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Submitted on
August 27, 2013
Submitted with Writer


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Hi guys! :wave:
Today I'd like to share with you some basic tips if you're interested in making handmade books. I've learned how to do that a few terms ago, at the university. As an art restoring adept I've been through the old, traditional ways of making books and added some modern touches to simplify that. I'm going non-professional so far, without expensive equipment, so if you'd like to give books a try you don't have to invest that much  ;)


The first and obvious thing that's needed for our book is paper. At that stage you have to decide what kind of book you'd like to make - you need lined or squared paper for notebooks, journals, cookbooks and basically everything that's meant to write in. Sketchbooks and scrapbooks require nice smooth plain paper and photo albums work best with thick and durable paper. Of course those are basics, you can use decorated paper or one suitable for watercolors. But for the first run it's best to use some cheap paper. A great idea is to use squared paper from old school notebooks - you do something for our planet as well as for your wallet :)

SpiritWerewolves-book plain paper by Dark-Lioncourt 2013 - T-Rexbook4 by Dark-Lioncourt
Plain paper used in scrapbook and squared one in a notebook.


There are 3 layers needed to make a standard cover - cardboard that makes the base, inner covers that bind paper with cardboard together and the most visible part of our book - the outside cover itself. I use natural leather, but nice fabric in much cheaper and easier to work with. You can buy the leftovers from textile shops - sometimes real wonders can be found there. If you decide to go with natural leather there's a choice between suede leather, which I prefer, and it is easier to decorate and work with, and the classic smooth side. Suede is less durable [but still very good material, since people don't usually use book to any heavy-duty things ;)] and catches dirt faster. But it can be burned, inked and painted. Also the feel on suede is like no other when you touch it :love:
As for the cardboard which is a spine for our book: whatever works for you. I'd recommended a thick one that cannot be bend, but if you'd like to have thin covers there's nothing standing on your way.
Inner covers are usually made with thick paper [from about 100g/m2 and up even to around 300g/m2]. You can decorate it as you like or leave it plain, use some fancy pre-made scrapbooking paper or whatever you like. For the construction of the book it's only important that you attach everything tightly together.

 Untitled by Dark-Lioncourt Untitled by Dark-Lioncourt 2013 - Wolfbook5 by Dark-Lioncourt
Suede leather in different colours for outside covers, bunch of cardboards for cover's base, coloured paper for inner covers and worn cardboard I use for cutting paper on. The last photo is an example of thick coloured paper used for decorated inner covers.


Since I'm going to show a basic and not too expensive starting kit here, there will be no advanced equipment shown. But believe me, you can do a lovely and durable book with very few things, most of which you'll find home!

You will need:
  • scissors and paper-knife - I prefer to use knifes in two sizes, as you can see by my worn cardboard  :P
  • adhesive suitable for paper and stuff - there are different brand in every country, so just look for it in paper-shops. It should be removable with water - it'll make your life a lot easier ;)
  • ruler - 30cm/11.8inch works for standard formats of books and is much more comfortable to use than shorter ones
  • needle and thread - to sew your paper together. Needle should be a bit bigger than standard sewing size. It's good to have different colours of thread so you'd be able to fit it to the rest of book design.
  • big needle or awl - for making holes in paper
  • double-sided adhesive tape - thin one for paper-paper and it's nice to have also a foam one to even the levels between leather/fabric and paper on inner covers
  • binder clips - comes in handy when you need to press together pieces while waiting for the adhesive to dry out
And if you want to go wild :D
  • woodburnig tool - if you want to use leather and burn something on it. It's not necessary to buy one if you have hand torch/soldering lamp or something like that with suitable tip. I use my Dremel Versaflame with low-temperature soldering tip and believe me - Dremel would never think it may be use as a woodburnig tool  :D

Untitled by Dark-Lioncourt Untitled by Dark-Lioncourt
Basic tools: paper-knives, adhesive, paper block, foam and thin double-sided adhesive tape, needle and thread and my almost-like-but-that-will-do Dremel Versaflame used as woodburnig tool. ;) Well, don't you have most of it in home already? So go moke some books :D


There are lots and lots of things you can make your books more beautiful with and your work easier and more pleasant. Ribbons, fabrics, bookmarks, postcards, drill and not to mention a paper-press that allows you to make advanced book constructions. But if you want just to give it a try, there's really not so much things needed. First book I've made was done using stuff I've already had and needed to buy just the adhesive. Not much, huh? So hope you would want to try :la:

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask, I'll be happy to help!

What you need to give handmade books a try in your workshop :)
Add a Comment:
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013   Writer
Some great advice about materials here. :-) I would have liked just a little information about the actual bookmaking process, but I've seen that covered elsewhere. I feel like this (particularly the bit about choice of paper) offers a good starting point. Thanks!
Dark-Lioncourt Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Professional
I'm happy to hear you like it :)
There's a lot of great bookmaking tutorials on dA so I just wanted to add some 'wht-you-need-to-go' as a addition for those ;)
Darvia123 Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I really want to do this... All I want is a diary, and this might be just what I was looking for!
Dark-Lioncourt Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2013  Professional
Happy to hear that :) It'd be great if you'll share your work! :)
Darvia123 Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'll certainly try!
Dark-Lioncourt Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2013  Professional
That's great :)
Mochiccino Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm glad I saw this. I've been wanting to make color books to sell but had no idea how to make a book.
Dark-Lioncourt Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Professional
Happy you like it :) You can find great tutorial about making books here on dA, so I'm sure it won't be very difficult :)
Mochiccino Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
coloring books* :dummy:
AquaticNotes Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013   General Artist
I think I may make this a project for Christmas break
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