Introduction: The Great Art Quest Binder

About: Artist, Crafter, Maker all of my life.

Have you wanted a binder that won't pinch your fingers?

Have you ever wanted a binder that is easy to open and close because you may not have the strength in your hands?

Have you wanted a binder or journal that is made from recycled materials and doesn't require any crazy expensive tools make?

This is the project for you!

Inspired by a conversation of people that are participating in a year long art quest being taught by Cinnamon Cooney TheArtSherpa


Deliberately Creative

Click here for the full video tutorial on how to make this binder!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials and Tools

Materials needed:

Cardboard 2 pieces 1/2" larger than the paper you will be putting in the binder- for example for a binder that will hold 9x12" paper your front and back cover pieces will be 9 1/2" x 12 1/2"

Cardboard the same length as above by 1 1/2" wide for the spine

Heavy paper for covering the binder

Duct Tape for hinging the covers to the spine and to reinforce the corners over the cover paper

3 Pieces of ribbon the width of the binder covers and spine these are what will hold the paper in the binder

White glue for attaching covers (Mod Poge, PVA etc)

Fluid Matte Medium or Gloss Medium and Varnish to seal the paper covering

Tools Needed:

Metal edged ruler



Craft Knife with sharp blade

Cutting Mat

Awl or Nail for poking holes

Hole Punches 1/8" and 1/4" punching holes in the spine and in the papers to be bound in the binder

Brush to spread the glue/matte medium/varnish

Screwdriver and Large Screw or Hammer and large Nail to make holes in canvas panels

Step 2: Cut the Cover Pieces

Using the cardboard, metal edged ruler, cutting mat and craft knife

Measure out the dimensions you need for the covers and spine on the cardboard. Then cut using the cutting mat, craft knife and metal edged ruler.

You will need to have:

2 pieces of cardboard that are cut 1/2" wider and longer than the paper you intend to put in the binder.

For example:

A binder for 9x12" paper will need to have 2 cover pieces that are 9.5x12.5" and 1 spine board cut to 1.5x12.5".

A binder for 11x14" paper will need to have 2 cover pieces that are 11.5x14.5 and 1 spine board cut to 1.5x14.5"

Make sure you are using a SHARP BLADE in the CRAFT KNIFE, keep your fingers out of the way by always using a METAL EDGED RULER as your cutting guide with a CUTTING MAT underneath your cardboard to keep your surfaces safe!

Step 3: Prepare the Spine Board

Take the spine board and measure in from the ends 1" draw a line across at the mark

Then measure to the halfway point between the marks and draw a line

You will need to measure in from the long edge 1/4" on both long edges at the lines.

Now take the 1/8" HOLE PUNCH and following the photo above and punch a hole at each mark.

This will be where the binding ribbons will be threaded through at the end.

Step 4: Adding the Hinge to the Spine

To make the hinges:

2 pieces of the Duct Tape 2 inches longer than the spine board.

Lay the tape along the spine board - looking at the photograph leaving the overlaps on the end those will be folded over in the NEXT STEP.

Step 5: Attach the Covers

To attach the cover boards with the hinge tapes you will need a scrap of cardboard as a spacer.

Lay the spine board and tap sticky side facing up

Using the spacer next to the spine board place the first cover board on to the tape next to the spacer. You want to have a space between the spine and cover that is the same thickness of the cover. Look at the photo to see this.

Flip it all over and make sure the tape is rubbed down well.

Step 6: Repunch the Spine Binding Holes

From the side without the tape you will need to take the AWL and poke through the tape at each of the punched holes. This needs to be done now so that you will know where the holes are.

It is much easier to do this when you can see the holes. :)

Step 7: Finish the Inside Hinge

Take 2 more pieces of DUCT TAPE and cover the inside spine and over the gap to the cover board on both sides. This tape needs to be just shorter than the height of the cover.

Rub the tape down to adhere well to the cardboard.

