Hand Bookbinding 101: Jotter Journals. How to make a unique exercise book - fast and easy | Hilke Kurzke | Skillshare

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Hand Bookbinding 101: Jotter Journals. How to make a unique exercise book - fast and easy

teacher avatar Hilke Kurzke, Book Artist, Printmaker, Writer, Bookbinder

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Slightly Dry Start: Tools and Materials


    • 3.

      Exciting Start: Making the First Jotter


    • 4.

      Soft Covers


    • 5.

      Hard Covers


    • 6.

      Goodbye (and final tip)


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About This Class

Making your own books is really fun, it is a great way to individualize your stationery, and it can be quick and cheaper than buying products that in the end might even be of much lower quality.

In this introductory class to Western bookbinding we will start with making a small booklet. When you look at the shelf of a book store and see all the commercially bound books, you probably wouldn't guess how many different ways of binding a book there are. And even when binding just a small volume like we are going to do here, there are still many different ways of how to do it. In this course I am going to cover one of the most important and most basic ways to do it, a method called "3-hole binding". This technique is important both on its own, and as a stepping stone towards binding more substantial volumes.

As books go, the book(s) that you will create following this course can have many uses: It could be an excercise book, but of course you could use it as a journal to carry around, to fill with drawings, poetry, shopping lists, random thoughts, your shopping receipts, and whatnot. It could be used to doodle in it while in a boring meeting or on the phone. Or it could be a guest book at a party, or accompany you on your next crafts market to let people subscribe to your newsletter, it could be a sticker album, or to take notes in your next skillshare class...

Meet Your Teacher

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Hilke Kurzke

Book Artist, Printmaker, Writer, Bookbinder


Hilke Kurzke is a book artist, writer, printmaker and book binder.

If you would like to know more about me and have a look at some of my works, why don't you head over to my website and blog here: http://kurzke.co.uk

