Introduction: The Book of Time

Picture of The Book of Time
Be sure to vote for me in the Epilog contest, those pages would have been alot easier to cut through with a laser cutter...

I have always loved the idea of a 'ancient' looking book.
Every time I've looked in a second hand bookshop, I've never found a suitable example.

On top of that, i have always like the idea of a slightly fantastical book, something a bit sci-fi, but a bit legendary.

Films like the 9th gate, neverending story, and others, have this crazy books, happened across by someone, this is something i wanted to incorporate.

So, after making a couple of smaller books, I realized that I could easily make what i wanted.
Another idea I had seen before, but not done overly well, is that pieced together stitched look.

When talking through this with Rocketscientist, we happened across the idea of a living book, and bit by bit our creativity unfolded into one of my most epic projects to date.



The Book of Time is the ultimate time travelers companion, containing the history of everything that was, and is yet to be. The book is a self perpetuating ouroboros, seeding a smaller book, which was then taken back in time to become the book itself. There are about three instances of the book, one book exists, but has traveling from the beginning of time to the end three times, hence, 3 books can be found, but only one book exists.

The book itself is a living book, it's sense are deeply embedded into space time itself, and it grows new pages for new events. Constantly changing and evolving depending on the fluctuations of time.

The book itself is unreadable, and requires a super focused crystal diopter to read the strange 'growth patterns' on the pages. Once read, the two accompanying decoder books are needed to translate it into a form of the Anglitectro language readable by those who need to.

The power of the book lies in the ability to 're-write' time. Some events can be changed easily, others have a deep grain, and can not be changed without destroying the book itself.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools
Pretty much all the materials for this project were 'reclaimed'

Materials List
  • Paper, depending on your book size, for mine I used SRA3 (320 x 450).
I got my paper from the Print works where I work, it was in the waste bin, so would have been sent off if i had not 'claimed' it. Alot of places like that have alot of waste paper which is then recycled. Most companies have no problems with you having a bit, especially if you explain what its for!

  • Thread - for the spine sewing, the leather cover, and the 'roots'
  • Glue (pva or elmers glue)
  • Spine material, I used denim, thin cotton works best.
The denim was from an old pair of jeans, an old t-shirt or other clothing is ideal!

  • (optional) Industrial Guillotine.
  • Thick Vellum, or mount card
Again, if you find the right companies, you can recycle this stuff! I got mine off pallets of paper, but another great source of spare mount board is painting framing companies, who will happily give you off cuts of mount board.

  • Leather
Any of the big leather furniture makers have alot of scraps that are no longer usable for them. Get enough scraps and you can easily piece it together like I have. No need to buy a full skin.

  • Green and brown felt tips/markers
  • Liquid Latex
  • A pebble
  • A few special metal pieces

  • Stanley knife with plenty of blades spare
  • Drill
  • Leather Awl
  • Scalpel and blades
  • Masking tape

There may be a few items i missed, in which case shout them out in the comments!

Step 2: Folding Signatures.

Picture of Folding Signatures.

Taking my SRA3 sheets, I carefully folded them in half. I decided to fold 5 sheets to make signatures of 20 pages.

We use these special folding bones at work, so i folded these in my lunch time. When using the bone, first fold the page as normal, then on a flat surface run the bone up and down the fold, press firmly, but not too hard, just enough to get a crisp fold.

I think i folded about 20 signatures, keep going till you have a width you like.

Step 3: Hole Poking.

Picture of Hole Poking.

Now, this step was a bit of a pain, I had no access to a special signature stitching frame.

Firstly, we need to make some holes in our signature, for this I use a leather Awl.
To mark out the holes easily i firstly clamped all the signature to a desk, marked out 3 sets of 2 holes, to make a space for 3 backing strips(this will become more clear in further steps)

Lay out the signature open onto a nice soft surface, a cutting mat, or some playdoh or even blue tac.

Its a bit labourious, but the next step is more of a pain, so enjoy this one while it lasts.

Step 4: Stitch It.

Picture of Stitch It.

Now, this section was a pain for me, but it turned out pretty good considering my lack of equipment.

Firstly i cut 3 strips of denim, long enough to leave 50-80mm over the front and the back. (depth of book + 2 x 50-80mm)

Next, I took my first signature, on the front page I masking taped the denim to hold it in place.
Instead of going from one end of the page to the other, I instead did it in three sections. I simply looped the thread around the denim, and through the holes of that section.

Keep at it, after each denim bit was sewn on, i clamped either side of the denim to compress the book. When compressed I wound more thread around the original thread to tighten up the stitching.

