Handmade Books

During the Subject module of my course, we had a workshop with self-taught illustrator Sarah Edmonds on creating different types of handmade books.  The workshop was informative and incredibly helpful, particularly as we were looking at storytelling and how to convey different themes using different ways of creating a book.  To start with I had no idea how easy it was to make such beautiful little books from one piece of paper.  I knew that books could be different shapes, sizes, and textures, but I didn’t know it could be so simple to do myself.  Sarah showed us several different methods of creating different types of books, different ways of binding them, and the various ways of folding a simple piece of paper into a functioning book.

 I found the exercise informative and exciting, and look forward to creating my own books.  I’d really like to utilise what I learnt in my work when necessary, as it’s something that I find very personal and identifiable.  Little touches like the uneven cuts on paper and idiosyncrasies that make it personal to the maker of each book.  The more I pursue this medium I’d like to think that I’d develop a style of my own that is identifiable to others.   As the weeks have progressed since September, I’ve found myself being drawn to more three-dimensional ways of displaying information.  Things like handmade books and real tangible things that can be held, played with and explored using touch.  Things like apps, websites and other web-based design is interesting and certainly has its uses and isn’t something I’d ever rule out, but this ‘traditional’ design is really more my thing.  (I think).  It would be more valuable to a client to create a wide-reaching website than one copy of an intricately designed book, but what I would personally prefer is to have something with a little rarity.  Something that can display an idea or a message, but something which can also engage the viewer in a different way.


The long sheet of brown paper above is how my book started.  Using a system of folds and measuring, my aim was to create an ‘alphabet book’ that I could use to display different letters of the alphabet in a tiered way, so that on each page the physical letter itself could be supported in a pocket on each page of the book.  Utilising Sarah’s knowledge and expertise, I was able to create a small book which I then bound and tied, which could display each letter.  I’m still working on the finished outcome, creating small matchbox-sized physical letterforms to sit in each pocket.  Having never done anything like this before I anticipated it going awry!  I took a lot from the workshop, and a new skills set which I feel will be useful to me in future projects.  It is certainly something that I’d like to explore further, in any project that I feel it would be suited to.

The methods themselves weren’t as complicated as initially thought, with the emphasis being on doing it properly and folding everything correctly and it will turn out as planned.  I’ll attach some of my sketchbook scans where I took some more detailed notes on the actual construction methods of these books.

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These pages from my sketchbook document the process in greater detail, listing all the equipment you’ll need to make a book.  The last few pages are of books I had found on Pinterest that I found particularly interesting.


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