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Level: Beginner

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1. Welcome: Hello. Welcome to my studio and to this class on how to make jotter journals. Now jotter journal obviously is a very informal term. I like to call them that because the structure is so easy and quick to make. I make them all the time and literally just make them if I have some ideas I want to jot down. Technically what I'm going to teach you is a three whole pamphlets dish, which is a very versatile structure and you can make books with a lot of different appearances with the same structure, and we're going to work our way in this class here from very humble beginnings to a more sophisticated binding. The final class project will look somewhat like this, a hardcover journal with leather or fabric spine. It depends really on you what you prefer and I'm going to show you both. This class is suitable for anyone who can safely use sharp blades and knifes. You don't need to know anything about bookbinding to make the final class project. You need some more specialized tools and some materials that you might have to buy. But even if you don't want to commit to this right now, I still invite you to join us for our first simple jotters, which can be made just from anything you already have in the house. I'm sure you'll just find something to make this book. So I hope you'll join me and I hope you'll enjoy bookbinding. 2. Slightly Dry Start: Tools and Materials: What you can see on this table here is more than you'll need to finish this class project. Let's start with the basic materials. Here is some paper for the inside pages. You can use all kinds of paper for your book block. This is industrially made paper, this is handmade papers, this is all fine. Because we want to give our book hard covers we need some board. We're going to use gray board, which you can buy at a craft store in different thicknesses. Just take something that suits the size of the book you're going to make. We're covering this in decorative paper, and the spine will be made with either a thin leather or with book fabric. You can buy book fabric again in art supply store or in a craft store. It usually comes in solid colors and has a paper backing and can be used just like paper. To glue all these materials to our board we'll need glue. Book binders glue is a special PVA that dries clear and has the right acidity level to ensure longevity of your book. If you have it, great, if you don't, then also other white craft glue or glue stick or double sided tape will also do for this class. We're also going to use starch paste, which is my favorite glue by far. You're going to have to make this on your own. The recipe you find if you go to Your Project and then on the right-hand side there's a recipe to download. To cut your materials, you'll need a sharp knife and a steel edge to cut against. I like these craft knives where you can break off a part of the knife and always have a sharp blade. You'll also need a paper knife which is blunt. You'll need a needle for sewing. If you're using a sharp bookbinding needle, you don't necessarily need to know, although I prefer to use one. This one here is my favorite one. It has just a sharp bookbinding needle attached to the shaft of a paper scalpel. But all you can buy will do. This one here, for example, was advertised for sewing, this one for pottery, this for leather working. It all works. You'll need a pair of scissors to clip your thread. For thread, I would recommend starting with a waxed linen thread, but this is sometimes hard to get by and not necessarily cheap. For this first project, you could also just use any thread you think will look good on your book, even some wool if you want to. If your thread doesn't come with a wax finish, you might just want to give it a finish yourself. You can buy these wax blocks and just with high-speed, you run your thread over it and it has a wax coating that will make your life much easier. You might want to use a bonefolder. They come in different shapes and sizes made from different materials. This one is bone, this one is teflon. Some are made from wood. You are going to use a brush to spread your glue. You'll need a weight to dry your book under. When you're using viel you need something that will take the tip of the needle while you're punching, I'm using a mouse pad. You could also use folded up kitchen towel for this. When making any cuts, you need a self-healing cutting mat which is really the best to use for this purpose. Alternatively, you could use some cardboard and after each cut you shift it a bit to the right so that your knife doesn't catch in the grove. I think that's all. Let's tidy this away and let's get started. 3. Exciting Start: Making the First Jotter: It's time to make our very first jotter. Let's keep things simple for the start. For this first book, use any paper you have in the house. I'm going to use office paper here, both for the inside pages and for the cover. I'm also going to use a paper knife. You'll need thread and needle. You'll also need a null and something to protect your table while you're using it. This is up to now. I am going to use a paper scalpel and a ruler, and if you want to use that you also need a cutting mat. The very first step in all bookbinding is always to determine the grain direction of all materials involved in this case the book block. Take one sheet of your chosen paper and gently, not really folded, bend it over and just experience the resistance the paper is giving you. You can notice that in one direction, this one here in my case, is less resistant to folding than in the other. This will be our grain direction. For me, it's very obvious while I'm handling the paper, but especially in the beginning, it's not always obvious, and also sometimes you come across a paper for which it's hard to tell. We are going to make this visible. I am wetting this now from one side only and it immediately curls up. The direction in which this stays straight is the fiber direction. Paper for which the fiber direction is parallel to the long side like it is here, is called a long grain-paper. Paper where the fiber direction is parallel to the short side is called short-grain paper. The spine of a book needs to be parallel with the fiber direction, and thus from long-grain paper, we can make tall and thin books. The spine has to be here so that by wetting the paper the pages curl like this, which might seem unpleasant, but it doesn't pull on the binding. You can pull a book apart if it's bound cross-grain by wetting it. This is not really a pleasant format for a jotter. We're going to cut the paper in half like this, because the fiber direction of course is still like this. This sheet of paper would now be short-grain. The fiber direction is parallel to the short side, and so we can make a book from it like this. This will turn out to be an A6 book. The next thing to do is cut our pages to size. This next step is to cut our pages to size, each sheet needs to be folded and cut individually. Make your first corner than enforce the fold with the fleshy part of your finger, put your paper knife flat on the table, and pull the knife towards you rather than to this edge where you want to cut. Like this. Now we have the first two sheets of paper that will form our book block. You could make it anything between four and let say 12. Let's make it 10 for the start. So you cut four more sheets of paper in half. Next, we fold our stack of papers to form the book spine. I like to do this for all sheets of paper at the same time. Drop them a bit to get the stack straight and then find roughly the middle fold it to the front. There you have this arrow shape which is called the creep, hold it down, and then again with the fleshy part of your finger, enforce that fold. If you are using a shop bookbinding needle, you can simply start with a sewing. We're going to pre-punch holes to make our life that tiny bit easier. With the hole make a first hole about a finger width from the top and then also from the bottom, and then I just eye-ball the middle. You could of course measure. Then thread your needle. You need a length of thread that's about twice the length between your outer holes plus a bit for knotting. Start at the middle hole. You could go from inside to outside or the other way round. I want the knot on the inside so I am putting it here. The end goes to the inside. Then I go to one of the outer holes, skip the middle through the other hole that's still free, and back in the middle. Don't pierce the thread that's already there. That would weaken the binding. Now make sure the ends are on both sides of the spinning thread here, such that the knot we're now making holds the spinning thread down, and this is just a simple double knot. We're cutting the thread. This is the binding down of our first jotter. Now there are some ways in which you can make it a bit more beautiful. So for once we have this creep here, which we're now going to cut off. I'm just using the grid of my cutting mat to align my ruler here. When cutting paper like this, don't press too hard with your scalpel. Now this is a bit better, and looks a bit more finished. Finally, you could decorate this a bit so that it looks more like a cover. I like to cut my own stamp. So this is my jotter. 