While contemplating possible projects for the Coffee Cup Challenge, it occurred to me that the ideal project should be useful and should use as many of these garbage pile wannabes as possible. I looked around my house to see what I had a lot of and realized that I have a "notebook problem." I have moleskin notebooks, and spiral bound notebooks and pretty hand-bound notebooks that I don't dare write anything in because it would spoil their beautiful hand-boundness. I should get a new notebook so that I can write down insights about my notebook addiction. It occurred to me that what I really needed was an infinite supply of cheap disposable notebooks, that I could write in, tear pages out of and feel no compunction about eventually discarding.
So here are my instructions for turning a used paper cup and a pile of misprinted paper into a small notebook.
Step 1: Materials List
You will need:
A used paper coffee cup
A pile of paper. I used misprints that were headed for the recycling bin, but you can use whatever kind of paper you want in your finished notebook (water color, news print, etc)
A sharp utility knife
A scissor you don't mind using on cardboard
Binder clips, at least two
A straight edge that you can cut against
Some small nails
A scrap of wood for protecting your table top
A blunt, large eyed needle
Heavy duty thread.
Step 2: Preparing the Cup.
First of all, cut down the side of the cup along the seam. Cut around the edge of the bottom to separate the flat upper section from the base. Press the "cup" flat and cut off the strip on the side where the paper overlapped to form the cup.
You now have a flat piece of cardstock with a rolled upper edge and a slightly curved shape.
Fold the cardstock in half to find the middle, and then cut along the fold to separate the "cup" into two equal parts.
Use the binder clips to clamp one side o the cup so that you can trim the two pieces to exactly the same size. This is easiest to do with the utility knife.
Step 3: Cutting the Pages.
If you are using scrap paper, make sure that all the pieces have the blank side on the same side. Using only one of your "cup" pieces, clamp it to the top of the stack of paper and cut the pages to fit with the utility knife. If you are making more than one notebook, you can clamp multiple "cup" pieces at the same time. Use gentle pressure to cut through a few pages at a time until all the pages are cut through. If you press too hard and try to cut too much the edge will turn out ragged.
After you have cut out all the pages you can reclamp your "book" with the other piece of cup as the back cover.
Step 4: Punching Holes for the Binding.
Decide which half of the cup is going to be your cover. Clamp your book with the binding clamps along the outside edge with the front cover facing up. Draw a pencil line a quarter of an inch in from the "spine" edge of your book. Mark a quarter of an inch down from the top edge, and a quarter of an inch up from the bottom. Divide the space between these marks by three to give you the measurement for your final two holes.
Using a piece of scrap wood to protect your table top, pound a nail through each of the marked spots to punch a hole. You could also use an awl, but I find that with a nail there's less chance of pages shifting.
Step 5: Binding the Book.
Thread a length of thread onto a blunt tipped needle (sharp is fine, but it will catch more) and tie a knot in the end. In order to make more sense of the binding directions, think of the holes as being numbered 1-4 with 1 being the top hole and 4 being the bottom.
Separate the pages slightly, and puncture the pages next to hole number 2, pushing the needle through ten or so pages. Then bring the point of the needle up through hole number 2 so that it is on the front side of the book. Wrap the thread around the spine and bring it back up through hole 2. Now put the needle into hole three, leaving a long running stitch along the front of the book, wrap the thread around the spine and put the needle back through hole 3. Take another long running stitch to hole 4, around the spine and back through hole 4, and then around the bottom edge of the book. This will make a little square on the corner. Now a long running stitch to hole 3 (should be on the opposite side from the first) and from three to 2 and from two to one. Around the spine edge and back through hole 1, then around the top edge and back through hole 1. Finish with a long running stitch to hole 2 and you are back where you started. Tuck the tip of your needle through the spine stitch and put the tip of your needle through the resulting loop to make a knot. Push the needle down through hole two to the back side of the book and cut off the thread. You can get a visual representation of these steps at this website.
Voila! A book where before there was only garbage.
Finalist in the
Coffee Cup Challenge