Making John

I have begun the adventure of making the gospel of John as a miniature book. I have made two prototypes of the book. The point of making the propotypes is to establish how I want the book to look and how I will make the book. Between the first and second prototypes, I switched the paper type from a postconsumer recycled paper, which was a fine satin paper, to a pure cotton paper, which is rougher and feels more beautiful. Strathmore Paper Mill, which I think is now part of Mohawk Paper Mill, makes the pure cotton paper I'm using.

Switching paper type meant that the book thickness increased, which meant remeasuring the width of the spine and such for the second prototype. The increase in spine width was about one-eighth of an inch for a total width of about one and one-eighth inches. Meanwhile, I also adjusted the design of the text. I am now prepared to make the first two real copies of the book. Overall, I'll be making 55 copies of the book, with 50 being numbered and 5 being lettered. No, I've never taken up such a feat before. But I must do it.

I also made one prototype of a wraparound case for the book. I thought of making the wraparound case to protect the book and to keep the book firmly closed after one has leafed through it. The prototype uses strips of flexible magnets for the closure, but I would like to use neodymium magnet discs eventually. The neodymium magnet discs are stronger than the flexible magnet strips and thus can be hidden under the cover material without diminishing their effectiveness—at least, this is what I think in theory. Besides, I will need to change the size of the wraparound case because the thickness of the book increased when I switched papers. Also, I need to decide on what cover material to use for the wraparound case. I'm leaning towards the paper-backed rayon cloth I already have. There is also the choice of the Belgian linen cloth, but this will require that I paper-back the linen. Maybe I'll make some with rayon and some with linen, or at least make one of each to see which one I like best.

Making John was posted on 11 Jul 2013 in Design , Bookbinding

Mini Notebook

First copy of mini notebooks made for Dewipat. Bound in rayon cloth with hard covers, it has a size of 2-3/4 in by 3 in by 5/8 in and 160 pages. The notebook can take the place of a business card, so it has some basic information on the cover.

Mini Notebook was posted on 26 May 2013 in Bookbinding

CD envelopes made for 1080Foto.

CD Envelopes for 1080Foto was posted on 04 May 2013 in Packaging

Inventor's Library

My latest project was to transform a bland electronic copy of a U.S. patent into a book, and here I mean a book with real paper. This is something I'd wanted to do for a really long time. I thought it'd be interesting to have a patent portfolio in book form.

When I first had the idea to make a patent as a book, I imagined that the book would be a miniature book, i.e., a book with no dimension (height, width, thickness) exceeding 3 inches. Miniature books occupy very little space while being really charming, I thought. However, when I began to set the text and drawings of the patent, I saw that the miniature size may not work quite so well if I wanted the drawings to be legible, which I did.

Patent drawings are often filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on a US Letter page size. If the page size is US Letter, a drawing figure may have a height of up to 9-1/2 inches and a width of up to 7 inches. Thus, I was confronted with the problem of squishing a drawing figure of, say, 9-1/2 inches by 7 inches into a space of, say, 2-7/8 inches by 2-7/8 inches (< 3 inches by 3 inches to allow for the usual space at the head, foot, and fore edge of the finished book).

I had various thoughts about how to solve the problem. Some examples are:

1. Print the drawings on a larger paper size. Then, fold the larger paper size so that it can fit on a miniature page. The folded paper can be unfolded while reading the book.

2. Make the book in accordion form so that a drawing figure may span more than one page. 

3. Prepare the drawings on separate sheets and attach an envelope to the finished book. The envelope will hold the drawings.

Eventually, I decided to make the book longer than a miniature book—it was going to be less headache than any of the options mentioned above. I settled on a page size of 2.5 in (width) by 5 in (height) for the book. Although I wasn't thinking about it at the time, the book ended up being just a bit taller (~ 1/2 inches) and wider (~ 1/4 inches) than an iPhone 4.


What was new and exciting in this project was dust jackets. I made them for the very first time. Normally, I prepare book covers using book cloth. However, while trying out an accordion book idea, I printed a book cover design on paper and liked it. I decided then that I'd prepare a book cover for the patent book using paper—I was confident that I could do this based on paper-covered hardcover books I had on my shelves.