4. Soft Covers: Now that you know how to make a basic jotter, I'll show you how to add a soft cover. In this case, I chose some heavier paper. Make sure your grain direction is parallel to the spine. I cut it to the same height as the jotter, and it's a bit longer in this direction. I remove the sewing here. Of course, if you plan this you would not start sewing in the first place. Insert your jotter into the cover. Using the holes in the jotter as a guide, I pre-punch holes in my cover, then I just sew like we did before. To cut this, I just align the steel ruler with the text block. If it still had the creep and I wanted to keep it, then I would just put the steel ruler down a bit forward in front of the page that's creeping forward the most. If it still had the creep and I wanted to cut it off, then I would just cut like this and cut it all at the same time. Now is the time to get creative with your soft covers. Just try out where the limits lie. Find different materials, experiment with all your card making skills to decorate your paper or cardboard covers. You can use leather. Like this, I used the cows leather with the hair still on. This can look appealing, or maybe it's disgusting. You can use an imitation leather, of course. You can use all foam materials and fleas, stuff like that. This here, for example, has a fabric spine, but this is nothing new. I just glued a bit of bookbinding fabric to my paper and then sew through it. This also has a different format, a landscape format. Do try to experiment with that, see how you can cut your pages to interesting shapes. Also, this is something I don't hear myself saying very often, I encourage you to try and experiment with binding jotters across grain. Take some A4 office paper and make an A5 booklet from it, and just see how it moves and share your experiences here in the community forum if you want to and I'm going to show you my own experience with that. When my twins were still small, we used to keep a diary for them to make sure they both got the medicines they needed and not one of them twice or something. I bound these jotters where we would note this down and they got wet a lot because they were on the counter where we're preparing milk and stuff like that. This here was bound across grain. You can see that how it moves, its a bit stiff. It worked. We used the desert journal and I can even use it now, the binding didn't fail. This here, by comparison, was bound with the grain. You can see that I can flip through it and it moves much more pleasantly. I'm looking forward to seeing your results, I hope you'll share them in the My Project section or in the community section. Show us where she can come up with. 5. Hard Covers: In this lecture, we're finally getting serious about bookbinding and we're going to make our first hot cover doctor journal. I'm going to assume that you have a folded book block ready. If you don't pause this video here and make one right after folding, you're left with the crip with this arrow shape at the front edge of your book block. You can leave it like that if you want to. If you want your book without this creeps you out, you can cut it off like we did it before with a straight edge and a sharp knife. Then we're going to make our covers. To do that we'll have to cut all the materials to the correct size to begin with. You will find all the measurements you need compiled in a file for you, if you go to my projects on the right-hand panel there supplier called measurements. Because they're now in the file I'll talk very little about exact measurements and when I do I'm talking about centimeters don't let this scare you, in this file there is centimeters and inches. Let's go over to the work table and get started with the cutting. The next thing to do is to cut the cardboard covers, and for this we take our cardboard and we determined grain direction like we always do for all materials. For cardboard it's quite obviously usually in which direction it's folds more easily this was this one here and you take your finished block to mark its width on the board and then with a straight edge and a sharp knife fusing the crip of your cutting made, you make a nice square, cut here and cut the length of board that has the same width as the book block. This is what you need to cut your size before you can proceed. We need two pieces of covering board, fiber direction parallel to the spine. You need your book block fiber direction parallel to the spine. You need two spine pieces either of fabric or of leather. I'm going to do both to show you how each is glued. A tall spine piece that's taller than your board, and just small spine piece that's smaller than your board, fiber direction parallel to the spine. For fabric it can be hard to determine the fiber direction so wet it, and make sure it calls in the right direction. You need paper for the outside covers which is taller than the boards, and you need some for the inside pages which is smaller than the boards. I also prepared this for the later spine. The paper well, just now so I just put it to this side. I have here my two covers I already checked they are really square. Thing to do is to mark off 1.5 centimeters from the spine and just make a mark here at the top and at the bottom on both covers. Then I take the larger spine piece and I glue it up for the glue. I'm using here a one to one mixture of book binders glue and pace. I'm trying to get a really nice and straight lineup, and now I'm putting this down such that the mark on the top and bottom coincides with the edge of this fabric here. You can't glue metal to fabric with this glue. I can safely put this down to use as a guide to make sure this comes down, straight. This is down, straight. Turn this over and fold it over and then you use a bone folder to get this really into the groove here. That's the cover up until here you will now use a pair of scissors to clip off this stray pieces of thread. Again I start with glowing up with same paste and book binders glue mixture. Makes sure with a brush you go over the edge of the paper so that it's ready covered up to the edge. Just a bit, and this leaves a mark in my glue which helps me, and now I'm cutting this at an 45-degree angle just outside this mark. First fold over the short sides both side, and then the other make sure you don't get air bubbles here over the edge of the board. Now comes the neat tricks you take the fingernail and you press down into this corner so that it comes forward a bit and really lines the board. Now it looks like this. Then I do the same on the other side. I'm going to dry this under awake now and continue with the leather cover. For leather, the first thing you do is wet it slightly so because the paste stiffens up the leather and you don't want it to penetrate too much. This is the cover for our leather journal. Done. Again this dries now under a weight for a while. When your cover whether it's leather or fabric, it doesn't matter is finished you just proceed like you did before. You fold it a half. Insert your hyper into the middle, center it, make it nice. Just to be sure before you punch that you really have everything in the middle, it's all nice and centered. This is your leather journal. There you have 6. Goodbye (and final tip): I hope you enjoy this Skillshare class on how to make jotter journals. I made a lot of them while filming this class, I hope you make some too and enjoy the process. I do hope you will use them also in the future. If anything was unclear and you got stuck, please do ask me. Three whole pamphlet bindings are not the only type of jotters you can make. This here for example is a tuckered binding. Something on my agenda, maybe my next class will be on tuckered bindings. I have other things in mind. I do hope you enjoy this and if you did, please do follow me here on Skillshare and I hope I can welcome you to my next class. See you then. One more thing I meant to tell you, you can use the same method to build larger volumes. This here for example, are two jotters bound side by side into the same cover. This is especially attractive if you have a soft leather cover and you just sow one jotter beside the other, make it eight or 10 and you have a real chunky book at some wrap around closure and you have a nice medieval looking journal.