Looking Bound

This is not about bondage so just cool your jets. I compiled a book of poetry for my mother for Christmas. It was a labor of love. Now to be fair I had started a different compilation in 2019. It was part of my goals for last year but it was destroyed in the great flash drive crash of 2020. The rebuilding of the poetry compilation commenced but with a different focus. I was winnowing through decades of poetry and in a flash (not unlike that of a stun grenade aka flashbang) hit upon the title for my book.

Because my mother is 88 and her eyesight is not what it was, I had it printed in a very large font. That resulted in the number of poems per page to drop to one. In turn that made the number of pages increase to 58. The limit for free printing through the library is 25 pages of paper. I probably could have printed it in 2 sessions but I decided that I wanted it done as double sided copies. Because I have an inside source, I was able to get all 29 pages printed at one go.

After watching about 6 hours of DIY tutorials on book binding, I decided to give it a try. I rigged up a book press using 2 wooden boards and 4 giant C-clamps that Sparky had laying around in the garage. A trip to the craft store netted some special glue. With all the confidence of a DIY newbie, I lined up, clipped together and then pressed the pages between the boards. I applied the clamps. Then I applied 3 layers of glue waiting 8 hours between glue applications. I was getting impatient (not like me but I was anxious to get it done and in the mail so that it would arrive by Christmas). While the glue dried, I began making the cover. Let me just say that none of our legal pads currently have cardboard backs. It took multiple tries to achieve success. I had attempted to use a beautiful floral fabric for the cover. It was a disaster. The fabric was too thin and the glue seeped all the way through and stuck it to my craft table. Which wouldn’t have happened except I needed to weigh the cover down so that it would dry flat (all that glue was making the cardboard warp). Anyway after additional failures, I was down to the last 2 pieces of cardboard. I made it work!

There were a few issues that were nearly the end of the project but I rescued the last cover. I had always planned to have a fabric cover that didn’t need any additional embellishment so I was not prepared for the final step. You see I had to use a plain tan fabric and it had a few spots from the binding/gluing process that were marring the front and back. I decided that my best bet would be to cover the imperfections with a little art. I was smart enough to try out my ideas on the little extra fabric that remained. First water color was NOT going to work. Second, acrylics were also a no go. The fabric paint was likewise nixed. I resorted to Sharpieยฎ markers. Their invention is without a doubt one of the finest examples of human brilliance.


The back cover (with an acorn covering a nasty spot) and the front cover (can you guess where the big boo-boo is located?) showing the gnarly old tree.

Any additional book binding attempts will more than likely be much easier since I am “in the know” for all the pitfalls – having fallen into all those pits!

58 thoughts on “Looking Bound

    1. I’ll have to have my mother take a photo and send it to me~ I forgot to do the final photo shoot as I was scrambling to get it in the mail. I was very excited that it arrived with a couple days to spare! She is slowly reading it as her eyes are not what they used to be…
      I’m not fond of learning by trial and error but the lessons do stick with you a little longer! Ha!

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    1. Dodi she was very happy and is enjoying the book. I suppose I could have taken it to say, Office Depot, and had them bind it with the little plastic spine but I think this way is more durable…. Because of her eyesight, she has been reading a poem a day so will no doubt finish it soon.

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  1. If I have well understood, Val, you made technically the book yourself . I am amazed ! There is a famous overture titled “poet and peasant” (by Suppรฉ). For you a piece of music is bneeded titled ” poet and craftwoman.
    Love โค
    Michel

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    1. Thanks Bonnie. She is reading it and the last time we talked she suggested I was gifted with “second sight” for my uncanny ability to write in the past about events that are now playing out in our country…

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  2. Wow. When you say you are going to make a book, you mean that literally! I love that. I’ve had a book about binding and such, for years, but it’s just gathering dust. Back in San Francisco, I found some tiny exhibit of handmade books, like couture. Covers made from slate, etc. I’ve never forgotten it.
    & beautiful tree!!!

