal and start making your own! Now if you do want to purchase a journal instead, stop by your local Bookmans. We have plenty of options to help you put pen to paper. Happy journaling!
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