The lovely Kate from Whittakers Miniatures asked:
I love making books Susan but half the time my method always seems to take forever and Im always wondering if there are easier ways!! Open and closed books would be a good question and answer, how people cut their paper, age it, do the covers, even to how to make mini proper book covers with front, back and spine images.
Books are so very versatile. The can be used in almost any setting and time period from Ancient to Modern. They are the kind of detail that adds dimension and depth to a miniature setting and they are not hard to make.
Book can be a variety of sizes also. Medieval or magical setting can handle books of a much larger scale than an 18th century or more modern setting.
They can be covered with paper, leather, faux leather or cloth; be open or closed; single or stacked.
One of the best miniature closed book tutorials that I have seen was done by Kris Compass from 1 Inch Minis. Suffice it to say, I use my own adaptation of her technique now whenever I make books.
Can you believe that I used to cut strips of paper and then make individual pages and then glue the binding??!! Took forever! And the pages were never even…..
The tutorial is in 2 parts with a very informative addendum about printies for pages.
Printies for pages read through the comments on this one for important information!
Here is an example of some books I made using the technique. I used scrapbook paper or paper I printed from the internet. Some of the “leather look” is actually a scrapbook paper I found at JoAnn’s. Some is real leather from old wallets or gloves from the thrift store. For the edging, it is really important to use extremely thin leather.
To get the coloration on the edges (I didn’t want white), I used a stamp pad with either a gold or champagne ink or an “old paper” or “tea dye” ink. The last two are by Tim Holz. I like those for aging paper. I did that before I attached the cover. The stamp pad ink allows the pages to be opened whereas paint or marker will make them stick together. Your choice.
These books open but have blank pages. The largest (a ledger) is about 7/8 inch longer x 5/8 inch wide.
Of course, sometimes, you don’t want the pages even and you want your books bigger and a little less “nice” looking. Here is an example of some of the Magical books I’ve made. They are thicker, wider and a whole lot dirtier. I used a less delicate leather on all of these and then did all manner of things to it to age the leather. I sanded, inked, stained, re-sanded, re-stained….until I was satisfied. I also used chalks and sometimes plain old dirt. These pages of these books tend not to open because I have used a gold paint on the edges.
However, I have made open books.
I start with the same book “blank”, attach the cover and then press the book open, usually in the middle. If you have glued the binding sufficiently, it should not fall apart. For open books, I used paper that has been aged to a cream or tan color. I’ll often put a bookmark ribbon done the center by gluing a piece of silk ribbon into the binding at the top and then draping it over the page.
You can make the two “printed” pages several ways. I usually print out whatever I want on a pre-tea stained piece of parchment or tracing paper. Then I cut it to size and glue it over the blank page. The parchment pretty much disappears. Or you can just add two printed pages (same paper as the book) to the center with glue and press them back. Then add the silk ribbon. It will be necessary to weight the book in the open position for a while to keep it from closing. I press it between two pieces of thin wood with spring clothes pins.
Of course, there are other ways to make books…
When I was filling this bookcase, I cut foamcore to size, painted the edges with gold paint and covered them with scrapbook paper. They cannot be removed from the bookcase.
These books in Professor Pimm’s study are made from balsa wood cut to size. The edges were stained with a wood stainstick and lightly gilded. Then they were covered with thin leather.
You can add paper details to the leather covers easily. One trick I learned to make the paper look like part of the leather is to rub it lightly with petroleum jelly (just a teensy dab) and buff it with a cloth. It soaks into the paper and makes it somewhat translucent.
If you are even the least bit computer literate, you can reduce and print out covers and text for your mini books. Of course, on the smallest sizes, it will not be legible so it really just depends on what your final goal is.
So that’s what I know. What about you?
Is there something you’ve learned while trying to make your mini books?
Is there something I’ve missed that you have some questions about?
Do you have any suggestions or know of another good book tutorial?
I'm waiting to hear from you.....