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    1. Thanks Kim! I was not planning on drawing on the cover so had to come up with something to cover the boo-boos. The tree was perfect because I could incorporate the discolorations into the bark and the branches… I made an urn for my father’s ashes that had an acorn on the lid thus the acorn on the back. I will make the next one on different paper and possibly do an actual binding where I sew the pages… But I’d need some special tools first. I watched a lot of DIY videos and some of the covers were beautiful – embossed leather etc…

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          1. ‘Tis a wonderful post ….learning of your father; it’s easy to picture him! & wonderful urn, as so many of your fans said. Thank you for the link!

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            1. Thanks Kim. My father was a loving and kind (though strict) parent. I sometimes don’t acknowledge that because there are so many who have had horrible experiences and I feel that my talking about it is like rubbing their noses in it… At least that was one person’s take a long time ago.

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  3. Beautiful cover, love your drawings! Also loved that by doing it yourself, you were able to customize it for your mother with larger print and extra pages. I’m sure she will treasure it. The one “book” I’ve made (a blog book for my sister, all of my blog posts printed out), I did like Mrs Wrangler, the pages set back-to-back in plastic page protectors, “bound” in a 3-ring binder. Whenever I publish a post, I copy it into a Word doc, and print it for her. When I’ve collected a pile of them, I mail them to her so she can add them to the binder. She is the only person in the world who has a hard copy of JustJoan42. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. That is awesome that your sister is a fan of your blog! My mother reads my blog but usually she reads a whole month at a time (when her eyes aren’t bothering her too much). She doesn’t comment often but I know she reads it! I’m pleased that you loved the drawings. My mother wanted me to illustrate the book but I just didn’t have the time…

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  4. only a potter would have such patience to do the whole project from go to woe! Love your tree art to cover the flaws, impressed you ‘bound’ it, and your Mum must be super excited to have her own collection in large print and all handmade for her ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Ha! Most potters are not near as patient as I am. They throw on the wheel and want to churn out pieces by the dozens… I work on one piece for 3 – 5 hours (not counting glazing). I’m very satisfied with the end result and she is tickled pink. She is still reading it! I imagine it is a nice break from the news (she watches all the news all the time – especially political news).

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      1. that’s downright unhealthy for anyone! I read the headlines a few times a day just to know we’re still rotating in the same solar system ๐Ÿ™‚

        Bet she is enjoying it and proud as punch ๐Ÿ™‚

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        1. She is a political junkie and is very involved in the knowing of what is going on in Washington D.C. I suppose it is her only real vice since she gave up caffeine (in the last 5 years) and smoking (a long time ago). And as vices go it is without calories and is legal!

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    1. It wasn’t so hard as frustrating – I kept making mistakes (mostly because it was something new to me). It was definitely a learning experience! And yes she has always been proud of me – that I never doubted. All of her daughters made her proud. (We were all good kids)

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    2. It wasn’t so hard as frustrating – I kept making mistakes (mostly because it was something new to me). It was definitely a learning experience! And yes she has always been proud of me – that I never doubted. All of her daughters made her proud. (We were all good kids)

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  5. Definitely one of the best gifts I have ever received! I love it and Iโ€™m reading a poem a day or an essay a day I should say since they are combined. Iโ€™m glad she put in a description in the end of the types of poems. I think she could write a textbook for teachers of poetry. I say this because she has all kinds of different poems and knows exactly how they are done. I am very proud of my renaissance daughter Valerie. She really is very unique, and I knew this when she was only six months old. For I saw her sitting in her crib pretending to pick the flowers that were in the wallpaper and then pretended to eat them. I stood there watching her fascinated wondering what was going on inside my sweet babyโ€™s head.

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  6. What a treasure of a book, even if it came to fruition in a hard way! I also sent a book I wrote, to my mother, for Christmas-the recounting of my life up to now. I didn’t go anywhere near DIY, for the binding process- Office Max, it was.

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