It is really not difficult to make books by hand! There are, however, a miriad of styles of book. The most common books in the commercial publishing world we recognize by the names of hardbound, paperback and spiral bound. In the world of handmade books there are envelope books, stab-bound, accordian, stitched, and many others including the commercial styles.
I have participated in some swaps of handmade books and now host a monthly swap of 3 for 3 artist books (require content).
Here are some books I have made for the swap. In each case a "Theme" or "Structure" has been assigned and the books are an interpretation of that.
Click on a thumbnail to see a larger image
This piano hinge structure is actually a paper hinge constructed for a nail to slide into. The nail can be removed and the entire text block unfolded to view the
picture hidden inside. Text block is cardstock printed on inkjet printer. Cover is handmade paper over cardboard.
Stab Bound book has wordless pages which are a series of illustrations that lead from the galaxy to the heart of the home
This signature book is mounted inside a real cassette case. The text is printed on text-weight paper. Content is an abcdeary of humorous musical terminology.
Case and Cassette
Hardbound signature book printed on text-weight orange paper. Cover illustration uses inkjet iron-on transfer applied to cotton fabric.
Content is a collection of mneumonic devices useful for remembering a variety of things.
Hole drilled through cover and pages allows installation of a padlock. Key is tied to a ribbon bookmark glued into the spine.
Cover with padlock
Copper paper over foam-core is the medium used to frame a
half-dome 'snowglobe' with real water and 'snow' mounted in the front cover. When the cover is
lifted, scenes on comb-bound pages can be flipped to make the scenery change in the 'snowglobe'.
Showing how pages flip to show various scenes
This original game is constructed in accordion-book fashion on a base of foam-core covered with scrapbook papers. When unfolded it creates a gameboard with boxes of cards, a coin to flip and buttons as player pieces
an original game
With pages opened. .
Features wallpaper covers folded like textbook slipcovers from schooldays. Lined with tagboard.
Signatures were sewn on sewing machine. A ribbon threaded through a long stitch is pulled back
through slits in the cover and tied. Content is a series of 'storystarters' with lines for the owner to complete the thoughts.
Sewn signatures of cardstock are inset into covers made of
matboard. A fabric spine is glued to the outside. This is an original poem made as a children's picturebook illustrated in physical and digital collage.
The original illustrations were duplicated on a color-copier.
Cover and Interior views
Click here to read text
A 1 inch dowel with wooden endcaps is the base for this double-leaf scroll.
A decorative paper is the 'cover'. The 'page' is parchment run through the inkjet and immediately sprinkled with gold
embossing powder which was then set with a heatgun.
Views with scroll wrapped and tied
Views of scroll opened
This accordion book of heavyweight paper is encased in covers
of scrapbook paper over cardboard. The pages each features a scene viewed through a mylar window.
The window rubber stamp was handcarved for this purpose.
A standard pint canning jar is lined with purple celeophane and a strip of
wallpaper border printed with fruits. The book is an accordion of letter-shaped pages, each of which contains an item that one might
preserve in the home kitchen. The original books were vacuum sealed so the first 'reader' had
to pry open the lid.
Closed Jar view
Jar spilling out its contents
A Japanese stab-bound book of gold fabric over cardboard. Pages are text-weight
paper printed on inkjet.
Cover and Interior views
A Pop-up stage mounted in matboard covers is the centerpiece of
this book. A 'Gibson Girl' is permanently resident on stage. Envelopes contain 'leading men'
who can come out to star in "Phantom of the Opera", "My Fair Lady", "Beauty and the Beast",
"Gone with the Wind", "Cinderella", and "The King and I".
Interior view with "Rhett" onstage
This is a comb-bound book mounted in a fabric-covered case-binding.
The pages of doubled cardstock are split in two so the halves and turn independently
of one another. This allows a child to find the matching anumal pairs. Ttile refers to Noah's Ark
Light cardboard covered are laid over with scrapbook paper in
this accordion book featuring original drawings illustrating the classic poem by
Lewis Carroll. The text of each verse forms a 'frame' for the drawing on its page.
Cover and Interior views
Single sheet signatures are stitched into each side of this heavy paper cover.
One side of the book contains anecdotes about the 'good' things our late black lab did, the other
side is his 'bad' stories.
View showing structure
Lightweight drapery fabric covers this case-bound book with sewn signatures. Contents on
text-weight paper photocopied. Content is 8 original poems.
