Introduction: 21st Signature/ Photo Book

Picture of 21st Signature/ Photo Book

I'm not very good with presents. My girlfriend says I'm not romantic enough, but I would say I'm a practical person. 21st birthdays are big in New Zealand, so I had to put some kind of thought into my sister's gift when she turned 21. It used to be that people got keys as a coming of age gift, and party attendees would sign the key. Books are also an option, and I've even been to one with a write-on teddy bear.

The outcome of all that and the subject of this instructable is the autograph book I made.

Step 1: Making Paper

Picture of Making Paper

Part of the reason I made an autograph book is I needed to create a use for recycled paper. I had a ream or two of old paper and university notes to use up. I've also made a notebook with the blank back pages of some sheets. [insert link here for notebook when I write the instructable] {insert another for recycled paper}

- Soak paper over night in water to soften. Blend in batches and strain into red bucket.
- a few handfuls of pulp with a few litres makes for a good mix (see future link above)
- Scoop up some pulp with the frame - the top give the paper its shape, the bottom lets the water drip out
- board - carpet - plastic - fabric - paper - fabric - paper - fabric - plastic - carpet - board
- layer the fabric and wet paper sheets, squeezing out the water with another rag. Take care not to lift otherwise the paper will not come out straight.
- clamp overnight, then put on glass to dry completely.

Or, you could find some nice paper or cardboard. I made the book according to the size of the paper, so you can do what you like with the size.

Step 2: The Innards of the Book

Picture of The Innards of the Book

The paper was the basis of the book, so this design is scalable to whatever size paper you make or procure.
Wood was used for the cover, but heavy card is also a possibility. I cut slightly larger than the paper to give a margin. Two sides plus two inner spine pieces makes for about 240% of the length of the paper and 110% of the height (if we are talking about a landscape book).
There was also some stuffing lying around, which gives the book some shape once the red fabric is pulled over at the end. I cut this to be the same size as the cover pieces of wood.

Step 3: Construction

Picture of Construction

This initial construction step involves putting the red fabric over the wood and stuffing. There was a little trial and error - mainly making sure the fabric looks straight on the front. I pulled the corners over first, which allows the sides to then be pulled over together. I left some slack in the fabric over the stuffing so it was rounded. Pull hard enough and it nearly goes flat. Sweet.

Step 4: More Construction

Picture of More Construction

I put the spine pieces in the fabric at the end. Experiment with the amount of flexibility between the spine and the cover. I cut the fabric long from end to end because I didn't know how it was going to turn out. Trim.
There is a multitude of options with the ribbon. Don't use any, or use one colour. I liked the look of the polka dot on red, but it needed something extra, so added the black. The PVA didn't hold the ribbon, so I had to use stronger craft glue.
Finish the cover with something to hide the ribbon and fabric edges. The only real criteria here is that you shouldn't be able to see the ribbon through it.

Step 5: The Final Phase

Picture of The Final Phase

The cover folding back on itself is the design I chose - copied off a restaurant menu. To have the book open all the way, there should be some kind of joint to allow people to sign. Another option is two smaller pieces, joined with screws from the outside, separated from the cover by fabric. I have seen one like this with leather joining two pieces of stained wood.
I found I needed extensions to the screws that hold the spine together. This might be overcome by using card and thinner paper instead of wood and recycled paper. Holepunch for the paper, drill for the wood. I drilled through the paper holes to get the right distance.

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