Friday, August 25, 2017

Making Books for Craft Projects

Please join me on my new blog - where this project is included with many more already added. Thank you. I hope to see you there.

I've experimented with making houses on book bases ever since I started making little houses. I find it a little difficult to make a book out of a box, but I like it so much when it works. The hardest ones are the ones where the book has to open - a real challenge. That is why I am so excited about finally ordering Eileen Hull's journal die (but it is not here yet). I am hoping that it will seriously simplify book-making.

I wrote this post to go along with Stamps and Stencils monthly challenge "Technique School" where you make a lesson for others to follow from your project. My lesson is on making decorative books for crafting. The description in the lesson is not for books that open, just books to be used as a base for a craft project.

Here a few photos of previous experiments in making "books":

This may be the first book I made. I like the rounded spine on this one. The embossing is pretty good too. I didn't merge the house to the book very well though. I think it works better on the project I just finished. 
Another one of my first books.
"The Owl's Wisdom" - not a house, but a pretty cool book made in 2016.

I just love the inside of this "book". The house has a hole in the back so you can add a light to make the windows light up. The cover is shown below.

This current house is made from a box my brother thoughtfully saved for me. It is a very sturdy box so I made a drawer that opens. My stenciling is inside the drawer. You can see the stamping for the title.

I've scrolled through all my photos since I have been making little houses and I did not find any good process photos of how to make a book, but I can describe some of the most important details which you can see in the "books" above. This will be my lesson for technique school.

Brief Overview:
1. Get a good box sized for your book.
2. Make cover
3. Round corners of cover
4. Make spine of book, best if curved slightly.
5. Make pages of the book, scored and distressed.
6. Glue pages to the inside box forming the main structure of the book.
7. Add title to the spine

Try to find a box that is a good size for a book. I have family members and co-workers always scoping out boxes for me. They know the sizes I am looking for (basically the size of a book you can hold comfortably). Whenever anyone gets an iPad or iPhone and they don't want their box, they know to save it for me.

Make covers out of thicker cardboard which are in turn covered with a "booklike paper" either embossed, wrinkled to look like leather, painted to look like leather or canvas.  I use corrugated cardboard for the covers. Sometimes I emboss the covers depending on the size, sometimes I wrinkle cardstock to look like leather, or on the Old Book House above, I used a canvas paper that looks like linen. The covers need to be slightly larger than the body of the book (your cardboard box as a base). Don't glue your covers to the box until you have made the "pages" on the edge of the box.

Round the corners of the cover. I always round the corners of the cover because an old book generally has rounded, broken down a little bit corners.  Distress them more if you want the book to look old. I used Picket Fence distress paint on the book above to age it a little bit.

The spine looks best if curved slightly but it is harder to glue on if you do that. I didn't do it on the Old Book House because I was in a hurry to finish this project. The first photo with the Triple Gable house on a blue book shows the best spine that I've done. It is nicely curved and adhered.

Lightweight cardstock or even regular paper makes the pages of the book - score it to look like the signatures (the section of the pages that are bound together). I always score them a regular intervals at first, then slightly move the paper to score again with a more irregular pattern.

Age the pages with stains, inks, coffee or tea. I usually use Antique Linen and Vintage Photo distress stains and spray.

Be sure to score before staining. The paper gets a little weaker after the stain and will tear more readily when you score if you stain first. Also it is not as flat and is harder to score after that.

Glue the paper scored to look like pages around your cardboard base. Avoid seams in the middle of the pages. The seams of your scored paper have to be at the edges. After you have glued the pages to the box is the time to glue on the covers. Inset the box a little bit so it looks like a real book. I set mine in too much I think. If I make a book to stand up like on "The Owl's Wisdom" book the bottom of the box lines up with the covers so it will stand up better.

Pick at title. On old books the titles are printed perpendicular to length of the spine, but since most of mine are on their sides as a base for a house, I make the titles lengthwise along the spine. Adding a band of cardboard the matches the book color and texture sets off the title better.

That's my lesson for Stamps and Stencils "Technique School" challenge which is a really cool challenge. I look forward to reading all the other lessons.


  1. I'm not sure if my other comment posted because I'm technically illiteratešŸ˜œ
    I'm so excited to find your blog-I've just recently gotten the Tim Holtz village dies and I've kind of gotten obsessed with house making. Will be following along, as your projects are amazing!

  2. Lucy...these books are awesome and so it your tutorial! You did an amazing job on these! You are very very creative and your work is always amazing!

  3. Fabulous book-houses... the spooky weathered boards on the first one are so cool.
    Alison x

  4. Love the books you have made and they do make wonderful bases for your houses. Thanks for all the tips and thanks for joining us at Stamps and Stencils.

  5. Great tutorial Lucy. You make it seem so easy. I love your books!

  6. Lovely and detailed technique! I absolutely applaud all of your little houses! Each is so different and I would love in anyone of the houses! The Happy Halloween sentiment on the side of the book is from Tim Holtz?

    You are correct, I do hats, you do houses! Now I am thinking of a hat with a house on it!

  7. Yes, the Happy Halloween sentiment on the book is a Tim Holtz Stampers Anonymous stamp embossed in princess gold. It's from a set called "Apothecary" CMS138. A hat with a house on it would be really fun. I'd like to see that.

  8. brilliant make - I love all of your ideas and tips - thanks for joining us at stamps and stencils this month! Hugs rachel x

  9. Lucy, I really enjoyed reading your process. The drawer in the book was such a great idea! You are so clever and creative! I hoard good boxes and need to put them to better use. You've inspired me! Hugs, Autumn