Spotlight: Make your own hardback book!

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Hey book fans! Hope you’re all well.

Yesterday, I decided on a whim to have a shot at bookbinding, and as you can see from the photo it turned out pretty damn well even if I do say so myself. Sadly, I didn’t photo-document the stages of production – but it would be a little shady if I tried to write up a tutorial and thus imply that I have arts and crafts expertise to impart, as I was simply following instructions myself. I found a channel on YouTube called ‘SeaLemonDIY’, where a lady who has been perfectly described by one commenter as the Michelle Phan of crafts teaches you how to do everything and anything to do with bookbinding. She’s incredible, and I know I’m not the first to discover her; I’m sure at least one or two of you reading this will have beaten me to it.

Below you’ll find that I’ve linked her channel and the two videos I relied upon to make my book. I will just add, however, that you can totally cheat on a couple of things. SeaLemon has lots of crafty tools at her disposal, whereas I am living out of a small suitcase at my boyfriend’s flat at the moment and have approximately zero crafty tools. So, instead of an awl I used a hella sharp kitchen knife. Instead of book-card for the cover and spine, I bastardised an old box-file which contained documentation pertaining to the lease on my old flat (because documents are boring and crafts are fun). And instead of special book-cloth I used plain and simple cotton because I found this awesome pepper design in the cutoffs bin at the local fabric shop and decided it had to be mine. The boys I’m living with are always tinkering around with electronics and other more manly projects that don’t come within a mile of PVA glue and sequins, so I thought I would at least be able to rely on a Stanley knife (which I think is better known to our American friends as an X-Acto knife? Correct me if I’m wrong), but I couldn’t find one and so just used scissors to cut my box-file up. This resulted in some jaggedy, slightly torn edges, and I did fear that my painstaking hours of page-stitching were going to end up hidden inside a pig’s ear, but lo and behold the fabric covers up my fuck-ups! So what I’m trying to say is don’t worry if you don’t naturally exude the professionalism of  craft goddess SeaLemon. Us mere mortals can have snazzy notebooks, too!

I’m actually really glad it did work out, because I’ve been meaning to get a new notebook for a while – for something which could probably take up its own post. An old hobby has taken a fanatical turn of late – gleaning as much new knowledge as possible from all of my books. I dog-ear the bottom corner of the page so I know that there was something of interest to come back to, and then allow myself to get lost in a Wikipedia wormhole starting with whatever it was that piqued my attention. These would normally be words I don’t know the meaning of, or couldn’t explain their meaning if asked to, and concepts/topics/facts/people I don’t know anything/enough about. And making a conscious effort to re-visit these things has done wonders for my general knowledge. You definitely want me on your pub quiz team these days.

e.g: In chilly, damp Victorian England, pineapples were grown by vertically dividing a big box into 3 compartments, filling the outer two with manure and the middle one with soil and pineapple seeds. The heat from the decomposing manure passed through into the middle chamber, where it provided a nice toasty environment for the pineapples to grow up big and strong. Eventually it was just cheaper to import the pineapples from warm countries. At the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall they restored one of these ‘pineapple pits’, and their first pineapple was valued at £10,000!

So I hope that this post has inspired you either to have a stab at making a book (although please try not to stab yourself in the hand with scissors, as I did. I guess you have one argument for using task-specific tools right there), or to follow up on little things you would perhaps usually gloss over as you read. And if you do try making a book then please post a picture of the end product in the comments, I’d love to see them!

Until next time!

SeaLemonDIY’s channel

Textblock tutorial

Casebinding tutorial

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