Do not pull too hard, or the thread will snap.

Repeat for all three denim strips.

Step 5: Glue It.

Picture of Glue It.

Next we need to glue the spine.

I started by clamping my book between two bits of wood. I then lent one end upon my desk, and another on my lap in order to make easy to glue. Another idea would be to use two chairs, and rest it across them.

Firstly, get some PVA(elmers) onto the spine rub it into the gaps in the signatures, the best tool for spreading is your fingers.

Next take a section of denim and place it into the spine, rub it into place with your hands.
Now put another layer of glue on top of the denim.

Place this on, or up against a radiator to dry.

Step 6: Leather Jigsaw.

Picture of Leather Jigsaw.

I cut out two sections for the cover out of thick vellum card.

In order to get the best match up, I decided to stick then stitch, which worked out the best in the end.
Place a few big sections on the card, then cut further bits of leather to meet up with each other. Glue these onto the card, but don't glue all the way up to the edges of the leather.

I then took a brown felt tip and coloured in the sections that would show through, I then went over with the brown again with a green one, to give me a deep colour.

To give the gaps some texture I then stippled some liquid latex onto the felt tip.

Next, using a curved needle I carefully stitched the sections together.

Step 7: Cutting Circles.

Picture of Cutting Circles.

Well, imbetween normal life, this section took me about a month to complete. Mainly because cutting circles takes an age, and is very boring.

Before starting this step I took the book into work and got it cut down on one of our industrial guillotines, this worked a treat, and I took about 5-10mm of each side giving my a nice neat edge.

I ~~foolishly~~ decided that I wanted a core running down the middle of the book.

My first attempt was to drill the hole clean through the book. This attempt was met with fail, burning smells and ripping paper stopped me before I ruined the book completely.

I wanted the final result to be good, so I then opted to cut them out by hand, lucky for me the pilot drill hole went clean through the book providing a guide for each page, using a masking tape roll I cut holes, lots and lots of holes.

The feeling when i new i had nearly completed was intense...

Completion was an amazing feeling, only topped by the pie I then ate.

Step 8: Stop for Pie.

Picture of Stop for Pie.

I can not stress this step enough, it is the most important.





That is all, onto the next step.

Step 9: Attach and Join the Cover.

Picture of Attach and Join the Cover.

Next we need to join the cover to the book, at this point the front and back covers were almost complete, but no joined yet.

Using the denim flaps glue the covers to the book, leave about 5mm from the cover to the edge of the spine.

I then proceeded to attach a few more bits of leather and cut them so they would join up with the back cover. To make the spine covering a bit more sturdy use some thick paper stock along the spine.

Glue and stitch the leather in the same method as before to tie in with the design.

Step 10: Decorate the Outside of the Cover.

Picture of Decorate the Outside of the Cover.

I had an old few bits of metal to make the front cover, the main bit was an old hard drive motor. (most modern hard drives have motors built into the shell which as not detachable, older hard drives normally have seperate motors)

I also used an old perf wheel of one of the machines at work.

I decided that the hdd motor would make for a good 'access panel' for getting to the 'living core' of the book.

I cut out a hole for the motor to slide into, I then drilled holes, and glued magnets in place with epoxy resin. The motor it self was not magnetic so I glued some magnetic screws onto the hdd motor with epoxy.

I then cut off the top layer of leather and glued on the perf wheel in a juxtaposition to my liking.

Step 11: The Internals.

Picture of The Internals.

The 'core' was made to look like a 'seed' of sorts. I made the seed by attaching some string to a pebble of the right size.

The enclosure for the core is made using an old bell from one of the old-school telephones. I thread the string through a hole in the top.

The idea of the string is to make roots, that then flow into the book, making it a living book.

I carefully unwound the string and glued it down into place, spreading the 'roots' out. Once done i then cut a section of thinner tanned leather to finish off the rest of the cover.

A paint job and more liquid latex then adds to the organic look.

I repeated this process for the back cover, but this time i made a 'mini' book growing in the back pages.

Step 12: The 'device'

Picture of The 'device'

This is the device used to read the book. I picked it up on on ebay for a very good price, and is actually an old shop microscope.

I took it apart and spray painted the whole thing black, masking off the few chrome bits i wanted left.
I used direct to metal spray paint which is holding well.

I then used some metallic paint to dry brush onto the device, several coats with a light haired brush gave me a light scratched look.

Step 13: The Decoder Books.

Picture of The Decoder Books.

