Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Buried Treasure: Piano hinge paper bag book tutorial

Once again I'm joining Seth Apter from The Altered Page as we dig up a post from the past.  I'm bringing back a tutorial I made in December, 2008 to honor this year's buried treasure.  Be aware, this is a long post and has lots of photos.  I hope some of you who are coming from Seth's blog will find it useful.  Here is the original post in its entirety.

It's a piano hinge book. No, it's a paper bag book. No, it's both. Below is a tutorial on making a piano hinge book using paper bags for the signatures. It is the best of both worlds because you don't have to sew the bags together as directions show in most paper bag book tutorials.


Paper bags (I used lunch bags)
Bamboo skewers (or alternately, pick up sticks, pencils, etc)
2 pieces of card stock for the covers
not shown: glue, fibers, paint or ink, and embellishments

Fold three sets of 5 paper bags in half. These sets are known as signatures. This will give you sixty pages total. Use fewer bags if you don't want the bulk. Create more signatures if you want a larger book, but make sure each signature has the same number of paper bags or pages.

Stack one bag on top of the other. If using paper bags, alternate the closed ends so the bottoms are facing both directions, which will help distribute the bulk.

Make a template using an extra bag.
 Fold the bag lengthwise in the middle, then again. Next, cut "V" slits at the folds.

Make sure you cut an even number of slits. That way you will have an uneven number of tabs.

Using your template as a guide, cut the requisite number of slots in each of the signatures. I painted one set of signatures so there would be contrast. This will make it easier to show the piano hinge technique. You do not have to do this, but it makes for a very pretty spine if you do. I also decided to use pencils instead of bamboo skewers. This is because the signatures were very bulky.

Cut two covers the same size as your paper bag before you folded it.

Paint the covers on both sides at this time, but do not embellish them. For these I used oil pastels for the inside and watercolors with mica chips added for the outside covers of this book.

Fold both covers in half to match the size of your signatures. A tip I learned a long time ago is to start in the middle and press outward in both directions. Your crease will be more even and your substrate will not crease in the wrong spot. If you prefer, use a bone folder, scoring tool, and ruler to score the covers. Mine turned out fine without all that measuring.

Using your template again, cut four "V" tabs in each of the cover folds.

Place one cover on each side of the three (or chosen number) signatures. Align. Set aside.

Pick up one cover. Thread your first skewer or pencil through tabs 1, 3, and 5 of the back cover. Push tabs 2 and 4 away from you, or toward the imaginary center of the book.

Take your first signature and open it to the center. Insert your second skewer or pencil in the first tab. Note I'm pointing to the first tab and second pencil (which is pink) with my finger.

Here's a tip: if you are NOT using a skewer, and you have a flat leading edge going into the tabs, you will have a lot more trouble than if you have a pointed edge to start through the tabs. Note the bamboo skewer in the photo. It's not there by accident. I ended up using it to guide my pencils through the tabs.

Pull tab 2 of your cover into alignment with tab 1 of your first signature and insert your skewer or pencil.

Line up tab 3 of your signature and continue inserting your pencil or skewer.

Line up tab 4 from your cover and slide the second pencil through it. Place the pencil in tab 5 of your signature. Tabs 2 and 4 of your first signature should not have anything in them. Press them away from you at this time. You have just completed your first hinge.

Find the center of your second signature and place the third pencil/skewer in tab 1 of signature 2, then tab 2 of signature 1 (which you pushed away from you in the previous step and is sitting loose), tab 3 of signature 2, then tab 4 of signature 1, and finally tab 5 of signature 2. Press tabs 2 and 4 of signature 2 away from you at this time. You now have your second hinge.

Next, find the center of your third and final signature and place the fourth pencil/skewer in tab 1 of the third signature, then tab 2 of signature 2, tab 3 of signature 3, tab 4 of signature 2, and finally tab 5 of signature 3. Press tabs 2 and 4 of signature 3 forward at this time. You now have your third hinge.

Although the photo is a bit misleading, the pink and yellow pencils at the back of the photo are sitting on the table and are not attached to anything.

Finally, find the center of the front cover and place pencil/skewer 5 in tab 1, then tab 2 of signature 3, tab 3 of your front cover, then tab 4 of signature 3, and finally tab 5 of your front cover. Press tabs 2 and 4 of the front cover forward at this time. Insert your final pencil/skewer in the two remaining tabs (tabs 2 and 4 of the front cover). Your book is now complete, but not secure.

Line up all six pencils or skewers by pressing them on a level surface. If using a skewer, align the flat end, not the pointed end. Using a fiber that matches or coordinates with your cover, loop it around the first pencil/skewer (the first pencil has only the two tabs from the front cover), leaving a tail that is about the same length as your book. Tie a knot and secure.

Wind the fiber in and out of each of the pencils or skewers until you get back to pencil/skewer 1.  Do this twice on the top. 

Using the same color fiber, tie a knot in the fiber, then loop around the bottom pencils/skewers one time only (front and back) and tie off, but this time, don't leave a tail.  Press the fibers as close to the page ends as possible on both ends, keeping your pencils/skewers straight and in line with each other.

Make sure there are no gaps between the fiber and the page/signature ends.

To keep the fibers and pencils/skewers in place, glue the knots, then place a bead of glue along the opposing edge of the fiber that touches the signatures. See photo above in case you don't understand where to glue.  Do not glue the fiber to the signature, only to the pencil/skewer. Do this to the fibers on both the inside and outside of the pencils on both ends.