I took the opportunity to order enhanced inkjet paper from Epson. But the enhanced paper was too thick—it created an ungraceful bulk at the hinges between the cover boards and spine board. The accordion book didn't have such hinges, so this was a new problem. Meanwhile, the inkjet printing on the enhanced paper was simply gorgeous. So, I decided to cover the book with book cloth as usual and to prepare a dust jacket using the enhanced paper. I was pleased with the result.


I still have trouble with miniature-type books, i.e., with widths less than 3 inches, not closing firmly. When I'd discussed this problem with a seasoned bookbinder in the past, he said it was quite a problem with miniature books. He said they had been discussing the problem at a gathering of the Miniature Book Society and hadn't quite figured out the perfect solution. He said the problem of not closing firmly may be the reason miniature books tend to come with closures, i.e., metal clasps and the like. But I wasn't so sure.

I have a miniature book I bought from Barnes & Noble, and it closes firmly. I tried to diagnose why this was the case. I noted that the cover cloth of the B&N book was thinner than the rayon book cloth I was using for my books. The paper of the text block was also thinner. I also noted that the spine of the text block was glued to the spine of the cover. While I do not intend to glue the spine of my text block down, I may try working with a thinner book cloth to see if the book will close firmly.

Figuring out what to name the book was as exciting as making the book. I thought of the book being a volume in an Inventor's Library. I should be making more volumes of the Inventor's Library in the future.


Inventor's Library was posted on 12 Dec 2012 in Bookbinding

I made an accordion book this past Saturday. It's the first accordion book I've ever made. Forming even-width folds across the book was a pain in the hide. By the time I was done with folding each sheet and gluing all the folded sheets together, I intimately understood the term "chain of dimension" or "dimensional chain," which an inventor had been trying to explain to me a few days earlier. I will have to talk more about my troubles with folding later on. But I love the book. I have it sitting by my bedside and admire it every time I set my eyes on it. It's fun to play with also.

Accordion Book was posted on 29 Nov 2012 in Bookbinding

A writing journal for Beth. Its dimension is 4 in. high by 3.25 in. wide by 0.625 in. thick. The cover is made of Belgian linen.

Beth's Book was posted on 28 Sep 2012 in Bookbinding

Mrs Samuels and the Petticoat Thief

Every now and then I do really stupid things, like forgetting to add endpapers to a text block prior to trimming the text block. From the dictionary, "an endpaper is a blank or decorated leaf of paper at the beginning or end of a book, esp. one fixed to the inside of the cover." In the latest case, I'd even gone as far as applying adhesive and crash to the spine and adding headbands to the top and foot of the text block. I was ready to prepare the cover when I noticed that there were no endpapers. Oy!

There was only one thing I knew to do; start all over again. But I wanted so badly to see the finished book that I worked doggedly at it and was able to go from preparing the text block to preparing the cover to attaching the cover to the text block in about 24 hours. I could have done it for less hours if I didn't have to wait for the adhesive to dry. I use rice starch for adhesive, which is slow-dyring but forgiving.

The journal has a dimension of roughly 3-1/4" (width) by 4" (height) by 5/8" (thickness). As far as I'm concerned, it's a miniature book. I used silk charmeuse for the cover.

Mrs Samuels and the Petticoat Thief was posted on 12 Sep 2012 in Bookbinding

The Secret Lives of Mrs L Baldwin

The Secret Lives of Mrs. L. Baldwin has dimensions of roughly 3-1/8" (width) by 3-15/16" (height) by 5/8" (thickness). I used Belgian linen cloth for the cover. When I printed the design on the cloth using an inkjet printer, the blue door didn't come out as I'd wanted. It blended too much into the background. So, I had to do a bit of hand painting using fabric markers.

The journal has about 160 pages made of 70 text/104 gsm paper in natural shade. I've been seeing a rather strange phenomenon where after I adhere the textblock to the covers, the endpapers seem to shift a bit towards the edge of the book so that there is almost no margin between the edges of the endpapers and the edges of the book. My immediate thought for future work is to add about another 1/16" to the width of the cover or make sure that I move the text block in 1/16" than I normally would.

The Secret Lives of Mrs L Baldwin was posted on 02 Sep 2012 in Bookbinding