The unique 'closure' on this book is the zipper. It is used to close this 'sleeping bag' containing a true
camping story. The text was printed on injet transfer paper and ironed onto the lining
fabric. Title and colophon were handled in the same way. All construction done on the sewing maching.
Sleeping bag rolled and tied
Unzipped showing the story
Yes, it really IS an accordion book! Constructed of marbled cardstock from an original design, this book
contains an original poem. The keyboard is made of polymer clay, the bellows of cardstock with gold gel-pen trim, speaker of wire-edge ribbon on cardstock, chord buttons of Beedz
on double-stick carpet tape. Closing straps are ribbon with velcro.
Opened showing poem
Click here to read text
This month each player had to write instructions and send with all the
materials necessary for the recipients to construct their own book. I chose an origami box
to contain a 4 leaf origami book in paper-covered hard covers.
the origami book
This is an envelope book with full-page sized flaps that feature illustrations.
One lifts the flap and pulls out a card that tells a bit of the story.
Cover with giant pin piercing it
Interior with page flap closed
envelope opened showing insert card
I made several models before I figured out how to make this book work like I wanted it.
The hours of the day are represented on chocolate illustrations that run on an interior accordion. This interlaces
with a larger accordion that has 'excuses' for eating chocolate along the frames.
the interlocking accordionBook
This was extremely difficult to photograph! I used clear embossing powder on
black paper to illustrate someone leaving footprints throughout the house as they traipse through at night.
A window, trapdoor, door, and garage all have moveable parts, exposing more details underneath.
A portion of musical notation is known as the signature. I expanded on this theme to show how different
types of music also have signature footwork, rhythms, and dance associated with them. The book is an accordion construction with a CD feature on the cover.
I did a japanese stab binding using wavy corrugated cardboard for the cover. Each
page illustrates a fish based on a combination of the real fish of the same name and the head of its more
well-known counterpart. Watercolor pencil illustrations include a Cowfish, Wolffish, Pigfish, Zebrafish, Sheepfish,
The 12 constellations of the zodiac are sewn in irridescent beads on black paper. Each
star-shaped page is punched with a star to facilitate the tied binding. Covers are of matboard.
Each page is printed on marble or granite finished paper. Each is cut at the top to
resemble a headstone and dry-embossed for effect. Pages are printed with quotes and poems on death and dying.
An origami folded book with pockets on each page is set in thin board covers
and the spine covered with faux leather. An eyelet in the spine allows for the ribbon by which it is
hung about the neck.
I designed this 'skewer' book using envelopes and craft sticks to serve an
assignment to make a 'book kit' for swapping.
This post-bound book is covered with faux leather and contains a collection of
sentiments from an actual autograph book of the 1800's. Printed pages were stained with tea and then color
This is actually a portfolio containing - clockwise from right: a travel itinerary detailing a round-the-world
trip by 40 different modes of travel (including tram, dogsled, submarine, kayak); a pair of passports madeled after actual
US documents; a packet of foreign coins from actual ports-of-call; faux currency - color copied and digitally altered
in color and size; and a world map with the itinerary marked out.
Hard covers on a window-shade structure
I found this 'patent leather' poster board to make these dress shoes. Real shoe laces
lace up each side and tie together to close the shoe. A single quotation from my grandpa completes the content.
Text reads: I never could
figure the point
of dancing; you never
get anywhere and
it just wears
out your shoes!
I used a heart-shaped paper mache box as the base, added a craft stick carved to
shape the neck, covered with gold tissue and music. The I made the strings of stretchy beading cord which I
cut and tied back together. The pages are an accordion folded strip of heart shapes with the text written in
Text reads: God mends broken
heart strings and
uses them to play
His love song.
Using a calendar page this book opens page by page when the front bow is
untied, but lays flat to display the entire picture when the back bows are released.
Flag Book Structure
Three layers have cutouts to view lower layers.
Multiple hand-stitched signatures attach by ribbons to portfolio covers
made from wallpaper.
Ribbon Stitched Book
A long strip of paper for the interior another for the covers and fold upon
fold upon fold.
Fold Upon Fold structure
A single post allows this book to open by rotating pages up. I used digital photos of my eyes
and graphical glasses frames to illustrate different points of view. One lens from an old pair of glasses was glued
on the cover.
I have provided some instructions on how to make your own hardbound book and a miniature sticky note book.
For a list of resources on Handmade Books click here.
For links to other sites on Handmade Books click here.