Repeat the process with your second color, but this time, glue only the knots. Be sure to leave a tail on the top. Start your knot on the opposite end (back cover) at the bottom. That way you won't have a lot of bulk. Repeat with as many fibers as you desire, looping only once each time at the bottom, but as many times as you wish at the top.

If using a skewer, cut the tips off at this time. The best way is to use an electric saw, because clipping bamboo skewers often splits them.

Decorate the front and back covers to your liking and add charms or beads to your fibers.

I used slide mounts to decorate the covers. The color is not good, but it's the best I could get due to the lack of light. The upper left reads "Thoughts" and the lower right reads "ART."

You can see that I added anywhere from one to three beads and/or charms to each fiber. That's the reason for the tails.

This is the back. The upper left reads "Ideas," the upper right reads "I 'heart' cats," and the lower right reads "Words." The paper is not that yellow, so I can't understand why it looks so "mustardy" in the photo.

I made this book as an art journal for my friend Dana's Christmas present. She'll have lots of pages to sketch her art, write her thoughts, and ponder her dreams.

32 thoughtful remarks:

Halle said...

Great tutorial...great pictures too!

Mary S. Hunt said...

aren't you clever!
great tutorial and this is the perfect project for the young!

thank you for taking such care and time in giving this post.

i KNOW how much time might go into this kind of posting.

i consider this a gift!

happy holiday

Dymphie said...

Thanks :)

Laura Kay said...

What a great tutorial. It is easy to follow and the photo's really help! Thank you so much!

Linda East said...

Elizabeth I love your book...is is wonderful...I have some of these piano hinge books that I have made, and they are not near as awesome as yours...you are so talented and creative...thanks for sharing the tutorial..Merry Christmas...Linda

Unknown said...

I love your book Elizabeth! You did a great job on the tutorial. I'll have to try making my own. :)


judy said...

Great tutorial, Elizabeth! Thank you. I haven't tried this yet

christina d said...

I love the book. I sure would like to find someone who gave cllasses in this. The pics are great and your instructions are great too.

Dana said...

Elizabeth, I love my book. Thank you so much. I will draw and journal in it and ponder my dreams, not my reality. It is precious and priceless and perfect!
love, Dana

Babytreese said...

What a fantastic tutorial!! This is a great project for kids. Thanks so much for taking the time to post this!

Michi Michaelson, Orange County, CA said...

I LOVE this handmade book tutorial!!! VERY cool!!!!

Elizabeth in NM said...

Thank you so much for the tutorial. I have just started making books this year, and haven't been able to figure this one out before. Now it makes perfect sense! Off to start one now....

Dymphie said...

Elizabeth, couldn't find an email addy, so here goes. I would love some of your photos to post and a link to this great tutorial on my inspiration blog 'Deze is ook leuk'(this ones fun too). May I do so? This one would be such a cool tut to link to.

Anonymous said...

WoW E., great photos & instructions! the book turned out great. I know this must have taken a lot of time to photograph & organize...thanks for sharing with us!

eclectic works said...

Great tutorial Elizabeth! I have always wanted to make one. You have explained it very well and simple enough for me to understand it :)
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

that is a really full and clear tutorial,I have not tried a piano hinge but with such clear instructions I am tempted to try.Thankyou for taking so much trouble and time

Anonymous said...

Beautiful book and great tutorial!

Godelieve said...

Fantastic tutorial! Thanks for taking the time.
Love the book, never seen one with pencils before, fabulous!

AlteredAddict said...

E your Piano hinge book is beautiful!!!


Spyder said...

This IS fantastic, and you show us all how to make one too, love it!

Darla said...

What a GREAT tutorial Elizabeth. But, EEP, maybe I have to make one now. I haven't yet finished the last book you inspired me to try. Almost done though.


Caterina Giglio said...

wonderful tut, and I must have missed it the first time around... would love to give this a try... in miniature of course!

Craftymoose Crafts said...

So glad you chose this tutorial to highlight again! I made a few paper bag albums, but didn't really enjoy the sewing part--this looks like fun.

Jo Murray said...

That's AWESOME!!!!! Thank you so much for the instructions.

Ella said...

Love this! Thank you :D

Donna-Marie said...

Awesome Tut!!! Love the pencils :-)

Felicity said...

great tutorial - the right level of detail and lots of lovely photos!
Thanks for commenting on my blog - nice to meet you through the Treasure Hunt :)

Tracy said...

Looove it and you posted a great tutorial..thanks for sharing.
Found you through Seths vlog.

Jo C. said...

Thank you for making such an easy to follow tutorial. I love trying out new book making formats and will just have to try this one out.

Happy to have found you thanks to Seth's Hidden Treasures.

Patti Edmon Artist said...

Love the post - and I don't think I saw it first time around, though I wasn't making books then, as I am now! So, thanks!!! It looks fabulous.

Chris Stern / CS Designs said...

Hi Elizabeth, Just popping in from Seth's Buried Treasure project and love the treasure you are sharing. I bought wooden skewers a few years ago to make one of these but still haven't done so. After seeing your fabulous tutorial, I may just go looking for those skewers. I also enjoyed seeing the rest of your blog and have become a follower with both Google and Bloglovin'.
:) Chris / CS Designs

Unknown said...

Hi Elizabeth...I am a little late digging for Buried Treasure but glad that I found your post. I have not seen a paper bag book bound like this and will definitely be giving it a try. Thanks for the awesome instructions. Lindi Art in Real Life www.lindistevenson.com