Using the same methods as for the original book, I took some off cuts from a few printing jobs at work.

This folded nicely into long companion books.

Simple leather covering made for a nice set of extras. With the leather i made sure to use some of the existing stamped text to add a bit of a hobbled together look.

Step 14: Completion.

Picture of Completion.

Thus, the book of time was completed.

It was an epic project, and if you have stuck with it, then you must be pretty epic to have made it this far.

The last addition for me was to put in a bit on a spread to make for a good final shot.

I really want to hear what you think of it, it took me a while, and I am very pleased with what i managed.

- gmjhowe


thehbird (author)2014-01-20

Question is this from doctor who

Azzurro (author)2013-01-27

Cool thing, looks like Oghma Infinium. :) I'll make one for sure!

youaremyapocalypse (author)2011-08-01

another great design! this gave me an idea for a locking mechanism, im not sure why but it did.

Inygknok (author)2011-03-20

I strongly recommend using adhesion promoter and then primer. It helps paint *that* much more in holding up and durability. We use it in the automotive industry all the time for better durability. For these kinds of projects, the spray can versions work just fine.

redneckuprising (author)2010-12-22

Hey man, you're extremely talented. This is an awesome project. I liked it so much in fact that I decided to make my own Book of Time. Here it is!

KaterinaYager (author)2010-08-12

This step is beyond me. Do you understand how hard it is to eat pie? Do you realize the time and effort that takes? Not everyone can do something so skilled. I feel like by posting this, you're just gloating that you're one of the lucky few that's capable. I can't even look at the pictures. Beyond jealousy to straight up envy right there.

gmjhowe (author)KaterinaYager2010-08-13

I am sorry if my pie step has upset you. However, we all have different skills, some of us are better at some things. Anyone can learn to eat pie, it takes practice and time.

You can not just learn to eat pie over night.

KaterinaYager (author)gmjhowe2010-08-13

Ain't it the truth :/

Karnivore (author)KaterinaYager2010-09-21

And as long as you're better at eating pie today than you were yesterday, you're headed for success!

GeekBeam (author)2010-06-20

by far my favorite epilog entry that I've seen so far. it could start a whole story, pertaining to itself. and it could record it. I already know why you can't change the more ingrained events, because it would cause a time paradox, if it changes it enough so that you don' exist then theres your paradox right there.

Omega Supreme (author)2009-08-07

Brilliant! I love the story behind the book most of all - very creative. Well done! Oh, and I haven't made the book but I jumped straight to step 8, I hope that's ok.

gmjhowe (author)Omega Supreme2009-08-07

You can have the pie, but no book. But you cannot have the book and no pie.

0000012181120 (author)gmjhowe2010-03-24

Totally Agree! The most important and my favorit step! We should do more Pie moments/steps!

0000012181120 (author)2010-03-24

The Decoder Books (step 13) is a Good idea! It can have another application; it can be an excellent note book to place beside or just below the keyboard or the laptop. As we always have small space to place a notebook, however this kind of notebook fits perfectly.
(I know we can also take note directly on the computer... but some like me prefer taking notes on paper)

0000012181120 (author)2010-03-23

Wonderfull steampunk book! a perfect props!

For those wondering, "book of time" is also a trilogy book titles, of children fantasy, written by the french author Guillaume Prévost.
the book of time ISBN 978-0439883757
the gate of days ISBN 978-0439883764
the circle of gold ISBN 978-0439883771

As HG Wells, the main subject is travelling through the time, it's a kind of steampunk for kids.

I think this kind of steampunk book instructable, is a very nice material to write your own steampunk novel (handwriting), or re-write your favorite steampunk novel, and immortilize it with your own handwritting, which make a perfect props!

Colonel88 (author)2010-02-02

I just skimmed through this thing.
I am only going to do one t hing now.


rocketsurgery (author)2009-12-19

A really neat looking piece of art... like the idea behind it too... although... you know time is an illusion :)

Printy (author)2009-12-19

*whistles* Yepper, one of the finer books out there. Definitely putting this on my "To do someday soon" list. :) Thanks for the ideas!

romanreb (author)2009-11-27

This is absolutely beautiful.   I'm an old woman and will never try to make this---no, seriously---old enough to be your grandmother---but I could spend hours just looking at the pictures.  TRULY wonderful.  Thanks.

gmjhowe (author)romanreb2009-11-28

 You should not doubt yourself, anything is possible, you could easily buy a book, and cover it to achieve something similar! As always, feel free to ask me for any advice.

