Handmade Book

Handmade Book

I told you in my last post that I had created a handmade book from deconstructed screen printed fabric and paper at our retreat. We followed this free tutorial by Jeanne Oliver. She has lots of free content on her site and some wonderful online classes. This is the book I created.

Here’s the book from the front. I used hemp canvas fabric that I had screen printed. The cover was constructed from the hemp canvas, book board and deconstructed screen printed paper.


The book was bound with pamphlet stitch and copper wire. I have created many books with pamphlet stitch but had never used wire. It was a bit tricky but I like the result, plus it’s very sturdy.

Here are the inside front cover (L) and inside back cover (R). I really love the organic feel of the screen printing. I made three signatures and used plaster on canvas pages plus additional pages of various papers and a bit of fabric. The main pages were created with canvas, plaster and gesso.

I didn’t take photos of all the page spreads but wanted to show a range of what was included in the book. The brown paper on the left is a “faux rice paper” that I made with tissue paper, walnut ink and matte medium. The photo on the right shows the inside of the copper wire binding.

These next photos shows a variety of papers that I used in addition to the plaster and canvas pages. Some were painted, some eco printed and I used some specialty rice papers as well.

Here are a few more page spreads. Besides paper, I also added in some hand dyed canvas as well. The book is fun in itself and could probably be left as is. But I want to make it into a book about the forest with sketches, additional ephemera related to trees and whatever else reminds me of the forest. So I will be working on this slowly and adding bits and pieces to it over time.

These are a few of the types of things that I might add. Paula kindly gave me the pieces with definitions and the labels. She has loads of ephemera and is very generous. Thanks Paula! You could easily make this type of book with felt as the cover fabric. I would love to see your results if you give it a try. You can submit photos of your work here and we will post them.

20 thoughts on “Handmade Book

  1. Wow, a fun book Ruth. The colour, texture & random size of the pages is perfect for your forest theme & adding all the ephemera you have, & will, collect.

    1. Thanks Antje, it was fun to put together. And the random, odd page look makes it seem more like a compilation that might have evolved over time as I collected items. So I will see where it goes.

  2. Doesn’t it just show how different we all are? I loved the look of the book from the outside, and then you showed us the inside and I couldn’t understand your ideas at all. I suppose it’s my literal mind getting in the way again.
    I’m glad you told us what you intend to do with the book – things became a little clearer to me then. I can see how some of the pages suggest “trees”.
    Actually, thinking about this reminds me of the early days of school projects. I think I was still in junior school when our class was given the project to learn about trees. The trees I was to learn about were the English Elm, (sadly with us no more because of a disease borne by foreign beetles) and the Wych Elm. I don’t know if the teacher way back then would have approved, but your book would have been just the thing to display all that I had learned about these trees.
    I hope you’ll keep us up to date with how the book evolves. I’ll be fascinated to see your process and the resulting Tree Book, because I have stopped saying “Why” when looking back at your book. (A lesson in not making snap judgements – thanks Ruth)

    1. Thanks Ann, yes, we’re all very different and expectations of what a book should be, are also diverse. It is purposely supposed to look kind of jumbled and Wabi Sabi. I will give updates as I go along and we will see how it evolves. I’m not thinking that earlier school teachers would have been impressed with this type of book. Might be a bit messy 😬.

    1. Thanks Ladies, not sure who would want the “heirloom” but since I am enjoying it, that makes no difference to me. The binding was pretty simple to do, a little fiddly but the results were worth it.

  3. Gosh Ruth, this is sumptuous! I love all the colours and textures in your book. It might have been fiddly to bind but the result was worth it!

  4. Very cool Ruth. I am afraid I can be a bit literal minded too and I think I would need a group like yours to be able to push that aside and just go with it. Maybe its something to do with being an Ann. LOL. I love the binding. I am looking forward to seeing what you do with it. Is book board something special or just really sturdy cardboard.

    1. Thanks Ann, it’s easy to be literal minded. My group definitely helps me push those boundaries and try things that wouldn’t come to my mind either. Book board is a special hard board made for book covers almost like a thin MDF. But you can use a sturdy cardboard, matt board or whatever you have. Or you can buy old, used books that no one wants and take them apart and use their covers.

  5. I love this book, Ruth. It captures so beautifully and creatively snippets of the essence of different trees and tree elements. I’d just love to turn its pages to hear how it crinkles and ponder how you’ve captured the beauty of bark, roots and leaves. Looking forward to seeing what you choose to add.

    1. Thanks Lindsay! I’m glad that you see the “trees”. We’ll see what it becomes. I will give an update when I have added more to the pages.

  6. Ruth, this is exactly the type of book that would give me grabby hands! I love the textures, the colours, how different each page is. It’s exactly the type of “junk journal” (no junk here, though!) I’d love to fill with collages 🙂

    1. Thanks Leonor, it does really beg to be touched. And yes, it is a kind of junk journal using up random pieces of paper and things that remind me of the forest or trees.

  7. This is going to look wonderful with all your additions Ruth. I would love a book like this to fill…..I’m thinking a bit of eco dying, leaf stamping, glycerine preserved leaves as well as sketches, Lino prints, stitched pages, etc, etc! Can’t wait to see what you do with it.

    1. Thanks Karen! Yes, all of those types of things would be wonderful additions. I haven’t had time to start yet but will keep all of those ideas in mind.

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