Take the AWL from the outside of the spine and punch the holes again through the inside of the spine tape.

Step 8: Cut Paper and Cover Binder

Get your paper that you will be covering the binder with.

I used a roll of heavy weight Brown Kraft mailing paper.

You can use any kind of sturdy paper, like paper grocery sacks or heavy weight wrapping paper. Check to see if your paper wrinkles or bubbles up when being glued.

Please test a sample of the paper you want to use by gluing a piece of the paper down on a scrap of cardboard and letting it dry. If you like what you see use it!

You want to cut the paper for the cover 2" wider and 2" longer than your whole binder cover. You want to have a 1 inch overlap to the inside. This is so you can get really nice finished corners.

Set your cover on top of the paper and center it.

Fold and crease all the edges toward the inside of the cover.

Now, you will want to work on the corners.

Look at the photos and you will see that I folded the corner of the paper inside the cover and creased it well.

Then fold the long edge and short edge of the paper in to make a finished mitered corner.

Do this for all 4 corners and crease well.

Step 9: Glue on the Cover Paper

Take the White Glue - PVA - Mod Poge of your choice and spread a layer over one side of the binder cover.

Place the glue side DOWN on the cover paper that you have pre-folded.

Quickly line up the folded edges and smooth down the paper.

Glue the corners down to the inside then the edges. Smooth and press firmly.

Fold the binder into the closed position.

Let dry.

Open the binder flat and from the inside use the AWL to pierce the binding holes through the cover paper.

Step 10: Optional Reinforce the Corners

If you plan to reinforce the corners with DUCT TAPE now is the time to do it.

You need 4 pieces of Duct Tape that are 8" long.

From the outside of the binder line up the tape across the corner.

Make sure the corner of the cover just touches the edge of the tape, and the ends of the tape are pretty even on each side of the corner. Take a look at the photo to see this better.

Fold each leg of the tape pulling smoothly and press down to the inside of the Binder.

Do that for the remaining 3 corners.

Step 11: Glue in the Lining Paper

Now open the binder flat and cut a piece of paper to line the inside, it needs to be 1" shorter than the width and the length of the open binder.

Take the White Glue - PVA - ModPoge (whatever you are using) and put a smooth layer over the inside of the binder.

Smooth the lining paper over the inside making sure it is evenly spaced around the edges and that it is firmly glued down all the way around.

Using the Awl pierce the binding holes once again from the inside.

Make sure the holes are nice and open.

Put some books or other smooth heavy items on it to keep it flat and let it dry

Step 12: Seal the Cover Outside and Inside

Using your BRUSH and the MATTE MEDIUM or VARNISH cover the outside and inside of the cover completely.

Fold the binder to work the hinges back and forth.

Step 13: Time for the Bindings

Take your 1/8" RIBBON, SCISSORS and AWL

Cut 3 pieces of Ribbon approximately 18" long.

Take one ribbon open the binder and feed the ends through the holes. This is really tight and easiest done using the Awl to push the ends through to the outside of the Binder.

Take Ribbon end on the Right pass through the Left side hole and the Ribbon end from the Left goes through the Right side hole.

By doing this the ribbon is double looped though and won't pull out if you used the 1/8" punch.

Now do this for the other 2 sets of holes.

Step 14: Make a Template for the Paper Holes

Cut a strip of paper line it up along the ribbons to mark position for the holes. Cover this strip with clear packing tape.

Punch the holes with the 1/4" HOLE PUNCH

You can use this to mark the holes on your paper or canvas panels.

To bind the paper just feed the ends of the ribbon through the holes of the paper.

You can add pages by untying the ribbons. The holes are large enough to slide the pages over the tied bows.

Store the hole template tied in like a page so it is ready for you when you need it.

Step 15: Thank You!

Thank you.

Please let me know if you liked this project and check out my Youtube Channel at

My Blog is also where you can see what I have been up to!

I also have a Creativity Facebook Group that You are welcome to click Join!

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