How To Make a Lot of Books in a Small Amount of Time: The May 2012 MCBA Visual Journal Collective

May 25, 2012

See the full post for complete details and lots of photos.


Above: Most of the participants (some people ducked out early to avoid parking tickets at their lapsed parking meters) from the May 21, 2012 meeting, holding up their completed books.

We maybe didn't qualify for the Guiness World Record for number of people making a book at one time on Monday, but the 30 people people who attended the May meeting made short work of their Japanese Double Pamphlets. 

Strathmore graciously sent us sheets of their Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Paper so that we could make books and test out the paper for journaling. Each participant brought cover paper pre-cut following directions I'd posted earlier.


Right: We used every available flat space to work on, and some quick thinking participants spied collapsible tables and set them up around the presses giving us four more work stations.

People who read my blog know I fell in love with this paper when it came out in the Strathmore wirebound mixed media journals in 2010. I begged to have full sheets available so that I could bind my own books out of it. I am excited to be able to introduce other artists to this paper. (You can search for entries on the blog about this paper by using my search engine and looking for "Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Paper.")

As you see in the photo we used every available flat space in the flexi-space of MCBA. 

TearDiagram5189Left: Some of the instruction sheets I taped to the walls so that people could look up if they got lost and I was busy helping someone else.

After my paper tearing demonstration eleven people started tearing their paper down to pages sometimes referring to the instructions I'd written on large sheets of paper and taped all around the room, sometimes asking me for assistance. When one person finished another took the available spot. When everyone had completed the sheet tearing we moved on to folding pages, gathering signatures, folding covers, and sewing.

Sewing5155Left: Here we see part of the group working on the sewing of their books.

Since it's inevitable that people in a group this large are going to work at different speeds there was a little bit of time before everyone finished sewing when I asked Karen Engelbretson to share her latest Japanese Double Pamphlet adventures with us. 

KarenFlorida5202Left: Karen Engelbretson shows one of the pages spreads from her Florida Trip journal made as a Japanese Double Pamphlet with Arches Text Wove (Arches Velin) for the text pages.

Karen's letterpress company Kiss Letterpress has recently come out with a delightful series of dayplanners that are made as Japanese Double Pamphlets. And even more recently Karen returned from a trip to Florida with friends, during which trip she filled her trip journal which was also a Japanese Double Pamphlet.

120515BooksIFJMWrapUpLeft: I don't have a photo of the books we made on Monday, but these Japanese Double Pamphlets made with Arches Text Wove give you an idea of the structure. See the back left book. Looking down into the book you can see the central pleat of the cover which falls between the signatures. The book is sewn as a single unit, the two signatures and cover, at once.

Our books ended up being approximately 7.75 x 5.75 inches. Some people brought cover paper wide enough to fold in at the fore edges to make flaps, others trimmed their covers after the sewing, so that there was only a slight overhang at the fore edge.

Suzanne5151Right: Suzanne Hughes brought a lovely cover strip of Arches Cover which she had previously painted with her paste paper techniques. Her cover flaps were not yet folded in when I took this picture—I was attracted to the lovely blues and greens of her design.

I want to thank everyone for jumping right in with a can-do attitude regardless of skill level. Everyone came with a great sense of humor. People stepped in to help each other and we got the job done! We even finished before our 2-hour meeting time was up!

Thanks to Marsha and Janice for helping everyone sign in while I set up the room (with help from a very tall woman whose name I'm sorry I can't remember—but she kept me from falling off a table!)

I want to thank Strathmore again for their generous gift of paper which made this free bookbinding session possible.

I cannot wait until everyone returns to future meetings with filled books! I don't think anyone really understands how insanely happy this makes me. Thank you all for making it a very fun evening. Next year maybe we should go for the record. We already have a system down!

  1. Reply

    Roz – looks like so much fun and what fantastic outcomes! You rock!

  2. Reply

    I think these participants rock! Everyone was so adaptable and helpful and just ready to jump in. It was great fun. I cannot wait to see what people put in their books!

  3. Reply

    I don’t get envious often, almost never in fact but when I see pics of your book-making classes that green-eyed devil hits me over the head! Someday I hope to have fun doing this too (I make my own journals sometimes but it’s not the same as being in a group setting with an expert)!

    • Miss T
    • May 25, 2012

    Roz, this was sooooo much fun! You had everything very well organized, and it was great to be able to make such a nice book so quickly. I will definitely make more of these.

  4. Reply

    Miss T. I’m glad you enjoyed yourself. I do hope you make more of these. They are easier and easier to do!

    Have fun filling the pages.

    With sketches of Maxwell perhaps!

  5. Reply

    Timaree, the great thing about the Collective is that it really isn’t a class, it’s more like a controlled craziness. So many people making something at once. You need to plan a trip to coincide with one of these adventures!


    • Frank Bettendorf
    • May 26, 2012

    Are the directions for making this book available somewhere, like on this site?
    Frank B

  6. Reply

    Frank I was just thinking about you and am sorry I haven’t written in so long. I hope you’re doing well.

    In answer to your questions, currently my instructions for this structure aren’t up anywhere, but I’m going to me making a little video. They may be in an eNewsletter coming up this summer. Or if that doesn’t happen I’ll publish them here later, so no, right now they aren’t here, but yes they will be available soon, because as I wrote up this post on the group’s meeting I thought it would be great if other folks could make little tester booklets like this.

    SO more info is coming Frank!


    • j.long
    • May 26, 2012

    I love your blog! I know I have told you before, but I feel the need to repeat. I love your passion and how you are so willing to share with us. Your details and photos put us there, almost. I often wish I were closer. Thanks again, jacki long

  7. Reply

    jacki, thank you for your kind comments. I glad you enjoy the blog and find it useful. I hope some day you’ll be in the area and can join us at the Collective!

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