In Oak Meadow’s Third Grade curriculum, students make their own books with marbled paper covers, which they can use for writing stories, reports, or journaling. Exploring the art and craft of bookmaking imparts a sense of purpose to the written word, and gives students an appreciation of the beauty of language. Words become more than just marks on a page; they become worthy of care and intention. They become a journey as well as a destination. Make a book of your own and see where your writing will take you.
Binding a Book is a very simple process. After you have learned the basic process, experiment with making books of all sizes and thicknesses; the range of possibilities is endless. Older students might want to go one step further and make handmade paper, adding bits of flower petals, grass, or leaves to give each page texture, color, and distinctive individuality. Calligraphy can be used to hand letter the cover (or the whole book, for the more ambitious!). You might want to make several books to give as gifts.
To begin, fold the ten sheets of paper in half, so that it makes a “book” that measures 5½" x 8½". Next, poke seven holes evenly spaced along the fold, with the first and last holes about ½" from the edge of the paper.
With the needle and thread, sew in and out of the holes, starting from the outside of the fold on a hole nearest the edge. Leave about 6" of thread trailing out of the first hole. When you have reached the seventh hole, turn around and start back toward the hole in which you started. You should come out with the string on the same side as the trailing string which you left. Tie those two strings together and cut off the excess. These sheets of paper sewn together are called a “signature”. Put the signature aside for now.
Glue the backs, corners, and edges of the two sheets of decorated paper to the cardboard, as shown.
Cut a piece of fabric tape 12" long and position the cardboard onto the sticky side of the tape as shown. Then bring the two ends of excess tape over and stick them down as shown. Cover the sticky section of tape with a sheet of paper.
Insert the signature into the cover and center it vertically. Glue the first page of the signature to the front cardboard cover, holding the front and back covers at right angles. Repeat with the last page of the signature and the back cover.
This book is a very simple one-signature book. If you would like to make a thicker book, you should make several signatures and bind them together. This is done by either sewing or taping the signatures together. If you tape them together, you slip sections of tape under each of the stitches on the back side, pulling the signatures closely together as shown, then proceeding as usual. If you wish to sew the signatures together, you will have to make use of a “mull,” which is a piece of cotton glued over the stitches to hold the signatures tightly together. Once this dries, you can proceed with the rest of the binding as usual.