Your miniature questions are welcome here!

The original Miniatures Question and Answer Blog was the brain child of Nikki Rowe from Witch and Wizards Miniatures. Lately, she realized that she was spreading herself way too thin to continue doing all the things she's involved with well.

Since we all wait in anticipation of what awesome item she'll create next and we all want her to concentrate on making those fabulous mini's that we love, I have agreed to take over the responsiblity of the Miniature Question and Answer blog.

Format is the same. Once a week, on Sunday or Monday, a new question will be posted, researched and, with any luck, answered. You are all welcomed and encouraged to comment with your own answers and suggestions.

If you have a miniature related question you'd like investigated, the best way is to send me an e-mail.

But you can also put it in the comments section as a suggestion for the following week and, hopefully, I'll find it.

Nikki will be deleting the original blog so you will have to "re-follow" here, but I have saved all the questions...and answers and comments and they will be the subject of the first post.

Sounds like fun, eh?



Monday, October 25, 2010

You Can't Tell a Book by it's Cover....

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.....


Michelle's Mad World said...

Between me and my Mum we've made loads of books. I use aged airmail paper for the pages as I find this looks the best, but parchment (as you stated) has been used too. I have also wetted the aged air mail paper and then allowed to dry to crinkle and age it too! I have also used old and no longer readable paper backed books (I know lots of peeps use these too).

I always make a fine cardboard spine for my books and this glued to the leather, to create ridges in the spine I've used a tiny fine stripe of card or thread stuck to inside the cover and before the spine goes on top. I cut the pages before I glue them into the cover, but you can trim them in situ too.

To make shapes under the cover of a book I use FIMO and bake and then place under the leather and then mould the leather over the clay. I nearly always seal the cover with PVA, but making the covers rock hard is still a technique I am perfecting! lol

Balsa wood is great for dummy books, but you can score the wood with very fine lines to create pagers and then colour with a light brown wash for age etc. and then add your cover.

I have used a few different techniques to make books, but it's hard to describe without a photo or too! lol

Michelle xx

Eliza said...

Michelle, I soaked leather and baked it in the microwave when I needed to make a pirate hat, and it turns quite solid. I wouldn't try it in the family microwave, but if you can find one at the thrift store, this seems like a technique that could work for book covers like you described.

My readable books are all done on Microsoft PowerPoint, because I still haven't mastered any real image-editing software (sad but true). Unfortunately, this means that all my tricks are pretty useless for anyone else, since they are really just complicated methods to fool a simple program into doing things it wasn't meant to do.

Whittaker's Miniatures said...

Beautiful Books and Info Susan and Great tips Michelle I wondered how you got those spooky faces in the leather books! I havnt tried parchment, always just tea stained paper or cheat and use old books from charity shops and score and cut several layers at a time. Being for witches and wizards it then dosnt matter if they arnt straight as I burn the edges anyway!
Its getting that open 'being read' look I love to get on open books but it takes me an age. I've tried pushing the pages back with my fingers to get them to give that layered look instead of lying flat which dosnt look realistic and I spray it with spray mount while in position but it dosnt always work and takes ages to get right. Id love to find an easier way to do the books. Thanks for the Q&A Susan Im sure there will be loads of great tips and advice! Kate xxx

Janice said...

Lots of useful information here ladies. Thank you.

I have also tried to make books curls at the edges, Kate is very good at this, but after a while they lose their curl. Should I coat them in PVA to keep the curled look?

Janice said...

An idea for future posts?

Paint washing techniques, especially with regards exterior paper clay treatments - stone, aging, render etc.

Every time I try this I seem to end up with a finish that is exactly the same colour I have just applied. I do not get any definition or shading at all.

Tabitha Corsica said...

Janice, I'd say that one would need "something" to set the curl. The paper (or leather) wants to stay straight and will always try to go back to the original "flatness". You could try spritzing with water. Once dry (and curled), I'd spray with a matte finish (think hairspray to keep the curl in your hair!). Coat of pva would also probably do the trick but the curl will relax from the dampness of the pva so you'd have to secure it until it's dry.

Tabitha Corsica said...

Kate, there may not be an "easier" way to get that open book look your referring to. Open a real book and lay it in front of you...see how the pages fall. To get your mini book to do this (and have the pages stay!), you'll need to secure them in some way. It might be as simple as a dot of glue one the underside of the pages. Tedious? Perhaps, but it will look fab in the end!

Whittaker's Miniatures said...

Thanks Susan thats the way I did it first time on books I made for Nikki and Debbie and it took even longer hence trying the spray glue! There must be a way, I konw Ericka makes her books in this style but obvioulsy alot of miniaturists like to keep their tricks of the trade secret. Also you may be able to use the spray glue on the books edge to curl them up?I know I curled mine when I made the book stacks but cant for the life of me remember how I did it , I never write things down! xxx

Tabitha Corsica said...

