Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sketching with Dr. Seuss : Hardback Sketchbook Tutorial

As a birthday tribute to Dr. Seuss (and because we had some Dr. Seuss book covers lying around from a different project) we decided to make some Dr. Seuss Sketch books. I have created a quick tutorial for you to make these at home.
You will need:
An old hardback book (check out your local thrift store)
3 hole punch or hand held punch
utility knife and ruler or scissors
Paper cutter (or one of the cutting tools above)
Drill and a 7/32 bit
Scrap block of wood or thick stack of scrap paper
Yarn/twine or metal book rings (they come in various sizes)
Large eyed needle (optional)

STEP 1: First you will need to remove the pages from the hardback book you have selected and cut out the spine. If the original pages are sewn into the book you can snip the twine found at the center page using a sharp pair of scissors or your utility blade and remove all the pages at once. If the pages are glued into the spine, you can cut them out right along with the spine of the book using your ruler and utility knife. Set book pages aside for another project.

STEP 2: Gather the paper you have chosen for the guts of the book and cut down to about 1/4 inch shorter, (vertically and horizontally) than the book over itself. This will give you a nice border when your stack of paper is centered on the inside of the covers. (Our book covers were about 6 ½” x 9 ¼” so we cut our paper to 6 ¼” x 9”). Next you will want to punch holes in the long edge using a 3 hole paper puncher or a hand held punch.

STEP 3: Line up and center one of the papers you just punched near the edge of the book cover. With a pen mark where the book shows though the holes this will be your drill markings. Place the cover on top of a piece of scrap wood and drill through the marking you just made. Repeat this step for all holes and the back cover. If you don’t want to bother with a drill or if you want to get really fancy, you could take the covers to a copy center like Fed Ex Office and they can drill these for you. If you choose this alternative, have them drill your pre-cut paper while you’re at it.

STEP 4: Now for binding. The easy way of doing this is to use metal book rings which come in many sizes. They pull open and squeeze close which makes it easy to remove and add pages to your sketch book. (The image above is sketchbook a friend of mine made for me and it depicts this method).

If you don’t want to have to buy these rings you can always use twine or yarn to tie your book together which is what we did for ours. We did this by inserted the yarn through both ends of facing holes. Then we crossed our yarn strands and stuck it through the hole opposite of the hole it was coming through (one end at a time). We stuck the yarn back through its original hole, double knotted it and snipped off the excess. If you choose to go this route when binding your own books, just make sure the book is able to lay flat with the spine lightly touching when you are knotting the thread, otherwise you could bind too tightly causing the paper to get stuck or tear as you turn the pages.

STEP 5: Get sketching!

I hope you have fun trying this simple project at home. Also, if the original paper you have removed from your book is still in good shape you may want to frame some of your favorite illustrations for instant home decor. Otherwise you could use the scraps to make envelopes, gift tags, postcards…the list goes on and on. What ideas are you brewing up?

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