Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Covered notebook tutorial

Hello all! So sorry about the long gap--don't think I haven't thought about you all! Holidays are always crazy busy and then when you get back to work in January its crazy busy catch up time, it seems.

Anyway, how about a (not so) little tutorial to make up for my time away? This tutorial is for my very popular covered notebooks--my biggest seller this past Christmas. Wow, were they popular--all sizes from the the minis to the full size composition notebooks. Here I will be covering a hardcover journal, but you can cover any book with a covered spine of any size that you like; just no spiral bound jobbies, please.

 Here's our subject for today-- a nice hard cover lined journal. First step: remove and set aside your rings; you'll find out why later.
 Measure carefully: this baby measures 5 1/4" x 8 1/4" and is about 1" thick. Add your width x 2 to your spine thusly:
5 1/4 + 1 + 5 1/4 = 11 1/2
add 1/2 inch for each edge overlap so 11 1/2 + 1 = 12 1/12;
this is your cover width.
Take your height and add 1/2 inch for each overlap so
8 1/4 + 1 = 9 1/4; this is your cover height.
 Carefully measure out your covers from old maps, or whatever paper you like. If its too lightweight, however, you will run into trouble. This technique would not work for tissue paper, for example.  You may wish to make a template out of cardboard if you are making more than one or two.
Now trim close to the edges with zigzag scissors, otherwise known as pinking shears. This step may not appear absolutely essential but it will make folding the paper over a lot easier, especially at the corners. And you want your finished product to look neat so don't skip this!
 See, doesn't that look nice?
 Turn over your cover paper (I'm using a vintage National Geographic map) so that it is face downwards. Place your book right side up on the right side of the cover.
 Fold over the paper cover and center your book with more or less equal amounts of overlap for the front and back covers. If you omit this step and don't have it centered, you may not be able to adjust or shift once you lay your book down on the glued surface! (trust me. voice of experience here)
After you have shifted as necessary, draw a registration outline of exactly where your book is placed.

 Now, draw a vertical line close to your spine. This is where you will fold back the edge instead of wrapping it around. A good place to do this is at the indentation or valley right next to the spine. You'll get a feel for it pretty quickly.

 WITHOUT SLIDING THE BOOK BACK AND FORTH, stand it up on its spine...
...and continue to roll it over and place it on its front cover. If you slide it around start over by repositioning at your registration outline, or your measurements will be off.
 Repeat the marking for the other side. Remove your book and clip down those vertical little lines only (but no further!)
 Fold these little tabs back. You should have one on the top and one on the bottom.
Now its glue time! I prefer good old Elmer's and I thin it down with water to the consistency of very runny pancake batter. Certainly you can use Mod Podge for this if you have it. But save some money and use Elmer's.

Paint a solid coat of glue on the righthand side ONLY. Get all the way to the edges. Put a little under your tabs to sick them down. See how the paper is starting to curl up a little? You want that--the paper is relaxing and will thus become very pliable (albeit delicate!) but will be subject to tearing so be careful from here on out.
 Place your book down on the cover paper making sure that the flaps stay pasted down. The spine should hold these flaps down. Slide your book to the registration outline you made previously. Depending on your book's surface and size, this slight shifting or adjusting may or may not be possible so be as precise as you can be in your initial placement.
 OK--almost half way there! Pick up your book and turn over. Gently squeegee out the air pockets. Use your the edge or flat of your whole hand and just smoothly swipe. Here's where rings can press into or even tear the moist paper. Keep swiping to the closest edge until you have most of the large air bubbles chased out. They won't ease or diffuse out on their own so this is your only chance to deal with them. If you are dealing with a real hard cover as in this example I am working with here, then lift the front, unattached paper cover free to give some slack and carefully press the paper down into the valley that runs next to the spine and convince it to adhere and stay there. If you just press it down with no slack it will tear and the cover will be ruined.

Now open the back book cover and lap over the paper edges and stick them down--first the top as shown. Then the sides and then the corners. If they don't stay down, add some more glue. Not too much, though. Neatness counts here.
 Back done! Set your book down and apply glue to the remaining part of the paper cover: the spine portion and the front.
 Repeat your process, but this time adhere your spine first and then wrap around and address the valley as I have done here. Lastly swipe again across the front cover to stick it down and eliminate air bubbles.
Again, fold over margins. Corners should receive a little extra attention. They might not look exactly neat but as long as they stay stuck down you're good. Does it look neat and crisp from the outside? If not, smooth over with your fingers. Do this along all edges including the spine. Remember the paper is moist and pliable now. Later it will set up and be hard and you will be stuck forever with a sticky-outy-part. If you didn't apply enough glue to the edges to get the overlaps to stay down, add a little as needed.
Looks pretty good, eh? Not done yet, though. The whole thing needs to "cure" or dry out thoroughly. And it needs to be weighted down in the process, especially if you are covering cardboard covered books like composition notebooks. If you don't weight them, they will dry all curved up--not at all attractive. This weighting and drying process takes several days.
 Place a section of newspaper on the bottom. Place your book on the newspaper. Insert a sheet of waxed paper (not parchment, but good old fashioned waxed paper) under each cover, front and back. This prevents any excess glue from sticking the book cover to the first page (or the last page). Place another section of newspaper on top of that and put a big dictionary or other heavy book on top of that. Or another covered book, if you have made several. Just interleave with a section of newspaper each time. The newspaper sections help absorb a lot of the moisture from all of that glue. Leave this stack to set up for at least 2 days. Then, remove your weight, the wax paper and check your book. Chances are that it still needs some drying. I usually set them to the side somewhere without newspaper so that air can circulate around the entire book. I still keep a weight on them though as covers tend to keep popping up and warping for another couple of days until they are completely dry (no longer feel cool to the touch; just feel like room temperature.)

And here's the finished product! That cover is really on there, too--it will not peel off no matter what you do.

Now, really: wouldn't you rather write in the Australia journal above than that black boring thing we started out with? I thought so--me too!