Kate, I find that "tricks" of the trade are merely the result of a lot of trial and error. Try something...see what works and what doesn't...try something else. Important to keep notes of the results, though ! :-)

When I first attempt some new technique, there is always a "prototype" .... and I keep that as a reminder. I have a little spiral bound notecard book where I keep information I am likely to forget...which is most of it, I'm afraid. I'd suggest to try different fixatives and see what works best for you. Such things available in the US may not be available in the UK. Improvisation may be necessary.

Unless, EV makes a comment here, we'll probably not know the answer (unless you'd like to ask her directly? ;-/ ) And still, how well the technique works is often based on the specific skill of the creator of the item.

It's like making scones. I have my mother's recipe but mine are just not like hers.

nikkinikkinikki72 said...

I dont know how i missed this post.
I use tissue paper and make it look leather (ish)
First off i make a cardboard cover just a little bigger than my blank page inserts. I make the folds for the spine at this point too.
I scrumple up the tissue paper, open, scrumple, open, scrumple so its really tatty and scrunched.
I then open it but so its still a little crumpled up. I apply glue to the back of the book cover and press down onto the scrumpled tissue paper.
Its tissue paper like whats in shoe boxes or used inside gift boxes etc.
The i cut the tissue paper all around the carboard so its about 5mm bigger. First i glue the corners down, then start on all the other four edges, glueing down.
If it's for a closed book while the glue is still wet i fully close the book and insert a temporary wooden block and leave the cover to fully dry.
I then paint the book to my chosen colour with a mix of acrylic paint and pva, stippling it a little here and there, and running the brush right over the folds on the inside, then let it dry. I then dry brush the edges to make them look old and dab on a varnish so its a tiny bit shiny like real leather. I sometimes dry brush the whole book to enhance the leather creases etc. Theni just glue the page insert on the spine on the inside.
You can do as michelle does abover with a face or the spine before the tissue goes on. Because its tissue it will allow for more details with whats underneath showing through.
For an open book i do the same as above but dont close the book and leave it open to dry at the first few stages.I shape it and curve the front and back leaf so its more realistic.

nikkinikkinikki72 said...

Forgot to say to make the pages stay curled at the edge it is just a case of dots of glue on the underside.
Use a cocktails stick and curl each corner as desired. then its a case of just lots of glue dots. E6000 is best and is easy to concela on the undersides. Say the tope thre pages you just need to do this with, the other can be curled and shaped but no need to glue them to make them stand out. For all the bottom pages just put a glue dot in the centre of reach page.

Whittaker's Miniatures said...

Great tips Nikki I wondered why I hadnt seen you here with your great books!
Will definatly try the tissue. How do you do the faces, etc, havnt you done mushrooms etc on bookfronts? Do you have to make fimo ones then add the tissue over the top. Also keep meaning to ask you why do you add PVA to your paint? I must get me some of that glue too, will have to google where to get it. I spend ages with UHU on the books trying to get them shaped to look open but not flat! I seem to get more on my fingers than on the books sometimes and then if I get dirty glue on the pages it looks awful and I end up binning them! Kate xxxx

nikkinikkinikki72 said...

Hi Kate. Yes make what goes under the tissue with fimo, or even found objects such as charms. The mushrooom books i made with fimo and tissue. The dragon books were made the same way, but the fimo over the tissue cover.
I never have a lot of craft stuff because the money i earn has to pay for food, so i have to get inventive with what i have and always have pva, so ive just learned loads of stuff with it.
Just found ways to use it in loads of stuff.
I used it mixed into paint for the book covers, (say half and half) so the paint is not dry and chalky looking when the book is dry... give it a more glossy look. It also stops the paint cracking when the cover is opened and closed for assembly and shaping etc. It also makes it stronger.
Ive tried various brancds of pva ad stick only to the one from hobbycraft with the red label... just craft pva its called if you get some.
Ive found other makes yellow over time or cause discolouration in work.
When you glue the actual book against the spine use some tacky glue becaise its makes life easier and adheres really fast.
I also like pva mixed into paint for stippling and texture. It just gives the paint more body.

nikkinikkinikki72 said...

Kate, if you go on ebay and do a search under bible book in the dolls house section it brings up some that are in a matal gold casing with a cross on the front. The book inside those is really thick, and 3 medium thick books or two nice big thick books can be made from them. The book in the casing measures 3.2cm x 2.7cm and come out ever so easily just losing one page from the back in doing so. The pages are really lovely and thin too. There is text on the inside but you could for an open book just replce the two top pages showing with something you have made or printed off.
I find bibles great for making spooky books, but this type is thinnest sheets ive found.
There is also another bible a bit smaller in an orage and black paper cover, the pages are blank.
When mixed with the much smaller blanks blooks also available on etsy you can make nice different sized stacked books and save the bother of making the inserts.