Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Stay-at-home adventures: book binding

Sometimes the weather keeps you indoors and the impending holiday season means you're a bit too busy preparing to go visit museums. Or maybe the dim winter light dulls all the nice pictures of your daily walks. What to do? Embark on an indoor adventure!

Moleskines don't play well with fountain pen inks.
We can fix that!

Working at a bookstore means taking home more notebooks than you know what to do with. But when the year is over, you can still use that nice Moleskine diary you just filled up with appointments. We discovered artist Jose Naranja's wonderful post about reincarnating Moleskines into new, beautiful sketchbooks, and wanted to try it out.

You need a used Moleskine, replacement paper, a cutter and cutting mat, a ruler, some large clips, and bookbinding needles and thread - or a sturdy needle and some strong thread the colour of your paper, treated with wax.

Moleskine paper isn't the best for our art style: fountain pen ink soaks through and makes a mess, and  watercolour is impossible. Solution - replace the used diary paper with a block of your favourite sketchbook paper! I used Cass Art 140gsm cartridge paper, and took apart one of my stapled sketchbooks.

Fold and cut the paper into signatures, then punch holes in the spines for stitching. A signature or section is a number of sheets (in our case 2 at a time) folded up and stitched together at the spine - that's our next step. Naranja has a great diagram about how he sews the signatures that's very easy to follow, and saves you stitching each signature individually.

Photo from Jose Naranja's blog

He suggests practicing this method several times - and singing while you practice!

Our book block, all stitched and held together with bull clips. No singing this time; instead we listened to audiobooks, a favourite pastime when our hands are occupied. (You can read while washing the dishes!)

Here's the painful part: You have to cut the block of paper out of the Moleskine. Leave a page or two in the front and the back to glue in the new block, carefully slide your cutter in between those pages and the rest of the book, and cut the paper away from the spine. Naranja advises, 'Do not suffer or produce too much tears.' If the diary has memories you want to save, keep the paper somewhere with other old notebooks, maybe wrapped in some wax or parchment paper. Otherwise, you can enjoy some Marie Kondo-ish catharsis and throw it away.

Cut the book block to the size of the Moleskine block. The corners are tricky: you can punch pages at a time with a round corner punch, or patiently cut them yourself with a cutter and a teaspoon, or sand them down with sandpaper (Naranja's method).

Press the book block flat with a press or any heavy things you've got around the house, and lay glue along the spine. You can also cover the spine with a thin piece of gauze and more glue for more security, and even stick the Moleskine bookmark from the old block to your new one.

Glue the new block into the Moleskine spine. Glue the first and last sheets of the block onto the pages in the front and back of the book, burnishing to prevent bubbles and wrinkling. (Due to lack of practice, this step ended up too messy to take pictures.)

Now you're ready to use your newly-reincarnated notebook with any pens you want. It's time to start a new indoor adventure!

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