Akiro (author)2009-06-26

how works

gmjhowe (author)Akiro2009-06-26

If you take the time to bring forth a full and complete sentence, I will be sure to try my best to answer.

komecake (author)gmjhowe2009-10-23


tevers94 (author)gmjhowe2009-06-27


bored2death (author)2009-10-06

cool book...mind if i use the story sometime?

junkpunk (author)2009-09-17

This is really great, just wondered cos you don't seem to use any card for the spine. You say in step 6 cut 2 card pieces, whereas other instructables use 3 (front, back and spine). Is the book okay without a card spine?

smurfsahoy (author)2009-09-14

How about a scroll saw?

Jehosephat (author)2009-08-06

Let me take time to say that this is the best project...of all time!!! (dun-dun-dun!) ...Yes I know that was corny, but still I could not help it. I do want to know though is what are the "companion books". I am guessing they have something to do with the book appearing "three times in history" but I am not sure... Also, I might be considering playing off this project and make an "exorcist book". I would have a hard time getting the paper though, so I'm considering to just make a cover out of leather for the outside and cut a hole through most of the book and follow up with the "roots" idea and making a version of my own. Thanks for making this, Jehosephat

Jehosephat (author)2009-08-06

For the LOLZ, Do it for the LOLZ!!! Heh, sorry I just like pie. >.

1300519 (author)2009-07-17

Your vast amount of creativity in story making would make you a great dungeon master.

Whales (author)13005192009-07-30

Yeah this guy could make an amazing dungeon-maker or game master.

Cthulu (author)2009-06-14


gmjhowe (author)Cthulu2009-06-14

Thank you!

Gh{O}sT (author)2009-06-01

Good job...., very good job.

gmjhowe (author)Gh{O}sT2009-06-06


SuperCoPilot (author)2009-06-06

well damn't are you happy? i am now compelled to build one you have the coolest stuff dude

gmjhowe (author)SuperCoPilot2009-06-06


mowdish (author)2009-04-18

Beautiful work, but I'm sure you knew that. Are you going to add anything to the pages? They seem kind of pointless at the moment. Pieces of thread growing out from the binding could look cool. And you could add to them over time so the book actually changes. In fact, you could even come up with a representational scheme so that important events (e.g. upcoming wedding) would get represented in the book and could be translated through the companion books.

gmjhowe (author)mowdish2009-04-22

Ne chance you could explain about that root idea some more? Also, voting is open for the epilog contest now.

mowdish (author)gmjhowe2009-05-21

Was this reply meant for me? If so, could you explain to me what you want me to explain to you?

gmjhowe (author)mowdish2009-05-21

'Pieces of thread growing out from the binding could look cool.' That bit. :P

mowdish (author)gmjhowe2009-05-23

Right now you have string growing out of the bell and into the binding. My thought is that you could have smaller pieces of thread growing out of the binding and on to the pages. Each piece would weave around the page and represent a small bit of history. This could be done purely for aesthetic effect, or you actually design a representational scheme allowing you to write meaningful things into the book with thread. A simple example would be to have each piece of thread represent a person and use the thread to write sentences in cursive describing what that person does or what happens to them. A better system would be to actually invent a thread-code. (e.g. crossing threads means that two people/objects were in the same place at the same time. A sharp up/downward bend means something very good/bad happened.) A sharp downward bend at a point of intersection means the people had a fight.) Then you could put your decoder books to use explaining the code.

gmjhowe (author)mowdish2009-04-18

I do know that, but when one has been working on something for a long time its easy to get 'used' to it. I do intend to add to the pages, im gonna use it as an ideas book, for drawing out new ideas, and collecting my thoughts etc.

davinhardoyo (author)2009-05-21

really like the cover ;)

gmjhowe (author)davinhardoyo2009-05-21


blackhartsociety (author)2009-05-14

damn you are a very ambitious person. stitching all of that by hand! I think your idea is very creative and I enjoyed reading all of your steps, it helped explain your ideas more thoroughly. you've given me some good ideas! thanks!

gmjhowe (author)blackhartsociety2009-05-14

Thanks! It was a pretty ambitious project, only surpassed by my current one.

daywalker42 (author)gmjhowe2009-05-14

but isn't that how all artists work?? always trying to outdo whatever they have done, always trying to create their magnum opus, or in the case of an early success, surpass it :-P

daywalker42 (author)daywalker422009-05-14

great ible, as always, by the way. :)

prissala (author)2009-05-12

WonDeRfUl !!!

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a British Graphic Designer and Photographer, when I am not working, I spend my time making an array of projects. I used to ... More »
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