Teach us how to do something.
How to make a hardcover Japanese side-bound book
(with a beetle)
First, I made templates to make my life easier. Print out the following templates on 8.5 x 11" paper (standard letter size). When printed to scale, this template makes a 2.25 x 3.75" finished book. If it doesn't print right, send me a message and I will send you a PDF version.
To make re-usable templates, first glue (glue sticks work best for this) these to non-corrugated cardboard (paperboard, like that used for cereal boxes), cardstock, or manila folder, and then cut them out, preferably with an x-acto knife and metal ruler. The ones I use here are paperboard mounted. Alternatively, you can use the measurements to make your own.
Next, mark and cut out all of the pieces using the templates:
Outline two "cover papers" using the cover paper template. I like to use a thicker art paper for this, about the thickness of construction paper. This will be your cover, use any color or patterned paper you like!
Cut them out with scissors. The edges will be folded, so if they're cut a bit uneven, it's ok.
Next trace the endpapers, the first and last sheets you see when you open or close a book. Outline four sheets in pencil using the end paper template. These can be fancy, or you can use regular paper (if using regular paper, you don't need to make this extra step). I chose to use an old topographic map for my endpapers.
Cut them out using a metal ruler and x-acto knife if you have them. This will give you the straightest edge. Use a mat underneath to protect your work surface. If you don't have a metal ruler or x-acto knife, you can use a paper cutter or scissors.
Next, cut your book pages (fill paper) using the endpaper template (they will be the same size as the endpapers). I cut these with a paper cutter to save time, but an x-acto knife/ruler or scissors may be used. Cut as many as you want in the book. On this small scale, I tend to use 25-30 sheets (I don't count them ;)
Using the cover board template, trace two outlines on paperboard or cardstock - as long as it's thick, it should be ok.
Cut them out using an x-acto knife and metal ruler if you have them.
Do the same with the spine board template - make two.
Next, punch holes in your endpapers and fill paper. Orient the endpapers as they will appear in the book before punching holes if the orientation matters for the design.
Make sure the edges are straight and clip the papers together with the end & fill paper punch template (your template looks a bit different from the one pictured). Make sure the holes are on the correct side. You can use an awl (a pointy tool, X-acto makes the one pictured above), or a hole punch...
...however, for all but the tiniest books I call in the big guns and use a Japanese screw punch. If you decide to make a lot of books, buy this tool. It's expensive, but worth it!
Next, take the cover board punch template and line it up with one of the cover papers you cut. The cover paper should be face down.
Fold the tabs over the template as evenly as possible.
The tab that goes over the spine will need to be trimmed a smidge so the cover can be articulated more freely.
If you can see the line above when this tab is folded, you have trimmed it enough.
Get ready to glue! For the covers, I like to use this non-toxic craft glue. If your paper is thick enough, it does not wrinkle the paper. Gather your cover boards and spine boards.
Place a thin layer of glue across the surface of one of the cover boards.
Place it glue side down on the cover paper using the folds as placement guides. Also make sure to align it on the side with the larger tab.
Next, do the same for the spine board, creating a gap between the two boards. The gap is where the covers will bend. Repeat this for the second cover.
Then place a thin layer of glue on a tab.
Fold the tab over the boards and press it firmly in place. Do this for all of the tabs. If the tabs pop back up, place a book on top of the covers until the glue dries. One of the reasons I like the craft glue is that the tabs do not pop back up.
The insides of your covers should look like this when you're done.
Next, punch holes in the covers using the cover board punch template. Line up the holes on the spine.
Punch the holes with what you have available.
To articulate the covers, carefully fold them using the gap to create a crease. They will look like this.
Next, glue the endpapers to the insides of the covers, lining up the holes. A glue stick is best for this. (The covers can also be punched after gluing the endpapers in place if you prefer).
When the glue is dry, gather your papers exactly as they will appear in the book.
Line up all the holes and clip them in place. Paper padding can be used to prevent the clip from denting your book. You're ready to sew!
You can use string, twine, cord, anything long that will fit through the holes. I am using raffia. Wrap your string around the cover about 3-4 times and cut it. This is the amount you will need with a generous amount of slack.
Thread a needle (or poke it through somehow) through the top hole, starting from the back to the front.
Leave a generous slack line. You will need this to knot the string later.
Next, take your main line and wrap it around the top of the cover, and thread it through the same hole again, leaving the slack line in place.
Then take the main line, wrap it around the side of the cover, and thread it through the same hole for the third time. Pull it tight without shortening the slack line.
Then take your main line and thread it through the second hole from the front.
Pull it tight, then wrap it around the bottom edge of the cover and thread it through the second hole again.
Wrap it around the side and thread it through the second hole for a third time (you are basically repeating the steps you did for the first hole).
Side view of the threading.
The front will look like this.
Flip it over and the back should look like this. Tighten everything up.
Thread the needle under the "side stitch" of the top hole and pull it tight.
Using this line and the slack line, make a knot. In fact, make a few knots to hold it in place.
Trim the string to about a quarter inch from the knots.
Place glue on the knot. You can also glue the end pieces down, or poke them into the top hole and glue them there. I like to use this school glue gel for the knot. It's strong and dries clear. You may need to hold down the strings until the glue gets tacky. Alternatively, if you use string or twine, you can rub the length of the string with wax (prior to any sewing) and this will hold the knot once you've finished, no glue needed.
Once the glue dries, your book is finished and you can add any decorations you want.
When I created the gold paper case in the photo above, I also made these tiny stencils for the painting. I decided to use those stencils to paint the Pasimachus beetle and leaf design on my book. Pasimachus are predatory ground beetles (and super cool). Some folks keep them as pets.
I start by painting the leaves. I'm using acrylic craft paint.
Next, I paint the beetle's body.
Only the body is stenciled, I have to free hand the legs, antennae, and the outlining (pictured below).
The outlining details are added with gold ink. Once this dries, I will add a clear coat of varnish on the painted portions to help protect the artwork.
Send me photos of yours!