Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bookmaking II: Prepare Paper, Make Signatures


II. Cut the paper down to size; pile into batches called signatures.

Due to the laws of physics, if you fold all a pile of all your sheets of paper in half, it'd make a big old wad, bulging out way too much in the center. Your final book would never lie flat.
So we'll divide the sheets of paper into manageable batches, called signatures.
Then we'll pile them on top of each other to make the "book block," which is the body of the book.

You can cut the paper down to a predetermined size. Or you can be lazy like me, and let the paper determine the final size: I just keep cutting the large sheets in half until they are a decent size.
(That's why I cut the cover boards after I cut the paper--it's easier to match the cover board-size to the paper-size than the paper to the covers.)

Easiest of all, you can use 8 1/2" x 11" prepared paper--like white computer-printer paper, possibly from your workplace? Fold it in half, and you have a neat pocket-sized book. Perfect for Mad Max.


1. If your paper is too big, you'll need to cut it down to size.
Since I'm using brown paper bags, Maja and I have a bunch of cutting to do.

Scissors can leave choppy cut marks. For a smooth, soft-edged cut, I use a box cutter. You can also use a sharp knife.
To help make a nice cut, first fold the paper, and rub along the folded crease. This prepares the paper's internal fibers for their coming severance.
But you know what? You can just tear it. Neatness doesn't count in this world.


2. Arrange your paper into batches (signatures).
The number of sheets of paper in each signature depends on the thickness of your paper. Experiment: fold a few sheets together and see if the bundle lies nice and flat in the center.

Since brown paper is pretty thick, I'm only using 3 sheets per signature.


3. Fold each batch of paper in half. Crease the edges well. Using your hands to crease paper quickly wears your skin thin. Use something with a hard but not rough edge, like the wood edge of your pencil.

There is actually a handy-dandy tool people who work with paper use to fold paper: a bone folder. It is a piece of animal bone cut into a flat, smooth, knife-like shape.

(Dog can help locate you some bones.)

4 comments:

bink said...

This is really good! I love how you make it entertaining as well as informative. Dog rules!

However we will need to print this out prior to the world falling apart, since access to this blog is going to be one of the first things Mad Max is going to have to do without. Boo hoo.

fresca said...

Thanks, Bink.
It's harder than I thought to explain physical actions in writing, even with photos.
Yes, print now!
Who knows when wire-haired fox terriors are going to achieve world domination and turn off the juice!

lynda howells said...

Just came from Judy's blog to yours..glad l did. I too make all sorts of books posh to ones that cost nothing except what l find in a bin! so hello from london in UKx lynda

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