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Making A Journal

Erin O'Toole Demonstrates Her Technique for Making a Journal

Making a Journal

Daniel Smith carries many papers perfect for journal making. Two papers that work well for me are Nideggen, a pale brown paper, and Frankfurt, cream or white, all made by Zerkall. They are light enough to fold into a single-signature book, yet substantial enough for watercolor or gouache. The laid surface of the paper is good for writing or line drawings. I make several books at once to have some for gifts and some to use myself.

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Step 1
Cut or tear large sheet of paper into five equal strips (about 7-1/6" each). Cut book cloth, cotton fabric, cover boards, spacer board and cover papers down to size.

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Step 2
Fold the five strips first in half, then in half again. Slip them snugly inside each other and line up tops. Fold and place cotton cloth along folded edge.

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Step 3
Clip top and bottom of the pages with bulldog clips. Mark and punch three holes along the fold -- one hole in the middle, the other two 1" from the edges.

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Step 4
Starting with the middle hole, from the inside of the book, pull a needle with thread to the outside, leaving a 4" tail. Go back to the inside through the upper hole, out the middle and back to the inside through the bottom hole. Pull the thread firmly and tie a square knot near the middle hole, leaving 1/4" of thread. Remove clips, slit open any folded edges with a utility knife.

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Step 5
Cover bookcloth with glue and center over spacer board and covers, press down. Turn over and remove spacer board. Fold and press down top and bottom flaps.

Note: All gluing is done on a stack of newspaper. After each gluing, discard the top sheet to expose a new clean one. Thin glue to brushing consistency with water.

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Step 6
Spread backside of one sheet of cover paper with glue and place on front cover overlapping the book cloth by about 1/16".Rub down carefully to remove any air bubbles. Trim the corners of cover paper about 1/8" away from the corner of the cover board.

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Step 7
Tuck and fold corners. Glue down top and side flaps, using a bit more glue if necessary. Repeat for back cover.

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Step 8
Place book between covers and center top to bottom. Open and place two sheets of wax paper between the end paper and the rest of the book. Spread glue under the cotton fabric, then over the fabric and the end paper. Put a little extra glue in the spine. Remove one sheet of wax paper and gently push the book into the spine while pulling the cover taut. Slightly lift the cover and smooth out any air bubbles. Repeat for the front. Rub along the spine with your fingernail or bone folder to make a crease where the book bends.

Wrap the book in wax paper and place under heavy books overnight. The next day you will have a new journal to give as a gift or to draw in yourself.

About the Author
Erin O'Toole illustrates books, creates journals and paints in oils. Her work appears in over 35 books. Create Your Own Artist's Journal is Erin's book about making and filling handmade journals.


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